Our demonstration team has given displays of Scottish Country and Highland Dancing at large and small events all over the Southeast. Previous performances include shows at the Royal Albert Hall, weddings, ceilidhs, local events, celebrations, corporate events and participation in festivals across the UK.
The team, with their musicians and caller, also help local fund raising groups to run their own Scottish style barn dances. If you think the team can help your function go with a swing, then do get in touch with: Demonstration Team co-ordinator Anna Twinn.
Pipers: Roger Huth (pictured left) and Neil Esslemont
Other musicians: Jane Ng (class pianist), Ken Martlew.
The Branch Demonstration Team has been around for about 50 years. Occasional displays were given before that organised by Isabel McLennan and Robert Ferguson, but London was one of the first branches to have a weekly class with the specific aim of training demonstration dancers. The first formal Demonstration Class was taught in 1952 by Bill Ireland and Bill went on to teach the class successfully over 35 years.
In the early days auditions for a place in the class, and therefore automatically the team, were highly competitive. A dancer might find himself (or more likely herself, as it was always tougher for the ladies than the men) in the team one year, out the next and back in the following year. Conditions of team membership were strict. In 1960 dancers were required to “give an undertaking not to take part in a demonstration of Scottish Country Dancing other than for the London Branch without the consent of the Branch Committee”.
Looking back it all seems very harsh. Yet it worked, there was no shortage of volunteers to join the team and there were plenty of demonstrations to perform. The team has danced at various international events ranging from the 38th Inter-Celtic Festival in Brittany in 1937, the 50th Anniversary of the Entente Cordiale in Paris in 1951, to a major festival of dance in Taiwan in 1990. perhaps the greatest strength of the team has been in its participation in so many events in and around the London region. Here too we have participated in various high profile events, in the Royal Albert Hall on many occasions, at military pageants and tattoos and at RSCDS Balls and dances.
Since Bill’s retirement from taking the class, Paul Plummer, Owen Meyer, Ann Dix, David Hall, Joan Desborough and Angela Young have continued the good work in teaching the class. What has not changed over the years is our Demonstration Team’s commitment to the promotion of Scottish Country Dancing and having a lot of fun with their friends in the process.