A special Scottish dancing event is coming to East Renfrewshire next month, with the aim of encouraging children – and their grown-ups – to take the floor.
The Ceilidh Kids Family Festival will take place at the Carmichael Hall, Eastwood Park, Giffnock, on Friday, July 5, at 1pm and 4pm.
These family workshops are most suitable for children aged 3-7 with parents or carers, but everyone is welcome.
Ceilidh Kids is all about fun for all generations and involves skipping, clapping and marching to traditional Scottish music.
Ceilidh Kids has been set up by Caroline Brockbank, who used to see community notices in her home city of Edinburgh saying ‘Family Ceilidh – All Welcome’.
She said: “I never took much notice of these until becoming a mum myself, but eventually I talked my own children into accompanying me to one or two events supposedly aimed at under-fives, full of hope and expectation that I would learn something new.
“I was disappointed to discover that many were geared to families only in the sense that they had children attending them.
“There often appeared to be no concession to children’s confidence and tolerance levels, attention spans, learning patterns, stamina or bedtimes.
“I thought ‘I can do better than that’. I considered my own experience as a child at the local children’s Scottish dancing class and with my mother in the north east of England, my time spent organising adult-orientated ceilidhs, and my work with children as a speech and language therapist.
“With all this in mind I cobbled together a ceilidh for the local playgroup which seemed at least to be an improvement on what had gone before.”
By this time Caroline’s own children were four and three. She thought it would be fun to organise a little group so that her children, and children from other families of a similar age, could get together and have some fun to Scottish dancing music.
She was interested in the tradition of different generations dancing together and passing on skills, more prevalent in smaller rural communities with a settled, family-based population, and saw that there were fewer opportunities available for this in the city.
Carolie continued: “There are plenty of parent-and-child classes available in our area for gymnastics, music and so on – why not for Scottish Dancing?
“With some help and encouragement from other local mums, I booked a hall for a pilot six-week block and pitched in.
“After some trial and error, and feedback from the long-suffering families attending, we came up with a programme of adapted dances, exercises and games which seemed to work well.
“Then other families started coming along and we were into a second term…”
Twelve years later and CeilidhKids has expanded considerably.
It’s a full time job for Caroline, and a part-time job for my colleague Katy Gray, and Mireia Anon-Rebollo runs CeilidhKids in Glasgow.
Caroline said: “We still run preschool family classes, and are busy most weekends (sometimes teamed with a tolerant musician) running birthday parties for all ages, family celebrations such as weddings and christenings, and fundraisers for local youth organisations.
“Schools and nurseries have invited us in to lead one-off sessions, and CeilidhKids has been privileged to be invited to be part of some bigger family-oriented events keen to include some Scottish dancing as part of the activities on offer.
“In recent years I have been running sessions at the Edinburgh Fringe in association with the Laughing Horse Free Festival and will be providing 35 free family sessions this year.
“In Edinburgh and Glasgow there are a lot of overseas families, perhaps connected to the universities, who are glad of the chance to explore Scottish culture.
“Many local mums and dads also like the thought of Scottish dancing, and want to share their half-forgotten traditions with their children – but need a reminder!”
• Ceilidh Kids is at Carmichael Hall, Eastwood Park, Giffnock, on Friday, July 5. For more information and to book places at the event, go to Eastwood Park Theatre – Ceilidh Kids