Popular annual Ceolas music and dance summer school

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The annual Ceolas music and dance summer school in South Uist took place from July 5th to 10th. The school was as popular as ever with over 111 people attending the courses.

People travel from all over the world to be taught at the Gaelic focused summer school and this year the programme had students from Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Singapore, Canada and Romania.

Feedback of the school was very positive with attendees stating that: “It was the best Ceolas ever.”

Report of the event by Mary Schmoller,

Ceolas 2015 had a great atmosphere from the start to the finish.

111 people took part in 17 classes of Song, Piping, Fiddle, Dance and Gaelic. Tutors for 2015 were Scotland: Paul McCallum, Margaret MacLellan and Mairi MacInnes for Song, Fin Moore and Griogair Labhruidh with Piping for Dance and Ceòl Mor /Pìobaireachd song. ngus Nicolson taught Youth Piping.

Fiddle tuition for adults was Cape Breton’s Dwayne Cǒte and Howie MacDonald and Alasdair white taught Youth Fiddle.

Step Dance tutors were Leanne Aucoin and Jayne MacLeod and they were support for Reels & Quadrilles by Shona MacLellan. Patsy Seddon was the Clarsach Tutor.

People came from all over the world to attend, with 9 Germans, 5 Swiss, a Japanese, Singaporean, Canadian and Romanian complementing the predominantly Scottish participants.

Ceolas ran a course for Teachers of Gaelic as well as for those who want to improve their Gaelic.

Three Gaelic classes ran at three different levels . Catriona MacIntyre, Catriona Black, Peggy Ann MacDonald led these groups being supported by Liam Crouse and Mairi MacInnes for “Gaelic for All” which all participants have to attend.

All classes were well attended and for the first year Ceolas offered a ‘drop in’ class option for the community, many people took advantage of this especially in the Gaelic and Step Dance.

Film G launched their new programme before the Welcome Ceilidh opened and are looking forward to receiving submissions in the coming years from the community.

The Welcome Ceilidh from the community was packed and the community provided tea was a lovely half time break. Guthan an Iar, the local singing group performed at both the Welcome Ceilidh and the Singers Night and were greatly appreciated.

Piping evening was again outstanding with many local young people being given an opportunity to perform alongside the tutors.

Pipers admit to being nervous of the audience in Daliburgh as they are very knowledgeable. Rona Lightfoot was MC for the evening.

A walk and a Dram with D.R. Campbell, a highlight of Ceolas week had him visiting the old School in North Glendale, a big thanks to Gordon Robertson who pops into the office the week before Ceolas with his contribution to the event – a malt! Katie Mary’s spread is gratefully appreciated.

The House Ceilidh on Tuesday night was again a great success with special thanks to DJ & Pat Peteranna in Garryhellie, Eric and Jane Twelves in Locheynort, Penny Burgess, Strome and Fr Donald MacKay and Mairi MacLeod in Daliburgh for opening their homes to Ceolas.

Wednesday was very busy with Rody Gorman giving two talks, one for the fluent Gaelic speaking students and one for the tutors who could not attend the first talk.

Singers’ ceilidh with the tutors and some of the students was well attended and hosted by Rona and Angela MacKinnon.

The energetic then got on the minibus for the Dance in Ceolas played by the Ceolas Band of Tutors supported by Angus Alick MacDonald who now teaches the Buttons group for Ceolas.

Thursday’s walk this year was in Garryhellie to “Clach an t-Sagart” and Jessie Steele led this walk supported by other villagers.

The Fiddle and Dance night at St Peters Hall was a fantastic night of dance called by Angus MacDonald and offering both the Cape Breton musicians and dancers their opportunity to shine as well as for the local dancers to “strut their stuff”.

Friday afternoon after tea gives all the participants and tutors the chance to showcase their talent from the Crossover Class, this is the class in which different disciplines share their learning and create something new.

The comedy act this year was from the Teachers responding to the Chirsty MacKay poem ‘The meeting of the chickens about the grain’.

This was the most unusual use of surgical gloves ever seen in Uist and the headgear and strip were inspired.

A dozen teachers dressed up as chickens had the hall full of people collapsed in laughter.

The singers with the Clarsach players made a beautiful combination.

Friday evening with the Grand finale Ceilidh Mor was outstanding and the event was broadcast live on ‘An Rèidio’ the community Radio station.

The sell out event was appreciated by audience and performers and the MC Cathy ‘Bhan’ MacDonald brought her ‘Hollywood’ style to the event.

Saturday morning saw the students leave on the plane and ferry all promising to return in 2016.

Iain MacDonald, Ceolas Artistic Director was told by many that: “It was the best Ceolas ever”, we hope so but whata challenge to live up to!

Pictured are Patsy Seddon, Mairi MacInnes, Paul McCallum and Rona Lightfoot performing at Ceolas 2015