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  • Hannah Newfield-Plunkett

    Hannah Newfield-Plunkett April 3, 2006, 6:50 p.m. (Message 44970)

    Re: Over 700 schoolchildren dance in Glasgow

    As an 18-year-old dancer from the Chicago area, I just wanted to contribute
    to the discussion on the lack of young people in the RSCDS and the Scottish
    Country Dance community. A lot of emphasis has been placed on the RSCDS'
    emphasis on proper dance technique, but I haven't found that resistance to
    learning proper technique is what causes many of my peers to be less
    interested in Scottish dance than other dance forms. Generally, I've found
    that younger people are eager to learn to dance "correctly," often more so
    than some older beginners are. Rather, I've found that there is a perception
    among younger dancers that Scottish dancing is less social than other types
    of set dancing, such as English Country Dance or New England Contra dance. I
    find Scottish dancing to be a very social activity, and enjoy it in large
    part because of the social opportunities it offers (especially communication
    within your set), although I also enjoy the challenge of "doing it
    correctly." I think, though, that if the RSCDS is interested in attracting
    younger dancers, the solution is not to lower the standards of the dance,
    but to emphasize other aspects of it, such as its social aspect, which
    younger people find appealing.
    Chicago, IL and Ithaca, NY
    > Message: 9
    > Date: Mon, 3 Apr 2006 16:28:13 +0100
    > From: "Ian Brockbank" <>
    > Subject: RE: Over 700 schoolchildren dance in Glasgow
    > To: "'SCD news and discussion'" <>
    > Message-ID: <009301c65733$3a1d86c0$xxxxxxxx@xxxxxxxxxxxx.xxxx>
    > Keywords: Mailing list
    > Content-Type: text/plain;       charset="US-ASCII"
    > Hi Dick,
    > > So you reckon that more  rules [like the goalie standing in First
    > position]
    > > might solve Scottish Football's problems?  I know little about football,
    > but
    > > I somehow doubt that is the answer.    As I understand it, Scottish
    > football
    > > has achieved OUTSTANDING international achievements in the past, despite
    > all
    > > the odds against them succeeding.
    > No-one's advocating more rules.  Just don't be too quick to completely
    > throw
    > out the technique which makes our dancing what it is.
    > > Conversely, perhaps you are agreeing with me that dispensing with the
    > > absolute letter of the rules, unless you want to play real COMPETITIVE
    > > football, would increase the fun element, to the overall benefit of the
    > > game.
    > It depends who you are.  For beginners, of course you shouldn't
    > concentrate
    > on niceities until the basics are there.  However, please don't ask me to
    > turn my toes in and start doing a 2-beat pas-de-basque just because the
    > way
    > I dance has been honed over years of practice and won't be achieved by
    > your
    > typical beginner on their first class.  I ENJOY the fact that there is an
    > ideal to strive for, and I like to get as close as possible most of the
    > time.  But that doesn't mean I expect other dancers in my set to do the
    > same
    > (except when performing, of course).
    > But a more important, more general point:  YOU ARE PART OF THE
    > RSCDS.  Your
    > achievements in Glasgow are a shining example of what _the_RSCDS_ can
    > offer
    > and achieve.  Remember, the RSCDS is a collection of volunteers, each with
    > their own agenda, with a few organising committees of volunteers doing
    > their
    > best as they see it.  There is no official "accuracy police force" which
    > lurks at social events and will strike you off forever for being
    > fractionally out of place on bar 6.239 of the tournee (though there are a
    > *few* sad individuals who unfortunately seem to see that as their role),
    > and
    > this runs counter to the attitude of the members of the executive
    > committees
    > who I know.  Have you danced with Stewart?
    > I keep seeing people complaining that "the RSCDS" is hide-bound and a
    > stickler for rules being obeyed all the time.  In my experience, in
    > attending events run by RSCDS branches this is not generally the case - as
    > your example shows.  Sure, there are some teachers who do still teach this
    > way.  That doesn't mean "the RSCDS" in general (whoever that is) thinks
    > this
    > way.  Yet for some reason, every time someone is inappropriately strict,
    > it
    > is taken as because they are RSCDS members.  Every time someone is
    > appropriately lax, it is taken as despite being RSCDS members - even if
    > that
    > is the more common occurrence.
    > And this is the marketing battle we need to fight - to convince everyone
    > that "the RSCDS is strict and stuffy" is an out-of-date image, and to
    > convince members (an in particular teachers) that behaviours that give
    > this
    > impression are now inappropriate.
    > On the other hand, we do need to recognise that the structure which the
    > RSCDS style provides is a major asset.  It's certainly the reason dancing
    > is
    > _my_ main hobby.  I enjoy dancing well, and I enjoy the mental and
    > physical
    > challenges that offers.  If I was just ceilidh dancing, it wouldn't be
    > such
    > an obsession - there's just not enough to it for me.
    > As has been said before, no-one complains about David Beckham being a good
    > footballer.  So why do so many people complain about people who want to
    > dance well?
    > Cheers,
    > Ian Brockbank
    > Edinburgh, Scotland
    > ------------------------------
    > _______________________________________________
    > End of Strathspey Digest, Vol 17, Issue 5
    > *****************************************
    Hannah Newfield-Plunkett
    "If you can talk, you can sing. If you can walk, you can dance." -African

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