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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:

Shannon Anfindsen


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 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

Ellen Brown

Ellen Brown, 2011 FUSTA Scholarship Recipient

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

Maria Taylor, 2011 FUSTA Scholarship Recipient

Maria Taylor, 2011 FUSTA Scholarship Recipient

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.

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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.

Applications are available on the FUSTA Scholarship webpage.

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