Scottish Country Dance
The Scottish Country Dance section (SCD), a Festival in its own right, is held over a Friday and Saturday in March. The SCD Festival welcomes everyone, whether as a dancer or as a spectator. There are competitive classes for all age groups and abilities. A non-competitive class is offered for less experienced dancers.
Two adjudicators are appointed each year along with a variable number of musicians. Every performance is given a critique sheet with the adjudicator’s comments, together with a certificate noting the team name, details of the class entered and the dance performed.
Teams from Aberdeen City and Shire, from Perth and Edinburgh regularly enter the festival. Teams from Inverness and London have also on occasion taken part.
The Festival has been held in various venues across the city but for quite some time the Music Hall in Union Street, Aberdeen has been its home. This impressive building has always created a feeling of awe, particularly amongst the younger dancers taking part for the first time, and it inspires all of the competitors to give of their best. The Music Hall is due to close in 2016 for extensive renovation and at the present time (April 2015) the committee is investigating other venues.
History The exact date of birth of the SCD Festival is uncertain, but there was most definitely a SCD section during the 1920s. Evidence for this statement comes from a recorded minute of the Girl Guide movement: the County Girl Guide Commissioners of the day requested that a class for Girl Guides be included in the festival programme and Guide teams competed for the first time in 1926.
The SCD section is a competitive festival and two medals - The Mrs Fyfe Medal and the Mrs Galloway Medal - were donated to the festival by the County Guide Commissioners. These trophies are still in use today as are various cups and salvers presented to the festival over the years.
For many years the SCD festival was organised by one redoubtable lady, Miss Annie O. Cumming. Her contribution to the festival cannot be overstated. Her life was dedicated to the service of Scottish country dancing and to the Aberdeen Festival in particular. The Miss A.O. Cumming Trophy presented by the RSCDS Aberdeen Branch is awarded to this day for the class “Mixed Teams of Primary School Age.”
Only ill-health prevented Annie O from running the festival but she ensured that the festival would continue by gathering together a small committee of people to take over from her.
The convenor of this new committee was Miss Lesley Martin, a world renowned SCD teacher, adjudicator and examiner. Lesley gave 25 years of dedicated service to the festival committee and retired in 2013. At the 2014 festival the SCD Section of the Aberdeen & NE of Scotland Music Festival Association presented a new trophy, the Miss Lesley Martin Trophy, for the new class “Formation Challenge for secondary school age group” and Lesley was at the Music Hall to present the cup to the winning team.