A dream finally became reality when we managed to have fabulous live music for our 35th Anniversary ball. Muriel Johnstone (keyboard), Keith Smith (fiddle) and Bill Clement (bagpipes) travelled from halfway round the world to play for us. During the ball, a dramatic African thunderstorm raged outside; our visitors were wide-eyed in awe, but there was no hiccup in the music and we danced as though on clouds. As in the words of the song, "I could have danced all night, and still have danced some more". Bill's wife Atsuko entertained us with an exquisite demonstration of ladies' step dancing. By the encore at the end of a long program, we were elated but somehow not tired. The following day, an appreciative audience in Johannesburg was treated to a concert of Scottish music. Muriel, Keith & Bill are not just superb musicians but first class entertainers too, with many a delightful story to tell.
Exams are not normally something one looks forward to. Exams? What do exams have to do with a social activity, you might ask. Scottish country dance teachers are rigorously trained and examined before they qualify to teach an RSCDS Branch class. We're delighted that Wouter Joubert of Pretoria, and Martyn Nickless and Norma Craven of Johannesburg, all obtained their teacher's certificate in 2006. So, next time you enjoy an evening's dancing, spare a thought for all the hard work and preparation that have made it possible.
The RSCDS Headquarters in Scotland sent Elma McCausland to South Africa, to examine teaching candidates together with local examiner Margo Monteith. What a privilege it was for us to meet and be taught by such a delightful person. Elma, and her husband Cecil who accompanied her, are full of fun and the love of dancing. We were doubly spoilt this time, because the RSCDS also agreed to sponsor us to host pianist Ken Martlew. He and his wife Barbara came to South Africa on a private holiday, but generously spent much of it teaching us about dancing and dance music. Ken also treated us to live music for our classes and social, an experience we very seldom have.
Pretoria Branch was delighted when Malcolm and Helen Brown from York, UK, spent a week visiting SCD friends in Pretoria on their way to the 2005 Australian Winter School. Although they were on holiday, Malcolm agreed to teach at a Day School organised by the Pretoria Branch. All who attended thoroughly enjoyed Malcolm's teaching. That evening a social was held in the Browns' honour. Dancers from Pretoria Branch and the 51st Club (Johannesburg Branch) attended and 3 dancers from the Pietermaritzburg SCD group travelled up specially for the weekend.
Jason Blignaut and Adrienne Langley
David Colyn and Marike Combrink
Ryan Nelson and Malindi Schafer
One evening in September 2005, e-tv came to our regular Thursday class to find out what Scottish country dancing is all about. They filmed the dancing and interviewed a number of dancers. Two short extracts were broadcast during 2006.
For the 10th anniversary of the internet-based Scottish country dance resource, Strathspey, people were invited to devise dances to commemorate the occasion. Ten of these dances were chosen for publication on the internet. Of the ten, two were devised by Pretoria Branch members Wouter Joubert and Terry Lynne Harris.
In 1971, Cooks became the first RSCDS-qualified teacher in Pretoria. The following year, she, Ina Bergh and Hetty Nash (formerly Mole) started the club that later became the Pretoria Branch of the RSCDS. In 2004 she was given the RSCDS Branch Award for outstanding loyalty and service to the Branch. She has now moved to Umzumbe on the Kwa-Zulu Natal south coast.
The untimely death of Geoff Muller (Johannesburg Branch) on 29 March 2007, after a short illness, was a shock to all. Geoff was liked and respected by everyone who knew him, and had served his Branch as chairman and teacher. He will be sorely missed.
We were deeply saddened by the death of Shirley Lloyd on 30 July 2005. She was loved by all. She started dancing in Pretoria in about 1971, and was a loyal and enthusiastic supporter of the Branch. She later moved to Australia and Tasmania for a while to be with her son Albert, revisited South Africa for a period, then finally returned to settle in Cape Town. Her excellent health and youthfulness were legendary.
The dance Four Score Square was devised for Shirley's 80th birthday in 2003. At the birthday social held in her honour in Pretoria, the dances she requested included some of the most energetic in our repertoire, like J B Milne and Mairi's Wedding. She continued to celebrate by visiting her son Andrew in Johannesburg, her sister-in-law in Pietermaritzburg, then returning to her daughter Wendy in Cape Town, and later taking a trip to the UK to see her sister. To quote former RSCDS Chairman Bill Clement, it seems that the best way to keep going is to keep going.