II December SCD Weekend in Portugal

II December SCD Weekend in Portugal

December 2015

The second December Weekend in Portugal tailor-made for Scottish Country Dancing enthusiasts took place in the heart of Curia, a spa-town on the northern outskirts of Coimbra.

This time, dancers and friends gathered in the region of Bairrada, a popular wine-growing district in Portugal, known also for its delicious gastronomy and beautiful landscapes.

The weekend programme offered two Balls with live music by Keith Smith and James Gray, SCD classes with Jamie Berg, and a taste of local gastronomy and wines.

The venue, Curia Palace Hotel, had been carefully chosen not only for its location and first-class hospitality, but also for its magnificent wooden-floor ballroom.

#scottishdance #curia#workshop #jamesgray#keithsmith#jamieberg#


‘The venue, the weather, the music, the teaching, all the elements combined to make it a wonderful experience. I have to add that I found your group of Portuguese dancers extremely friendly and welcoming’.

Marie-Solange, France


‘It was a WONDERFUL weekend – the venue was elegant, the food great, the service very good and the organisation excellent. I really enjoyed meeting dancers from so many different countries. Everyone danced so very well, and there was such a good spirit amongst all the different parties who came. Then there were the musicians…every now and again I completely forgot to dance I was so busy enjoying their playing. They were exceptional!!!’

TMB, Portugal    


‘Just a few words to say how much my husband and I enjoyed this fabulous weekend! What a way to discover your country..this weekend combined everything we love: good company, nice surrounding, wonderful music and a good choice of dances. It was also enjoyable to spend an afternoon visiting the region. I wished we had stayed longer but we will be back!’

Martine & Tony, France


‘It was pure pleasure in Curia to dance with such an international group pf dancers and to the lively and beautiful music of Keith and James. Jamie is a most excellent teacher and I feel I learnt some useful refinements from her as well as the interesting new dances.’

Pauline, UK


‘We have most appreciated your Curia WE: excellent music, good teaching, good dancing, good company and the Palace and the food were great and your welcome perfect.’

Simon, France


‘Thank you for organising such a superb dancing weekend. It was a wonderful experience and everything went so smoothly. Curia is a magical place and it was so enjoyable being with such friendly dancers from many different places’

Alex, Canada


The workshop in Curia was just fantastic. Jamie Berg is an innovative and inspiring teacher and her husband James Gray an accomplished pianist. Together they are an unmatched team. We danced and dines in style in the Curia Palace Hotel and felt carried away to old times long past. Needless to mention your perfect organization. We were a truly international group and we made friends among all nationalities, Portuguese, Russian, English to mention just a few.’

Sylvia, Switzerland


‘For our three days in Curia we traveled more than 3,000km and needed two nights accommodation en route (not as far as the Russians, of course, but I guess they were more in need of the sunshine). All four of us from the Montpellier club thought it was well worth the effort. Colette and I have had more than a dozen trips for SCD in the last 12 months and this will linger in our memories longer than most, not only for the dancing and music but for the friendly atmosphere and the amazing setting. We are sorry that we missed Estoril last year but we look forward to finding out what you choose for the next year.’

Colette and Mike, France



Article by Sylvia Nyffeler

 Very few of the IB members had any idea about the little spa town Curia between Lisbon and Porto in the Bairrada region or had ever heard the name of Adriana Duarte and her company ‘Moonluza’. After our return home we knew better.

With her Company ‘Moonluza’ Adriana tries to combine unique project where cultures connect in art, learning and history, She had a well cherished dream. Why not include her own passion for Scottish Country in her project. So this year [2015] she organized this workshop in the ‘Curia Palace Hotel’.

The luxurious Hotel with golf course, huge swimming pool and modern indoor spa, extensive gardens was built in the ‘Golden Twenties’  and at that time was very popular among politicians, film stars and the European aristocracy. During second world war it was a hide out for secret agents and spies of all sorts, The hotel was recently spectacularly renovated in the old style and now accommodates again a very international clientele, 54 Scottish Dancers from 11 nations – from faraway places like Russia, Norway and Canada.

We lined up in the beautiful ballroom with its exquisite wooden floor and the crystal chandeliers and listened carefully to the instructions of our young teacher Jamie Berg. At university Jamie majored in dance and dance has become a lifelong passion for her. When she got the opportunity to study the traditional dances in Scotland, she fell in love with the music and the social interaction os Scottish Country Dancing.

On the piano she was accompanied by her husband James Gray who among the Scottish country dancers is well known for his solo and ensemble piano paying. He started piano lessons at the age of five and was initially taught by his grandmother.

The warm ups by Jamie were very gracefully demonstrated. We – as participants – threw all our energy into the unfamiliar dances: The Screaming Eels 8×32 J 3C in 4C TPBColl, Fill the Fetters 4 x 32 S 4C Square Boston 50 Years ‘Furth, Fortune&Fill the Fetters’, The Minister of Mississippi 8×32 S 3C in 4C LF-S, One very recent dance devised in August 2015 by Irene Paterson was called Hooked on Bells 4×32 Jig 4C. One of the highlights of the workshop was the Arctic Circle 1 x64 R4 C Square Set.

James Gray has worked and lived for several years in the Arctic. During his prolonged stay he developed a special interest for the musical tradition of this isolated region. James who is also a gifted composer wrote a beautiful piano tune to this unusual dance.

A great thank you to all: to the young couple Jamie and James.You are a perfect team, please continue. A great thank you to the numerous Portuguese dancers who with their Latino temperament added a special touch and -of course – to Adriana who organized and coordinated the workshop. You will have us back next year – promised.