DST - DUSDS
May 25, 2022
Ever wondered about Scottish country dancing in universities? In this blog we hear from Dundee University Scottish Dance Society President Fiona Stewart who tells us all about the history of their group.
'We're a society that promotes Scottish culture through dance. This includes ceilidh, country and (when we get a bit bigger) Highland. It's a friendly and active setting for anyone to join, student or not, young or old, cat or dog, We're here to have fun and to teach people about a facet of Scottish culture which isn't celebrated enough. We hold weekly classes and socials, go to larger events all over Scotland, both with the RSCDS and other university societies, host ceilidhs, and run them for others, taster sessions - you name it, we do it!
We're only a small society just now; we find a lot of our events achieve a large audience, but Scottish country dance isn't for everyone. We hope with more classes for different levels and more opportunities for the members to travel and enjoy dancing elsewhere, we will be able to boost our numbers. Most members who went to one of our ceilidhs wanted to know what we were about then found, through a mix of good music and good company, that they wanted to stay. We have a broad range of ages, nationalities and disciplines that come to our classes, some born and bred in Dundee, some from Italy, Canada and further afield. PHD students, Masters, Undergrads, those that are coming back to university after a long break, and those that have only just started living on their own make up a diverse group of dancers. I think that this demonstrates that Scottish country dance is for everyone and no matter their age or cultural upbringing, it gives something to enjoy.
We keep an updated social media platform where we share RSCDS branch and university events for people to attend, branching into Discord (a free voice, video and text chat app) and Instagram to provide content and spaces to talk to larger groups of people. This enables the Society to keep in contact with those who go on to other universities, jobs or even countries after their time in Dundee. We've found if the person can find a RSCDS branch where they're going they will let us know they have continued to dance there. We love the idea of feet still dancing half a world away!
Now that we're moving into a new academic year with a new committee and more connections we're hoping to grow the Society, putting on more events, socials and opportunities to spread the Scottish culture and keep dancing. We're working with Dundee University Students Union to increase our presence at Freshers week, which is the best way to get new recruits, making it bigger and more cultural this year, working with the Traditional Music Society and other dance societies to put on more catered taster sessions, more cultural themed events and maybe even a mini Highland Games. We hope an event such as this would entice those hidden Highland dancers to come forward!
It has been a struggle as I'm sure you all know to get members interested, and so we think more open Scottish country dance balls, themed ceilidhs and more events around St Andrew's Day and Burns Night will help us to engage with younger people and those that have never heard the phrase 'Scottish dance'. I feel like a lot of people have this image of Scottish country dancing where it's just lots of old people shuffling along and twirling, whereas the truth couldn't be further away! I've found through only a short time dancing and organising events that the world of Scottish country dance is vast and diverse, but most importantly, full of energy and life. It's challenging, but so full of community and social spirit, bright smiles, and bruised toes, I think if there was anything to communicate to the world about dancing in Scotland, it would be that.'