Students get lessons in square dancing

Brodie Thomas
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It’s a dance that has roots in Scotland, England, Ireland and France, but now it is finding new life in the Codroy Valley.

Grade 8 and 9 students at Belanger Memorial School in Upper Ferry have been learning how to square dance with help from volunteers in the community.

The square dancing lessons are part of the music curriculum.

Music teacher Megan Carter invited some local square dancers in to teach the art.

Karren Farrell is one of the volunteers. She said students were surprised to learn that square dancing has been around for more than 200 years, and that their ancestors would’ve taken part in the dancing.

Gordon Cormier is another square dancer.

He said the style the children are learning is much older and closer to the original tradition than what is now practised in Scotland. In 2009 Cormier and others form the valley were invited to Scotland to demonstrate this variety of dance.

For Grade 9 student Lindsey Gale, the classes are a chance to finally learn the dance she always wanted to know.

“Probably I would’ve learned it at some point or another, but I’m glad I learned it when I was younger.”

Lindesy said she had seen square dancing performed at events such as the Codroy Valley Folk Festival and on TV.

One person calls out the dance moves while the musicians play.

“Once you get the first few rounds down it’s pretty easy to catch on to,” she said.

Lindsey’s grandmother, Jenny Gale, is one of the instructors who helps teach the students.

“I think it’s really cool that I get to learn this sort of stuff, knowing that my grandmother did this when she was young,” said Lindsey.

Katie Bungay is a Grade 8 student who is also learning the dance. She finds it challenging but rewarding.

“The steps are easy when you get them down, but at first when you get going, you do a lot of turning and switching partners,” she said. “When you’re moving around you mix up sides a lot.”

Katie said at first the students danced to music from a stereo, but after a few practices local musicians such as Sears MacArthur, Leonard MacArthur and Wallace Gale come to the class to play.

“It’s really appreciated that they take the time off to come do that for us,” she said.

The Gulf News

Organizations: Belanger Memorial School in Upper Ferry, Gulf News

Geographic location: Scotland, England, Ireland France Codroy Valley

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