Scottish tradition will spring to life at Virden’s Culture Days celebration this September in TOGP. Students of McHarg School of Highland Dance are performing there for their third year in a row. The Highland dancers welcome the opportunity to perform at community events and venues, presenting both traditional dances and choreography pieces based on Highland movements.
McHarg School is part of Prairie Thistle Highland Dance Association (PTHDA) founded in 2018 to promote Scottish culture and Highland dance in Westman and southeastern Saskatchewan.
Between September 2018 and April 2019 about 15 dancers from southwestern Manitoba and southeastern Saskatchewan took Highland dance lessons from teacher Shona McHarg, travelling to Virden on a weekly basis. It was an excellent year for a number of her students.
McHarg said, “Highlights of the dance year have included competition successes throughout the Prairie provinces, top marks on annual dance exams, and various performances.”
In the spring, students competed before judges from Scotland, USA and from Canada.
In March, esteemed adjudicator from Ontario, Eleanor Belton, conducted exams for the McHarg school.
The dancers had to learn new movements and dances; older dancers also learned the theory of the dance movements and presented the information in an oral exam.
The critique was sent to Glasgow, Scotland, to the British Association of Teachers of Dancing (BATD). McHarg’s students shone.
She says that four of her students “have had an extremely rewarding year in Highland dance.” Karys Douglas (age 6), Scotlyn Chadney (age 8) and Elsbeth Priestly (age 9) started tuition under the direction of McHarg two years ago.Lily Priestley (age 5), started just over a year ago.
On July 13, Scotlyn, Elly and Lily attended a competition in Clear Lake where they also received their British Association of Teacher of Dancing (BATD) exam awards. Lily was presented with awards for Pre-Primary Theory and First Steps Highland.
Elly completed Grade 1 and 2 Theory, Pre-Bronze and Bronze Highland. Scotlyn completed Grade 1 and 2 Theory, Bronze and Silver Highland.
They scored “the highest marks possible on each exam, a true credit to their dedication,” said McHarg.
Other local dancers, Heidi Perrin, Schuylar Barre, Karys Douglas and Lily Potter also successfully completed their exams.
Students also went home from Clear Lake with competition medals.
Elly and her choreography partner, Zoey Friesen (Wawota), were the overall winners of the Highland Duet Choreography class.
McHarg also teaches in other communities, so overall, about 50 students attended the Clear Lake event enjoying the day spent with their families and fellow dancers.
“Elly and Scotlyn were fortunate enough to be part of the choreography group who performed at the Westman Multicultural Festival, English Pavilion, in Brandon in early February,” said McHarg.
Elly was part of a drama set, acting as S Club 7(Spice Girls stylize English pop group); while Scotlyn was part of a Sherlock Holmes murder mystery.
“This year (2019-2020) both girls will participate in the choreography group and Lily and Karys are especially excited to have the opportunity to join this fun take on traditional Highland dance for the first time.”
You can see these seasoned performers at Virden Culture Days. McHarg’s students have competed in Medicine Hat, Calgary, Saskatoon, Regina, Winnipeg and Brandon.
If you are interested in Highland dancing, there’s more information on Facebook: Prairie Thistle Highland Dance Association; or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.