Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland held a weekend of activity on the 10th and 11th April 2021.
The weekend began with a performance and presentation from Sandra Robertson, Step Dancer.
Sandra has danced since childhood. She trained in Highland Dancing for over 10 years gaining a teaching qualification with the BATD. She became interested in more traditional styles of dance on witnessing Fearchar MacNeil’s revival of the Hebridean dances in Barra, her family home. She has also studied older folk dances and styles with James MacDonald Reid as a member of ‘Drumalban’. Latterly she has been hugely attracted to step-dancing which she has studied both here in Scotland and Cape Breton. Sandra has performed, both solo and as a group, throughout Scotland as well as Ireland, Wales, France and Barbados. She has also taught extensively throughout Scotland.
In 2019 Sandra was awarded the joint TDFS and Dance Base Traditional Dance Residency during which she focused on developing her project ‘The Body Sings’.
Here is the link to Sandra’s performances during a sharing of work at the end of the residency: https://youtu.be/5x5Jxo8_vt8
Next on the agenda was the AGM. This year saw the stepping down of 5 long standing members of the Board including Convenor, Pia Walker. Pia gave a wonderful run down of their time as Board members and everything that had been achieved over the years before welcoming the new Trustees and handing over the reins to a new cohort who are raring to go and will surely take the TDFS into the future with enthusiasm and skill.
The last activity on the Saturday gave everyone present a chance to get to know each other better as everyone broke off into smaller break out rooms. A series of questions were posed and discussed in the small groups to help TDFS drive forward with the input and support of its members. Lively and enjoyable discussion was had with extremely useful and valuable comments and suggestions coming from them. Thanks to all who took part.
The ‘Getting People Dancing’ event consisted of 3 very different presentations/conversations from 3 artists who had each been getting people dancing during the pandemic.
Alexis Street is a Highland Dance teacher based in Edinburgh. Alexis talked about the unique challenges of keeping young people engaged during the ever changing restrictions. If you missed it here is the link to Alexis’ presentation: https://youtu.be/0_57r19Hfeo
Next up was Kae Sakurai. Kae runs Glasgow based Scottish Step Dance group ‘Kelvingrove Dancers’. We heard how she ran a mini percussive dance festival online in January and the surprising benefits that online working brought. Here is Kae’s chat with Traditional Dance Development Officer, Joanne Urwin: https://youtu.be/lTL8UC78XFQ
Lastly, we heard from Sophie Stephenson. Sophie is a dance artist, teacher and performer from the Highlands of Scotland. Sophie specialises in a close to the floor style of percussive step dance. Earlier this year she put ballet dancer and Strictly Come Dancing judge, Darcey Bussell through her paces to teach her some step dance. We heard all about her experience and how she thinks the profile of traditional dance is changing: https://youtu.be/1XfJPbigH9k
Sophie also shared with us a short dance video she had created during lockdown: https://youtu.be/kK1GE7jZmmY
Thank you to all the presenters and performers for making it such and interesting and inspiring weekend. Thanks also to everyone that came along and shared their thoughts, views and took part in the discussions.