“I was first introduced to Scottish Country Dancing in my early years at secondary school in Glasgow,” Janetta Begg tells me. “It appealed to me because I was very shy and didn’t like to be too close to my dance partner.”
Scottish Country Dancing is a social dance where four ladies face four men in a set, with some of the dances first choreographed in the 1700’s.
“In 1950, my last year at Jordanhill Teachers’ Training College in Glasgow, I decided to get my Teacher’s Certificate. The famous Glaswegian dance instructor, Jean Milligan, was the head of the College’s Physical Education Department and after studies were done for the day, she would train those of us who were interested in Scottish Country Dance. From then on, my love of the dance grew and I found myself teaching kids at youth clubs, teens at the YWCA, and later adults. I have such fond memories from so many years of teaching dance to lovely groups of people.”
The Scottish Country Dance Society was founded in 1923 by Jean Milligan and Ysobel Stewart of Fasnacloich. The Society was renamed the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society by King George VI in 1951 prior to his death, and Queen Elizabeth II became a patron of the Society in 1952. An estimated 15,000 Society members from all over the world now help to preserve this traditional style of dance.
“My husband David and I emigrated from Scotland to Qualicum Beach in 1990 to be closer to our family. And within a few short weeks I joined the Nanoose Scottish Country Dancers who regularly met in the Nanoose Library Hall. That wasn’t enough for me though, so I joined the Nanaimo Scottish Country Dancers, and eventually started my own club in Qualicum Beach, including a class for children ages four to eight. They were such fun and I loved teaching them! The Qualicum Beach club was wonderful, and we laughed as much as we danced.”
At 86 years young, Janetta has decided to hang up her ‘teaching’ dancing shoes this year. “I think it’s time I made room for the younger teachers who are doing such a great job,” she says.
With sincere admiration, her dance students and fellow teachers recently gifted Janetta a beautiful silver bracelet crafted by local Native jewellery artist Leanne Helin. “I just love it,” Janetta beams. “It’s a treasure.”
Janetta herself is a gift to the Scottish Country Dancing community ... and the spirit of the dance lives on in the hearts of those she taught over six decades.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my association with the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society, as a pupil and a teacher, but it’s time for me to retire,” says Janetta.
Janetta may be retired, but it’s not likely she’ll stop dancing! ~