Scottish country dancing school ‘exceeded expectations’

Fun, fitness and friendship were the order of the day in Milton yesterday morning, as the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society South Island Easter School drew to a close.

The slogan enshrined the goals of the traditional Celtic pastime, and all three elements had been delivered to the 100 attendees of the school in abundance during the weekend, event organiser Quentin Currall said.

All 100 dancers gathered at Milton’s Coronation Hall yesterday for the four-day school’s grand finale, the combined class ensemble.

The ensemble brought together beginner, intermediate and advanced groups for a final sequence of dances under instruction from the event’s three guest teachers, Helen Smythe, of Cambridge, Jeanette Watson, of Wellington, and Elaine Goldthorpe, of Kaiwaka.

Mr Currall said the weekend had gone smoothly, and had been "hugely enjoyed" by all.

"Covid has hampered Scottish country dancers’ efforts to get together and actually dance during the past year.

"The school has far exceeded expectations in terms of numbers, and has allowed those attending to simply enjoy dancing. We’re stoked with the enthusiasm of our visitors. We’ve done everything possible to make it a really good time for them and, looking at their smiles today, I think we have."

An eager practitioner of the 250-year-old art himself, Mr Currall said he had managed to enjoy a dance or two in between organisational duties.

"It may have been a mistake to try to organise and dance all at once, but I’ve had a great time learning from our fantastic teachers, and dancing the evenings away."

A group of dancers illustrates a teaching sequence during the Royal Scottish Country Dance...
A group of dancers illustrates a teaching sequence during the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society South Island Easter School combined class ensemble at Milton Coronation Hall yesterday morning. Photo: Richard Davison.
True to its origins, the dance form was egalitarian in nature and emphasised social and educational elements, rather than performance and competition, he said.

"The more experienced dancers help the newer dancers master aspects of technique and it’s always a huge amount of fun. It’s very relaxed.

"It’s survived for so long partly because it has such great tunes, and partly because Scotland has an egalitarian dance tradition where the lairds and the tenant farmers and everybody danced together.

"People can challenge their brains and bodies, while enjoying fun, fitness and friendship."

Mrs Goldthorpe said she was impressed with the willingness of her group of relative beginners to learn.

"I had a small group of people who had done ceilidh dancing before, but not really Scottish country dancing.

"They learnt a slower dance called a Strathspey, and a senior dance on the programme last night, which they all managed, so they’ve done very well."

Add a Comment

Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter