The region’s newest arts festival has called on Borderers to get involved in its biggest project – and support one the area’s most intriguing houses.
Haining Dreaming will see professional and amateur dancers combine for three community performances as part of the first ever Yarrow, Ettrick and Selkirk (YES) Festival in September.
The final piece will be the work of Rosie Kay, who owns her own dance company and hails originally from Chirnside.
Along with YES performing arts leader Jenna Agate, Rosie was inspired by hearing of the A-listed house’s past, including the reputed bear and wolves that lived in cages within the 160-acre grounds in the 18th century.
They also looked at the children and their governesses and nannies who lived in the house for centuries, and the flappers and Great Gatsby generation of the 1920s.
Jenna said: “Rosie and myself were given access to The Haining’s archives by trustee Susan Edington and we discovered these amazing stories about the owners, the Pringle-Pattison family.
“We looked at how Polish soldiers were stationed there during the Second World War and how the estate had the bear and wolves.
“We decided to take these stories and use them to create an amazing site-specific performance in the house and grounds, with live music.”
Rosie has already started the first phase of the scheme – Dancing Dreams – where six trained dance leaders will work with their own groups, among them primary schools, in the first three weeks of the new term.
The Dancing Dreams stage, run in conjunction with Scottish Borders Council’s arts development team and funded by Games for Scotland, will culminate in open performances at the end of August, followed by Haining Dreaming.
Iain Lowthian of Ettrickbridge has composed music for the project and will work alongside professionals and youngsters from local schools to perform it.
Since it was announced in 2009 that the late Andrew Nimmo-Smith had bequeathed his Haining home “for the benefit for the community of Selkirkshire and the wider public” there has at times been a difficult relationship with trustees and locals.
Some Souters have accused the trust of being a closed shop, which members have denied, but Jenna believes Haining Dreaming can reveal the Palladian mansion and its grounds to more people.
She said: “We want people to feel more comfortable with The Haining.
“It is a huge part of the town and is a fabulous old building.
“If more people would come and enjoy the estate, it would be good for Selkirk.”
After a recent visit to The Haining, Creative Scotland development officer Stephen Palmer, said: “The performance at the Haining, a building at the heart of the community of Selkirk, is a magical backdrop against which to enjoy this work.”
Haining Dreaming will be performed on September 12, 13 and 14, at 7pm each night.
Jenna added: “If anyone wishes to participate in the dance then there is still time to get involved.”
The full programme for YES is expected to be available later this month on its website – www.yesfestival.co.uk – with tickets on sale from Friday, August 9.