New World Scottish Dancers


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The Beginning

Originally, the dancers who would become the New World Scottish Dancers were students in one of the many country dance classes active in the San Francisco Branch of the RSCDS. These dancers made their debut as a team at the Vallejo Games in 1989. By 1992, the team had become sufficiently professional in standards to be told that it ought to start entering in the adjudications at the Santa Rosa Highland Games as a performing group rather than as a social group. By 1997, a small combined step dance and country dance team began to perform at various Highland Games in the Bay Area.

The dancers in the 1989 picture of the Vallejo Adjudication Set are Steve Wyrick, Suellen Noland, Bill Griffith, Colin Johnson, Claire Tongue, Jennifer Capra, Bud Wisecarver, and Kasma Kelley. The team included teenagers as well as adults.


The Transitional Period

1997 and 1998 were pivotal years: the team began to explore various directions in which it might develop. New dances were created by members of the team, one of them "Caelan's Fancy," created by Heather Farquhar, to the music of the Scottish rock band "Brother," being particularly innovative and influential. The traditional white dresses worn since 1989 were replaced as the team began to develop a "California style" with a repertoire, interpretation, and costuming to match selected periods of California history. In 2000, because of the emphasis on Scottish-California history, the performing group acquired the name by which it is now known: the New World Scottish Dancers.

George Gates, Bonnie Wakeman, Heather Farquhar, Greg Reznick, Michael Howard, Lori Howard, Steve Wyrick. Woodland, Sacramento Games 1999.


The Here and Now

Today, while both traditional country dances and step dances are performed with an eye toward authenticity, the NWSD emphasizes creativity and a willingness to experiment in a manner appealing to the upcoming generation of dancers. The NWSD has appeared not only at Highland Game venues around Northern California, but also at the Oakland Museum of California, with groups such as Molly's Revenge and the Wicked Tinkers, in period recreations at John Muir Ranch Days at Martinez, and in various ethnic dance festivals around the Bay Area, as well as at other events with a Scottish flavor.

Lori Howard, dancing on the Cutting Edge of the 21st century.