Fun day had by pupils of Miss Tutu's School of
Dance, keeping the Julie Appleton-Seymour tradition
alive with a highland dancing display at the
Central Hawkes Bay A&P show!
Fifteen New Plymouth dance students are heading to the happiest place on earth to compete in a highland dancing competition.
The Paris International Highland Gathering Championship takes place at at Disneyland Paris every year, and for the first time Highland dancer, choreographer and dance teacher Morgan Bamford is taking 15 students from the Morgan B School of Dance.
Leaving on November 16, the students, accompanied by parents, will compete in the five-day Disney-themed competition, which runs from November 22 to 26.
"We've been working really hard on Disney-themed dances," Bamford said. She has been preparing the kids, aged 7-15, for the competition since March. "It's just something that I thought was such a cool idea and the kids are getting to dance for fun."
"Generally you're dancing to celtic music, so it's been cool for the kids to dance to Disney music." Performing 14 dances in categories such as duo, solo and group dance over the five days, their main performance is focused on the 2016 Disney animation Moana, with pois and kapa haka incorporated to represent New Zealand. "I just thought New Zealand kind of fits," Bamford said. It's the first big overseas competition for many students who are going to have fun and come away with Disney-themed medals. "A lot of them are hoping to do well but they've all got different goals. Some of them just want to get a medal and they'll be happy with that while some are wanting to go to win."
At the end of the five days the students will be performing in the Stars on Parade, a procession with the Disney characters that runs along the main strip of Disneyland Paris, before heading off with their families for a well-earned holiday.
This year ScotDance New Zealand asked Kerry Grosser from Scottish Highland Dance Academy - Perth, Australia to assess the applications.
Beginner/Novice Scholarship awarded to:
Charlize Hide (Morgan B School of Dance)
Intermediate Scholarship awarded to:
Mikayla Allison (Highland Evolution Studio - Rebecca Gribbon)
Thank you Kerry Grosser for your contribution.
Charlize and Mikayla were presented with their awards by the vice-President of ScotDance New Zealand - Mrs Heather Calkin at the City of New Plymouth Open Championship on 14 July 2018.
Alexandra Stubbs, 12, from Hawke's Bay and Struan Hayes, 15, from Scotland, compete at the New Zealand Highland Dancing Championships, which were held in New Plymouth.
The coiffed hairstyles, graceful sweeps of arms and legs and passive faces belie just how agile and athletic you need to be to compete at highland dancing.
Steps, twirls and dance moves, all timed to the tempo of Scottish bagpipe music, filled the Plymouth International Hotel on Saturday and Sunday, when 80 entrants competed for titles in the New Zealand Highland Dancing Championships.
New Plymouth played host to the national champs, which are held every two years. Toni Ramage, President of Highland Dancing Association of Taranaki, said entrants, who ranged in age from four years to 20 plus, came from around New Zealand and as far afield as Australia and Scotland for the competition.
"We've got a record number of boys this year - six - which is a bit of a coup,"Ramage said.
Scotland's Struan Hayes was one of the six males to perform over the weekend. At the age of 15, he has been involved in the activity for the last nine years. Along with helping him keep fit, highland dancing has social benefits as well, he said. "It's a good experience to meet new people and travel the world”. While a very popular past-time in Scotland, Hayes is used to being in the minority as a male competitor in international events. He practices every day, under the tutelage of coach Shendl Russell, and his favourite dance is the Seann Triubhas. This dance, along with several others, were judged over the weekend by an international panel, which included Diane Krugh of the United States, Avril O 'Leary from South Africa and Australia's Christine Shield.
Krugh, who is based in Houston, Texas, has been a teacher of highland dancing for 45 years and a judge for more than three decades. "Basically you're looking for technique, timing and deportment,"Krugh said of the judging standards. She described the quality of the dancers' efforts she had seen over the two-day competition as "outstanding". "There's been some beautiful dancing," she said.
On Monday, Krugh will also host a workshop for dancers, where she will be able to give those in attendance direct feedback about how they went over the weekend, with the view of helping them develop as performers.