Editor’s note: The following is from the Vernon Scottish Country Dance Club, which begins its fall season Sept. 9.
The Scottish heritage and tradition is a part of the vibrant cultural scene in the Okanagan Valley in the form of Scottish Country Dancing. Club members meet in Penticton, Kelowna and Vernon from September through April. There are Scottish Country dance clubs active around the world including western and eastern Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Africa, South America and in the U.S.A. and Canada. Most clubs are members of, or affiliated with, the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society that was founded in 1923.
Scottish Country Dancing has its roots in folk dances of the 1700s, or perhaps earlier, and has been passed down through the centuries. The historical connection between Scotland and France is evident in the terms applied to some of the specific dance steps. These include “pas-de-bas,” “pousette” and “jeter.” The dances consist of the fast-paced jigs and reels and one other form, the strathspey, which is unique to Scottish Country Dancing. Of the entire dance forms, the Strathspey is more slowly paced and one might even say “courtly.” In all, it is estimated there are many thousands of different dances.
The Vernon Scottish Country Dance Club began in the 1970s. Gillian Martin, who lived in Kelowna, rode the bus once a week to Vernon to instruct the dances and more formally constituted the club in 1993. For the past 15 years Ruth Hurst has been the club’s resident instructor.
Scottish Country dancing is a social activity for Scots and non-Scots and young and old alike. Since most of the dances are fast-paced and all must be memorized, it also has health benefits in the form or cardio-vascular and mental exercises.
The Vernon Scottish Country Dance Club team takes part in various organized community cultural events and performs for residents of the local care homes throughout the year.
The club concluded the dancing season with its 18th annual Scottish Country Dance workshop and Ceilidh (pronounced kay-lee) at Paddlewheel Park Hall, April 26. The workshop attracts participants from various places in B.C. and Alberta and was instructed this year by Maureen Lyon, a well-known teacher from White Rock, B.C.
The Vernon Scottish Country Dance Club will start the fall dancing season Sept. 9 in Knox Presbyterian Church hall located at the corner of 32nd Avenue and Alexis Park Drive. Dancing begins at 7 p.m.
For more information about the Vernon Scottish Country Dance Club, call Ruth Hurst at 250-545-2626. and on the web at http://scotromanca.wix.com/vernonscd