Job done as dance committee steps off stage

Borders Dance Committee comes to an end after 40 years. Olivia Roper, Diane Mitchell, Toni Coyle, Sheila Whye, Sheila Whiteford, Hilary Mortons.
Borders Dance Committee comes to an end after 40 years. Olivia Roper, Diane Mitchell, Toni Coyle, Sheila Whye, Sheila Whiteford, Hilary Mortons.

Olivia Roper, Diane Mitchell, Toni Coyle, Sheila Whyte, Sheila Whiteford and Hilary Mortons have now brought down the curtain on four decades of dance promotion in the region.

Borders Dance Committee was set up by the regional education department to widen opportunities for dance within schools and the wider community. It organised classes, courses, events and festivals, and dance companies were invited to provide residences, bringing together groups from across the Borders to share and perform their work.

Explaining why it had been decided to call it a day as far as the dance committee was concerned, Sheila said: “The dedicated work of the committee has led to a vibrant dance scene with extended opportunities for dance across the Borders, which is now created and delivered by local dance professionals.

“Thus the ultimate aim of the committee – indeed its raison d’etre – has been achieved, and it is therefore no longer needed. Time now, after 40 enjoyable and eventful years, to leave the stage and bring down the curtain.”

Highlights of the dance committee’s year were the community dance evening, held every autumn to showcase the work of local dance organisations, and a biennial week-long festival – an extravaganza of professionally-led workshops and performances.

Another important development was the setting up of Borders Youth Dance Group which gave talented youngsters a chance to extend their skills.

Funding was obtained to employ dance artists-in-residence – first Royston Maldoom, then Peter Royston – culminating with the appointment of Olivia Roper to the permanent post of Borders Regional Council dance development officer in 1999.

The partnership between Olivia and the dance committee resulted in a number of initiatives, such as the dance leader in the community course and other accredited modules.