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Over 700 schoolchildren dance in Glasgow

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  • ...

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

    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
  • ...

    suepetyt March 31, 2006, 10:46 p.m. (Message 44939, in reply to message 44938)

    Well said.....
    
    There are many of us who feel the same.  I take a class of adult beginners
    which was started from a weight watchers class and were told to 'get more
    exercise' the Health visitor was proactive and asked me to take the class.  
    
    They have great fun, and such an enormous sense of achievement when they
    complete a dance successfully.  Through the class, some people who had
    previously been isolated have made new friends, last week 12 of them went to
    their first 'proper dance' where a neighbouring group (an RSCDS Branch with
    an understanding teacher) had gone to the trouble of including some easy
    dances they could do (consulting with me on what we had covered in class).
    Now they want to organise their own dance - their enthusiasm is boundless.
    
    It is making a big difference to these people's lives.  They will never have
    good footwork, but they are learning the figures, and the timing - their
    Allemande is already better than many I see on the dance floor, because they
    are now telling me they want to do it correctly.
    
    I also support the view that excelling at dancing is not wrong.  We admire
    our sporting heroes.  People from all over the world support Manchester
    United because they are the best, they don't support the lower division
    teams.  So I do not see why it is wrong to want to dance well.  I do however
    think there is a time and place for both and that all levels are to be
    encouraged.  Enthusiasm and fun are the key.
    
    Happy Dancing
    Sue Petyt
    www.suepetyt.me.uk 
    Skype Sue Petyt
  • ...

    Anselm Lingnau April 1, 2006, 2:06 a.m. (Message 44941, in reply to message 44938)

    Dick Daniel wrote:
    
    > 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”.
    
    Consider the following: Everybody can have fun kicking a rusty can around the 
    street, and there's nothing intrinsically wrong with having fun that way even 
    if »proper« footballs are round and made from leather. However, playing 
    organised football does take some practice and dedication, but since people 
    are actually trying hard to be accepted by the better teams when they could 
    just as well keep kicking rusty cans around the street, doing it »properly« 
    must obviously be more fun than can-kicking. And incidentally, football DOES 
    have rules, and some rather more complicated ones than SCD at that. Even so, 
    nobody suggests »loosening up« the rules of football to make the game more 
    accessible to the can-kicking public.
    
    Dancing (any kind, not just SCD) is just the same. It is absolutely true that 
    one can have lots of fun in SCD as a new dancer, especially if one's teacher 
    does not confuse the dance floor with a military parade ground. But the sort 
    of fun that one derives from, say, doing a sequence of the more intricate 
    figures of The Celtic Brooch with five good dancing friends is something that 
    only comes with a certain amount of practice and dedication, and no amount 
    of »loosening up« will change that.
    
    The point is that the fun is already there to be had at all levels of dancing. 
    It is up to the more experienced dancers to make new dancers feel welcome 
    enough so they can grow up to be experienced dancers themselves. The Glasgow 
    school kids affair only goes to prove that SCD can be fun even if the correct 
    pointing of feet is not the first priority, and the fact that Glasgow Branch 
    teachers did the teaching only goes to show that the RSCDS *is* 
    actually »loosening up« already. Apparently the RSCDS were down there in the 
    thick of it rather than outside wrinkling their noses at the outrage, and 
    that is what counts.
    
    Sure, not every single one of those 700 school children will go on to become a 
    life-long member of the RSCDS. But the main problem in Scotland seems to be 
    that people tend to *view* the Society as a stuffy assemblage of old fogeys 
    who are intent on taking all the fun out of dancing with their strict rules 
    and standards, obvious evidence to the contrary like the Glasgow schools 
    event notwithstanding. Over here in Germany, where the general public is not 
    thus conditioned, we have no trouble whatsoever attracting *and* keeping 
    young adults in our SCD groups, especially those groups that do attempt to 
    teach RSCDS-style technique and standards. (There are a few children's groups 
    and from what I hear most of those are also going strong.)
    
    What the RSCDS needs in Scotland is not »loosening up«. It just needs a PR 
    campaign to educate people. From that point of view the Glasgow event is a 
    Good Thing.
     
    Anselm
    -- 
    Anselm Lingnau, Frankfurt, Germany ..................... xxxxxx@xxxxxxxxxx.xxx
    Things are only impossible until they're not. -- Cpt. Jean-Luc Picard (ST:TNG)
  • ...

    Dick&Maureen Daniel April 2, 2006, 6:01 p.m. (Message 44952, in reply to message 44941)

    Anselm wrote
    
    “Everybody can have fun kicking a rusty can around the Street......
    However, playing organised football does take some practice and 
    dedication....
    And incidentally, football DOES have rules, and some rather more complicated 
    ones than SCD at that......
    no amount of »loosening up« will change that.......
    Apparently the RSCDS were down there in the thick of it rather than outside 
    wrinkling their noses at the outrage, and that is what counts.......
    the main problem in Scotland seems to be that people tend to *view* the 
    Society as a stuffy assemblage of old fogeys who are intent on taking all 
    the fun out of dancing.......
    What the RSCDS needs in Scotland is not »loosening up«. It just needs a PR 
    campaign to educate people. From that point of view the Glasgow event is a 
    Good Thing."
    
    In response...
    
    I fail to see the comparison between COMPETITIVE football and Scottish 
    Country Dancing – excepting the COMPETITIVE variety.  Most dancers in my 
    experience, are of the non-competitive variety.  I repeat  “Please note that 
    I am not suggesting extinction of competitive styles”.  As for the football 
    analogy, I am  certain that a rule which stated that the goalkeeper must 
    stand in "First Position" when not defending his goal would be laughed out 
    of play, or totally ignored.
    
    Incidentally, I WAS one of the RSCDS people in the thick of it, and my nose 
    remains unwrinkled.  Further, I do not see the RSCDS in Scotland [or 
    anywhere else] as "a stuffy assemblage of old fogeys, who are intent on 
    taking all the fun out of dancing".
    
    No amount of PR will eliminate that iceberg.
    
    The “Glasgow event” demonstrated my point well, and was undoubtedly an 
    EXTREMELY good thing.
    
    Dick Daniel.
  • ...

    Alexandre Rafalovitch April 2, 2006, 7:04 p.m. (Message 44953, in reply to message 44952)

    On 4/2/06, Dick Daniel <xxxxxxxxxx@xxxxxxx.xxx> wrote:
    > Anselm wrote
    >
    > What the RSCDS needs in Scotland is not »loosening up«. It just needs a PR
    > campaign to educate people. From that point of view the Glasgow event is a
    > Good Thing."
    >
    > In response...
    >
    > Incidentally, I WAS one of the RSCDS people in the thick of it, and my nose
    > remains unwrinkled.  Further, I do not see the RSCDS in Scotland [or
    > anywhere else] as "a stuffy assemblage of old fogeys, who are intent on
    > taking all the fun out of dancing".
    
    I agree with both parties here, but neither seems to be talking
    concrete actions. So, let's bring this discussion into the realm of
    what is actually possible and doable:
    
    1) Has anybody done a survey why young people do not enjoy RSCDS
    dancing? Yes! I believe I have seen the mentions of that. What about
    the surveys of young people who do enjoy RSCDS? I have seen less of
    them. And while the negative ones gets passed around and discussed,
    the positive ones are not. The result is that it is much easier to
    find negative surveys. What to do? Find the good surveys and push them
    out. Via RSCDS web site if required, other ways are possible.
    
    2) Are the events like described above great publicity? Yes! But how
    do people find out about them unless they were there, or members of
    this mailing list. Where are the pictures from the event, where are
    the interviews with organisers, where are the follow-up actions? And
    not in the members' magazines or school board meetings, because that
    is preaching to the converted. Where are they in public sources and/or
    on the web?
    
    3) If you having troubles convincing scotish youth to dance, fine. Get
    the international community to participate. Germany has lots of youth
    dancing? Get them to tell everybody in the world why it is great.
    Knowing that somebody else gets excited by what is yours, can do
    wonders.
    
    4) Do you know where the youth hang out? Does RSCDS check if they
    appear there? Let me run a small list:
    1) Photograph sharing: www.flickr.com - where are the pictures of the
    young people dancing and enjoying themselves? The best I found is
    this: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tags/scottishcountrydancing/
    What to do? Upload your ball photos, especially with young people on
    them.  If you have a digital camera, you can do it.
    
    2) www.myspace.com - a website where more than 4 million (that's
    4000000) predominantly young people hang out and talk about things
    they like and don't like. How many people mention RSCDS there? One:
    http://www.myspace.com/bloodyangel89.
    What to do? Next time you have a young person in your class (<20
    y.o.), ask them if they have a myspace profile. Ask them if they
    mention RSCDS on it? Get them to be the embassadors and write about
    RSCDS. Anything will do:  dances they liked/disliked most, preparation
    for teachers exams, etc.
    
    3)Blogs, where people say what they really think? I think there might
    be 3. Mine is one of them at
    (http://alwayslearning.wordpress.com/tag/rscds/). Where are others?
    They are free to setup, they are very easy to start with and you can
    talk about anything (favourite dance, music, problems with the steps,
    etc)
    What to do? Make one yourself or convince another RSCDS dancer to make
    one. Free blog space is available at http://www.blogger.com,
    http://wordpress.com, http://www.livejournal.com/ . I will help
    anybody willing to really try and having troubles.
    
    4) Wikipedia - only a community built encyclopedia that Nature
    magazine compared to Encyclopædia Britannica . Does it have an article
    on SCD/RSCDS? Yes: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RSCDS
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scottish_country_dance
    Can it be expanded? Yes. I know Anselm contributed, but more is possible.
    
    5) Podcasts - Ten minutes of Scottish music, dance descriptions and
    talks with famous RSCDS people will reach the audience that is too
    busy to visit a class, but will be happy to listen to things in the
    car or while exercising.
    What to do? Early January Sue Petyt talked about podcasting about
    RSCDS. Did anybody get excited and offered to help or contribute? No.
    Let Sue know that you like the idea and/or happy to contribute your
    voice to the segment.
    
    6) RSCDS has people from all walks of life. And some of them would be
    happy to contribute their skills to make RSCDS better. Does RSCDS know
    who those people are and what skills they could bring to the table?
    No. One way or another, people do contribute, but usually in very
    local ways that go unnoticed by a large community. With a push by the
    society behind them, a much greater reach and impact could be made.
    What to do? Make a competition and publish the results in the magazine
    on the web. For example, a best drawing related to RSCDS. I have seen
    some amazing drawings with pencil and paper of confused couples. It is
    hilarious, but has only been seen by members of a particular branch
    and guests. And it is not enough to just ask for stuff to be sent in.
    Somebody should be actively looking for interesting stuff. Again, find
    embassadors, get behind them and push. Maybe integrate that into
    teaching examination. The examiners are travelling all over the world
    already, maybe they can look out for interesting things specifically
    as part of the visit. I am sure local teachers would be happy to
    highlight interesting materials.
    
    
    These are just low-hanging fruits. There are other ways and avenues,
    that are possible. Some of them (like organising the event described)
    are even being done. But the more complex/important an event is, the
    more chances it will fail and/or will be too late. Start with
    low-hanging fruits and see if that will generate enough momentum to
    get people behind other efforts as well.
    
    Now, who is in? Private as well as public replies are very welcome.
    
    Regards,
       Alex.
  • ...

    Alasdair Graham April 2, 2006, 8:02 p.m. (Message 44955, in reply to message 44953)

    Lets start with a little.
    For the pictures and another report see the Glasgow Branch Website 
    http://www.rscdsglasgow.org/index.htm and click on LATEST NEWS then follow 
    the links for the pictures and report.
    
    As for official RSCDS action don't hold your breath.  You only have to look 
    at the HQ link for the Perth & Perthshire Branch website under UK Branches, 
    Scotland.  The information here is 18 months out of date.  The listed 
    Chairman, Linda Gaul, completed her term fully 18 months ago and was 
    succeeded by Jane Rattray.  The Treasurer is still listed as Jim Healy!!!!
    
    Perhaps Members should check their own Branch Information to see if it is 
    current.
    
    
    Alasdair Graham,
    Dumbarton, Scotland.
  • ...

    Alexandre Rafalovitch April 2, 2006, 8:52 p.m. (Message 44956, in reply to message 44955)

    On 4/2/06, Alasdair Graham <xxxxxxxx.xxxxxx@xxxxxxxxxx.xx.xx> wrote:
    > Lets start with a little.
    > For the pictures and another report see the Glasgow Branch Website
    > http://www.rscdsglasgow.org/index.htm and click on LATEST NEWS then follow
    > the links for the pictures and report.
    
    Blogged: http://alwayslearning.wordpress.com/2006/04/02/who-said-
    children-dont-like-scottish-country-dancing/
    Technical comment: If the pages and links were not Flash and Frames,
    Google (and other people) would find them much easier.
    Also, if the owner of the pictures would upload even one or two of
    these to Flickr.com, it would be a great start. The first 100 photos
    per user are totally free to host.
    
    > As for official RSCDS action don't hold your breath.  You only have to look
    > at the HQ link for the Perth & Perthshire Branch website under UK Branches,
    > Scotland.  The information here is 18 months out of date.  The listed
    > Chairman, Linda Gaul, completed her term fully 18 months ago and was
    > succeeded by Jane Rattray.  The Treasurer is still listed as Jim Healy!!!!
    
    Well, maybe that is a problem that needs to be acknowledged and dealt
    with. I know a fancy new website is in the plans, but (even being a
    techie) I think it is more important to have information correct
    rather than flashy. Even to have a small link at the bottom of each
    page saying 'report problem with this page' might do wonders.
    
    Regards,
       Alex.
  • ...

    simon scott April 2, 2006, 7:56 p.m. (Message 44954, in reply to message 44952)

    I fail to see the comparison between COMPETITIVE football and Scottish 
    Country Dancing - excepting the COMPETITIVE variety.
    
     	I read Anselm's comment as referring more to ability and the
    desire for skill than towards being competitive.
    
    
    The "Glasgow event" demonstrated my point well, and was undoubtedly an 
    EXTREMELY good thing.
    
    	I'm very sure it was, and I'm equally sure that we all applaud,
    thank and admire you, and everyone involved in all aspects of the event.
    Well done!!
    
    Simon
    Vancouver
  • ...

    Bryan McAlister April 3, 2006, 11:06 a.m. (Message 44958, in reply to message 44952)

    Actually this is a great analogy.  One of the reasons that Scottish 
    Football is "not very good" these days is that kids nowadays dont kick 
    cans around on the street. Often they are not allowed to.  The result is 
    our football teams are half filled (or more) with the "nearly retired" 
    from other countries and we have the spectacle of a non league team 
    (Gretna) winning trough to a Cup final.
    
    Scottish football is now not shown live on network TV and as a result 
    seems to be having difficulty in retaining the commercial sponsorships 
    that are increasingly relied on these days.
    
    
    
    In message <xxxxxx-xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx@xxx.xxx>, Dick Daniel 
    <xxxxxxxxxx@xxxxxxx.xxx> writes
    >Anselm wrote
    >
    >“Everybody can have fun kicking a rusty can around the Street......
    >However, playing organised football does take some practice and 
    >dedication....
    >And incidentally, football DOES have rules, and some rather more 
    >complicated ones than SCD at that......
    >no amount of ›loosening up‹ will change that.......
    >Apparently the RSCDS were down there in the thick of it rather than 
    >outside wrinkling their noses at the outrage, and that is what 
    >counts.......
    >the main problem in Scotland seems to be that people tend to *view* the 
    >Society as a stuffy assemblage of old fogeys who are intent on taking 
    >all the fun out of dancing.......
    >What the RSCDS needs in Scotland is not ›loosening up‹. It just 
    >needs a PR campaign to educate people. From that point of view the 
    >Glasgow event is a Good Thing."
    >
    >In response...
    >
    >I fail to see the comparison between COMPETITIVE football and Scottish 
    >Country Dancing – excepting the COMPETITIVE variety.  Most dancers in 
    >my experience, are of the non-competitive variety.  I repeat  “Please 
    >note that I am not suggesting extinction of competitive styles”.  As 
    >for the football analogy, I am  certain that a rule which stated that 
    >the goalkeeper must stand in "First Position" when not defending his 
    >goal would be laughed out of play, or totally ignored.
    >
    >Incidentally, I WAS one of the RSCDS people in the thick of it, and my 
    >nose remains unwrinkled.  Further, I do not see the RSCDS in Scotland 
    >[or anywhere else] as "a stuffy assemblage of old fogeys, who are 
    >intent on taking all the fun out of dancing".
    >
    >No amount of PR will eliminate that iceberg.
    >
    >The “Glasgow event” demonstrated my point well, and was undoubtedly 
    >an EXTREMELY good thing.
    >
    >Dick Daniel.
    >
    >
    
    -- 
    Bryan McAlister
  • ...

    Anselm Lingnau April 3, 2006, 12:39 p.m. (Message 44960, in reply to message 44958)

    Bryan McAlister schrieb:
    
    > Actually this is a great analogy.  One of the reasons that Scottish
    > Football is "not very good" these days is that kids nowadays dont kick
    > cans around on the street.
    
    Right. And you can't really expect a fresh kid to come into their first 
    (RSCDS-style) dance class and join the branch demonstration team the next 
    week any more than you can expect some kid who hasn't kicked *anything* in 
    their lives to score three goals in the World Cup finals.
    
    In order to become a first-rate professional football player you have to 
    *start* with kicking cans around the street and then actively *want* more and 
    do something about it. In dancing, young people come to ceilidhs and get told 
    by many that »this is the *real*, *fun* Scottish dancing, and RSCDS is just 
    for arthritic killjoys who make you point your toes«, so I think it's likely 
    that even if some of them (only some) hear a private little voice in their 
    heads asking »is this really all there is?«, peer pressure ensures that 
    they'd rather be seen dead than donning the soft ghillies.
    
    Anselm
    -- 
    Anselm Lingnau, Frankfurt, Germany ..................... xxxxxx@xxxxxxxxxx.xxx
    And whatever you do, never, ever, play Trivial Pursuit against a reference
    librarian.                                                        -- Jim Frost
  • ...

    Dick&Maureen Daniel April 3, 2006, 1:04 p.m. (Message 44961, in reply to message 44938)

    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.
    
    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.
    
    Maybe someone should form a committee and organise an international survey 
    to find out why Scottish Football has such a bad image with youngsters, then 
    introduce a PR exercise to sort it all out.  That's what the politicians 
    would advise.  Should only take a few years and a few millions, to arrive at 
    an indecisive conclusion and an ineffectual campaign.
    
    Or maybe it's just that Scotland is a small country with a small population 
    from which to draw talent, and insufficient funding to encourage youngsters 
    to develop their kicking technique, rather than just instructing them that 
    pointing their toes is the supreme immutable priority for all levels of the 
    game.
    
    Dick Daniel
    
    
    
    From:  Bryan McAlister <xxxxx@xxxxxxxx.xxxxx.xx.xx>
    Reply-To:  SCD news and discussion <xxxxxxxxxx@xxxxxxxxxx.xxx>
    To:  xxxxxxxxxx@xxxxxxxxxx.xxx
    Subject:  Re: Over 700 schoolchildren dance in Glasgow
    Date:  Mon, 3 Apr 2006 10:06:33 +0100
  • ...

    Bryan McAlister April 3, 2006, 1:17 p.m. (Message 44962, in reply to message 44961)

    Actually I was suggesting the informal FUN  kickabouts in the street 
    made a great contribution to the quality of play in the past - look at 
    Brazil etc. which so far, in recent past more structured coaching 
    methods have failed to replicate.
    
    
    
    In message <xxxxxx-xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx@xxx.xxx>, Dick Daniel 
    <xxxxxxxxxx@xxxxxxx.xxx> writes
    >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.
    >
    >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.
    >
    >Maybe someone should form a committee and organise an international 
    >survey to find out why Scottish Football has such a bad image with 
    >youngsters, then introduce a PR exercise to sort it all out.  That's 
    >what the politicians would advise.  Should only take a few years and a 
    >few millions, to arrive at an indecisive conclusion and an ineffectual 
    >campaign.
    >
    >Or maybe it's just that Scotland is a small country with a small 
    >population from which to draw talent, and insufficient funding to 
    >encourage youngsters to develop their kicking technique, rather than 
    >just instructing them that pointing their toes is the supreme immutable 
    >priority for all levels of the game.
    >
    >Dick Daniel
    >
    >
    >
    >From:  Bryan McAlister <xxxxx@xxxxxxxx.xxxxx.xx.xx>
    >Reply-To:  SCD news and discussion <xxxxxxxxxx@xxxxxxxxxx.xxx>
    >To:  xxxxxxxxxx@xxxxxxxxxx.xxx
    >Subject:  Re: Over 700 schoolchildren dance in Glasgow
    >Date:  Mon, 3 Apr 2006 10:06:33 +0100
    >>Actually this is a great analogy.  One of the reasons that Scottish 
    >>Football is "not very good" these days is that kids nowadays dont kick 
    >>cans around on the street. Often they are not allowed to.  The result 
    >>is our football teams are half filled (or more) with the "nearly 
    >>retired" from other countries and we have the spectacle of a non 
    >>league team (Gretna) winning trough to a Cup final.
    >>
    >>Scottish football is now not shown live on network TV and as a result 
    >>seems to be having difficulty in retaining the commercial sponsorships 
    >>that are increasingly relied on these days.
    >>
    >
    >
    
    -- 
    Bryan McAlister
  • ...

    Anselm Lingnau April 3, 2006, 3:37 p.m. (Message 44965, in reply to message 44961)

    Dick Daniel wrote:
    
    > 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.
    >
    > 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.
    
    The analogy breaks down there because in football you have competing teams and 
    in SCD as a rule you don't. There is no such thing as »competitive SCD« 
    (except for some places like, I gather, Scotland -- which may contribute to 
    the problem at hand).
    
    If you need it spelled out: Playing football for fun in the street with no 
    off-side rule et cetera is one thing, and playing football in an organised 
    club, taking part in a formal football league, is quite another. Similarly, 
    dancing for fun at ceilidhs is one thing, and RSCDS-style country dancing is 
    quite another. In both cases, many participants may delight in the sheer 
    unbridled joy of the one (and there is definitely nothing in the least wrong 
    with that) while others enjoy the more structured and demanding other form. 
    If the state of Scottish football is as appalling as it seems (I wouldn't 
    know, not being a sports buff), a solution proposing to abolish all rules in 
    organised football to improve the general quality of the game appears to me 
    as absurd as a solution requiring the RSCDS to »loosen up« about standards in 
    order to make dancing more popular, which is the one often put forward when 
    the lack of interest in RSCDS-style dancing *in Scotland* is being discussed. 
    This operation may well succeed to a certain degree but it will probably kill 
    the patient in the process.
    
    The other problem is that, contrary to widely-held beliefs, there are few if 
    any »absolute rules« in SCD (the possible exception being the Golden Rule). . 
    Even the revered Dr Milligan is on record as having said »We do not dot every 
    i and cross every t«. I, for one, would be happy if the insistence on »rules« 
    for everything that one encounters in places (as in, whose hand is on top in 
    a 4 hands across, and where is the left big toe of 3rd man on bar 14 3/4 of 
    dance such-and-such) were replaced by liberal helpings of common sense, 
    teaching dancers to think for themselves and doing the thing that makes sense 
    in a given situation, rather than relying on arbitrary rules for the 
    micro-management of SCD. If this is what you mean by »loosening up«, Dick, 
    then I'm all in favour. However I would hate to see changes that would, say, 
    (as an extreme example) abolish pas-de-basque because it is too difficult to 
    master and may scare people off SCD.
    
    Anselm
    -- 
    Anselm Lingnau, Frankfurt, Germany ..................... xxxxxx@xxxxxxxxxx.xxx
    No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money.
                                                  -- Samuel Johnson, after Boswell
  • ...

    mlamontbrown April 3, 2006, 5:01 p.m. (Message 44967, in reply to message 44965)

    I think the football analogy is very good - 
    
    First we had a game that was played in a variety of places, including British public
    schools
    
    Then they came together at university and tried to play according to an agreed set of
    rules, and the boys from Rugby school didn't like the "no hands" part of it, so we
    had Association Football (soccer) where you couldn't use your hands, and Rugby, where
    you could - then Rugby became split into Rugby League (13 players) and Rugby Union
    (15 players) and of course the overseas versions - American Football and Australian
    Rules Football.
    
    Now of course the best Rugby players usually have no connection with Rugby school,
    and the school has nothing to do with setting the rules.
    
     There was a remark about size of population correlating with sporting prowess - 
    Australia, population 20 million, number of gold medals at Commonwealth Games 84
    
    United Kingdom (England + Scotland + Wales +Isle of Man + N Ireland), population 60
    million
    Number of gold medals 36 + 11 + 3 + 1 + 0 = 51
    
    The difference being that sport is big in Australia, whereas it isn't in the UK.
    
    The worrying thing about the children dancing in Scotland is that despite the fact
    these large groups of children have been dancing at festivals for years, the average
    age of the dancer seen at a Scottish dance in Scotland is increasing.  
    
    And there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to show that the year end school Christmas
    dance was the place where Scots were turned off SCD for life.
    
    It might be something to do with growing up, fitting in with the crowd, and the many
    more pleasurable things available to try, but I always find it sad that young
    competitive highland dancers rarely transform into the next generation of Scottish
    Country dancer.
    
    Malcolm
    
    Malcolm L Brown
    York
  • ...

    Dick&Maureen Daniel April 4, 2006, 1:16 p.m. (Message 44976, in reply to message 44965)

    Anselm wrote.
    
    >The analogy breaks down there because in football you have competing teams 
    >and
    >in SCD as a rule you don't. There is no such thing as »competitive SCD«
    >(except for some places like, I gather, Scotland -- which may contribute to
    >the problem at hand).
    >
    >If you need it spelled out: Playing football for fun in the street with no
    >off-side rule et cetera is one thing, and playing football in an organised
    >club, taking part in a formal football league, is quite another. Similarly,
    >dancing for fun at ceilidhs is one thing, and RSCDS-style country dancing 
    >is
    >quite another.>
    I, for one, would be happy if the insistence on »rules«
    >for everything that one encounters in places (as in, whose hand is on top 
    >in
    >a 4 hands across, and where is the left big toe of 3rd man on bar 14 3/4 of
    >dance such-and-such) were replaced by liberal helpings of common sense,
    >teaching dancers to think for themselves and doing the thing that makes 
    >sense
    >in a given situation, rather than relying on arbitrary rules for the
    >micro-management of SCD. If this is what you mean by »loosening up«, Dick,
    >then I'm all in favour. However I would hate to see changes that would, 
    >say,
    >(as an extreme example) abolish pas-de-basque because it is too difficult 
    >to
    >master and may scare people off SCD.
    >
    >Anselm
    
    
    Good to have you on board Anselm.  It is precisely the extreme empasis on 
    the purely stylistic rules, to which I am opposed .  That is the whole 
    message I have been trying to convey.  My pas-de-basque is far from perfect 
    but I like to see ladies [in particular] perform the step well and I 
    generally try to get it right.
    
    On reflection, the root cause of the problem may well be that applicants to 
    become RSCDS Teachers are required to be so precise in all aspects of steps 
    and posture [otherwise they are failed] that they are led to believe this is 
    essential fodder for novice dancers. [as I noticed from an American 
    contributor's comments]  This is undoubtedly an area where RSCDS falls 
    short.  I have met many people in Ceilidh dancing circles who say they have 
    tried SCD with RSCDS classes, but were put off by the strict application of 
    rules of posture, step and etiquette.  I do not consider scrapping all is a 
    sensible route to take, but  perhaps we should have a new catchphrase in 
    RSCDS.  "Horses for courses"
    Incidentally, I suspect you don't need it spelled out, but Scottish Ceilidh 
    is a generic term covering all forms of entertainment with a group of 
    Scottish people [not necessarily in Scotland].  Ceilidhs can include no 
    dancing whatsoever, with people presenting their party-piece songs, poems, 
    readings, playing instruments etc.  Ceilidhs can be all couples dances, 
    including a smattering of old-tyme and non-Scottish dances. Ceilidhs may be 
    half set dances and half couples dances.  Ceilidhs may include Highland 
    dancing and/or Step dancing.  Ceilidhs may be held in a tiny farmhouse 
    kitchen or a massive public hall.  Ceilidhs may be a mixture of all or any 
    of the above.  I have produced a "Noddy" website in an attempt to advertise 
    that Ceilidh does not deserve its rough-house image, and to provide an easy 
    introduction to Ceilidh/SCD. for total novices.
    
    http://ceilidhbasics.mysite.wanadoo-members.co.uk
    
    Feel free to have a look if you are so inclined.  It's not earth-shattering 
    stuff, merely a small attempt to transmit the message about SCD/Ceilidh.
    
    Dick Daniel
  • ...

    Anselm Lingnau April 4, 2006, 1:48 p.m. (Message 44977, in reply to message 44976)

    Dick Daniel wrote:
    
    > [...] and I
    > generally try to get it right.
    
    I think this is all that can reasonably be required of a dancer. It is good if 
    people strive for perfection but if we insist on perfection then the dance 
    floors will be empty indeed.
    
    > On reflection, the root cause of the problem may well be that applicants to
    > become RSCDS Teachers are required to be so precise in all aspects of steps
    > and posture [otherwise they are failed] that they are led to believe this
    > is essential fodder for novice dancers.
    
    I believe that a teacher should be able to serve as an example. This is not to 
    say that teachers must be perfect dancers as far as posture and steps are 
    concerned, only that they should at least try to be reasonably good -- 
    because the class will emulate the teacher. There are lots of reasonable 
    exemptions e.g., for teachers who have been getting on in years (and whose 
    experience makes up for any loss in agility), but if a young(ish) teacher is 
    visibly sloppy and not making an effort, then how can anyone expect his class 
    to do so?
    
    One of the big caveats of becoming a teacher is that people will (possibly 
    subconsciously) watch your dancing even when you're not actively teaching 
    your class. Whatever you do carries weight merely because it is a well-known 
    fact that you are an SCD teacher, so what you do must be correct.
    
    Concerning »essential fodder for novice dancers«: It doesn't make a whole lot 
    of sense to confront novice dancers with all the fine points of technique 
    etc. at the very beginning, but neither should these be completely 
    disregarded. In my class I tend to get beginners to get the geometry right 
    first and the fine points of steps etc. later, as I would much rather they be 
    able to join in at least the easier dances. I also must admit that I try to 
    get people to join workshops for proper training about steps etc.; there is 
    only so much you can do in a weekly general class if you want to keep the 
    session moving and »fun«.
    
    >From the point of view of the Society, I think it is good to insist that there 
    *are* certain standards. However, as far as I know, »standards everywhere, 
    all the time« is not current RSCDS policy, anyway, so claiming the contrary 
    and dissing the Society for it would be a straw-man argument.
    
    > Incidentally, I suspect you don't need it spelled out, but Scottish Ceilidh
    > is a generic term covering all forms of entertainment with a group of
    > Scottish people [not necessarily in Scotland].  Ceilidhs can include no
    > dancing whatsoever, with people presenting their party-piece songs, poems,
    > readings, playing instruments etc.
    
    Yep. I was using »ceilidh« in the urban sense (dance event) rather than the 
    rural sense (mixed entertainment).
    
    Anselm
    -- 
    Anselm Lingnau, Frankfurt, Germany ..................... xxxxxx@xxxxxxxxxx.xxx
    You see things, and you say `Why?'
            But I dream things that never were, and say `Why not?'   -- G. B. Shaw
  • ...

    Dick&Maureen Daniel April 4, 2006, 3:22 p.m. (Message 44978, in reply to message 44977)

    Anselm wrote...
    
    
    
    >One of the big caveats of becoming a teacher is that people will (possibly
    >subconsciously) watch your dancing even when you're not actively teaching
    >your class. Whatever you do carries weight merely because it is a 
    >well-known
    >fact that you are an SCD teacher, so what you do must be correct.
    
    Accepted - Though I'm sure you are aware I am not a teacher, I speak as 
    "people".
    >
    >Concerning »essential fodder for novice dancers«: It doesn't make a whole 
    >lot
    >of sense to confront novice dancers with all the fine points of technique
    >etc. at the very beginning, but neither should these be completely
    >disregarded.>
    
    Agreed.
    
    >From the point of view of the Society, I think it is good to insist that 
    >there
    >*are* certain standards. However, as far as I know, »standards everywhere,
    >all the time« is not current RSCDS policy, anyway........
    
    I think part of the problem is that newcomers to RSCDS classes often seem to 
    get the impression that tequniqu is all, and don't hang around long enough 
    to discover otherwise.  On the other hand, I know of people who have not 
    returned to ceilidh classes because they aren't structured.
    
    We appear to have more in common than things to take up cudgels about.  I'm 
    pleasantly surprised.
    
    Dick Daniel
  • ...

    Ron Mackey April 5, 2006, 1:10 a.m. (Message 44983, in reply to message 44976)

    I do have the feeling that Dick ls preaching to the (mostly) 
    converted.   I make refernce to Bill Clement's Speech at Summer 
    School on the occasion of the 75th Anniversary in 1998!! 
    It is all in there and was put to us in a message from Jim Healy 
    which, no doubt, may be conjured up from the Archives?
  • ...

    Dick&Maureen Daniel April 7, 2006, 11:16 p.m. (Message 44989, in reply to message 44983)

    I have no doubt there are many "converted " people in RSCDS.  The problem 
    from my viewpoint is that no-one [in Scotland] is doing anything about that 
    monstrous iceberg, other than making mouth-music.  Meantime, we are on "Full 
    Speed Ahead".  Even when action is taken to "turn the wheel a wee" - rather 
    than just talk at length and in depth about whether the wheel needs turning 
    - a ship this big takes a long time to respond.  The sooner we change 
    course, the less the wheel will need to be yanked to avoid the collision.  
    Elementary physics.
    
    The action needed is to DEMONSTRATE forcibly to all comers, that RSCDS 
    dancers are NOT FIXATED on "proper" footwork and decorum.  That is 
    definitely not the signal being generally transmitted at this point in time, 
    in Scotland, as far as I and many non-RSCDS dancers/aspiring dancers I know 
    and/or have met, are concerned.  I think it may also be the main reason that 
    many non-RSCDS dancing clubs in Scotland go no further than affilliating 
    with RSCDS and many don't even go that far.
    
    People who come to Scottish RSCDS classes or public events [especially young 
    people] have to be shown EXTREME levels of tolerance.  Call it ACTIVE 
    Positive Discrimination to use current buzz words.  I don't think we are 
    trying hard enough.  We think that if we can honestly say we had a good time 
    at an event, that makes it self-evident that nothing is basically wrong with 
    the RSCDS way, and we are right.  Unfortunately, the real young folk don't 
    agree, and vote with their feet.
    
    If you have never been to the Riverside Club in Glasgow [or similar venue], 
    you can never begin to understand why their form of dancing is so generally 
    attractive to young people, and the RSCDS version is generally NOT.   
    ......................... NB  ALL age groups are made very welcome there and 
    ALL age groups dance together.  I have never seen, or heard of, any 
    brawling.  It's all good simple fun dancing to good Scottish music - but 
    with much more vigour than is normal at RSCDS events.
    
    I am not suggesting Scottish RSCDS adopt Riverside Club format, only that we 
    should move a bit  towards that format - particularly when dealing with 
    young people.
    
    Dick Daniel
  • ...

    Ian Brockbank April 3, 2006, 5:28 p.m. (Message 44968, in reply to message 44961)

    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
    xxx@xxxxxxxxxxxxx.xxx
    http://www.scottishdance.net/
  • ...

    Dick&Maureen Daniel April 4, 2006, 3:42 p.m. (Message 44979, in reply to message 44968)

    Ian Brockbank wrote....
    
    >
    >It depends who you are.  For beginners, of course you shouldn't concentrate
    >on niceities until the basics are there.  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).
    
    Great.
    
    >
    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?
    
    Agreed, fortunately the sad individuals are very much in the minority and 
    easily dismissed.  Have not danced with Stewart knowingly... Most of my 
    activity is in the West of Scotland.
    >
      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.
    
    I'm becoming convinced that the main problem may stem from teaching too 
    tight too soon.
    
    >
    >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.
    
    
    I've had unsolicited feedback from several indivicuals who attended a class, 
    formed the instant "strict and stuffy" conclusion, and didn't hang around 
    long enough to find out otherwise.
    >
    >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.
    
    Couldn't agree more.  The RSCDS must survive at all costs, in the interests 
    of SCD.
    We mustn't lose sight of the fact however that Ceilidh is a generic term 
    covering many different formats and venue types.  Even RSCDS version of SCD 
    is a form of Ceilidh where only set dances are performed.
    Check out my Noddy web site    
    http://ceilidhbasics.mysite.wanadoo-members.co.uk/ for an insight into my 
    attempts to bring SCD/Ceilidh to the notice of the general public.
    >
    >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?
    >
    
    I have never heard anyone criticise another for dancing well - only for 
    being expected to dance perfectly.
    
    
    >Cheers,
    >
    Dick Daniel.
  • ...

    Ian Brockbank April 3, 2006, 5:33 p.m. (Message 44969, in reply to message 44938)

    Malcolm wrote:
    
    > The worrying thing about the children dancing in Scotland is 
    > that despite the fact
    > these large groups of children have been dancing at festivals 
    > for years, the average
    > age of the dancer seen at a Scottish dance in Scotland is 
    > increasing.  
    > 
    > It might be something to do with growing up, fitting in with 
    > the crowd, and the many
    > more pleasurable things available to try, but I always find 
    > it sad that young
    > competitive highland dancers rarely transform into the next 
    > generation of Scottish
    > Country dancer.
    
    Why do we concentrate efforts on getting children dancing?  They're far too
    fickle.  It's the adults we need to hook.  If we can get the students and
    newly free parents (whose children are now old enough they can start to have
    a life again) they're much more likely to keep it up long-term.
    
    > And there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to show that the 
    > year end school Christmas
    > dance was the place where Scots were turned off SCD for life.
    
    In my experience, (both personal and from talking to other people who grew
    up in Scotland) no-one liked the lessons, but everyone enjoys doing it once
    they start going to real ceilidhs, and are glad then that they had the
    lessons.
    
    Cheers,
    
    Ian Brockbank
    Edinburgh, Scotland
    xxx@xxxxxxxxxxxxx.xxx
    http://www.scottishdance.net/
  • ...

    Hannah Newfield-Plunkett April 3, 2006, 6:50 p.m. (Message 44970, in reply to message 44938)

    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.
    
    Hannah
    Chicago, IL and Ithaca, NY
    
    
    
    >
    > Message: 9
    > Date: Mon, 3 Apr 2006 16:28:13 +0100
    > From: "Ian Brockbank" <xxx@xxxxxxxxxxxxx.xxx>
    > Subject: RE: Over 700 schoolchildren dance in Glasgow
    > To: "'SCD news and discussion'" <xxxxxxxxxx@xxxxxxxxxx.xxx>
    > 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
    > xxx@xxxxxxxxxxxxx.xxx
    > http://www.scottishdance.net/
    >
    >
    >
    > ------------------------------
    >
    > _______________________________________________
    > http://strathspey.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/strathspey
    >
    > 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
    proverb
  • ...

    Alexandre Rafalovitch April 3, 2006, 7:04 p.m. (Message 44971, in reply to message 44970)

    On 4/3/06, Hannah Newfield-Plunkett <xxxxxxxxx@xxxxx.xxx> wrote:
    > 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.
    
    I second that. We just had a young lady start at New York branch. She
    moved from another USA city to go to the college here and after a
    month of trying to establish new connections decided to try again SCD.
    2 weeks after she showed up at the branch, she got invited to some big
    parties and is now being begged to go to the long weekend dancing
    event (Pauling) (those who are coming, watch out for her keily (sp)
    number). She said to us (happily) that suddenly her problem is
    _finding_ the free time to do all the exciting things now on her
    plate.
    
    Regards,
        Alex
  • ...

    Margaret Lambourne April 3, 2006, 11:21 p.m. (Message 44975, in reply to message 44971)

    I agree totally with both Hannah and Alex about the social aspect of SCD 
    being very important. I had 2 of my group, who had only taken up dancing 
    about 3/4 years ago and had retired down to the south of France, told me 
    that dancing had been their entree into a social life with both ex-pats 
    and locals and were very grateful for it. It doesn't matter what age you 
    are, SCD is very social and gives you a great social life enabling you 
    to meet and become friends with many you would never have met otherwise. 
    It certainly gave me a great point of contact when I moved to the 
    Netherlands over 20 years ago, not knowing anyone and unable to speak Dutch.
    
    Margaret
  • ...

    Andrew C Aitchison April 3, 2006, 7:28 p.m. (Message 44972, in reply to message 44938)

    On Mon, 3 Apr 2006, mlamontbrown wrote:
    
    > I always find it sad that young competitive highland dancers rarely 
    > transform into the next generation of Scottish Country dancer.
    
    I'd be surprised if they did. If they can't compete at the level they 
    used to, SCD is going to seem like a big step down that just reminds them 
    how far the have retreated. I'd expect them to teach highland or take up 
    something completely different.
  • ...

    Thomas G. Mungall, III April 4, 2006, 7:58 p.m. (Message 44981, in reply to message 44972)

    One of the best Scottish Country Dancers I know was a former competitive
    Highland Dancer in her youth. In fact, I've known several so it does happen,
    admittedly it is rare. For some young folk, Highland Dance is a competitive
    sport rather than an art. The same is true for Irish solo dance. Likewise,
    how often does one see a former Irish solo dancer dancing Irish Ceilli
    Dance?
    
    However, for some, the joy of dance carries over into SCD.
    
    Tom Mungall
    Baton Rouge, La, USA
  • ...

    S. Keith Graham April 4, 2006, 8:24 p.m. (Message 44982, in reply to message 44981)

    On 4/4/06, Thomas G. Mungall, III <xxxxxxxx@xxx.xxx> wrote:
    > One of the best Scottish Country Dancers I know was a former competitive
    > Highland Dancer in her youth. In fact, I've known several so it does happen,
    > admittedly it is rare.
    
    While Highland dancing does have some overlap with SCD, it is very
    different in feel and character.
    
    The overlap includes, to some degree, the music as well as a ballet
    influence.  But for the most part, Highland is all about the footwork
    and essentially does not have "figures" as we understand them. 
    Highland is also a competitive solo dance with very little interaction
    (with only one or two exceptions) with other dancers.
    
    So while the footwork will be nearly trivial for a former highland
    dancer, the figures won't be.  And the social aspects of SCD may or
    may not appeal to a highland dancer as it is more of a solo
    competitive sport (ala gymnastics.)
    
    In fact, we have a former gymnist as a beginner in our class, and she
    is doing extremely well as a beginner.  And two of the best students
    in our last beginner class were former college (American) football
    players.
    
    People with a background in dance or athletics will probably learn SCD
    more quickly than your "average" person but if they aren't interested
    in the social and interactive aspects, I don't think they'll continue.
    
    Keith Graham
    xxx@xxxx.xxx
  • ...

    S. Keith Graham April 7, 2006, 10:31 p.m. (Message 44988, in reply to message 44982)

    On 4/4/06, Thomas G. Mungall, III <xxxxxxxx@xxx.xxx> wrote:
    > One of the best Scottish Country Dancers I know was a former competitive
    > Highland Dancer in her youth. In fact, I've known several so it does happen,
    > admittedly it is rare.
    
    Another comment from one of our converted Highland dancers last night:
    
    "Many highland dancers in the US don't know anything about SCD.  When
    they go to a games to compete, they go directly to the competition,
    warm up, compete, change costumes, compete again, collect medals, and
    go home.  I had no idea what else happened at the games."
    
    Unless there's some overlap between the highland dance community and
    the country dance community in a particuliar locale, it is possible
    they have no idea SCD even exists.   (In Atlanta, there's no overlap
    between the two.  In parts of North Carolina, there's  considerable
    overlap.)
    
    So perhaps there is a recruiting opportunity here for Highland Dancers
    (both younger and older) and perhaps for their parents as well.  An
    article in a Highland Dance magazine?  A demo on the Highland Platform
    during a break to get their attention?
    
    Keith Graham
    Atlanta, GA, USA
    xxx@xxxx.xxx
  • ...

    Chris1Ronald April 3, 2006, 7:36 p.m. (Message 44973, in reply to message 44938)

    Ian wrote:
    
    "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."
    The leads me to reflect on the impression that is given to new  teachers (and 
    others) at the teaching examinations.  For those of us who  dance in North 
    America and go to Summer School in Canada, the examiners serve in  many ways as 
    Ambassadors of the Society.  I have met a number of  the "Ambassadors"over the 
    years, and what I've seen suggests that  mostly they do reflect the "new" 
    RSCDS.  That is, they are looking for  potential to be good, enthusiastic 
    teachers, and are not overly "strict" about  pointy toes, turn-out, third positions, 
    etc.  And in general I  believe the examiners do a superb job, with little 
    recognition or  reward.  But - sadly - one still  sees cases where promising 
    teacher candidates are  failed, and some get badly alienated.  To say the least,  
    this is unhelpful in terms of projecting a more 'user-friendly' image.   Do 
    others have similar experiences, or have we just been unlucky  in this part of 
    the world? 
     
    Chris, New York.
  • ...

    Phill Jones April 3, 2006, 8:24 p.m. (Message 44974, in reply to message 44938)

    I think I must agree with you, and I am sure that the 100+ dancers that
    attended the RSCDS Spring Fling in Newcastle-upon-Tyne on Saturday
    evening would agree too.  Especially as at least 70% were under 35 years
    with the majority of those in their teens and twenties.  My only regret
    was being on the wrong side of the music all evening when I could have
    been dancing with my own age group for a change.  Some of those who
    attended the whole weekend will be able to testify that even I was
    enthused to attend a full morning of dance classes for the first time in
    almost a decade!  So they must be doing something right.
    
    And, of course, just because the attendees are being taught to dance
    'properly' does not mean that they can not add their own extra little
    flourishes to the dancing.  As Malcolm Brown and Deb Lees can no doubt
    testify :-)
    
    Kind regards,
    Phill Jones (who, as I am sure several more are too, is still recovering
    from very little sleep this weekend...)

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