by Jo Kalat
Starting out this choreography project was very intimidating to me! The plan was to create choreographies that could be learned by any premier dancer to use with visiting performing artists. It seemed like a great way to use an existing resource to promote highland dancing. Different schools could work together on the same choreography. Much good could come of this project. But the thought of creating something to be approved by the FUSTA board and used across the United States? I wasn’t sure I was up to that!
But my choreography committee is up to the task. The committee is composed of Kate DeGood, Kathleen Hall, Trish MacConnell, and Laura Hester Madden. What a joy and an eye opener it has been for me to work with these motivated young ladies. They have shown me what the new generation can do and how to use technology to bridge the geographical gap of highland dancers. These dancers are dedicated to the cause of highland dancing. They have devoted a great deal of time and energy to this project. I want the highland dance world to know more about these young leaders.
Kate DeGood’s competitive dancing career has brought worldwide championship success in every age category. She is the holder of over 80 major championship titles throughout the United States, Canada, Scotland, and Australia. She is a 7 time US champion, 2 time World First Runner-up, 10-time World Finalist, having placed in the top 6 in the World Championships 7 times. Kate is a Fellow of the BATD and SDTA, Chairperson of the BATD Great Lakes Region, and Coordinator of the North American BATD New Professionals Forum. She is an S.O.B.H.D. Judge, passing the exam at the youngest possible age of 21. An active member of FUSTA, Kate is involved in the “Discover Scottish Dance” campaign. In addition to instructing at Alma College, she is director at the Kate DeGood School of Dance at the Detroit St. Andrew’s Society’s Kilgour Centre in Troy, MI. Kate also judges, lectures, and performs throughout North America.
Kathleen Hall has been a highland dancer since 1991, when she started dancing with the Jo Moore Kalat Scottish Dancers in Raleigh, NC. She is a member of the BATD, FUSTA, and ScotDance Canada. She has danced and taught with a number of different studios, including the Edinburgh University New Scotland Dance Society, the Columbus (OH) Scottish Highland Dancers, the Weaver Highlanders (St. Louis, MI), the Reid School of Scottish Dance (Philadelphia, PA), and Charlene Ward’s highland dancers (Vancouver, BC). She co-founded a group of premier-level performance highland dancers, Shot of Scotch, in New York City. In her non-dancing life, she is a linguistics professor at the University of British Columbia.
Trisha MacConnell began dancing in 1991 at the San Jose School of Scottish Dancing in San Jose, CA under the direction of the late Norine Harmon. She is a five-time Western Regional Champion, a 13-time USIR finalist, (finishing in the top six at the USIR ten times) and a two-time World Championship finalist. Outside of highland dancing, Trisha holds a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Duke University in Durham, NC. She now practices as an orthopedic physical therapist for Providence Health Systems in Portland, OR, specializing in treating musculoskeletal pain.
Laura Hester Madden has been Scottish dancing for over 20 years and hopes that there are many more years to come! In her earlier dancing days, Laura had the honor of being an Ontario representative for several years, winning the Canadian Championships during that time. After college, Laura started back up dancing and has been fortunate enough to represent the southeast region at the USIR for the past 4 years. Laura now lives in Michigan and is enjoying being a part of the Midwest region. She has a special love for choreography and was thrilled to be asked to join this FUSTA committee.
My thanks to this wonderful committee. And also to all of those local teachers who have taken their time to utilize this resource. Look for more exciting projects to come. The future of FUSTA is bright with these leaders on the horizon.
Following the success of the past two years events, I am pleased to advise we have just launched the 2013 International Gathering of Scottish Highland Dance, which will see the event take place over the weekend of 23rd November 2013, with standard arrivals from Thursday 21st November for 4 nights or Friday 22nd November for 2 or 3 nights, all accommodation packages include continental buffet breakfast on each day. The 3 and 4 night packages also include 3 day hopper park passes, and the 2 night packages include 2 day hopper park passes, these passes are valid in the Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studio each day allowing you to visit both parks multiple times each day should you choose to do so. For groups coming from overseas extended packages can be offered to incorporate for example, visits into Paris and onto London or Scotland.
Our standard accommodation packages are offered at Hotel Santa Fe, Hotel Cheyenne and Sequoia Lodge, however, we can also tailor a package to suit your needs to include additional extras such as half board options, additional park passes, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. These hotels are within walking distance of the parks and the Disney Village which offers dining, souvenir shops and entertainment opportunities throughout the day without using a park ticket, each hotel also offers a complimentary return shuttle bus service which operates approximately every 10 minutes directly to the bus station which is centralised between the Disney Village and parks. The hotels also have Disney character presence at various times each day giving plenty of photo opportunities!
Please note, in terms of pricing adults are aged 12 and over, children are aged 3-11 and infants are 0-2 and are not chargeable. Rooms can occupy a maximum of 4 guests plus a cot and by maximising room occupancy the price becomes more cost effective per person. Places can be secured with a £50 non-refundable deposit per person, with final balances being payable by 30th August 2013. Please note, inclusion within the International Gathering of Scottish Highland Dance event is only available as part of any accommodation package purchased through Take Us 2 The Magic Ltd.
Moving on to the performance opportunities which are aplenty, at no additional cost each school will be offered the opportunity to take part in a Disney Performing Arts workshop giving your dancers the unrivalled opportunity to learn from Disney professionals! Each school who has a minimum of 10 performers aged over 5 can also apply to perform on one of Disneyland Paris’ stages within the park, offering a fantastic experience for your dancers to perform for between 20-30 minutes to an audience of Disneyland Paris park guests. There will be a further amazing opportunity for your dancers to take part in a pre-choreographed pre-parade performance along Main Street, USA within the Disneyland Park, this opportunity is offered to performers aged 8 and over and is subject to weather conditions and minimum performer numbers.
Finally, in conjunction with Grampian Festivals I am pleased to advise, again at no additional cost, each school can enter and compete in the SOBHD registered Highland Dance Competition (reg no.A2). You are able to compete in as many divisions as you wish including Highland Fling, Sword Dance, Seann Triubhas, Half Reel or Tulloch, Trophy Fling, Barracks Johnnie, Scottish Lilt, Flora Macdonald, Village Maid, Blue Bonnets, 16 pas de Basque and Pas de Basque and Highcuts. There will also be an awards ceremony with trophies and medals, together with special Disney competition guest!
We aim to offer you and your school a fun filled weekend where you can experience the magic of Disney whilst having many performance opportunities creating memories that will last a lifetime; we will therefore work with you to create your perfect trip and aim to make it as stress free as possible!
The information flyer with pricing sheet giving some further information is downloadable above by clicking the link above the image. You may also wish to visit the following websites:
• See some footage from a Gaelic documentary filmed by Alba TV during the 2011 event www.takeus2themagic.co.uk and click on the Scottish Highland Dance link.
• Here is a link to a performance of a previous school attending http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wLCwYap_N4g
• Furthermore, the following You Tube link with pre-parade footage viewable from 2011 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TwMIwggMa6U
• Lastly, please keep updated by ‘liking” the Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/International-Gathering-of-Scottish-Highland-Dance-at-Disneyland-Paris/171994822897211 and also join the facebook Group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/119588584837554/
If you have any questions once you have had chance to digest all of the information, please contact Greg Davidson at firstname.lastname@example.org or David Bridge at email@example.com
Kids in Kilts, run by dancers Megan and Devon Watson from the Farrar School of Dance in S. California, held a food drive in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. The food drive was very successful, collecting 559 items of food for the Manna Food Bank in Thousand Oaks. We were accompanied by Amanda Morris, also a student of Mrs. Farrar; Charlie Morris, former dancer and now piper; and Poppy, grandfather to all of the dancers. Because of the success, we are looking forward to our May food drive.
Christie McLeod Freestone’s love affair with highland dancing has spanned the last half century. When she was eight years old, her Scottish grandfather arranged for Christie and her sister, Jeanne, to study with two of the great highland dance instructors of the day, Pearl Magnuson and Sharon Magnuson (Capitani). After four lessons, Christie decided that highland dancing was “too hard,” and hung up her ghillies. Her sister continued to dance, becoming one of Michigan’s most successful champions in the 1960′s. After four years of traveling throughout North America to highland games, Christie decided to join her sister and become a highland dancer once again. This time, she “caught the bug” and the rest is history.
Not a natural dancer, Christie had to break down movements into isolated positions in order to perfect them. She quickly discovered a talent for analysis and an ability to teach. Her out-going personality, mixed with her ability to instruct, led to the founding of the Mid-Michigan Highland Dance Academy in 1970. As an Alma College freshman, she was recruited to teach her first student, Mary Jo Rohrer (Pung) whose father was the Community Education Director for the public schools. He asked her to teach a six-week course to the community children of Alma. In the first class offered, four students registered. The second class session enrolled 12 students. The third class session produced over 150 students. Highland dance officially became an institution in Alma, Michigan-Scotland, USA.
In the late 1970′s, Christie initiated discussions with the Detroit area teachers about holding a national championship for highland dancing in the United States. Knowing that such an undertaking would need national support, she took the idea to a teachers’ meeting at the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games in 1980. It was decided to present a proposal to teachers from around the country at the Las Vegas International Highland Dance Conference in 1981. In order to sponsor a national championship, a governing body was necessary. The Federation of United States Teachers and Adjudicators of Highland Dance (FUSTA) formed and Christie was elected to be the first president. The first USIR was held in 1981 and Christie had a national champion that first year. In the past 25 years, she has had regional finalists at every USIR and has produced 11 USIR champions.
As an early elementary school teacher with a Master Degree in early childhood education, Christie has researched motor skills development in children and adapted her findings to the teaching of very young highland dancers. She has taught numerous workshops throughout North America sharing her techniques for teaching beginner dancers.
As the director of the Mid-Michigan Highland Dance Academy in Alma, where she currently heads a staff of six member and associate teachers of highland dance, Christie’s students have won over 100 championships throughout the world. She has trained 23 member teachers and three SOBHD judges. She initiated the idea of a judge’s training program, that has became a reality through the collaboration of life-time friends and judges, Liz and Bill Weaver, and student and judge, Kate DeGood. Christie is a life-time Fellow member of the BATD and a member of the SOBHD judges’ panel. She teaches first grade at a public elementary school in Ithaca, Michigan and is an Adjunct Professor of highland dance at Alma College. Christie’s late husband Dave still is, “the wind beneath her wings,” and she is the mother of Craig, “the pride of her life!”
Christie’s legacy is the positive approach she uses when teaching students. Parents are encouraged to watch lessons and to practice with their children. Students are encouraged to participate in other activities, even if it means adjusting dance schedules. She believes that students must experience all that life offers before they are able to decide upon which path they will follow in life. Only then will they find their “gifts” and develop a passion for living. Perhaps, Christie’s greatest gift is that every student leaves a workshop or a dance class feeling special. She often believes in her students more than they believe in themselves. She credits her personal successes in life to the lessons she learned from her loving parents, Catherine and Max McLeod.
Most people slow down after 40 years on the job, but Christie just keeps going at a frantic pace. With a smile, a hug and a word of encouragement, Christie Freestone has made an indelible mark on the world of highland dance.
Please take a moment to post a comment. This is a space to share stories, show your appreciation and let Christie Freestone know how she may has impacted and enriched your experience with Highland dance.
On behalf of FUSTA and the Discover Scottish Dance efforts we’d like to to be the first to say “Thank You” to Mrs. Freestone for her honorable commitment and outstanding achievements that contributed to making the U.S.A. Highland dance community what it is today.
We thought you’d enjoy this photo of Alasdair Frasier at Alasdair Fraiser’s Fiddle World! FUSTA dancers have been thrilled to perform with Alasdair Frasier this year. His rhythms and love of the music truly bring out the spirit of the dance.
Born in Balloch, Scotland Sheila Mittig studied all forms of dance at the Stewart School, Alexandria. Sheila
emigrated to Dearborn, Michigan in 1964 and immediately began teaching Highland Dancing. She is a Life Member of the B.A.T.D. and has been on the S.O.B.H.D. judge’s panel for many years. Sheila has judged and taught workshops all over the world and has taught two World Champions. Sheila now lives in Novi, Michigan where she still teaches along with her daughter, Alison. A former student of Sheila’s, Alison is a four time U.S. Highland Dance Champion.
Please take a moment to post a comment. This is a space to share stories, show your appreciation and let Sheila Mittig know how she has impacted and enriched your experience with Highland dance.
On behalf of FUSTA and the Discover Scottish Dance efforts we’d like to to be the first to say “Thank You” to Sheila Mittig for her honorable commitment and outstanding achievements that contributed to making the U.S.A. Highland dance community what it is today.
To celebrate that the Discover Scottish Dance efforts have been going strong for over a year, we thought we’d change up the dancers on the banner. Thank you for submitting 3rd rear aerial photos to bring our logo to life. Keep submitting photos to the Discover Scottish Dance Facebook Group photo album so that you may find yourself on the banner in the future. Enjoy all the photos that have been posted in the Facebook group so far and continue to share the group with your Highland friends so that they know to join. Thank you for all of your support in the first full year of DiscoverScottishDance.com.
- Sara Gilchrist
The USA Scottish Highland Dancing version of “Off The Platform” was recorded by Annika Strolle in Hunt Valley Maryland at the United States Inter-Regional Championship. USIR was hosted by the Eastern Region from July 19-22, 2012. “Off The Platform” is based on the “Outside the Circle” videos done by Pipe Bands. There are Australian, British and Canadian versions! Enjoy the video and please, share it!
From coast to coast the June 22nd premier of Disney Pixar’s “Brave” brought with it the opportunity for dancers all over the nation to perform at their local movie theaters. The experience was rich and exciting for Highland dancers. Clementyne Vega wrote the following.
Highland Dancing has brought many interesting adventures and opportunities to my life. Most recently, dancing at the BRAVE Hollywood Premiere After Party. It was an exciting and rewarding experience. We arrived in Hollywood early and walked up and down Hollywood Blvd. We watched the crew roll out the red “green grass” carpet and erect a castle in front of the theater. All of the dancers met up for dinner and then we headed up to the green room to prepare for rehearsal and the grand performance.
The ballroom we performed in was amazing. It was decorated in true Disney fashion. They created a Scottish highland forest theme, complete with fire pits and trees. While we were on stage it was exciting to know that the movie cast and many celebrities were watching us dance! I recognized several famous faces in the audience and was thrilled to be a part of this event. It was a night I will always remember. A night where I got to do what I love most, Highland Dance, in a truly awe-inspiring venue. I am thankful and grateful to have been included with such a fine group of dancers.
The Minnesotta Highland Dancers were on T.V.! The video is below and the full article follow this link: http://www.kare11.com/news/news_article.aspx?storyid=980308.
The Discover Scottish Dance Facebook Group provides a great place to upload your own photos. You can share your own experiences there or in the comments section below.
By Kathleen Currie Hall
New York City is the place to be for Tartan Day. Or rather, Tartan Week. Or really – Tartan Month! From March 31st to April 29th, more than 25 Scotland-related events take place in the city, from a fashion show to museum exhibits, whisky tastings to Gaelic poetry readings, and lots of other things in between. The highlight of the celebration is the annual NYC Tartan Day Parade, which
was held this year on April 14th, and goes for ten blocks along the Avenue
of the Americas. Highland dancing is definitely a part of the celebrations! There are often visiting dancers from Scotland and Canada, as well as local talent. This is good, because events happen all over the city – often at the same time! While the New York Celtic Dancers (www.nycdancers.org: “Scottish Dance – New York Attitude”) were performing for the crowds coming to Ellis Island to explore the history of immigration to the city, Shot of Scotch (www.shotofscotch.org: “New York City’s Premier Scottish Highland Dancers”) was performing for families at Lincoln Center as part of their “Meet the Artist” series.
Both groups participated in the parade…as well as the after-parade festivities. Some of the best moments for participants and parade-watchers alike were the impromptu jam sessions that formed when pipers, drummers, and dancers from various groups found each other and just started having fun.
So: start saving your money now – come join us in New York City for next year’s Tartan Day celebrations! This could be you:
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