We have a wonderful group of dedicated instructors who have been with Village Green for a number of years.
My first teaching certificate was earned for Speech and Drama in 1966 in the UK. After emigrating to Canada in 1970, and faced with difficulty (perhaps not surprisingly!) in finding employment with a BA in English majoring in Anglo Saxon, I enrolled in Education at the U of M in 1972. While teaching Grades 4 – 8 at Laidlaw School in Winnipeg for 5 years, I took courses to obtain a B.Ed. So training and teaching were part of my first experience of full-time employment.
I was reluctant to start English Country Dancing (ECD)….my early years were spent in ballet, tap, Greek dancing etc. and my impression was that ECD was for school children. How wrong I was, and how grateful I am to Elizabeth Clutton-Brock (former dancer and band member with VG) that she came to me, as I was working in my garden one day, and said “I have to take a friend (membership was low in that year) to the next VG dance social, so you’re coming”.
Another friend, Caroline McDowall, and I attended that dance evening and we were both hooked. I have danced whenever possible ever since. Some 4-5 years later I decided I was ready for the challenge of teaching dances to the group. My goal has always been to teach with a minimum of words so that dancers can hear the call. It is not always successful, but the challenge is there. I want people to enjoy ECD as much as I do.
I choreographed a dance for Elizabeth Goossen’s 50th birthday called Halfway There.
The move to teaching ECD as well as dancing was a natural progression for me. By the time I began teaching for Village Green I had already completed level 1 of the RSCDS teacher training. I completed the second level in 1983. I love the music and the dance and love to share my enthusiasm and joy of the dance with VG members. I began devising dances at the same time as I started teaching. The impetus for a dance is usually a special occasion… an anniversary, a birthday, a retirement, etc. Composing the music for the dances I write is, however, quite new to me. Teaching, dancing, playing music, devising dances and composing adds a great deal of joy to my life.
The opportunity to teach English country dance was extended to me when a teacher said to me; “Would you like to try and teach one dance at class?” One dance, taught to a receptive class, was all that was needed to convince me that this was an avenue worth exploring. With guidance, and generous sharing of materials (books and records at that time), my abilities were honed. It is very rewarding to see the written dance come alive, and to observe the pleasure of the dancers as they master the figures and enjoy the wonderfully unique music. Historic dances are enjoyed once again, mixed with newly devised dances from many sources.
The pleasure of teaching has remained a highlight in my life.
The first time I saw English Country Dancing was at the Winnipeg Folk Festival in 1977. It was love at first sight (and sound). When I returned from a five-month trip I sought out the Village Green Dancers and joined the group in March 1978. At that first class I remember dancing wonderful historic dances and the exhilaration of the Dorset Four Hand Reel. I went home and practiced and practiced ranting until I got it. I was smitten!! In 1978 VG adopted their constitution and formed their first Board. I became social convenor and a representative of the “new”dancers. (I have since enjoyed serving on the Board in every capacity except treasurer.) I could not get enough dancing and soon helped form a women’s morris side, joined the RSCDS, and even dabbled in Scottish ladies step. I had the privilege of having been taught by excellent dance instructors: John Trevenen, Robin Lynch and Elizabeth Goossen. It was always too long to wait until the next class and I regularly prevailed upon Liz and Robin to show me how to do a figure or execute a step. In the early 80’s I started teaching, with Liz providing encouragement and coaching. Her knowledge of music and dance is phenomenal. I have been teaching ever since. I have also helped in the development of new teachers and outreach programs, as well as with an instructional video and how-to dance manual. My life has been truly and immeasurably enhanced with the magic of English Country Dance. It has been my pleasure and privilege to share my knowledge and joy with so many interesting and energetic people.