News Feature

Stonington
Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, August 7, 2014
Scottish country dance welcomes all at community center

Mike Little leads the Scottish Dancing

Mike Little, the kilt-clad Scottish country dance instructor, leads a group of dancers.

Photo by Jessica Brophy Order prints of selected PBP photos.

by Jessica Brophy

Scottish country dancing has been around since the days of Mary, Queen of Scots, but instructor Mike Little swears he hasn’t been doing it that long.

Little has been dancing a mere “20 or 25 years” and for the past eight years has taught Scottish country dance on the Island. Every Wednesday night from 7 to 8:30 p.m., community members gather to warm up, bow to one another and then dance.

Little, who is a licensed and certified instructor, said he was living in Vermont when he started dancing. He began with contra dancing, but had a deep interest in Irish music and Celtic culture. When he heard about a Scottish country dance class, he tried it out.

Charlotte Davis, a regular at Little’s class, said her entrée to the dance form was perhaps a bit more direct. “I married a Scot,” she said.

Little added that you don’t have to be Scottish to do Scottish dancing.

The form grew up in Scotland over the years, said Little, but was codified in the 1920s into the form the group dances now. Little enjoys wearing the Scottish traditional kilt, and many of the women who dance own kilt skirts, which are similar to men’s kilts, only longer and cut for a woman. For practice, though, any comfortable clothing will do. Most of the dancers also wear ghillies, or soft-soled dancing shoes. These aren’t necessary either, said Little.

The class runs year-round and beginners are welcome, as well as singles. All the dances are taught during the class, so even someone who’s never seen Scottish country dance can join in. “Everyone is welcome,” said Little. Some come every week, and some just stop in for the evening.

The dancing is good exercise, said Little. The British Medical Association supports the dancing, and has found via studies that Scottish country dance is better for building and maintaining bone health than classes designed specifically for bone health, said Little. “It’s also good because you need to use your brain,” said Little.

One of his friends recently celebrated his 85th birthday, and Little said the gentleman danced all evening.

For more information about the class, call Little at 348-9308.

Scottish Country Dancing class at the Island Community Center in Stonington

Dancers duck under a bridge made by another pair during a Wednesday night Scottish Country Dancing class at the Island Community Center in Stonington in July. Certified instructor Mike Little holds Scottish country dancing classes year-round on Wednesdays at the Island Community Center from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Singles and beginners are welcome at the class.

Photo by Jessica Brophy
Mike Little leads the Scottish Dancing

Mike Little, the kilt-clad Scottish country dance instructor, leads a group of dancers.

Photo by Jessica Brophy