KEEPING UP TRADITIONS: Past chieftain Mal Lesley, president Col McKay, first female chieftain Irene Batzloff, patron Carl Hinds and past chieftan Kym Flehr at the recent Toowoomba Caledonian Society and Pipe Band's Burns Supper, celebrating poet Robert Burns.
KEEPING UP TRADITIONS: Past chieftain Mal Lesley, president Col McKay, first female chieftain Irene Batzloff, patron Carl Hinds and past chieftan Kym Flehr at the recent Toowoomba Caledonian Society and Pipe Band's Burns Supper, celebrating poet Robert Burns.

Marg keen to teach dance to new generation

MARG Bond may not be dancing the highland fling anymore, but at 66 she has just passed the prestigious Royal Scottish Country Dancing Society exams, qualifying her to teach.

The Toowoomba Caledonian Society and Pipe Band vice-president and publicity officer said she had always wanted to be a teacher and was keen to pass on skills to the next generation so the traditional dances were not lost.

"And I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it - move it or lose it they say," she laughed.

As well as theory, Marg had to show her skills in four selected jigs, four reels and four strathspeys, judged by two examiners, one of whom had travelled from Scotland.

She explained that although she had competed in highland dancing as a girl, highland and sword dancing, for which the Scottish are best known, were more a young person's sport, being very hard on the legs.

Country dancing, on the other hand, was for everyone, Scottish or not, and there were about 18,000 dances to choose from, performed in various sets.

The more common are danced at relaxed social gatherings called ceilidhs (pronounced kaylees), which the Toowoomba Caledonian Society and Pipe Band runs twice a year at Drayton Hall in May and August.

 

KEEPING UP TRADITIONS: The Toowoomba Caledonian Society and Pipe Band participates in a number of community events, including Australia Day, as well as holding its own Cieldhs.
KEEPING UP TRADITIONS: The Toowoomba Caledonian Society and Pipe Band participates in a number of community events, including Australia Day, as well as holding its own Cieldhs.

With a history in mental health work, Marg was keen to point out the many health benefits of Scottish country dancing, including improved memory and brain function, socialisation and community spirit, as well as bone health and overall fitness.

"And the music's great," she added.

"With the ceilidh, the emphasis is on fun ... and if you don't have a partner, no problem, I'll find you one, even if I take them from the band - I've done it before."

Dances are called, so everyone can follow the moves after a quick run-through, no experience necessary.

While the society, formed in 1871 and one of the oldest in Australia, is predominantly Scottish focussed, an Irish ensemble will play at the May ceilidh, while the August event has a "come as a favourite character" theme.

"They're for everyone, young or old, and there's a real family atmosphere," Marg said.

And at just $10 per dance, she says it's an inexpensive night out, with supper, a licensed bar and raffles all available.

As well as the ceilidhs, the society holds the Burns Supper, honouring acclaimed Scottish poet Robert Burns around his birth date of January 25, and St Andrew's Night on the last Saturday in November.

The pipe band also participates in various community events, including Australia Day, StPatrick's Day and Anzac Day, as well as the Carnival of Flowers.

To find out more about any of the society's activities, including band practices, phone Marg on 0429700217.