Margot Mernitz


Margot Mernitz
Teacher

Teaching since 1991

I believe that in my day  Physical Education teachers in Scotland had in their curriculum particularly for high schools teaching Scottish Country Dancing. After all Miss Milligan was, I think , in charge at Jordan Hill College in Glasgow where teachers trained. I certainly remember Petronella and Flowers of Edinburgh in first year at Kilmarnock Academy. Following my parents example from about fourteen on wards we were dancing our own version of Ceilidh type dances and such dances as Eightsome Reel, Dashing White Sergeant, Drops of Brandy , as Strip the Willow was called in our area. School end of year parties usually included dancing like that, but when I moved from Girl Guides to Rangers our Leader, Miss Allen, was the Royal Scottish Country Dance Representative for North Aryshire so for physical activity we danced RSCDS style. We also competed in local festivals of Music Dance and Drama.   In the V.E. and V.J. celebrations my brother and I danced in the demonstrations in the park. We were usually first couple we said, tongue in cheek, that was because we were the best dancers, but it was really because we were the shortest and the couples were positioned by height.!! But I do think we were fair dancers we certainly enjoyed it.   When I came to Australia in 1949 I was a junior teacher at Port Vincent. I was responsible for physical education for Grades 1,2,&3. I remember I wanted to teach them dancing for the school concert, but it was a very bad year for poliomyelitis and it had been noted that strenuous activity made the condition worse if it had been contracted so I was not allowed to. When I went home to Stenhouse Bay we taught the locals Ceilidh Dances in the regular get-togethers.   When we came up to Adelaide in 1950 Scottish Country Dancing was not an easy option and I became involved in hockey, and the Parkside Girls Club Combined Church Clubs Calisthenics organization that had marching, exercises, dancing, clubs and rods.   I really did not take up Scottish Country Dancing again until I attended Jean Lumsden’s WEA class. The same one as Roy, I’m not sure of the date maybe 1987. Jean persuaded me to study for the Teacher’s exam. I know I was sitting the written exam the day my husband died and that was June 28 1990. I started a class in 1991 and sat for the full teachers certificate in 1996. I love dancing although my knees are getting a bit stiff at 80. I love to teach and enjoy my dancers having fun and gradually improving. When they cope with a dance that initially appeared a bit challenging we are all so pleased with ourselves.   Being a physiotherapist always interested in gerontology I do endorse that Scottish Country Dancing meets all the criterion for successful aging. It is physically demanding, intellectually challenging (in a nice way), it is by its very nature social, if you relate spirit to uplifting the music is certainly that and it must be good for the environment.