Merida is a skilled archer and impetuous daughter of King Fergus and Queen Elinor. Determined to carve her own path in life, Merida defies an age-old custom sacred to the uproarious lords of the land: massive Lord MacGuffin, surly Lord Macintosh and cantankerous Lord Dingwall. Merida’s actions inadvertently unleash chaos and fury in the kingdom, and when she turns to an eccentric old Witch for help, she is granted an ill-fated wish. The ensuing peril forces Merida to discover the meaning of true bravery in order to undo a beastly curse before it’s too late.
If you are a FUSTA dance instructor and are interested in collaborating with Disney*Pixar and the release of “Brave” contact the FUSTA Board of Directors.
CATHY HYND was born and raised in Buffalo, New York. Living close to the Canadian border she began Highland lessons at an early age in St. Catherines, Ontario, first from Bill Cameron and most of her competitive years from Shirley Ashdown. She had a very successful career as a competitor from a young age into her twenties at all the major competitions in the Eastern United States and Ontario.
After completing a degree from the University of Buffalo, she began teaching and often judged when she retired from competition. At the start of a career in Journalism, she became eager to organize a cohesive group of Highland teachers in the Eastern U.S. states, and was the co-founder of the United States Highland Dancing Association (USHDA). The original group included Marguerite Reid, Margaret Callendar, Vera Miller, M.E. Davidson, Margaret Killen and several others who were teaching in major cities.
After getting the organization up and running and organizing the first SOBHD sanctioned championship in the U.S. in the early 1960′s, she met her future husband John Hynd, and after their marriage she moved to California and began teaching along with John and then on her own. Cathy and John were amongst the first American members of the Worldwide SOBHD Judges Panel.
One of Cathy’s legacies will be that she and Jenny MacLachlan from Kitchener, Ontario organized the first Highland workshop for dancers from the U.S. and Canada who came together to enhance their skills and knowledge. Instructors at this event were Heather Jolley and Sandra Bald Jones. Years later, Cathy and Sandra organized the first “World of Highland Dancing Conference” in Las Vegas with professionals gathering from the U.S, Canada, Scotland, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. This event made the world of Highland much smaller and resulted in new communication and friendships that had not been seen prior to this event.
Cathy was part of a group who organized what is now FUSTA at that first Conference which was held in Las Vegas in 1980. From its inception, she has continued to be committed to the goals and success of FUSTA and has actively participated from the beginning until the present day. Christie Freestone acted as the first President and Cathy was supportive from day one acting in various capacities. She served as the first West Regional Delegate for several terms, then as Vice-President and President for two years beginning in 1996. She prides herself in having attended all but two of the USIR events and has served often as co-organizer or FUSTA Liaison at the USIR’s in California. As President she attended the first SOBHD Liaison meeting in Glasgow, and began the practice of holding a mid-winter meeting for the FUSTA Board of Directors, which has become an essential part in running FUSTA today. She also appointed Lynne Erbrick as chairman of the much needed and important Judges Committee, and produced the CD “Dance to the Piper”, coaxing several U.S. pipers to donate their time and effort. The CD has become a significant and worthwhile fundraiser for FUSTA for many years.
Apart from her administrative and organizational efforts, Cathy has managed to produce 12 USIR champions, a Junior World Champion and a 1st runner up, as well as champions at the Commonwealth and Bute Championships. Some of her former pupils are current members of FUSTA and several are on the SOBHD Worldwide Judges Panel.
Over a 50-plus year span, Cathy remains committed to the goals of FUSTA and the SOBHD, and to excellence in competitive Highland Dancing. She is currently a life member of the BATD and a member and examiner of the UKA.
Cathy and John reside in Manhattan Beach, CA. Their daughter Janeen, also a successful competitive dancer, is married to Richard Tronnes and they reside in Vancouver, Canada with their three year old daughter, Ava.
Congratulations! Your Highland dancer is now ready to perform or compete. This article is designed to give the basics you need to know when outfitting your dancer. Notes for male dancers will be at the end. This link will take you to a copy of the official dress code: http://www.fusta.us/dresscode.aspx
- Plan ahead so that you can buy good used costumes as they become available. Some places to find these are at workshops, competitions, or websites such as dance.net. Good costumes do not necessarily have to cost a fortune, and in Highland Dance, costumes retain their value and do not change much with fashion trends. Talk to the experienced dance moms in your studio for advice on costume details.
- The primary dancer only needs the kilt outfit. You will see some primary dancers wearing complete outfits with tartan socks and a vest or jacket; however this is not necessary. Primaries may wear a costume as simple as a white shirt , solid white knee socks, dance briefs, ghillies, and a kilt or kiltie in any tartan. The kiltie has less fabric and the pleats are more shallow, so there will be less “swing”, but the cost is less. Hair should be in a bun, French braid, or in the case of very short hair, just pinned away from the face. Hair spray is your friend! If you make or purchase a highland vest, it should be from 100% cotton velvet or velveteen. Shiny velvets crush and just don’t work out. The highland vest has points in front, at the hips and one in the back. Silver or gold braid and up to 5 pairs of diamond shaped silver or gold buttons complete the vest. (Braid and buttons may be purchased from highland suppliers).
- Ghillies should fit snugly in order to show off the dancer’s point and should be properly tied to prevent loose laces during the dance. Many dancers use an older pair for practice and a nicer pair for competitions. If your dancer has tartan socks, always check to see that the diamonds are lined up straight. Dancers wear bands of elastic under the fold-over part of the socks so the socks will stay up. Dance briefs should be black or a dark color that matches the kilt. Cheerleader briefs work well. Hem the kilt to just at the knee. Suspenders should be worn to keep the kilt hanging straight. These may be purchased used at formal wear shops or found in the boys’ section of some department stores. The main impression should be of neatness and confidence.
- Beginners (and novice level dancers) will need the kilt outfit for the fling, sword, Sean Truibhas, and Reel, and will wear the aboyne outfit (sometimes referred to as the national outfit or an arasaid) for the Lilt and Flora. The rules for the beginner and novice kilt outfit are the same as for primaries; however most beginners do purchase a vest and white blouse with elbow length sleeves and a lace or eyelet front insert (not lace sleeves, however.) Some dancers have vests with white sleeves sewn into the vest and then wear a lace or eyelet “dickie” that is pinned or sewn onto a camisole or sports bra.
Kilt or kiltie for beginners? If you can purchase a used kilt of good quality, it usually retains its value well when your dancer outgrows it, and it will swing better. Vest or jacket? Unless your beginner has stopped growing, the vest will last much longer and be much less expensive. Jackets are difficult to resell and are outgrown quickly because they must fit “just so”. Family tartan? Many dancers do not choose family tartans for their kilt if the tartan is dark. They might decide to use a family tartan for the pladdie of the national outfit (if a white dress/type A is selected) or to incorporate their family tartan into a choreography costume later in their dance career. What color and tartan to choose? Select vest colors that complement your child’s skin tone. Do not select a vest color that is a very minor part of the tartan. Choose a tartan that looks crisp and bright, and most importantly, makes your child feel happy and confident! Go to some competitions and watch the older dancers, looking for a tartan that catches your eye and your heart. A good place to see pictures of tartans grouped by colors is http:/dancerkilts.tripod.com/
The national outfit can be one of two types: (A) a white dress with just above the elbow length sleeves and a tartan plaiddie (square or rectangular shawl) attached on the right shoulder with a brooch or (B) a white underdress, (or blouse and petticoat), gathered skirt in a true tartan or simply a bright, even plaid (not madras), the skirt being at least 3 yards in circumference for fullness, a velvet petal vest that ties in front with a ribbon or a cord made of tartan, and a matching pladdie and brooch as in “A”. The plaiddie is attached at the right shoulder with a brooch and then pinned up under the waist, usually pinned to the underside of the vest. The plaiddie should be fringed on all sides for about an inch. A few extra hidden pins under the right shoulder and back of the vest are also helpful.
If you choose “A”, select a white fabric that is substantial enough to prevent see-through without being too hot.
If you choose “B”, the underdress should be made from a cotton/poly blend for wash and wear ease and may have a cotton eyelet trim at the hem only. The fabric of the gathered skirt and plaiddie can be a true tartan in wool (lovely but also thicker around the waist) or a cotton blend; it helps to have a bit of weight to the fabric as a very thin cotton won’t hang well. No shiny plaid fabrics, no plaids cut on the diagonal, and no circle skirts! A decent size hem will not only make the skirt hang better but will also help it to fit longer.
Buttons on the petal vest do not have to be the “official” diamond shaped buttons, but it is nice to have buttons with a Celtic knot, thistle,etc. The ribbon can go through hook and eyes, grommets, or just wrap around the buttons (although when wrapped they may come loose). Plain white dance briefs and plain white ankle socks, plain white knee socks, or flesh colored stockings (for older girls) complete the national outfit. Hair can be in a bun, French braid, etc. Although you will see dancers with their hair down or “half up-half down” at performances, for competitions, it is more tidy to keep the hair secured. Do not wear a scrunchie over the bun.
Primary and Beginner male dancers need a kilt, white shirt, optional vest and/or jacket, or tie if no vest or jacket is worn, small sporran (leather or with metal top) , socks, and ghillies. Tartan trews may be worn for the national dances if desired. If a hat is desired, it should be a Balmoral with appropriate crest and/or badge. Male dancers need dark underwear/shorts of some type. Male dancers also have the option to wear garter flashes on the socks.
You will be filled with joy and pride when your dancer appears on stage properly costumed: looking confident, colorful , and crisp!
To be continued for intermediate and premier dance costumes in Part 2 …
Florence Hart started highland dancing lessons in Scotland when she was 5 years old. She became a Cowal medalist and Fife champion. At 15, she won a scholarship to the Celtic Ballet School of Theatre Dance and studied there for 3 years in Glasgow. Florence danced in Britain until the age of 23. She arrived in the United States in 1961 where she started teaching highland dancing. She began her SOBHD judging career in 1967. Florence has a fellowship in SDTA and is a member of UKAPTD. She has trained many champion dancers and has had representatives from the Midwest at the USIR for the last 25 years. She taught at Macalester College for 38 years and organized the Macalester Highland Games in 1965.
Please take a moment to post a comment. This is a space to share stories, show your appreciation and let Florence Hart 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 be the first to say “Thank You” to Mrs. Hart for her honorable commitment and outstanding achievements that contributed to making the USA Highland dance community what it is today.
It may no longer be Christmas time, but our upcoming Dining to Donate charity event is putting us in the giving spirit! The team at Discover Scottish Dance uncovered this footage of a Good Morning America episode from November 2010 taped in Chicago, IL. Watch the Thistle and Heather Highland Dancers perform a Highland Fling at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry (MSI). And dancing isn’t all these talented dancers do. They also donated coats to support a coat collection put on by MSI.
If your dance group would like to participate in the fundraiser for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, see our previous post for more information and get in touch with Megan today!
Let us know if you have a great video to share, we’d love to post it here!
by Jo Kalat
On April 11, in celebration of Tartan Week, we have partnered with Applebee’s Dining to Donate program. FUSTA members who would like to participate will receive flyers that they can distribute to their students. Anybody showing up at Applebee’s all day on April 11 with a flyer will receive a 10% discount on their bill and additionally, 10% will be donated to the Juvenile Diabetes Association! Dancers will be invited to do highland reels at their local Applebee’s. This is a win/win/win! Our dancers get to have the wonderful feeling one has when doing community service, highland dance gets publicity, and the Juvenile Diabetes Association gets a donation. And you get a discount on your meal. All you have to do is hand out flyers to family and friends and show up at your local Applebee’s.
Megan Monroe is handling this project for FUSTA. Please see the Letter to Dance Teachers for more information, speak to your dance teacher, and contact Megan by March 11th to participate and support this worthy project.
Dancing with Diabetes
First comes the blurry vision followed by extreme fatigue, hunger and weight loss. Later comes the devastating thirst as your body begins to shut down. Then the diagnosis – juvenile diabetes. This diagnosis is followed by a rigorous schedule of insulin injections, diet, exercise, and worry.
I have had two dancers and a son with Juvenile Diabetes so I know the routine well. At least 3 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with diabetes. The rate of diabetes in children under age 14 is projected to increase by 3% yearly world wide. Insulin is a treatment, not a cure. We need a cure for this devastating disease.
Prior to my son getting diabetes, I remember vividly thinking – “Diabetes is not so bad – you just have to take a shot every day and you are fine.” I later so regretted this thought. Living with diabetes requires constant work and management. You have to monitor your blood sugars with multiple blood tests (think finger pricks 4 times a day!). Then you have to order your life around your insulin.
If you are a highland dancer, so much more is required of you than of your competitors. Shannon Anfindsen, a two time USIR champion, says this about competing with diabetes:
A day that was supposed to be about me focusing on dancing my very best would also consist of me worrying about my blood sugar levels. While other dancers only had to worry about touching the sword, or doing perfect hi-cuts, I had to make sure that my blood sugar was perfect. The slightest difference in blood sugar level would translate to whether or not I could make it through a dance with adequate energy. During competitions, I would have to test before and after every dance, while giving myself enough time to allow for corrections. Highland dancing is hard enough without the added stress of dealing with diabetes. Please donate to JDRF so that a cure can be found.
If you are a dancer with diabetes and you have a story to tell, I invite you to contact DiscoverScottishDance@gmail.com so we can share it.
I have always thought of highland dancing as a wonderful way for our young people to increase their fitness and to learn the drive for excellence. Isn’t it great that we now have a chance for it also to be an opportunity for our young people to serve their greater community and make a “reel” difference?
Please join us in congratulating the winners of the 2011 FUSTA Scholarships! These essays appeared in the 2011 USIR program and we’re glad to be able to share them with you. We’re really proud of these deserving young women and their many accomplishments. If you or a dancer you know will be in college or graduate school next year, please consider applying for the 2012 FUSTA Scholarships. You’ll find more information in the previous post and on the FUSTA Scholarship webpage.
2011 Harry Farrar IV Memorial Scholarship Winner: Ellen Brown
I am thrilled to be the recipient of the 2011 Harry Farrar IV Memorial Scholarship! As a Scottish Highland dancer since the age of seven, this culturally vital dance form has helped me to build drive, discipline and determination as well as inspiring me to delve into the history of my ancestors. My theory studies have progressed through five levels of practical, written and oral exams, including opportunities to participate in the Sadie Simpson Highland Scholarships in Toronto, Atlantic City, and San Antonio. This year I passed my Associates Exam with highest honors, receiving an Associate Certificate and membership in the British Association of Teacher’s of Dancing (BATD). I will be attending Duke University in the fall as a Dance major and intend to use my passion for dance and my love of children to explore the positive effects of dance study on child cognition. I also plan to continue my pursuit of technical excellence and further educational accreditation through local and national Highland workshops, allowing me to one day pass on my love of Scottish heritage and culture to students of my own. Thank you once again for this wonderful opportunity. I truly appreciate the confidence that you have shown in my abilities.
2011 Eunice Baird Whittlesey Memorial Scholarship Winner: Maria Taylor
At the age of nine years, I traded my ballet shoes for a pair of ghillies and have never looked back. Since then, Highland dance has played a central part in my life, and many of my fondest memories come from dancing with my sisters and friends at classes, competitions, and shows. This spring I completed my junior year at Alma College, a small Scottish liberal arts school in central Michigan where I am pursuing an English major and French minor. I have been on the Dean’s List every semester and am a member of the Sigma Tau Delta English honors society. Highland dance has remained at the forefront of my social life in college, as some of my numerous Highland friends attend Alma as well. For us, dance classes serve as welcome study breaks. After an hour of strathspeys, sheddings, and pas de basques, we feel revitalized and better able to concentrate on our studies.
One of my favorite aspects of Highland dance is performance, something I credit to my first teacher, Daphne Wright, and the many shows she organized for local Burns suppers, fairs, and nursing homes while she lived in Michigan. At Alma, I continue to enjoy performing for the community with both the Mid-Michigan Highland Dance Academy and the Kiltie Dancers, Alma College’s Highland performance troupe. I also perform regularly with the Walton School of Highland Dance at shows in the Detroit area with such groups as the Detroit Concert Choir and the St Andrew’s Pipe Band. Studying with several Highland instructors working together as a team – Christie Freestone and Kate DeGood in Alma, and Tracey Walton in the Detroit area – has aided me greatly in continuing to dance while away from home.
While Highland is my first love, I enjoy participating in other forms of creative expression as well. Soon after I started dancing, I began violin lessons, performing in local youth orchestras throughout high school and with both the Alma Symphony Orchestra and the Redford Civic Symphony during college. Liturgical was another dance form I enjoyed during high school; after graduating, I mentored for the group during my first year of college. In addition to dance and music, I enjoy acting in student-run theatricals and writing short stories. I also volunteer as a docent at the Governor Warner Mansion – a historical museum owned by the city of Farmington – and am a member of the Warnerettes, a parasol drill team that marches in parades to promote the Mansion and Farmington history.
My greatest desire is to continue Highland’s traditions by helping a new generation come to appreciate its heritage and intricacies as I do. I have taken my Associate’s and Member’s exams and intend to continue with my professional exams, aspiring to become a respected teacher, judge, and examiner. I would like to thank both my parents and my three inspiring teachers Christie Freestone, Kate DeGood, and Tracey Walton – as well as the many instructors I have had at workshops and camps over the years – for their continued support and encouragement. Their commitment to excellence remains instrumental to my success.
FUSTA is pleased to offer two college scholarships for dancers who have demonstrated a high level of participation and interest in the art of Highland Dance.
Applicants for the $1000.00 Harry Farrar IV Memorial Scholarship must be current-year registered dancers who are either high school seniors or high school graduates preparing to enroll in their first year beyond high school.
Applicants for the $1000.00 Eunice Baird Whittlesey Memorial Scholarship must be current-year registered dancers who are enrolled in college or graduate school.
Applicants for either scholarship must be current-year registered dancers, U.S. residents who are either members of FUSTA themselves or their teachers are FUSTA members in good standing. Completed applications materials must be postmarked no later than April 30.
“Turn out more!” your teacher yells. Stretch those feet! Elevate!
Watch your positions. Remember your corrections. Oh my aching feet! Highland dancers must be the hardest working people on the planet. Each week they come to class one or more times to be told what they are doing wrong and to be pushed to work harder. They go home and practice to perfect those backsteps, pas de basques, and toe-heels. This push for excellence is at the heart of highland dancing and it pays dividends of improved fitness, attention to detail, and heightened focus. Sometimes those dividends come in the form of trophies and medals. All in all, it is a good thing.
But sometimes we forget why we are dancing. Celtic music is the heartbeat of the Scottish people and highland dancing is the expression of that music. We express the joy, the pain, and the pride of Scotland with our dance.
There is no finer Celtic musician than Alasdair Fraser. Alasdair’s deep understanding of Scottish music and indeed of Scotland and its history is evident in his performances. To dance to the music of Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas is to truly experience the thrill and elation, the fire and grace that is highland dancing.
Highland dancers across the US are thrilling to the opportunity to perform with Alasdair and Natalie. Dancers have performed with them in Portland OR, E. Lansing MI, Belleville and Cincinnati OH. Each performance has been a resounding success. It has been a chance to show a broader audience what we as highland dancers can do. And it is a chance for us as dancers to dance for joy. What a nice opportunity to break away, if only for a moment, from the pressures of competitive dancing to perform the Alien Ceildh choreography as created by the FUSTA choreography committee. Each group has put its own personal spin on the choreography and that is part of the fun. And yet dancers from different schools have been able to come together to produce a beautiful dance performance.
My special thanks to Jocelyn Case, Tracy Walton, Christie Walsh, and Missy Gentry who organized the performances locally. Their hard work made it all happen.
From the comments following, I think you can see that the opportunity was truly inspiring for the dancers.
“This experience was so amazing because to have the opportunity to dance on a stage with two people who were so talented and passionate about their craft made me have so much joy to be a part of that, doing something that I love too – to dance!” – Becca Baldwin, McKinney School of Dance
“It was a really cool opportunity being able to perform with Alasdair and Natalie. Although we were from different studios, we were able to collaborate and add our own style to the original choreography. I hope to be able to perform it again!” – Hayley Jameson, Case School of Highland Dance
“I have been listening to Alasdair’s music since I was a little girl, so I was really excited to have the opportunity to perform with him. I think everyone was a little nervous before the show; would the costumes work? Would we remember the choreography? Were we even doing the same arms? As soon as we met Alasdair and Natalie, and realized how excited they were to bring together music and dance, we knew it was going to be great. This has been my favorite performance in the twenty years I’ve been dancing, and on top of that we got to watch a great concert. Thank you so much to Alasdair and Natalie, for reminding me why I love Highland dance.” – Hilary McKinney Heiney, McKinney School of Dance
“I was really nervous for it because we had so much trouble getting everyone together due to or schedules, but when it came down to it I was really excited. I thought it went really well and I would do it again in a heartbeat. I also would love to see him perform again if I ever have the chance.” – Kourt Bacon – Bacon School of Highland Dance
“I thought it was fun taking an original choreography and making it our own. I liked how Alasdair and Natalie were so welcoming to us when we came onto the stage. I would love to do it again!” – Libby Patterson, Case School of Highland Dance
This well-done documentary showcases many aspects of highland games in Scotland, as well as discussing the history of the games. We (of course) particularly enjoyed the footage of the dancing and it’s also fun to learn about many of the other events that take place at highland games around the world. Did you have any idea that the hammer throwers wear “blade boots,” shoes with what look to be trowels mounted in the front? Check it out and let us know what you think in the comments!
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