Some History of Scottish Country Dancing
The Royal Scottish Country Dance Society was formed in 1923 in an effort to save the country dances of Scotland.
Although Scottish Country dancing had enjoyed over 200 years of uninterrupted popularity in Scotland, by the early twentieth century it was waning due to the influence of jazz, other popular dances, and the rapid social changes after the devastation of World War I. Only a handful of dances were being done and they had largely lost they sociability and “Scottish” characteristics.
Mrs. Ysobel Stewart of Fasnacloich and Miss Jean Milligan formed the Scottish Country Dance Society in November 1923 in an effort to revive an interest in the traditional country dances of Scotland and to preserve them before the older generation who remembered how to perform the dances died out.
The original objectives of the Society were:
- to practice and preserve the country dances as danced in Scotland
- to collect old books and pictures of Scottish dances
- to publish from time to time descriptions (with diagrams and music) in simple form at a moderate price.
Over the ensuing eighty-five years the Society has become “Royal” (King George VI granted a royal charter in 1951) and has expanded its objectives to include:
- the promotion and formation of branches
- to provide special education in the practice of SCD
- to collect books, manuscript, illustrations, and other memorabilia related to SCD and the Society.
The founders’ efforts to revive and restore Scottish Country Dancing to a dignified and sociable form of dance has been highly successful. The Society has grown from a gathering of twenty-seven people to a world-wide organization.
Branches and local classes offer standardized teaching and instruction which insures that a dancer from Japan or Ohio can easily learn the traditional country dances of Scotland in an accurate and enjoyable manner. Scholarly research into the dances and music has ensured the survival of many traditional dances which would otherwise have been lost.
Likewise, the Society’s publication of dances and music over the years has made these traditional as well as many of the modern dances widely available at very reasonable prices.
The RSCDS has managed to establish and promote a standard of dancing and teaching by offering summer schools, workshops, and by training and certifying teachers. A non-profit organization, the RSCDS is headquartered in Edinburgh, Scotland.
RSCDS CINCINNATI BRANCH
The Cincinnati Branch of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society celebrated its “silver and gold” anniversaries in the 2008-2009 season.
On August 13,1958, eighteen people, including Miss Nora Kindness, met to form a group wherein they could learn Scottish Dancing.
From this meeting, The Scottish Folk Dancing Society of Cincinnati was formed. A year later the group became The Scottish Dance Society of Cincinnati, and on August 11, 1961, became an Affiliate Member of the RSCDS.
On June 20, 1983, after almost 25 years of dancing, the group became The Cincinnati Branch of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society. This occurred when Babs Egbert became the group’s second fully certificated teacher. The branch owes a debt to its first teacher, Miss Kindness, who endowed a real kindness and welcome to all branch events. That “right spirit” encouraged the growth of Scottish dancing throughout Ohio and the surrounding region. Today, the branch has official classes in five cities.
MISS NORA KINDNESS
A founding member of the Scottish Dance Society of Cincinnati in 1958, Nora did everything that she could to encourage and promote Scottish Country Dancing in Cincinnati, OH.
She became the group’s teacher within the first few meetings and in order to improve her own high standards of teaching and dancing, travelled to Canada to attend classes and workshops, when none were available nearby. In 1967 she obtained her RSCDS Teacher’s Certificate.
Nora was a 2003 recipient of a Scroll of Honour in recognition of her many years of service and outstanding loyalty to the RSCDS, for her contributions in preserving the standards and traditions of Scottish country dancing, and for her joyous encouragement of young and old alike to increase their knowledge and enjoyment of Scotland’s heritage of dance and music.
Nora passed away peacefully at her home Friday July 18, 2008 at the age of 87. Here are a few fond memories.