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  • Dick&Maureen Daniel

    Dick&Maureen Daniel March 31, 2006, 10:09 p.m. (Message 44938)

    FW: Over 700 schoolchildren dance in Glasgow

    Proposal for inclusion on Strathspey Server...
    Over 700 schoolchildren dance in Glasgow
    There has been some media coverage of the remarkable Children’s Festival of 
    Dance held in the Kelvin Hall, Glasgow on 14th March 2006, and the beacon 
    lit there has been quickly spotted, as far afield as New Zealand. Over 700 
    primary schoolchildren excitedly dancing to the Scottish beat was a sight 
    which I feel privileged to have witnessed.  There has also been deserved 
    praise for the people involved in its organisation – particularly, the 
    Education Dept. PE people, the schoolteachers, and the band.   Most of these 
    contributors were being paid for their efforts.
    I feel the point has been missed that the whole event would undoubtedly have 
    fallen flat, had it not been for the unstinting involvement of several other 
    people.  The Glasgow Branch teachers who made regular visits to teach the 
    dances to included schools [Some to four schools], were in fact the hinge 
    pins on whom the entire event succeeded.  As each school’s team entered the 
    venue a clear empathy bond between these individuals and the children was 
    made obvious by the excited waves and calls.  That introduced an air of 
    familiarity to what could otherwise have developed into tense nervousness.  
    Then there were other Glasgow Branch members who liaised so effectively with 
    all the “officials” over many weeks, to bring everything together.  Lastly, 
    and by no means least, were the Glasgow Branch [and other] members who 
    freely gave their time and efforts on the day.  Without these people, many 
    of the children would not have succeeded in completing their dances.  
    Without these people, the organisation on the dance floor would have been 
    chaotic on many occasions.  The best example of this was the Dashing White 
    Sergeant, where every child present was on the floor and keen to dance.  The 
    eventual result was an unprecedented [in my experience] FOUR concentric 
    circles of dancers – an unrehearsed and unexpected formation, since it had 
    been envisaged that two rings would accommodate all dancers.  This was all 
    sorted out in a very short time and diligently policed during the dance, to 
    ensure children progressed within their circles.  Without that input, the 
    whole dance would probably have dissolved into chaos after one or two 
    iterations.  As it was, the children completed all, virtually without a 
    single hitch and were avid to repeat it.  Even on the occasions where a 
    group of three found there was no other trio for them to join for the next 
    iteration, they responded well to the suggestion that they should just dance 
    on their own [a common solution in ceilidh dancing], and were fed into a 
    correct progression for the next round, spawning another un-matched trio, 
    who merely did the same under instruction.  Result – all of the children 
    danced all of the time – an unsung accolade to the helpers.
    The other tremendous thing worthy of note, was the fact that these were not 
    “Elite Demonstration Teams” and this was not a competition or examination of 
    excellence.  These were very ordinary kids.  In many cases, their footwork 
    was appalling [by RSCDS standards].  Their figures were inspirational and 
    inventive, rather than prescribed.  Their timing left a lot to be desired.   
    But their vibrant enthusiasm to be involved was forcefully evident.
    The schools were separated into two groups [Red  and Yellow], because even 
    this massive floor could not accommodate all of the dancers at one time and 
    give sufficient space to dance effectively.  Despite the slight degree of 
    rivalry this inspired, kids from the red team excitedly volunteered to 
    complete sets for the yellows and vice versa.  They [Both GIRLS and BOYS] 
    wanted to dance, because they truly enjoyed every second of it.
    So why is RSCDS crumbling towards oblivion and unable to attract young 
    people?  There is no doubt in my mind.  Modern children [and young adults], 
    of many nationalities, find dancing to good Scottish music, totally 
    irresistable.  These same modern children [and young adults] generally 
    refuse to submit to the severe regimentational standards imposed by RSCDS.  
    Standards, which were excellent for the era in which they were introduced as 
    ground breaking procedures and policies, are now seen as irrelevant, “kill – 
    joy” and “stuffy”, by current generations.  As the youngsters would put it 
    --- “RSCDS needs to LOOSEN UP”.  Filling our nice new glossy [expensive?] 
    headquarters magazine with pictures of the youngest people they can find 
    [40-something, going on teenage] may convince you that all is well, but I 
    have seen that monstrous chilling iceberg on our current horizon.  The ship 
    will undoubtedly founder unless action is taken to CHANGE COURSE.  No amount 
    of chanting “We are unsinkable” will have any impact on the inevitable 
    outcome.  No doubt many first class passengers and officers will survive, 
    but the society will perish.  Let’s not lose sight of the fact that the band 
    also [voluntarily] went down with the ship on that previous occasion.  
    Unfortunately, I am only a common steward and the “Gold Braid” on the bridge 
    are obviously applying their “Nelson’s Eyes” to their telescopes, while 
    holding their hands over their ears and chanting “Laa laa laa” – [or should 
    that be “Laa Diddley a laa” per “The Simpsons”?]. Not by any means an easy 
    feat.  Meanwhile, the Ball continues in the Grand Stateroom.
    Discussions on the necessity to return a lady partner to her seat [et alia] 
    are no more than a Scotch Mist smoke screen.  It is time to bring the 
    Scottish People’s Dancing back to the People and leave stringent competitive 
    dancing styles to those who wish to dance in competitions.  Please note that 
    I am not suggesting extinction of competitive styles, but there is a time 
    and a place.  First nurture that enthusiasm of youth, then introduce style 
    to those sufficiently interested, but maintain a tolerant attitude to those 
    who merely want to dance in a CIVILISED manner – exactly as we actually do 
    at all dances [and ceilidhs] I have ever attended.  I would not wish to see 
    a return to pre-RSCDS rowdiness reportedly exhibited by some individuals in 
    the past.
    There is a middle ground
    Any teenage volunteers for forming a Scottish Gavotte Society?  I think NOT.
    Dick Daniel

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