It's a brain and body workout, and it's fun. Try your feet at Scottish country dancing

Don’t let the name fool you: You don’t have to trace your ancestors back to the Highlands to enjoy Scottish country dancing.

Burnaby’s Scottish Country Dance Club is issuing a call for new members as it gets ready to launch its new season. The club meets from September to April on Monday evenings at the Scandinavian Community Centre, 6540 Thomas St.

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New members don’t need to be Scottish, and they don’t need to have a partner, since dancers interact in a group.

A press release from the club notes that Scottish country dancing offers almost endless variety.

“While some forms of social dance preserve the traditions of the past, and others give scope to new invention, Scottish country dancing does both,” the release says.

Its basic patterns – chains, circles and turns – date back some 500 years, when dancing masters travelled through Scotland with their fiddles under their arms and taught dances to old and young.

Nearly 100 years ago, as Scots moved into bigger cities and country dancing was on the decline, two women (Ysobel Stewart and Jean Milligan) made it their mission to keep the dance form alive. They collected dances, published books and trained teachers, and, as Scots emigrated around the world, they took their dancing with them.

In more recent years, Scottish dance groups have sprung up in Europe, Russia and Japan.

As a result, the dance form has developed, with variations on the basic patterns and thousands of new dances devised and published – all with the lively beat of Scottish reels, jigs and the strathspey.

“Scottish country dancing does wonders for both the mind and body,” the press release says. “The workout strengthens hearts and lungs, and the precise movements keep joints and muscles flexible. The brain, too, must stay agile: dancers constantly change positions in the set and the sequence of movements must be memorized.”

Never fear: the club offers instructions on the steps and patterns, so newcomers are welcome.

Interested volunteers from the club can also join an entertainment team, which travels to community events, retirement homes and hospitals for performances.

The new dancing year begins on Monday, Sept. 16, 7 to 9:30 p.m. New members can try out the first two classes as a free trial. For more information, call 604-298-9695 after Aug. 20, or see rscdsvancouver.org/dancing-in-vancouver/clubs/burnaby.

 

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