Celebrating 100 years of dance


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St. Vital

The Royal Scottish Country Dance Society, headquartered in Edinburgh, Scotland, is dedicated to promoting Scottish dancing and music to present and future generations. It has been around since 1923.

The Winnipeg Scottish Country Dance Society began in 1959 when Archie Nixon and David Williams, both newly settled in Winnipeg, decided to form a group. With a leap of faith and an advertisement in the Winnipeg Tribune, the society was born, receiving branch status in May of 1963, with two certified teachers and membership of 60.

You can do the math — 2023 marks the 100th and 60th anniversaries of these two societies.

Supplied photo

The Winnipeg Scottish Country Dance Society celebrated its 60th anniversary last month, along with the 100th anniversary of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society.

The focus, both locally and of the parent society, is fun, fitness and friendship. Scottish Country Dance has societies in over 40 countries, and many have participated in a special initiative to mark the 100th anniversary. Scottish dancers around the world have been filmed performing a dance called the Flying Scotsman. The Winnipeg group danced at Union Station on Main Street. Video was sent to Scotland, where a montage of dancers from across the globe was compiled.

The local society used to operate the Mug Pub during Folklorama and has danced at the Highland Games in Selkirk, on Winnipeg Beach boardwalk, at Lower Fort Garry, in retirement homes, and most recently at the Winkler Centennial Concert Hall. They even performed for the Queen during her majesty’s 1984 visit to Winnipeg.

In celebration of these anniversaries, the Winnipeg branch held a weekend event at the Victoria Inn in April, which included workshops, a ceilidh (Scottish party), and a ball.

Friends of mine, Cheryl and Doug Durnin, are active in the group.

“(It was) so great to be able to be together with our dancing family to celebrate three milestones…The Royal Scottish Country Dance Society’s 100th anniversary, our Winnipeg Branch 60th anniversary, and our 50th workshop,” Cheryl said. “After the pandemic and not being able to dance together for two years, it felt right to dance, sing, renew friendships, and make new ones.”

They danced Friday and Saturday at their ball till the wee hours of the morning and, because they love dancing so much, they were back at the hotel at 10 a.m. Sunday for more workshops.

Weekly classes start again in September at Churchill Park United Church, located at 525 Beresford Ave. If that sounds like fun, visit www.rscdswinnipeg.ca for more information.

Winnipeg is a diverse cultural community and groups such as the Scottish dancers make it a better place to live.

John Hindle

John Hindle
Community Correspondent — St. Vital

John Hindle is a community correspondent for St. Vital. Email him at john@johnhindle.com

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