About The Heather and the Rose Country Dancers
The Heather and The Rose Country Dancers (H&R) is a statewide network of dance groups in Oregon which teach both English and Scottish Country Dance and use global terminology for teaching.
The H&R started around 1981 with informal meetings of volunteer teachers from around the state who had a similar philosophy informed by the teaching of Carl Wittman (1943-1986). H&R was incorporated in 1982 and got its 501(c)(3) status in 1986. The Eugene group had its first Harvest Ball in 1978 and the Ashland group's first Spring Ball was 1981. H&R has presented weekend dance camps since 1981.
Our philosophy is based upon community and inclusiveness. The emphasis is the whole of the dance community and the whole of the dance. We promote community and inclusiveness by teaching with global terminology, by not using gender to determine who dances on what side or with whom, and by forming sets as individuals. At our dances you get to know and dance with everyone.
Global terminology uses language that refers to people's positions within the dance rather than gender. Since there are usually uneven numbers of men and women, it helps avoid confusion and is more equitable to the majority gender by eliminating translation problems (e.g. I'm a woman but dancing the man's role so when they say man they mean me). It also promotes community spirit by being inclusive - removing a barrier for and not discriminating against the majority gender. Global terminology has the added benefit of simplicity and clarity, usually requiring fewer words when teaching.
Teaching with global terminology supports the way we dance. We don't worry about who is on what side or dancing with whom - we encourage people to dance in all positions of the dance. When you come to our dances you will find men dancing with men, women dancing with women and women dancing with men on either side of the dance. Gender balance is not an issue; everyone who wants to dance can. We feel this inclusiveness builds a stronger community - you get to know and dance with more people and everyone has an equal chance to dance rather than members of the majority gender having to trade in; it is also more welcoming to same gender couples. Added benefits come from dancers learning the whole dance rather than just one side of it (you become a better dancer by learning all aspects and knowing the whole pattern of the dance).
Forming sets as individuals rather than couples adds to the feeling of inclusiveness. Everyone in the room is a potential dance partner. Rather than dancers having to find a partner for the next dance they simply stay on the floor or come to the floor as individuals sure that someone will come to stand opposite them. This manner of forming sets does not preclude dancing with a particular person on occasion. Forming sets as individuals removes another barrier to joining the dance, reducing the competitiveness and scrambling for a partner (as well as the anxiety of asking or waiting to be asked) and enhancing accessibility and the sense of community.