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Dancing Along Life’s Journey

Dancing Along Life’s Journey

The notable Martha Graham is quoted as having said “Great dancers are not great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion” and this could not be more true of Marie Duthie of CrossReach Morlich House.

Taking lessons from the age of three, she has always danced from her heart and after she left school she toured with the acclaimed Ganjou Brothers and Juanita.  Following their advice, both she and her friend formed a sister’s act known as “The Raymond Sisters” and the duo toured around the UK.  This included playing Edinburgh’s Empire Theatre a number of times.

Trained in ballet, tap and acrobatics and having a fine singing voice, the talented Marie never lost her love of dance and performing.

While hanging up her professional shoes in 1946, she has continued to dance to date.  In the 1960s she choreographed the annual Mother’s Fellowship shows at her then local church and in the 1970s she trained as a Scottish Country Dancing teacher.

It’s been said that life’s a dance and taking this view, Marie has passionately danced her way through her life as a wife, mother and grandmother.  Her enthusiasm and passion for Scottish Country Dancing was infectious and her husband, who previously didn’t dance, was said to have taken to it with great ‘gusto’.

Her many interests included knitting for her family through the decades, baking and Scottish tablet making, but dancing and music have been and remain her main passions.  She is noted as being unable to stop tapping her feet when music is playing and she continues to love the old musicals!

The stage of 94 year old Marie’s life has not always been smooth.  Having been married for 56 years, she is now widowed and macular degeneration has taken its toll on her eyesight. 

Before Marie moved to Morlich House in June 2016, one of her daughters saw a call out for Variety performers who had danced on the stage of the old Empire Theatre (now the Festival Theatre).  The appeal came through the Forget-Me-Not newsletter published by Paul Hudson and it invited interested parties to make contact with choreographer Janice Parker.  Marie was intrigued and was keen to find out more. 

Following a meeting with Paul and Janice at the Festival Theatre, she learned their idea was to bring older dancers together with younger dances so that they could learn from each other. Marie was captivated by the concept and agreed to take part.

Funded by the Life Changes Trust Dementia programme, Janice worked with Marie and two other dancers, who had also performed at the Empire Theatre, for a year.  As the weeks went by, Marie’s feet tapped and danced with increasing confidence and her joy, enthusiasm and good humour was described as being inspirational.

The outcome was “An Audience With…” a 3 day production in the Empire Rooms at the Festival Theatre and the line-up included two younger dancers who are in their twenties.

In addition to this, the entire project was filmed and it is expected that a DVD and book of this project will be released in spring 2018.

At the time of the show, Marie was recovering from surgery which meant she was unable to perform live.  Instead, footage of her teaching younger dancers tap dancing steps was played to the audience.  Her son and two daughters were (and are) very proud of her achievements.

When asked about the impact the project has had on her mother, daughter Morna said,

“Physically, the dancing has kept my mother in good shape.  Mentally, the social stimulation, the laughter, the music, the attention and the feeling she can still contribute something have all added to her sense of self-worth.  Apart from having her weekly visits to the Festival

Theatre, Mum also goes to the (Open Door) Good neighbour Club once a week, and she has her bi-monthly singing group at Inverleith. 

“All these activities contribute to Mum’s physical and mental wellbeing.  The move to Morlich has made a huge difference to Mum’s quality of life.  She has help when needed, is eating properly once again, and isn’t lonely or anxious anymore.  In other words, because of the care and support she receives at Morlich, she has the ability and energy to participate in all these external activities.”

 Image from www.glasgowtheatreblog.com

 

 

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