Step dance tutor Pat Ballantyne is based in Aberdeen, Scotland and has been dancing, teaching and playing in a cèilidh band for a number of years.
She has taught step dance in schools, at fèisean, and at community workshops in many locations and has performed in Scotland, Europe and Cape Breton Island where she learned from some of the best living step dancers.
She has extensively researched Scottish dance history from the 19th century to the present day and is a board member of the Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland.
“I had been teaching Scottish percussive step dance for a number of years and I also had a Highland dancing teaching qualification when I decided to register for a part-time PhD with the University’s Elphinstone Institute in 2009.”
During her time at Aberdeen University, there have been no shortage of memorable moments.
Mrs Ballantyne said: “Through my research, I have been fortunate to meet some amazing characters from Highland dancers in their 20s to a nonagenarian in Nova Scotia, Canada.
“One of the most exciting moments was when I realised that the archives of Cosmo Mitchell, an Aberdeen dancing master in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, was of significantly greater historical importance than anyone had previously thought.”
So – what of Barga and The School here?
Firstly the school will eschew the stereotypical view of what Scottish Culture is – the parody of itself which was a politically motivated creation.
They will be rediscovering and celebrating with the help of the best of their tradition bearers their beautiful past traditions which have been saved for them, are now main stream, and represent a living tradition.
The school in Barga is just a small strand of the exciting movement which has overtaken Scotland.
More than this they will be breaking down the artificially created barriers between the different elements of our tradition.
For this reason they study two disciplines, each interrelated and they will come together at the end of each day for an integrated session. Each of these parts when re-united will support and enhance each other and the product will be greater than the sum of the parts. There will be tears of joy and sadness when alchemy is achieved.
Barga will provide the rest: – The Conservatorio, the wonderful welcoming people, the spectacular food, the beauty of the city where magic happens and the chance and random meetings will constantly take place in piazzas and inspire a tune or a song – living – soaring – maybe even to heaven. — Hamish Moore
Gary West – Pipes
Fin Moore – Pipes
Fiona Hunter – Scots song
Kathleen MacInnes– Gaelic song
Sarah McFadyen – Fiddle
Derrick Cameron (Cape Breton) – Guitar accompaniment
Melody Cameron (Cape Breton) – Step dance and Fiddle
Pat Ballantyne – Step dance
painter and photographer - started barganews.com, the first on line news site in Tuscany, Italy back in 1996