There was an important local offering to the entertainment in the late fall of 1910 when the Clan MacLean Concert came to the Opera House on November 15. Besides songs and readings, the evening included a Scotch reel by the Misses Mary and Lizzie Isdale and Messrs McKay and Ross, a Sailor's Hornpipe by W. McKay, Champion Highland Dancer of America, and a dance by the Misses Urquhart. Music was supplied by Clan Piper W. Montgomery.
Mary Isdale had a long relationship with Vancouver theatre, beginning at least a couple of years earlier in May 1908 during a production of Rob Roy at the Vancouver Opera House, put on by the Scottish Dramatic and Musical Association of Vancouver, when the Misses Isdale danced the “Cameron an' Lochiel” accompanied by Piper MacGruer of the Vancouver Pipe Band. By August 1920, Isdale was established enough as a teacher for her pupils to appear in Belates-Barbes' The Land of Wonder, an open air revue staged in Stanley Park, for which Isdale performed a number of solo songs, while her pupils did a Highland dance and a sword dance.
In a 1936 Orpheum program for Colonel de Basil's Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, Isdale advertised “Dancing in all its Branches” at her school at 2195 East Pender. Isdale's name also appears in more than one Sun-Ray Revue, an annual charity event begun in 1931 by the Vancouver Sun's Sun-Ray Club for children and featuring performers from a variety of schools. In 1937, for instance, Isdale presented her pupils in a Ukrainian dance and in a novelty song and tap number.
Isdale would remain active until at least the 1950s, when her pupils appeared in one of the Vancouver Ballet Society's Showcases held in the auditorium at John Oliver High School. According to the Sun on May 11, 1955, Isdale's choreography, created with Beth Lockhart, “made a gay, flirtatious sequence of a Scottish theme, 'Bonny Jean' - one of a group of dances entitled 'From Folk to Ballet'....” Isdale would also work with choreographer Kay Armstrong in 1957 on Armstrong's The Legend of the Black Swan, set in a small Scottish fishing village. (next page)
©2006, Dance Collection Danse