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Jean Milligan

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  • ...

    James Cameron Orr Jim Feb. 27, 1995, 5:50 p.m. (Message 1113)

    Date: Fri, 24 Feb 1995 13:17:37 -0500 (EST)
    	From: "Andrew J. Smith" <xxxxxxx@xxxxxxx.xxx.xxx>
    	
    >There seems to be a trend nowadays, particularly in North America, to 
    >trash Jean Milligan and everything she did.  I realize that there are 
    >criticisms to be made of many aspects of the RSCDS, but remember that 
    >without Jean Milligan we would probably not be having this conversation,
    >or deriving this much pleasure from our dancing.
    >	
    >	Just a thought.
    >	
    >	Andrew Smith
    	
    I agree; I think it's a reaction to the reverence with which she was
    treated - at least on her North American tours.  I spent some time
    chatting with her in the 1960s when she visited the Boston area.
    As someone from "the old country" who knew well one of her contemporary
    friends/rivals in the Scottish gym-teacher scene (Aunt Jessie Campbell),
    we at least had something other than SCD to talk about.  I found her to
    be a very likeable, intelligent, warm person.  On the dance floor as an
    instructor, though, she came across as a bit authoritarian in an audience
    of people, some of whom were not into accepting authority.
       We owe her a lot.
       I'd really like to hear impressions of her from people who knew her
    well.
       Is anyone aware of scholarly work done on the early days of the RSCDS,
    probably before it was "R"?  Who was Mrs Stewart of Fasnacloich?
    Where is Fasnacloich anyway?
    
                                      Jim Orr
                                    Newfoundland
  • ...

    Duncan Keppie Feb. 27, 1995, 8:26 p.m. (Message 1115, in reply to message 1113)

    For those interested, there is a biography of Jean Callander Milligan 
    called "Dance with your Soul", published by the RSCDS for 5 pounds 
    sterling.
    
    Duncan Keppie, Nova Scotia
     --
     Duncan Keppie
     xxxxxxx@xxx.xxxx.xx.xx
  • ...

    SMiskoe Feb. 28, 1995, 5:52 a.m. (Message 1119, in reply to message 1113)

    Jim Orr asks for recollections of Miss Milligan so here are 2 of my
    favorites.  I first met her on her first trip to the US.  She was tutoring
    prospective candidates in Boston and I was a budding dancer not accustomed to
    customs other than those in New England.  We took Miss M to a cafeteria in
    Harvard Square for lunch and she loaded her plate with mashed potato, vegies,
    and other things.  She proceeded to  pile potato on the underside of her
    fork, which she had turned over, then with that as a good base, added vegies
    and other things, and shoved it all into her mouth.  I watched in fascinated
    horror at what was to me a rude display of table manners by such a noted
    person.  Only years later did I discover that that was standard technique for
    many Europeans.  She thought the cafeteria was pretty neat.  Years later I
    had the pleasure of playing for her at candidate exams.  A slim, 30th,
    competent fellow was being examined, and as he went back and forth and up and
    down the rows of stoges she commented to the other person at the table on how
    well his kilt fitted and what a good swing it had.  Sort of the equivalent,
    in a genteel way, of 'Nice buns."  Never a comment on his teaching abilities.
     Sylvia Miskoe
  • ...

    RSCDSSD Feb. 28, 1995, 9:06 p.m. (Message 1126, in reply to message 1113)

    I apologize in advance for the length of this posting, however, some of these
    ideas have been brewing in my brain for quite a while.  I have been
    researching the history of SCD for a few years now and intend to present my
    conclusions in published form.  To be blunt, anticipated criticism from the
    establishment has contributed to my procrastination.  So this is perhaps a
    preliminary foray into the void and an attempt to overcome fears.  I first
    met Miss Milligan when I was 16 years old and even then I realized how
    profound her personality and influence was.  It has taken much time and soul
    searching to accept the notion that I disagree with some of her decisions.
     But I disagree with respect and admiration for what she did and for the
    legacy she left.  I cannot accept that respectful differences of opinion are
    heretical.
    
    The current discussion about Jean Milligan, her personality, influence and
    scholarship reflects the inevitable re-evaluation that occurs when a strong
    and charismatic leader has been gone for some years.   Her influence
    certainly did not end with her death in 1978, however, we now have a
    generation of dancers who had no opportunity to meet this awesome and
    powerful personality.  It is perhaps not surprising that people might now
    question some of her conclusions and decisions.  This is not necesarily a
    negative process.  Dancing changes constantly and one of my growing concerns
    as a teacher/dancer/researcher is encountering the attitude that there is
    only one way to do "fill in the blank", or we cannot change the way we teach
    "fill in the blank."  We dance and teach based on many of Jean Milligan's
    conclusions, and many of them have proven to be succesful, popular, and
    worthwhile.   Her profound influence as a teacher and formulator of 20th
    century Scottish Country dancing cannot be underestimated.  As has been
    noted, she could command a roomful of dancers with the wave of a hand.  But
    to accept without question or investigation, worse yet to ignore historical
    evidence, is not worthy of our dance form and its complex and fascinating
    history.  We have an enormously successful modern form of Scottish Country
    dancing.  For that we have to thank Miss Milligan, and others.  But it evolved
     from dance forms older and different than what we practice today, and to say
    that today's is "correct" to the exclusion of all others leaves us without
    the chance to learn and adopt from the past.  Many of our accepted methods
    were presented to us as "correct" supposedly from historical evidence and in
    fact were modified without being so noted.
    
    While it is not possible to detail the evidence in this posting, readily
    available historical evidence can show that a number of our dance figures
    were amended when adopted by the Society (based usually on Miss Milligan's
    conclusions).  But, corner/partner/corner/partner, the poussette, double
    triangles, among others, have been danced differently in the past.  While
    there may have been good reason for the changes, I am chagrined by the fact
    that none of the early Society books admit to the reconstruction.  The dance
    and figure instructions are presented as though no modifications were made.
    The briefest of citations at the bottom of the dance instructions would lead
    one to the conclusion that the dance is presented as it was in the old
    books/manuscripts.  Not so.  Many changes were made, at times there is
    virtually no resemblance.  Perhaps more problematic is the significant
    adjustment to the flow of a dance when a figure was adopted in a form very
    different from the earlier versions.  One of the clearest is the origins and
    changes to the figure Double Triangles.  This needs it own article and, while
    I have presented my conclusions at several workshops, it has yet to be
    organized in written form.  
    
    Mention has been made of the work of Thomas and Joan Flett, Hugh Foss, Hugh
    Thurston and others, and of the fact that their writings and conclusions are
    ignored by, or unknown to, many RSCDS teachers.  I agree that this is
    omission is troublesome.  From comments by teachers and dancers in Scotland
    who were active during Miss Milligan's time it appears that she brooked no
    dissention.  If you disagreed with her you were not welcome into "the body of
    the kirk."   Hugh Thurston appears to have little disagreement with accepted
    practice, yet even his important book "Scotland's Dances" is omitted from the
    bibliography in the latest RSCDS manual.  The Fletts, Allie Anderson, and
    Hugh Foss chose to disagree with many of Miss Milligan's conclusions and the
    acrimony is legend.  This is not scholarly nor collegial.  Even today, those
    who dare to find any fault with Miss Milligan are subject to angry responses
    (I am aware that what I have to say here will not please some).  Why should
    this be necessary?  Can we not praise her for her accomplishments and her
    contributions to all of our lives and still respectfully disagree?  She was
    an outstanding teacher, a physical education teacher.  That fact, and the
    methods she chose to train generations of physical education teachers,
    affected the manner and technique we dance today.  Not necessarily a bad
    influence, but our dancing style is much more athletic than it appears to
    have been historically.  We can accept that, and then look at the history for
    alternative styles.  Miss Milligan was not a scholar nor academically
    trained.  She relied on instinct and oral history and came to her own
    conclusions.  Those conclusions were accepted and institutionalized by the
    RSCDS and are now our methods.  But if curious dancers look back at the old
    books, dance manuals, and publications and find information that differs, is
    it unacceptable to ask, question, and re-consider?  I sincerely hope not.
    
    With apologies again for the length of this posting I have appended a file
    containing a selected bibliography I have compiled on the history of Scottish
    Country Dancing.  It includes several articles by the Fletts from the Journal
    of Scottish Studies.  They have never been cited by any RSCDS source that I
    am aware of, and they are a fascinating look at the history of our dancing.
     I would also note the book reviews of the two well-known George Emmerson
    books.  While Emmerson is listed by the RSCDS bibliography and his work must
    be read by any serious student of SCD history, there appear to be some
    questions about his research and conclusions that one needs to note.
    
    Selected Bibliography of sources on the History Of Scottish Country Dancing
    
    Anderson, Allie, and John M. Duthie.  A Complete Guide to Scottish Country
    Dancing.  Commemorative edition. Kitchener, Ontario: Teacher's Association
    (Canada), 1990.
    
    Emmerson, George S.  Rantin' Pipe & Tremblin' String: A 	History of Scottish
    Dance Music.  London, Ontario: J.M. Dent, 1971.
    
    Emmerson, George S.  Scotland Through Her Country Dances.  2nd ed.  London,
    Ontario: Galt House, 1981.
    
    Emmerson, George S.  The Scottish Country Dance (A History).  London,
    Ontario: Galt House, 1992.
    
    Emmerson, George S.  A Social History of Scottish Dance: Ane Celestial
    Recreatioun.  Montreal, Quebec, and London, Ontario: McGill-Queen's Univ.
    Press, 1972.
    
    Flett, Joan.  Social Dancing in England from the 17th Century.  Leaflet No.
    18.  London: Vaughan Williams Memorial Library, English Folk Dance & Song
    Society, n.d.
    
    Flett, Joan, and Thomas M. Flett.  "The History of the Scottish Reel as a
    Dance-Form: I."  Scottish Studies: Journal of the School of Scottish Studies,
    Univ. of Edinburgh 16:2 (1972): 91- 119.
    
    Flett, Joan, and Thomas M. Flett.  "The History of the Scottish Reel as a
    Dance-Form: II."  Scottish Studies: Journal of the School of Scottish
    Studies, Univ. of Edinburgh 17:2 (1973): 91- 107.
    
    Flett, Joan, and Thomas M. Flett.  "The Scottish Country Dance: Its Origins
    and Development: I."  Scottish Studies: Journal 	of the School of Scottish
    Studies, Univ. of Edinburgh 11:1 (1967): 1-11.
    
    Flett, Joan, and Thomas M. Flett.  "The Scottish Country Dance: 	Its Origins
    and Development: II."  Scottish Studies: Journal of the School of Scottish
    Studies, Univ. of Edinburgh 11:2 (1967): 125-147.
    
    Flett, Joan, and Thomas M. Flett.  Traditional Dancing in Scotland.  1964.
      London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1985.
    
    Flett, Thomas M.  Book Review of A Social History of Scottish Dance  by G. S.
    Emmerson.  Scottish Studies: Journal of the School of Scottish Studies, Univ.
    of Edinburgh 18 (1974): 136- 139.
    Foss, Hugh.  Notes on Evolution in Scottish Country Dancing. Dumfries: S. &
    U.N. Ltd. (Standard Office), 1973.
    
    Foss, Hugh.  Roll Back the Carpet.  We Agree to Differ.  Castle-Douglas:
     Forward Press, n.d.
    
    Hood, Evelyn M.  The Story of Scottish Country Dancing: The Darling
    Diversion.  Great Britain: Collins, 1980.
    
    Lockhart, G. W.  Highland Balls and Village Halls: A Look at the 	Scot and
    His Dancing.  Barr, Ayrshire: Luath Press Ltd.,  	1985.
    
    MacFadyen, Alastair.  An Album For Mrs. Stewart.  Edinburgh: RSCDS, 1988.
    
    MacFadyen, Alastair and F. H. Adams.  Dance With Your Soul. Edinburgh: RSCDS,
    1983.
    
    Milligan, Jean.  The Scottish Country Dance.  Festival Booklet No. 14 (1924).
     Facsimile Reprint.  Edinburgh: RSCDS, 1986.
    
    Milligan, Jean C. and D. G. MacLennan.  Dances of Scotland.  New York:
    Chanticleer Press, 1951.
    
    Munro, Ailie.  Book Review of Rantin' Pipe and Tremblin' String: A History of
    Scottish Dance Music by George S. Emmerson. Scottish Studies: Journal of the
    School of Scottish Studies, 	Univ. of Edinburgh  17:1 (1973): 85-87.
    
    Peel, Barbara.  Dancing and Social Assemblies in York in the Eighteenth and
    Nineteenth Centuries.  Surrey: Univ. of Surrey, National Resource Center for
    Dance, 1986.
    
    Royal Scottish Country Dance Society.  The Manual of Scottish Country
    Dancing.  Edinburgh: RSCDS, 1992.
    
    Sharp, Cecil.  The Country Dance Book, Parts 1-6.  1909, 1934. Carshalton,
    Surrey:  H. Styles, 1985.
    
    Thurston, Hugh.  Scotland's Dances.  Reprint edition.  Kitchener, Ontario:
    Teacher's Association (Canada), 1984.
    
    
    Prepared by:
    Marjorie McLaughlin
    4754 Vista Lane
    San Diego, CA 92116
    (619) 280-5855
    (619) 280-5933 (fax)
    xxxxxxx@xxx.xxx
  • ...

    Anonymou March 1, 1995, 12:51 p.m. (Message 1127, in reply to message 1113)

    On Tue, 28 Feb 1995 13:12:12 -0500 Marjorie McLaughlin said:
    >I apologize in advance for the length of this posting....
    and then followed that with one of the most informative contributions
    to this list which I have seen.  Don't apologise Marjorie, and thanks very
    much for sharing your extensive knowledge with us.  I hope to have time one
    day to look into some of the books in your bibliography, the existence of which
    I would probably never have discovered otherwise.
    
    Joe.
  • ...

    Helen Frances Welford March 2, 1995, 5:15 p.m. (Message 1146, in reply to message 1127)

    My thanks too, to Marjorie McLaughlin, not only for an extremely 
    informative and helpful contribution to this network (Anonymous 
    expressed it well), but also for being willing to look at Scottish 
    country dancing in the context of the history of dance, and not as though 
    it all began in 1923.  Again, thank you!
    
    Helen Welford
    xxxxxxx@xxxxx.xxx
  • ...

    Etienne Ozorak March 2, 1995, 4:09 p.m. (Message 1145, in reply to message 1113)

    I see the Milligan-bashing that Andrew Smith refers to as a blip on  
    the screen of a larger prevailing attitude in society -- that of a  
    society still trying to overthrow the legacy of a rigid social  
    structure.  As author Jacques Barzun notes, successive generations  
    usually regard those just past "with hostility when close in time,  
    but with increasing fondness as great issues lose their power to  
    threaten established ideas and become the "truth" in their turn.  It  
    is the situation of the children toward the revered grandfathers."  
    
    
    There is another curiosity which is distantly related to the  
    Milligan-bashing theme.  I read with interest in "Scottish Fiddlers  
    and their Music" about the decline of Scottish dance in the early  
    1800s.  In this book, the author points out a decrease in interest in  
    Scottish dancing between the end of the Gow era  (c.1820) and Scott  
    Skinner's golden years (c1880-1927).  What the author does not point  
    out is that this chronology corresponds to the radical shift in  
    larger musical circles from Clasicism to Romanticism.
    
    What this has to do with Miss Milligan follows.  The classic school  
    emphasises order, harmony, balance, form and structure (such as Bach,  
    Mozart) while the Romantic school emphasizes the individual,  
    subjective, irrational, imaginative, personal, spontaneous,  
    emotional, visionary and transcendental (such as Wagner).  While I  
    must emphasize that I am not a musicologist or social historian, it  
    seems to me that there is a parralel between the changing values of  
    the 1800s and the changes in attitudes between the fifties and today  
    (as the pendulum swings from "classic" to "romantic" values).   
    Judging by the prevailing winds and the fact that she was a product  
    of her time, Miss Milligan can't help but be on the firing line
    
    Anyone care to unpack this?
    
    Etienne Ozorak
    Meadville, PA  USA
  • ...

    David Ll. Hills March 2, 1995, 6:30 p.m. (Message 1147, in reply to message 1145)

    Etienne Ozorak writes:
    
    > As author Jacques Barzun notes, successive generations 
    > usually regard those just past "with hostility when close in time, 
    > but with increasing fondness as great issues lose their power to
    > threaten established ideas and become the "truth" in their turn.  It
    > is the situation of the children toward the revered grandfathers."
    > 
    
    Maybe I need to parse this ten more times, or read the passage in context,
    because I do not understand this. 
    
    > 
    > I see the Milligan-bashing that Andrew Smith refers to as a blip on  
    > the screen of a larger prevailing attitude in society -- that of a  
    > society still trying to overthrow the legacy of a rigid social  
    > structure.  
    
    One person's "Milligan-bashing" is another's "Milligan-appraisal" or
    "Milligan-reappraisal", or perhaps an attempt to achieve some 
    "perspective (long overdue?)". 
    
    If this is an unworthy thing to do, why is it?
    If it is a worthy thing, why use a term like "bashing"?
    
    [ I think we should be told :-) ]
    
    If someone is sychophantic about Jean Milligan, then it will be "bashing"
    perhaps. If they are moderate or inquisitive about Jean Milligan then it
    is more likely to be honest and appropriate enquiry. If someone feels
    personally affronted and threatened by such enquiry, I think they might
    review their own connection to the icon and ask themselves why it is so
    important to them and why, if this icon is somehow "diminished", they will 
    feel diminished too. Why do they prefer the "faith" to the "knowledge"?
    
    I am curious about this.
    
    All best
    *D
    
    
    *David Hills                   [Opinions mine own; facts are everybody's]
    =========================================================================
    "Doctrine is the guidance to be followed in the absence of other 
    intelligence, including human" -  or the usual corollary:
    "No written procedure grants permission to do something dumb".
    
    Blind faith in your leaders, or in anything, will get you killed.
    						  --- Bruce Springsteen
    =========================================================================

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