A Duns couple put their best feet forward recently when they showed off their Scottish country dances to the Queen.
John and Ruby Wilkinson presented Her Majesty with a personal copy of copy of ‘The Diamond Jubilee Collection’, a limited edition book of specially devised Scottish country dances.
John co-wrote the book, which was published last year by the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society to mark the Diamond Jubilee.
He is currently chairman of the society, based in Edinburgh,while Ruby is an RSCDS Summer School Director. Her Majesty is the patron of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society and has a keen interest in Scottish country dancing.
John described the genesis of the book: “To celebrate Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee it was proposed that a special dance be devised. The initial concept extended to six dances and so a special Diamond Jubilee Collection was published as a limited edition.”
He continued: “Dances were selected from over three hundred submitted by RSCDS members for possible publication. These dances were then tried out by experienced dancers who voted for the final six.”
John’s co-author, former chair Ruth Beattie, added: “It was an honour and a delight to have the opportunity to meet Her Majesty and to be able to present her with her personal copy of “The Diamond Jubilee Collection.”
After the presentation, the Queen was treated to a display of Scottish country dancing by a group of young dancers from across Scotland who performed a medley from the collection.
John said that the monarch was very interested in the new dances, even though she admitted that the first one she saw performed, ‘The Royal Patron’, named for her, looked a bit too complicated for her to try.
“Her Majesty sat and had a good flick through the book that explains all the steps for the new dances,” he said.
“She was also very intrigued by the third dance we showed her,” John went on, “which is called ‘The Castle of Mey’.
“She saw that it was named after the Caithness home of her mother,which intrigued her quite a bit, and told us that it was a bit more likely she would try that one. She told her piper that, as well, on her way out.”
John, chairman since November 2005, explained that the Society receives ideas for new dances all the time.
“We had a stock of about about a hundred or so, maybe even more, and we picked some that had the most interesting steps and others that had the most appropriate titles,” he said.
“Then we contacted the palace to ask if we could present the first of the limited edition run of 1,000 to Her Majesty, and she accepted. The event went off really well.”
John explained how such a firmly Scottish tradition was being kept alive by those aficionados who created the new dances.
“Basically what happens is that, while there aren’t really any new steps, we can always put them together in new and interesting combinations,” he said.
“We put these formulations of steps together with a bit of what you call
Since its foundation in 1923, the Society has grown to encompass over 500 branches around the world.