Celebrating international women in Scottish country dancing!
March 6, 2020
The RSCDS is delighted to celebrate International Women’s Day, taking place on Sunday 8 March 2020.
All of our dancers play a crucial role in developing and supporting the traditions of Scottish country dance and Scottish music.
However, on International Women’s Day, we would like to highlight a selection of female Branch and Affiliated Group Officers that diligently support the smooth running of Scottish country dancing around the world.
The women mentioned here are just a small selection of the many dancers, women and men, who give dedicated service to Scottish country dancing across the globe throughout the year.
Ceilidh Kids and Dunedin Dancers
In Edinburgh, Caroline Brockbank has been dancing for over 40 years and recently took on the Secretary role in the Affiliated Group Dunedin Dancers. Caroline is also the founder of the popular CeilidhKids, that offers various fun Scottish country dance activities for all the family to get involved.
Photo courtesy of Caroline Brockbank showing CeilidhKids in action. Photography by Anna Moffat Photography.
Sheena Leslie has been Secretary of Forfar Branch for 4 years and advised us that taking on a Branch Officer role allowed her to “learn how the RSCDS all fits together”. Sheena also commented that “the AGM in Perth is always a ‘standout’ event with many nationalities attending”.
Photo courtesy of Sheena Leslie of the Forfar Branch.
Gillian Hardstone, has been Secretary of the Lockerbie Branch for 7 years and has been dancing for around 20 years. She noted that an interesting part of her role is “cross-border collaboration and strategic planning with various Branches. This includes setting up our very popular twice-yearly Nice and Easy Dances for beginners and less confident dancers, which is organised jointly with RSCDS Carlisle and Borders.”
Photo courtesy of Dumfries Branch, showing Gillian Hardstone with David Davidson holding the Demonstration Trophy the team had just been awarded.
Mid Argyll Branch
Kim Ritchie is currently Chair of the Mid Argyll Branch and has been dancing for 10 years. As part of her role, she most enjoys having the opportunity to “meet other dancers at RSCDS events”.
Photo courtesy of Kim Ritchie who is pictured at the Blair Castle Ball with Toril Frantzen, Secretary of the North Connel Scottish Country Dance Club.
The Aberdeen Branch is coordinated by the Chair Clare Grycuk, the Treasurer Fiona Taylor, the Secretary Lynn Wood and the Youth Coordinator Gail Fraser.
As Lynn Wood comments, “if it wasn’t for the women running the Branch, there wouldn’t be a Branch!” Lynn received a Branch Award for her 16 years’ service as Secretary.
Photo courtesy of Aberdeen Branch. Fiona Taylor, Treasurer of Aberdeen Branch (left), Secretary Lynn Wood pictured on the left with Clare Grycuk, Chair of Aberdeen Branch on the other side of the bear, wearing tartan.
Hamilton and Clydesdale Branch
Irene Miller is the Chair of Hamilton and Clydesdale Branch and has been dancing for around 30 years. Irene told us that she loved being “the voice of the Branch and welcoming new members”. She also advised she had been delighted to “present honours to two highly esteemed 90+ year old members at a Xmas dance”.
Photos of Irene Miller, courtesy of Hamilton and Clydesdale Branch.
Another key member of the Hamilton and Clydesdale Branch is Secretary Diana Mallinson who has danced for over 35 years and enjoys organising dances, including the 80th Anniversary Ball in 2015.
Branch website administrator, Marie-Helene Murtagh was also given a special mention for “exceptional work for the Branch”, with the website being a “a major asset in promoting events”.
Chair Anne MacDonald and Treasurer Moyra Wright coordinate activities for RSCDS Cheshire. Both women have been dancing for over 30 years.
Moyra is new to her Treasurer role but this is Anne’s third year as Cheshire Branch Chair. Outside of Scottish country dancing, Anne holds an OBE for her services to children’s nursing and advised that Scottish country dancing remains her “main hobby and means of relaxation”.
Photos courtesy of Anne MacDonald. Photo on left shows Anne with Branch Secretary, Andrew Locke, at Blair Castle Ball. The photo on the right is from the Tarporley Carnival- Summer 2019 where Anne is pictured in the group with Branch Treasurer, Moyra Wright and Branch teacher, Di Rooney, who choreographed the demonstration for the event.
Nantwich and District Scottish Society
Christine Grove, Secretary of the Nantwich and District Scottish Society has danced for around 14 years and served the group for the last 10 years. Christine enjoys “helping to organise Balls” such as the Burns’ Night and there is “never a dull moment”.
Photos courtesy of Christine Grove showing The Committee of Nantwich and District Scottish Society, preparing for Burns' Night (left) and on the right are Members of Nantwich and other societies, dancing at the Cheshire Wyche Ball (Nantwich, Northwich and RSCDS Cheshire Branch).
Maxine Slade, Branch Treasurer and Diana Dainton, Branch Secretary, of RSCDS Wirral have both been enjoying Scottish country dancing for over 20 years. Diana enjoys coordinating the music and the website for the Branch and Maxine paid tribute to the “successful teamwork of our committee & teachers that has maintained our Branch membership”.
Photo courtesy of Wirral Branch.
Sutton Coldfield Branch
Frances Richardson, Chair of Sutton Coldfield Branch has danced for 25 years and thoroughly enjoyed “organising the special dance and other activities to celebrate 60 years of Scottish dancing in Sutton Coldfield”.
Photo courtesy of Sutton Coldfield Branch with Chair Frances Richardson cutting the cake at their 60th anniversary last year.
Treasurer June Felekkis, has been dancing for around 45 years and held Branch Officer posts for over 10 years, comments that “Scottish country dancing has given a great deal of pleasure to my life”.
Photo courtesy of Norwich Branch, showing the Branch enjoying their Ball last May.
Bournemouth Branch Secretary, Margaret Robson has been enjoying Scottish country dancing for 66 years and has served the Branch for 22 years. Margaret is an RSCDS teacher and won a Branch award in December 2008.
Photo of Bournemouth Branch Secretary, Margaret Robson. Shows Margaret while on holiday last October in Australia where Margaret danced with the West Australia Branch (Perth), Brisbane Branch and a small group in Nowra, New South Wales that were taught by the Australian Ballet Master, Stephen Heathcote.
Joanne Lawrence, Secretary of RSCDS London has danced for 6 years and has a similar day job, running a membership organisation.
Photo courtesy of Secretary Joanne Lawrence, London Branch. Joanne featured in the middle of the photo with Sarah Shaw and Jenny Kendrick.
Surbiton and District Caledonian Society
Cathy Daldy has served as Chair of the Surbiton and District Caledonian Society for almost 2 years. For Cathy, the most rewarding part of the role is “being the face of the club: getting to know all our members, greeting them each week, making them feel welcome and valued, as well as looking out for newcomers and ensuring they are looked after.”
Photo courtesy of Cathy Daldy pictured on the left with friends from Surbiton and District Caledonian Society at the Isle of Wight weekend school in February 2020.
Ross Reel Club
Alison Harvey has been Secretary of the Ross Reel Club in Ross on Wye for a year but has danced for over 50 years. Alison enjoys her role and taking responsibility for advertising the local dances. A keen golfer, Alison has also won different golfing awards.
Photo courtesy of Alison Harvey, Secretary of the Ross Reel Club.
Shaftesbury & East Knoyle Scottish Country Dance Group
Branch Secretary and teacher, Nicola Tyson has danced for more than 50 years and coordinated the group for 20 years. Interesting moments in her role include, “arranging social events for the club, especially our 30th, 40th and (2 years ago) our 50th Anniversary Dances."
Photos show Secretary Nicola Tyson as MC at their 50th Anniversary in 2018 and the group dancing together.
Somerset Branch Secretary and teacher, Liz Beckinsale has danced for more than 40 years and enjoys running the children’s class and “encouraging new dancers to take part and join us.” Liz also previously served as Branch Treasurer.
Photo shows Branch Secretary Liz Beckinsale and dancing in demonstration team.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Karen Becker is the current Secretary of Carolinas Branch. She has enjoyed dancing for 46 years and is a qualified teacher.
Also supporting the running of the Carolinas Branch is Membership Secretary, Eilean Yates who has served the Branch for 14 years and danced for 35 years. Eilean received the Carolinas Branch Award.
Photo supplied of Membership Secretary, Eilean Yates receiving the Carolinas Branch Award in 2017.
Delaware Valley Branch
Cecily Selling, Secretary and teacher of Delaware Valley Branch has danced for 47 years. Cecily and her husband, Geoffrey, co-wrote A Handbook for Scottish Country Dance Teachers.
Branch Chair, Katherine Giacoletti has danced for 28 years and really enjoyed “preparing for the branch's 50th anniversary celebration in 2020”.
Photo of Delaware Valley Branch Secretary, Cecily Selling.
Dunedin Scottish Country Dancers
The current Dunedin Scottish Country Dancers Secretary, April Gayle Gausman, has also previously served as the Orlando Branch Secretary. April finds being in post “most rewarding” and she is in constant contact with many local group leaders.
Photo courtesy of April Gayle Gausman.
Brevard Scottish Country Dancers of Melbourne, Florida, Affiliated Group
Catie Condran Geist is Secretary of the Brevard Scottish Country Dancers of Melbourne, Florida and has danced for over 40 years. She is their longest standing Group Officer, serving the group since it was formed 40 years ago. In 2015, Catie was honoured as a Local Hero by the Country Dance and Song Society for 35 years of promoting Scottish Country Dancing, Contra Dancing, and English Country Dancing in east central Florida.
Photos showing Catie Condran Geist, including cutting the cake to mark the 40th anniversary of the Brevard Scottish Country Dancers of Melbourne, Florida.
Reverend Dr Anna Grant-Henderson has been dancing since 2000 and has been Secretary of the Adelaide Branch for the last 4 years. The part of her role she enjoys the most is “organizing events and having ceilidhs that introduce new people to social Scottish dancing.”
Photo courtesy of Anna Grant Henderson, Secretary Adelaide Branch.
Diana Hastie has served as RSCDS Sydney Secretary for the last 2 years and has danced for the last 23. Diana is also a qualified RSCDS teacher and commented “many of us ‘wear multiple hats’ e.g. I am Branch Secretary and also Treasurer for a sub-committee, while doing quite a lot of organising, teaching, running ceilidhs and displays!”
Photos courtesy of Diana Hastie, showing her dancing with other Branch members.
Hunter Valley/Newcastle Branch
Kathryn Bourke, Treasurer of the Hunter Valley/Newcastle Branch has danced for over 20 years. Kathryn comments that her standout event as a Branch Officer was organising “Winter School in 2018 at Shoal Bay. It was a mammoth task & would have been a challenge for a professional event management team.”
Photo showing Kathryn pictured in the middle of the group at a Riverwood Downs event.
Melbourne and District Branch
Melbourne and District Branch Secretary, Josephine Reed and Branch Treasurer, Christine Freeman have both danced for over 20 years. Josephine Reed is a teacher who received a Branch Award and is also a recipient of a National Medal for service during Black Saturday Bush Fires in 2009.
Christine Freeman is also a Scottish country dance teacher and has convened two of the Australian Winter Schools.
Photo of Christine Freeman as MC of a dance.
Ardbrae Dancers of Ottawa
Elaine Hoag, Secretary and teacher of the Ardbrae Dancers of Ottawa has danced for 33 years and coordinated the group for the last 28 years. Elaine reflects, “being active in our group at this level allows me to get to know more of our members. Our 50th anniversary year was especially memorable.”
Photo of members of the Ardbrae Dancers of Ottawa dancing at their February Ball.
The Calgary Branch team, including Sheree Iffla, Karen McKenzie, Nancy Laing and Sharon Barker, enjoy working together to coordinate activities for the Branch and raising funds.
Branch President Nancy Laing commented “after a long intellectual day at work, it is wonderful to join a group of dancers a few times a week and enjoy the music, the dancing and the joy of dancing together.”
Photo courtesy of Calgary Branch.
Branch Officers Gillian Mandel, Marion Hamilton and Carolyn Bond also enjoy working together to support the Ottawa Branch. Carolyn commented “what the team accomplishes is exciting and dedication to the Branch is outstanding”.
Marion Hamilton also finds her Chair of Teachers role “so rewarding because I am able to encourage our teachers to use all the resources available to increase their effectiveness to increase the enjoyment and excellence of all of our Scottish Country Dancers.”
Photo of Carolyn Bond as Chair of Ottawa Branch, last year.
In Canada, Fiona Alberti, Secretary of the Toronto Association has been enjoying her new role of Secretary over the last 10 months. Fiona commented “as Secretary perhaps the most interesting thing is the access to all the archive files (since 2005) and the ability to see what has happened over the past years.” Fiona also noted that many women volunteer and support the Branch.
Photo of Fiona Alberti (featured wearing green) dancing at the Tartan Ball in 2019.
Kitchener- Waterloo Branch
Secretary Alison Zorian of Kitchener-Waterloo Branch has been dancing for 5 years and supporting the club for the last three years. Alison comments, “just being on the executive that runs a club is interesting.”
Vice-Chair Kathryn Lecocq has danced for 12 years and been in post for one year. Kathryn mentioned that she enjoyed, "being part of planning our Combined Ball with the Blair Scottish Dancers and organizing our Burns Supper."
Treasurer Sarah Ferguson has also danced for 5 years and enjoyed, “getting to know everyone at the club! Some standout events for our club have always been our Christmas dance which is a huge success.”
Photos courtesy of Alison Zorian and Kathryn Lecocq
London (Canada) Branch
Chair Margaret Campbell has been dancing for over 10 years. According to Margaret, “the most interesting part is putting together a schedule of events that is full and will appeal to our members, and then actually organizing and planning the events. One activity that stands out was going through the nomination process for the Scroll of Honour for one of our branch teachers… a very interesting and rewarding experience.”
Photo courtesy of Margaret Campbell.
Branch Officers Marian Holmes, Tara Zrymiak, Gail Jacobs and Ferne Katzberg of the Saskatchewan Branch have all enjoyed coordinating the Branch activities.
In particular, Membership Secretary Gail Jacobs has enjoyed "teaching children the joy of dancing” for 45 years. While Ferne Katzberg enjoys organising the Branch AGM and working on the Committee for the Branch Workshop. In her spare time, Ferne is the pipe major of the Yorkton & District Pipe Band.
Photos courtesy of Marian Jennifer Holmes, current Vice President of the Saskatchewan Branch.
St Johns (Newfoundland) Branch
Kathryn Simonsen, Secretary and teacher of the St Johns (Newfoundland) Branch has danced for 46 years. As part of her Branch Officer role, she most enjoyed “attending the Bonn Spring Fling in 2017.”
Photo courtesy of Secretary Kathryn Simonsen.
Beatrix Wepner, Branch Officer of Vienna Branch has been involved with the Branch for “at least 20 years”, has been dancing for thirty years and is a qualified RSCDS Teacher. Beatrice was a crucial organiser in the 30th Branch Anniversary weekend in 2019.
Photo shows Beatrix (Bexi) Wepner left at the Branch’s 30th Anniversary weekend.
Northern Italy Branch
Valeria Corradin, Secretary of Northern Italy Branch has enjoyed Scottish country dancing for the last 25 years and served as Secretary for the last 10. Valeria teaches both Scottish country dancing and also Irish dancing.
Photos courtesy of Northern Italy Branch.
Circolo di Romagna APS-Società di Danza Affiliated Group
Bruna Bertini, President of the Circolo di Romagna APS-Società di Danza group in Italy has danced for 28 years and is a teacher.
Bruna advised that in order to celebrate International Women’s Day, her group annually “organise a show of readings and dances of nineteenth-century traditional society as a tribute to the social, political and economic achievements of nineteenth-century women through the art of society dances”.
Photos courtesy of Circolo di Romagna APS-Società di Danza President, Bruna Bertini.
Cape Town Branch
Heather Hodgson, Chair of Cape Town Branch, has danced for the last 20 years, is a teacher and also one of the Chieftains on the Cape Town Caledonian Society. Heather currently teaches the “Fish Hoek Scottish Country Dance Class in a hall close to the home where RSCDS Co-founder Mrs Ysobel Stewart retired and spent her final years”.
Photo courtesy of Heather Hodgson of “the group at a dancing event in 2018".
Jen Robertson, Treasurer of the Youth Branch, has enjoyed dancing for the last 15 years and is currently working towards her teaching certificate. Jen enjoys her role as Branch Treasurer which allows her to “interact with young dancers from all over the world”.
Photo courtesy of Jen Robertson.
We would like to thank all the women who sent in their comments and photos this year to help us celebrate the role of our female Branch and Affiliated Group Officers on International Women’s Day.
Plus a huge thanks to all of our dedicated volunteers, women and men, around the world that continue to support Scottish country dancing.