Orkney Traditional Dance Association was set up from a public meeting held in Kirkwall Town Hall on the 8th February 1998. The aims of the Association were to promote, revive and preserve traditional dance throughout Orkney. Initially, the association was funded from Lottery grants and as time went on we have been assisted from both local and other outside funding bodies.
Over the years a great deal of work has been done, mostly by volunteers whose only payment has been the enjoyment they get. There are regular workshops, dances and ceilidhs led by local tutors with live music from local musicians like Jim Anderson, Ronald Anderson and the late Andy Leonard. In the early days The Wyre Band kept us going by always being available to play for our dances.
When funds have been available tutors have been brought in from outside Orkney – Mats Melin, Maria Leask, Jessie Stuart and David Cronie have all contributed to the wealth of dances that are danced now throughout Orkney.
Jessie has written dances to honour two of her trips to Orkney – we have ‘The Orkney Reel’ written for her first visit to us and ‘Men of Hoy’ which she taught at her workshop in Hoy at Easter this year.
Of course we can’t cater for everyone’s requirements but we have covered a huge variety over the years. We have also touched on music for dance – you can have music without dance but not dance without music. Nicol Mclaren and Ross McPherson came up and led great workshops on music for dance and the result has been great music to dance to from The Orkney Traditional Music Project at our combined workshops. Karin Ingram has also passed on her skills to a group who whished to ‘have a go’ at calling for dance.
All our events are open to everyone-you only need to want to dance and yes we do dances like the Eva Three Step, Gay Gordons, St Bernards Waltz, Strip the Willow along with the Queen Victoria, Posties Jig, Virginia Reel, Duke of Perth, etc, etc, etc. There is no age or ability discrimination either.