July eUpdate 
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Chair Chat

Dear dancers,

In 2022 the Leeds Branch will have its 60th anniversary. Surely by then we will be able to take hands and dancing will become a social activity again. As we look forward to building on the great traditions of our branch, I am reminded that July means the White Rose Festival, the event that brings the dancing world to Leeds. And it has an even longer history than the branch.

The first dancing festival was in 1953 at Leeds Training College, now the Headingley Campus of Leeds Beckett University. The campus often forms part of my lockdown walks and I am delighted to know that Scottish Country Dancers graced the Acre before I was born. In fact, I am wondering how many festival venues I can tick off on my walks: West Park School (tick – now modern housing), Abbey Grange Academy and the University of Leeds (both possible) and The Gateways School (I might have to cheat on that one and do part by car).

I believe this is the first time the White Rose Festival has been cancelled and I commiserate with the WRF committee – there is nothing pleasant about unpicking careful plans. However, for those who like to make an early start to learning the White Rose Festival dances, you will be pleased to hear that the 2021 programme is already online. Just reading the list of dances makes me want to grab my dancing shoes. As ever, there are some more challenging dances to draw the demonstration teams, but equally there are dances that need no introduction. See you at Gateways, 10 July 2021.

All the best,
Committee Activity
 This month your committee will again be meeting by Zoom; we’re becoming quite slick with this as many of us are using Zoom to follow the RSCDS online classes with the week’s ‘mystery teacher’.

We’ll be looking at how we can manage a safe return to dancing socially and perhaps also arrange our AGM by Zoom if necessary; York have already successfully done this. 

We'll also find a way for you all to renew your memberships!

Further afield
There is light at the end of the tunnel as we monitor what our dancing friends in other countries and regimes are able to do as they return to ‘new normal’ ahead of us.  Christine tells me that they are contact dancing again in New Zealand and Australia.  And non-contact dancing in Austria and Germany, but without masks on!  Oh, - and the shop is still open!  So you can get kitted up with new shoes for dancing now, and extend your knowledge of dances and enjoyment of music from the range of books and CDs on offer.

Devisors are also coming up with imaginative ways to dance, as evidenced by a new book, The Stay at Home Book of 6 dances devised by Anne Dejean, for those dancers who are lucky enough to live with 2 or 3 other dancers. When we can dance again, they could be used for regular classes when there are only very few dancers. 

Filling the Gap
As we head into what is usually our summer break, I’m registering what a change there is from this time last year when we were actually very busy with Scottish Country dancing all summer: first of all promoting our Family Ceilidhs at the Beckett Park Picnic in the Park, then looking forward to the White Rose Festival and later performing at Castle Howard for Countryfile Live! 

For me it didn’t stop there; in the gap between WRF and Castle Howard, I went on holiday to Nairn, visiting old friends and haunts.  We not only danced at a local ceilidh in Nairn, but had reminders of dances (and tunes) from the landscape.  Two of my favourite dances are Sueno’s Stone and the Falls of Rogie. 

I first saw Sueno’s Stone in the sixties when it stood naked to the weather, although surrounded by a protective fence, at the turnoff for Findhorn as you leave Forres towards Elgin. As Forres has acquired a by-pass which altered the layout of this junction, Historic Scotland has now provided the Stone
with its own architect-designed glass enclosure and wee park where the cycle path to Findhorn and Lossiemouth cross over the new road.  A much more fitting protection, but harder to see, let alone photograph, the actual carvings on the stone!.

The Falls of Rogie (near Contin) I had never before seen, although we had passed that way several times en route for friends near Garve.  Last year's visit was on a glorious hot day but with a goodly amount of water down the falls.  A fine walk, but we still made it to Garve for lunch with views of Ben Wyvis!

Both dances are on YouTube, so I can watch and listen now, and be ready to dance them again ‘at the drop of a hat’, as for me this is the best way to learn or revise a dance.  And there are lots of other favourite places to visit in the SCD directory, so I won’t be short of virtual SCD!

What is everyone else doing to fill the gap?

Whatever you're doing, keep safe and keep dancing even in your head.  Did you know that you can actually stimulate muscles and muscle memory by imagining a movement? A great way to prepare for and learn new movements!   Try it with step dancing!

Best Wishes
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