Gordon and Ellen Youle

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Gordon and Ellen Youle

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Gordon and Ellen Youle have performed folk, square, and jitterbug dances in the Nova Scotia International Tattoo and Gordon also performed Scottish Country Dances in the Tattoo. Together, they have performed English Country Dancing in the Rockingham Heritage Society's Duke of Kent tea event, and Scandinavian dances in the Halifax Multicultural Festival.

Gordon served on the Executive Board of the Pomorze Polish Folk Dance Ensemble, and he also performed with them in various venues in Halifax, in Montréal, and in Poland. Both Gordon and Ellen have served on the Executive Board of Dance Nova Scotia, the Dance Federation of Nova Scotia, and the Executive Team of Trackers (a Plus-Level square dance club in Ottawa). Ellen has served on the Executive Board of the Folk Dance Association of Nova Scotia, and she has worked on the committee to organize the 40th Anniversary Event of the International Folk Dancers of Ontario.

Ellen earned a degree in Special Education and taught various subjects to children and adults. Together Ellen and Gordon attended introductory classes in calling square dances, and they began teaching some folk dances – in couples formations – at the New Times Old Times dance series in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She is currently part of a group of apprentice contra dance callers that meet semi-regularly to practice their skills, and she has called a few dances during evenings of the Ottawa Contra Dances.

Recently Ellen taught folk dances at two senior centres in Ottawa, and she also led a workshop in Introduction to Folk and Novelty Dances at the Herb Festival in Almonte, Ontario, and at the Kanata Senior Centre in Ottawa, Ontario.

A lot of the teaching Ellen has done is in classes at senior centers and at dance parties at their own home for which they have space in their basement. Ellen has also taught and led dances at other people's house parties and a company picnic. In some cases, the dances were chosen due to a particular theme, such as Country Western. At some house parties, Ellen has taught mainly easy contra and English Country dances, and also Ceilidh dances.

When Ellen has the opportunity, her favorite thing to do is teach dances from a variety of styles and eras – from the very old traditional dances to fad novelty dances – and various formations such as solo line dances, solos in circles, couples in circles, couple mixers, and sets of various formations. She also enjoys teaching dances with a variety of steps and really enjoys when there are more than one kind of step to the dance. Basically what she does NOT attempt to teach is advanced Balkan dances or Ballroom Dancing (except for the basic steps). Her collection of dances, however, is wide and eccentric, and even includes some rather obscure choreographies – some of which she has pieced together herself or which have been created by friends.

She has taught a variety of dances in their home for sets of specific numbers of people (called "Dancing by Numbers"), such as Sonderburger Dopple Quadrille (for 16 people), OXO Reel (for 12 people), Levi Jackson Rag (for 10 people), Mühlen Polka (for 10 people), Pride of Dingle (for 9 people), Gustav's Skål (for 8 people in a square), Farmers' Quadrille (for 8 people in a square), Star Trek (for 8 people in a longways set), Ypsilon (for 7 people), Polka Dot (for 5 people), Domino Five (for 5 people), and Sicilian Tarantella (for 4 people). The goal of teaching these dances is to always have a dance to do, no matter the number of people – such as at the beginning and end of dance parties, when not everyone has arrived yet or when some have started leaving.

In all this, Ellen's aim is to offer a variety of fun dances, at easy and intermediate levels, to appeal to dancers of various ages and backgrounds.

Dances Gordon and Ellen have taught include Agadoo, Biserka Bojarka, Button Soup, Cotton-Eyed Joe, Donino Five, Farmers' Quadrille, Gents Give Ladies-Ladies Take, Good Old Days, Gustav’s Skål Hand Jive, Hands Up, Is it Proper, Les Saluts, Levi Jackson Rag, Mazurka mit dem Tisch, Mühlen Polka, OXO Reel, Polka, Polka Dot, Pride of Dingle, Road to the Isles, Rosemary's Fancy, Salty Dog Rag, Scout House Reel, Sicilian Tarantella, Sonderburg Dopple Quadrille, Star Trek, Swedish Masquerade, Syrto, The Gae Gordons, The Hitchhiker, The Swim, Twelfth Street Rag, Valle e Dardhes, What the Hey, Ypsilon, and Zemer Atik.