Topic: 2010 Pam Godfrey Interview

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Pam Godfrey has belonged to the Hamilton Scottish Country Dance Society since 1974, and has been tutoring for the club since the early 1990's.

Pam Godfrey tutoring at the Hamilton Scottish Country Dance Society" I was born in New Plymouth and as a young child I was taught ballet and tap dancing and later I got up on my toes. We then moved to Hastings and I didn't do any more dancing for a number of years, because of my nursing career and other things. I married and in 1968 we came to Hamilton. We had two children by that stage, a son and a daughter. I got into Scottish country dancing through my daughter. She had a friend at Glenview School who was Scottish and started going along to the club nights with her. The club secretary at the time, Mrs Cath Dawson, said to her that Mum should come along too. Eventually I did go along, this was in 1974 - I was hooked on the first night and have been in the club ever since, for 36 years now. I thoroughly enjoy it. I still do tap dancing as well as Scottish country dancing.

In 1979 I decided to do the Scottish country dancing teachers' certificate, and went to two Summer schools. In 1980 I passed the preliminary examination in Wellington, and passed the second examination in Hamilton in 1982. I began helping with tutoring at Hamilton and took over as tutor 17 or 18 years ago, and have been doing it ever since.

We dance once a week. When I first joined the club we met in a little hall that is no longer in existence near St Peter's Tennis Club near Cobham Drive; later the venue was Fairfield Hall in Clarkin Road. Since 1988 we have used the Nawton School Hall.

In 1985 I went on an OE - I was away for 2 ½ years and danced in England and Belgium, and Beverly Hills. All Scottish country dancing clubs all over the world dance the same steps so wherever you go in the world you can join in.

I've taught at a couple of weekend schools and will teach at the Summer school in Tokoroa next year in June. Our club gets invited to dance at rest homes where people really enjoy it, and we do public dances when asked to.

We are trying to encourage more young people into our groups but there is so much else for them to do, especially on a Wednesday night. We have had lovely groups of children but it is hard to keep them coming to the club. At the moment we have a loyal group of supporters who have been with us for a number of years. The first four Wednesdays in February we have beginners' sessions where we teach the basic steps and formations. Older members will dance along with the newcomers. From March onwards they are invited to join the club and we manage to keep quite a few of them. Weekend schools are a great way of learning; the tutor will have a class structured so that everyone is at the same level and you can learn lots.

History of Scottish country dancing clubs.

Scottish country dancing was started in Scotland in 1923 by Dr Jean Milligan, and it is the ballroom dancing of Scotland. She liked everything to be done well and organised a set of guidelines on how to do the steps and how to do the formations. Steps include skip-change, a setting step called pas de Basque and strathspey. There are three types of dances, each with different music in different times - reels, jigs and strathspeys. Reels - music is in 4/4/ time - if you are not sure a good way to pick up the time is to say Animated alligator, this will give you the beat. Jigs - music is in 6/8 or ¾ time - say Jiggity jig to get the beat. Strathspey is a slower style and much more graceful.

All these steps and formations are taught at our club. All dances are made up of a series of formations, most have 32 bars and are danced with 4 couples though this can vary. Most are danced in longwise sets, but some have triangular sets or square sets. A five couple dance, say the Fisherman's Reel, a lovely dance with lovely music, will be danced in a square set with one couple in the middle. Dances are mostly named for castles, rivers or people, though others have different sorts of titles. Maxwells rant and Andersons rant are reels; White heather, Trip to the borders, The Isle and Quarries are jigs. You can't really go by the title as to whether dances are reels or jigs, as some reels contain jigs, and some jigs contain reels.

History of the dances - some have been found in archives going back to the 14th Century. Researchers have adapted some of these to today's conditions. A dance will always say the original source. Also lots of dances are being devised today and these are usually danced by people with lots of experience.

Some of my favourite dances: Blooms of Bon Accord, a 4 couple reel with beautiful music; my favourite Strathspey is Butterscotch and honey, also a 4 couple dance. In Waikato/Bay of Plenty region a group of tutors and dancers have devised dances and three books of our dances have been published.

For a demonstration dance women wear white dresses with a coloured sash that comes over the left shoulder. Men wear kilts, lace jabots and velvet jackets, sporrans and diamond pattern socks. Women can wear kilts. Kilts have to be worn properly - when kneeling down it needs to be just off the floor. Today at balls people wear anything, whereas it used to be all white dresses that looked really nice with the coloured sashes. It is good to know about the tartan you are wearing. The Queen said a few years ago that if you don't belong to a clan, and can't lay claim to a tartan, you can always wear the Royal Stewart tartan, which is my favourite anyway, and that's what I've got in both my kilt and my sash.

Etiquette:
• Always wait until the tutor calls you onto the floor
• Join a set at the bottom of the set
• Once in a set stand and wait for instructions
• Begin and end with a bow or curtsey
• Smile at your partner, look at your partner

There are 17 Scottish country dancing clubs in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty region, and 11 regions in New Zealand. We meet at balls in our own region, and we practise the more difficult dances in the programme before we go to the balls. Each year the tutors get together and pick out a set of 6 or so core dances, taught at each club, so that when newcomers go to balls they will know some dances.

In New Zealand we have Junior Associate memberships (JAMS) which are $5 per year to join. A camp is held every two years and newsletters sent out 2 or 3 times a year. Medal tests are held, with Bronze and Bar, Silver and Bar, and Gold and Bar.

For the Tutor Certificate we need to learn 12 dances inside out, to recognise the music and to learn all the steps and formations. It takes 3 years to gain the Certificate. Examiners are one from Scotland and one from New Zealand. The Summer Schools for teachers last 7 days (formerly 10 days), plus there is the lead-up practise. A weekend school is held in the region each Queen's Birthday weekend, and regional meetings are held three times a year for the tutors and delegates".

This year (2010) on the 19th September the club did a demonstration dance at the Hamilton Gardens Tulip Festival, from 2.30 - 3.30 pm.

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2010 Pam Godfrey Interview


First Names:Pam
Last Name:Godfrey
Place of Birth:New Plymouth