VanIsle Workshop & Ball

workshop and ball – Saturday April 6 2019

The big day is fast approaching: have you registered? Registration is now open– and the sooner we know who’s coming, the better the event will be!

Keep reading, or jump to  REGISTRATION PAGE

The Programme

If you’re looking to review or learn some of the dances, here are two resources. Click on CRIB NOTES  to get brief written notes for the dances. Click on PROGRAMME to see the programme with references to the original instructions and links to both videos and Dancie Maetion for a visual representation of the dances.

Are you visiting from out of town? Check out Tourism Victoria‘s page.

Please email the workshop committee if you have specific follow-up.


There will be 3 levels of workshop classes in the morning. Teachers Alan Twhigg, Mary Murray, and Richard Bennett will put us through our paces!

Alan Twhigg

With Scottish heritage on both sides of his family, Alan developed a love for the traditional music at an early age. His parents danced with the Reel & Strathspey Club that preceded formation of the San Francisco Branch of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society and often took him to Highland Games and pipe-band concerts as a child.

Alan himself discovered Scottish Country Dancing as a college student, amongst other dance forms such as ballroom and international folk. The music resonated with some early memories, and the intricate patterns of SCD stood out from the other styles. He soon sought out a weekly class, then two…

Alan passed both of the RSCDS teaching exams at St. Andrews in the 1980s, and has been teaching regular weekly classes at various levels ever since. He has served as a guest instructor at weekend workshops across North America and tutored candidates for teaching exams. He also continues to participate in SCD performances, chiefly with the Red Thistle Dancers. Favourite memories include choreographing and performing a sword dance for the San Francisco Opera as well as teaching and performing in Norway, the Czech Republic, and Russia.

To support his dance hobbies, Alan makes his living as a technical writer/editor in the computer industry. Recent projects include expanding the audience for SCD among the international folk dance and contra dance communities.

Mary Murray

  • Originally from Stirlingshire, Scotland, Mary was introduced to Scottish Country Dancing at Larbert High School and, as a member of the school team, participated in a few competitive SCD festivals in Central Scotland. She joined the Falkirk Branch of the RSCDS and, as a member of the demonstration group, participated in a few international music and dance festivals in various European countries (Sicily, Germany, Belgium and France).

 Since arriving in Canada in the late 60’s, she has been actively involved with the Vancouver Branch of the Society for many years. This has included teaching all levels of classes, directing the Branch demonstration group and also conducting numerous teacher candidate courses for the Vancouver Branch.

Over the past number of years she has taught at numerous workshops and summer schools extensively throughout Canada and the U.S. Overseas “assignments” have included Australia, Denmark, France, Germany, Hawaii, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore and the U.K. I have also enjoyed the opportunity to teach at the annual RSCDS Summer School at St. Andrews on many occasions, as well as the RSCDS Winter School in Pitlochry, Perthshire.

Richard Bennett

Richard has been teaching the Scottish Country dance club on Salt Spring Island for over 15 years and gained full teacher certification in 2009. He teaches beginners, a mixed group and a more advanced session once a week. and also teach a technique class once a week. As a teacher, he finds it most enjoyable when he sees dancers having fun and making connections with other dancers in the set. He particularly likes it when covering and phrasing is at its best. He really enjoys sharing stories about the dances that they are learning. He devised dances for and co published the dance the dance book Katannuta in 2007



MUSICIANS will accompany each of the teachers:

Mary Ross

Accordionist Mary Ross  has been involved with music and dancing since the age of 5, starting with highland dancing for over 20 years in Calgary and then moving on to Scottish Country Dancing in Victoria. Mary has enjoyed playing for Scottish Country Dances since 1991. During that time she has played for many dance events all over Western Canada and USA. She has certainly been a “regular” at this workshop and we are glad to welcome her back! 


Julie Smith

Pianist Julie Smith is the pianist for the Tartan Players and more details appear below. Suffice it to say she has played for Scottish Country Dancing for the past 15 years including several stints here in Victoria.  As a dancer herself, she know how important the music is to good dancing.


Janet Yonge

Pianist Janet Yonge  has being playing piano almost all her life starting with lessons given by her grandmother! In 1978 she graduated from the University of Victoria with a major in piano and then continued pedagogy studies at the Victoria Conservatory of Music. Janet has a busy teaching studio and accompanies choirs and soloists in the Victoria area. She also loves to dance and has been a Scottish Country dancer for many years with the Victoria branch and has attended workshops throughout BC and the northwest USA. She is very excited to be playing for VanIsle Workshop and Ball.


There will be three levels of workshop classes. Which level is right for you? Check our self assessment guide.  The guide indicates the expectations in each class: which formations should you know; how much do you rely on walking a dance; etc. It’s also wise to check in with your regular dance teacher or a teacher who is familiar with your dancing.


Good news- The Tartan Players are playing for the ball!

Formed in the fall of 2005, The Tartan Players are a 4-5 piece Scottish Country  Dance Band, comprised of piano, violin, flute/whistle and sometimes bass. With their lively playing and signature sound, they have rapidly become a sought after group.  They have played at over 80 events: from formal Scottish Country dances, youth dance and informal ceilidhs to weddings and private parties throughout the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island , and as far away as Hawaii.

The names of the band members for this event include: Deborah Jones on fiddle, Lukasz Wieczorek on fiddle, Carole Berger on flute and tin whistle, Julie Smith on piano and Joe Condie on bass.

Deborah Jones:  Deborah began playing fiddle for traditional dancing (international and Scandinavian) in 1981. Since 1986, she has played in one of Vancouver’s Scandinavian traditional dance bands, Gammel Dansk. In 1990, she attended a concert featuring Alasdair Fraser and Concerto Amabile. This inspired her to join the Vancouver Fiddle Orchestra, which immersed her into Scottish Country dance music.  She joined the Tartan Players in 2012 and loves the small-ensemble playing. She is a retired librarian and has worked as a volunteer Rain Gardens Co-ordinator since 2006.

Lukasz Wieczorek: Lukasz started playing violin at the age of 8, studying classical music,and eventually receiving his ARCT in Violin Performance.  Musical highlights include travelling with the West Coast Fiddlers to Scotland in 2008, and playing in the International Youth Symphony Orchestra in Bremen, Germany in 2010.  Lukasz is currently the viola section leader of the Fraser Valley Symphony Orchestra, and also plays in pit orchestras for local musical theatre productions.

Carole Berger: Carole grew up in a musical household, and the enjoyment of high school band led to studies at the University of Calgary, where she earned a Bachelor of Music degree. A chance encounter with Traditional Irish music, some 20 years ago, and then classes in Scottish Country dancing progressed to her combining both interests-playing with various groups for Scottish, Irish and Contra dance events in the Vancouver area.  Carole has honed her skills at Traditional music workshops in Boston, Goderich, Vancouver and Washington State.  You might catch her playing a few tunes on the button accordion, when she performs weekly at the Irish Heather in Gastown.

Julie Smith:  If you asked Julie Smith about her life she would probably say: “Music is my life!” And is, whether playing the piano (from classical lessons as a child, to playing for church, and for the last 15 years playing Scottish Country Dance music), directing choirs at both church and in the schools, and teaching music in the public school system.She has attended Pearl Holmberg workshops, in Vancouver, two Dance Masters Workshops for Teachers and Musicians in Sonoma, California, and TAC Summer School musicians’ workshops in order to develop the technique required to play for dancing. Julie has been invited to play for many workshops in the Vancouver area and Vancouver Island and plays for the Tartan Players. As a dancer herself, she know how important the music is to good dancing.

Joseph Condie:  At University of Calgary, Joe was founding produce and music director of their musical theatre.  After a four year stint in the Calgary Philharmonic, he moved to Vancouver, earned his B.Mus., and spent four years playing wind music for the Renaissance on period instruments,  Ceasing music as an occupation, he continues to play folk-dance music with a variety of bands including Gammel Dansk.








Ready for the ball?

This guy obviously enjoys getting ready in all his finery- but, Gentlemen, you don’t have to have a kilt to go to the ball. It’s your ball- wear what makes *you* feel fine! Plus- a little secret: he borrowed that outfit! Don’t be afraid to ask fellow dancers or the workshop committee for advice on borrowing. Ladies- same idea- wear what makes you feel fine (long dress, short dress, in between…. ask your friends!)




Committee members:

June Robinson (Chair), Janet Yonge, Barb Currie, Gordon Robinson, Pat Warman, Anita Mathur, Kathy Grant, Lori Morrison