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Learning to Dance
. . Born to active New England square and contra dancing parents, Dottie quickly developed an enduring love of the people, patterns and music of the square dance world. Dottie’s square dance memories go back to her childhood in the 1950’s when she danced with her parents at the Appalachian Mountain Club Cardigan Ski Lodge in New Hampshire. Having parents who danced for nearly seventy years, she is following in their footsteps with a life-long love of Square Dancing. Dottie graduated from Bates College in Maine with a Master of Science degree in Mathematics and from Wesleyan University in Connecticut with a Master of Arts in Teaching degree. She taught math for 25 years in several schools to students from junior high to university. Dealing with her aging parents necessitated taking a leave of absence from math teaching but she continues to use those skills when teaching square dancing.>
. . Dottie and her husband Gary began dancing in 1973 to live music and the calling of Roger Whynot in Belmont, Massachusetts. Roger came from Nova Scotia and was the founder of the Jolly Rogers. The next summer they moved to Nova Scotia where Gary began teaching Astronomy at St. Mary’s University. They began square dancing with the Bee Squares, dancing to Marg and Art Blumsum, and learning some Easy Rounds. After moving to Lawrencetown they joined the Marine Swingers in Porters Lake, dancing to Wade Savage. As soon as it was allowed, they learned Plus from Lorne Tyler, and they were among the founding members of the Eager Eights. In 1980-81, during Gary’s sabbatical in Madison, Wisconsin, they learned advanced (A1 & A2) from Gene Knutson and Phase III Rounds from Milton and Rose Ann Stewart. Returning to Nova Scotia they joined the Dancing Shadows with leaders Marg and Tom Keagan. This group was later taken over by Alex Ritchie and Bernice Thurber and we still dance occasionally with Lionel and Janet Crowe. They also round danced with the Lite Fantastics lead by Ken and Donna Gibson, and with In the Pinks Rounds lead by John and Valerie Pinks.
Learning to Call
. . In the fall of 1981 a tape group formed to learn Advanced Square Dancing. Dottie began calling in 1983 to fill their need for a live caller and her career gradually spread into calling everything from beginners to C2. As a professional Math Teacher, a long time musician, and with ten years of Square Dancing experience, learning to call was a natural development. Along the way she attended two calling schools in Nova Scotia with Gloria Roth, three before various Canadian Nationals (Hamilton in 1988, Halifax in 1994 and London in 2008), and five years of personal voice lessons. She continues to improve her skills by attending all available Maritime callers workshops. Since 1995 she has been a member of CALLERLAB (The International Association of Square Dance Callers) and annually attends their meetings and works on several committees.
Club Calling and Regular Events
. . Starting with the Motivators A-2 club in 1983, she began the Sail Sets A-1 club in 1984, the Coordinators plus club in 1988, and took over the Lake City Swingers mainstream club in 1991. Between 1995 and 2009 she shared the calling for the Southern A Squares advanced club in Moncton, New Brunswick. In 2008 the Contra Time Dancers was formed as the replacement for Dave and Jane Schlosberg’s New Times Old Time dances. See the Contra Time Dancers page for more of that story. In 2011 she began calling for the Parkland at the Lakes Seniors. All along there have also been various Square Dance Party events and calling in the schools. All of these keep her busy calling 3 to 5 times a week.
. . For many years Metro Association held regular Demonstration Dances to showcase our activity to the public. These included dancing at the Grand Parade in our red and white outfits during the pancake breakfast on July 1st, dancing on a float during the Natal Day Parade in early August, and dancing for Breakfast Television in September. Of course, all of these events required a caller and Dottie performed this roll many times. One unforgettable day the battery for the float music failed and we danced to the clapping of those sitting. The photo shows the 2009 Dartmouth Parade with dancers Wayne and Dianne Burns, Lionel and Janet Crowe, Russ and Mary Trimper, Bob and Inge Ruohoniemi, Ralph and Valerie Brown, and Allan Russell and Mary Magee.
Canadian National Conventions
. . Dottie and Gary were Support Services Chairman and later Vice Chairman for the 3rd Canadian National Square and Round Dance Convention held in Halifax in 1982 with 5500 dancers attending. (Photo at right)
. . Dottie was Program Chairman for the 9th Canadian National held in Halifax in 1994. This included organizing a Callers School given by Gloria Roth and Steve Kopman. The logo “Dance by the Shore in ‘94" inspired Dottie to create a new dance move called “Dance by the Shore”, danced to the tune of “Little Burnt Potato” as played by Don Messer and his Islanders. After being taught to several squares of dancers from around the province, this dance was performed at the opening ceremony held in the outdoor amphitheater at The Forks where the Red and Assiniboine Rivers join in Winnipeg, and as part of the Friday evening entertainment in Halifax.
. . Having attended all but two of the Canadian National Conventions, Dottie has called at every one since 1986. In 1998 she had the honour of calling on Parliament Hill during the Canadian National in Ottawa (a significant calling highlight!).
. . Dottie was again Program Chairman for the 13th Canadian National held in Saint John, New Brunswick in 2002. This necessitated many long drives to attend board meetings but it also cemented some special friendships with Saint John dancers and leaders.
. . For the 17th Canadian National in Halifax in 2010 Dottie was the Executive Vice Chair of Programming. For promoting this event she choreographed a four part presentation celebrating Nova Scotia’s square and round dance heritage (Acadian, Scottish and New England, Maritime sea chantey “Farewell to Nova Scotia” round and Don Messer Show).
Download Convention Memories in .docx format
Other Conventions (U. S. Nationals, New England)
. . As part of the promotional effort for the 17th Canadian National, Dottie and Gary attended the 2009 U. S. National in Long Beach, California and the 2010 New England Convention in Biddeford, Maine. This stimulated ongoing attendance at these events when possible.
Local Organizations (Metro, Federation, DANS, Perform NS)
. . Having attended Metro Association (Square and Round Dance Clubs in Halifax County) meetings since 1978 and been Chairman with her husband from 1987-1989, since 1992 she has been editor of “Metro Matters”.
. . Dottie began attending Federation meetings about 1978. From 1983 – 1985 Gary and Dottie were Presidents of the Square and Round Dance Federation of Nova Scotia. Since 2003 Dottie has been the liaison between SRDFNS and ANSSRDT. In 2006 Dottie became Secretary and, except for a year off in 2010 to deal with the National Convention, she continues to hold that position.
. . Between 1982 and 1989 Dottie was on the DANS Board (Dance Nova Scotia) ending with two years as Treasurer and earning a life membership in DANS. In 2011 we finally completed a long and challenging project to produce a "Squares, Contras and More" Dancing segment for the DANS Dancing in the Schools series. This involved recording music, creating teaching DVDs and providing written material.
. . Another branch of the Cultural Federations called Perform Nova Scotia financially supports school presentations by dance teachers and other cultural performers. With the renewed interest in the schools for recreational opportunities that do not involve competitive sports, there is hope for more chances to promote youth dancing.
. . Since 1984 Dottie has been a member of both ANSSRDT (Association of Nova Scotia Square and Round Dance Teachers) and MCCA (Maritime Callers and Cuers Association). Since about 1990 Dottie has been actively promoting the development of newer callers in the Maritimes by organizing and presenting workshops for both organizations. Since 1992 she has been the editor of the ANSSRDT Newsletter. Link to ANSSRDT Newsletter Archive.
. . As a spinoff from receiving the DANS Award in 2001 she was featured on the CBC TV program “It’s a Living” teaching Peter Jordan how to call.
. . In August 2003 she helped organize and staff the first Alguire Memorial Callers School. These have been held biannually since then with guest callers Norm Wilcox, Jack MacArthur, Ken Ritucci, Barry and Pam Clasper, Andy Shore, and Betsy and Roy Gotta.
CALLERLAB and CONTRALAB
. . Dottie first attended Callerlab at the Pittsburg Convention in 1995. She attended the mini-meeting in Portland, Maine in 1997 and then began attending the annual conventions regularly in 1999 (Dallas, Las Vegas, St. Louis, Richmond, San Antonio, Reno, Louisville, Charlotte, Colorado Springs, Los Angeles (25 years calling), 2008 London mini-meeting (Ontario), Kansas City, Niagara Falls, Las Vegas, Nashville, Raleigh). In 2004 she became Chairlady of the Choreographic Applications Committee. She also is an active member of all the Program Committees as well as Caller Training and Definitions.
. . In 2004 she became involved with the production of the Community Dance Journal and became the editor in 2006. Photo at right shows breakfast during the 2011 Las Vegas Convention with former editor Calvin and Judy Campbell. (Go to Callerlab General Documents, then sort by Category and Select Community Dance Journals). In 2014 she was elected to the Callerlab Board of Governors and sworn in during the meeting in Reno, Nevada. In 2016 she was re-elected and also elected to the Executive Committee starting at the 2017 Mesa, Arizona meeting.
. . Dottie joined Contralab when she attended the meeting in Long Beach, California prior to the 2009 U.S. National Convention. She soon became Secretary and continues to hold that position.
. . DANS Award in recognition of her “outstanding contribution to dance in Nova Scotia” received by Dottie Welch at the 2001 Maritime Convention.
. . The SRDFNS Mayflower Award received by Dottie and Gary Welch in 2005 at the Provincial Festival held in Yarmouth.
. . The Canadian Square and Round Dance Society Award of Excellence received by Dottie and Gary Welch at the 2006 Canadian National in Montreal, Quebec.
The CALLERLAB Chairman's Award of Excellence received March 31, 2015 by Dottie in recognition of outstanding contributions to CALLERLAB as an "unsung hero". Photo with Barry and Pam Clasper.