Keeping dance alive
Susan and Gary McDonald of Fly Right Dance Company
Susan and Gary McDonald led their biggest event to date - what is thought to be the world's largest tea dance - after turning Edinburgh's Grassmarket into a 1940s open air dancefloor.
A HADDINGTON husband-and-wife team hope to enlist a world-famous dance historian in their efforts to keep old-style dances and their history alive.
It is the latest venture for Fly Right Dance Company - which hosts tea dance events across Scotland and looks set to have broken a dancing world record at the weekend.
Susan and Gary McDonald, who run Fly Right Dance Company from their home at East Lodge, Monkrigg, are to travel to Paris at the end of August for a six-day course with Richard Powers.
Mr Powers has been teaching in social dance for more than 35 years - leading workshops around the world - and is a full-time instructor at Stanford University's dance division.
Now, Susan and Gary hope to tap into his extensive knowledge on the history of dances between 1900 and 1920 with a view to publishing a book, possibly in collaboration with a Scottish museum.
While in Paris, they will also undergo six-hour classes with Mr Powers on various dances including ragtime, tangos, and waltzes.
The couple must raise about £1,000 for the course - with £500 already secured.
Susan, 50, who is also a translator, told the Courier: "There's a pile of history associated with tea dances.
"Everyone asks 'What's a tea dance?' and we thought we should go and research a book.
"Part of this is to research lots of other dances which happened before ballroom dancing became standardised.
"We hope to contribute some kind of understanding [with the book] because tea dances are popular, lots of people have their own ideas of what they are, so it would be good to bring that together.
"It's a week-long course of six hours' training per day, and it's dances from specific times - types of waltzes, tangos, ragtime dances - quite obscure dances.
"There isn't anyone else in the UK that can teach these dances, so we are hoping to get enough knowledge that we can impart our knowledge to other people and keep them alive."
The couple started Fly Right Dance Company in 1998 and, as the only professional company of its type in the south-east Scotland area, it is an almost full-time venture, with Gary also working as a retained firefighter in Haddington.
On Sunday, the couple led their biggest event to date - what is thought to be the world's largest tea dance - after turning Edinburgh's Grassmarket into a 1940s open air dancefloor.
A total of 670 people - or 335 couples - took part in the event, led by Susan and Gary, breaking their previous record of 306 couples set in Glasgow in 2010.
Participants had to dance for six minutes and tea, cakes, biscuits and sandwiches had to be served.
Dance Base, organisers of the event - which was part of the Capital's Big Dance - must now send paperwork and adjudication to Guiness World Records for it to become official.
Susan added: "It was a real cross-generational thing. It was full of all ages, from little girls as pink fairies to 80-year-olds."
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Aug 5, 02:34
congratulations keep going, i am now retired, left haddington many years ago for Australia. I have discovered dancing old time and sequence dancing in the last eight years, best thing in my life, great social life.
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