Monday, 31 August 2015

The Prairie Paladin Medieval Market and Faire Spotlight: Scottish Country Dancers

With the Prairie Paladin Medieval Market and Faire fast approaching, the staff and volunteers of the Museum of Antiquities would like to acknowledge some of the groups that have made the medieval festival wildly successful. Throughout the coming weeks before the festival, the Museum will be posting interviews done with these groups, allowing our readers to understand better the different parts of the festival.

Our first interview was with Diane Davis, the Demo Coordinator for the Saskatoon Scottish Country Dancers. Having sent Diane a list of questions she sent me back her answers to help us at the Museum, and the wider community, understand better what her group is all about.

Q: Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions Diane. The first thing I would like to know is what your position within your group is and how long have you been involved?

A: I am the Demo Coordinator for the Saskatoon Scottish Country Dance Demonstration Team and have been dancing with the Saskatoon club for 5 years. Prior to that I danced in New Zealand for 15 years. The group is part of an international organization with clubs all over the world.

Q: That is fantastic! What inspired you to join the Scottish Country Dancers, both in New Zealand and in Saskatoon?

A: I originally started dancing in New Zealand as a social outlet and for an activity that would keep me fit. I was a total beginner and was very much encouraged by the club members. All clubs provide trained teachers to help in the process of learning steps and patterns. What is exceptional is that in any clubs that I have been a part of, all members are very kind and patient in helping beginner dancers to feel confident. I discovered in the process that I really enjoyed dancing, so when I came to Saskatoon, one of the first things I did was look for a Scottish Country Dance club. It also provided me with a way to meet new people when I was a newcomer. I have to say I was welcomed with open arms and I have never looked back.

Q: What a journey you have been on! It is amazing that you were able to find another club within this international organization that welcomed you so warmly that you decided to become the Demo Coordinator for Saskatoon’s club, which leads me to my next question: what is your day time job and what motivates you to volunteer your time to the club?

A: I am mostly retired but I’m currently working as an office temp from time to time. As a volunteer, I dance with the Scottish Country Dance Club and with the Demo Team because I love to dance. I believe that is true for the whole Demo team. It also provides a social network of like-minded people from all walks of life. The Demo team in particular hopes to demonstrate that anyone can join and learn. We have qualified teachers to help the beginners, as I have already described. We especially want to show how much fun it is and to promote Scottish Country Dancing as an enjoyable and social way to keep fit and to meet new people.

Q: The motivation of being around like-minded people, combined with doing something that you are very passionate for, is something that I find is a common trait of community members like yourself who strive to help and encourage people to pursue their passion. This is one of the reasons why we, at the Museum, are glad that you have decided to be part of our Prairie Paladin Medieval Market and Faire, as you bring both your passion for dance and your dance-style’s history onto the stage. Do you find that you gain more insight and become more connected to the history of Scottish country dancing? If so, could you please describe an aspect of that insight?

A: When we learn dances, we always hear the origin of the dance and perhaps the idea that sparked the dance in the first place. Often dances have been written for a person or event or particular place. For the medieval festival in particular, we look at the oldest dances in our Scottish heritage and learn how the old dances differed from today. It makes an interesting contrast to newer devised dances. Sometimes the style of fashions in the day dictated why certain moves were made. For instance, because ladies in the very early days wore court shoes, they couldn’t bend their toes very much so we curtsey to accommodate a flat soled shoe.

Q: How fascinating! It is great to see how the historical impact on the Scottish dance style is still understood today and can be shared with those who know very little, if any, about it. One of our goal’s for this medieval festival is to show how the past still impacts the present, and your group is a fantastic example of that. Now, I only have a few questions left, each with a two part answer. The first thing is out of all the amazing things you described, what is your favourite part of being involved with your group and what do you see in the Saskatoon’s Scottish Country Dance club’s future?

A: The dancing is my favourite part!! Being on the demo team means I get to do more dancing. And of course our aim is to ensure that Scottish dancing is an ongoing activity for anyone who is interested. To this end, we have an open house on Wednesday September 9th at St. Marks Hall, 1406 8th Avenue North at 7:00 p.m. Anyone is welcome to come for a free night to try out Scottish Country Dancing. No partners are required and there is no age limit. We have a member still dancing in his nineties.

Q: I was able to see your group perform at the Scottish pavilion at Folkfest this year, and I definitely understand the appeal of dancing, as I used to do multiple dance styles myself. And if the attention and cheering your group received at Folkfest shows anything, it’s that people have the same desire to keep their heritage alive. Now my final question for you is: what is your favourite part of being involved with the Museum’s medieval festival, and what would you like to see in its future?

A: Being a part of the festival’s atmosphere and activities is great. Also, we do research into our oldest dances and have an opportunity to learn about and to do dances that are not done in clubs so much anymore. However it is developed and matures, I hope our Scottish Country Dance Demo Team will continue to be included in the festival’s plans.

Scottish Country Dance 2015 Demonstration Team
This will be the Scottish Country Dancing Demo Team’s second year participating in the festival, and the Museum is glad they are able to join us again in expanding the community’s knowledge and awareness of the impact our heritage has on us in the present and in the future. The Demo team will be performing at the festival twice in the afternoon, and trust me, it’s something you don’t want to miss!

By: Helanna Miazga

Monday, 17 August 2015

The Prairie Paladin Medieval Market and Faire

The Museum of Antiquities at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) will host its annual Prairie Paladin Medieval Market and Faire on Saturday, September 26th, 2015.

As part of the national Culture Days initiative, the Museum of Antiquities is hosting its third annual medieval festival from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm in he Bowl and at Nobel Plaza on the U of S campus. The public will be able to enjoy combat demonstrations, a medieval market, musical and dance performances, games and children’s activities. The event will be run by Museum volunteers and community groups including the Society for Creative Anachronism, the Nordhere Viking Living History Re-Enactors, the Saskatoon Historical Fencing Society and the Saskatchewan Archaeological Society.

The museum’s previous festivals known as Weapons and Warriors and Return of the Kynge sparked an interest in the community, which led to the creation of The Prairie Paladin Medieval Market and Faire in 2014, which received more than 700 visitors.

“We are so happy to see how much the festival has grown in such a relatively short time since its inception,” said Courtney Tuck, the former event co-ordinator of the festival. “It is always so exciting to see so many members of the local community coming out, getting involved and engaging with history.”

This family-friendly medieval festival is the only one of its kind in Saskatchewan, making it a unique experience for local community members who are unable to travel long distances to other medieval festivals in Canada and the United States. The museum’s goal is to create a medieval festival that will generate awareness of past cultures that still influence the world today, including not only medieval European culture, but also the First Nations cultures of Saskatchewan.
The Museum of Antiquities, located in the Peter MacKinnon Building at the U of S, houses art work from the ancient Near East, Greece, Rome, and the medieval world. The museum’s collection contains both original artifacts and replicas.

For more information, contact:
Helanna Miazga, Museum of Antiquities
Room 116 Peter MacKinnon Building, 107 Administration Place
University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK S7N 5A2
(306) 966-7818