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 /positional 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 / positional terminology, by not using gender identity or expression to determine who dances on what side or with whom, and by forming sets as individuals rather than as couples. At our dances you get to dance with everyone from any position.

Global terminology uses teaching language that is global (talking to as many people at once as possible) and geography-based (describing geography rather than people) and the teaching/calling does not refer to gender roles in any way. Rather we use language that refers to people’s positions within the dance. This promotes community spirit by being inclusive – not discriminating and removing barriers. It has the added benefit of simplicity and clarity, usually requiring fewer words when teaching.

The way we teach supports the way we dance. We don’t worry about who is on what side or dancing with whom. When you come to our dances you will find everyone dancing with everyone else on either side of the dance regardless of gender identity or expression. We feel this builds a stronger community – you get to know and dance with more people and everyone has an equal chance to dance. It is also more welcoming to LGBTQ+ folks. Added benefits include dancers learning the whole dance rather than just one side of it (they become better dancers by learning all aspects of the dance, knowing the whole pattern).

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, though couples are encouraged to come in at the bottom rather than leave holes in a longways. When forming sets we call for the number of additional dancers needed rather than calling for couples. 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.