High River: Rev. David Robertson learning highland dance
By: Don Patterson
| Posted: Wednesday, Jan 30, 2013 01:38 pm
The Highland Fling has been a sign of victory for a millennia and a High River reverend is preparing to perform the dance to celebrate a fundraising milestone for his church.
Rev. David Robertson, from the High River United Church, has committed to perform a Highland Fling when his congregation raises $400,000 to help pay off the mortgage on the building which was renovated four years ago.
The dance originated in Scotland 1,000 years ago as a victory dance on the battlefield.
Robertson said he thought it would be a good way to mark a major milestone in the church’s campaign.
“When I thought of the word fling, that just calls out celebration,” he said. “It calls out that we did it.”
The church is in the midst of a campaign to raise $600,000 to pay off the mortgage on the building to free up financial resources to go towards other projects.
On a whim, Robertson said he would dance a fling in front of his church’s congregation once they reach the $400,000 mark. He said he doesn’t know what he’ll do when the congregation reaches the $600,000 goal. So far, they have raised just over $355,000, which means he’s getting close to having to perform.
Having made the commitment, Robertson wanted to get it right in front of his audience.
He approached High River Highland Dance teacher Jackie Roe to learn how to do the difficult steps.
So far, Robertson has taken three lessons and learned the steps he will perform and he’s now working to perfect them.
He didn’t realize just how difficult Highland dancing was going to be.
“It takes a bit of stamina and a little bit of coordination and certainly an appreciation for the people who have been dancing for a long time to get that precision,” said Robertson.
Several young members of his congregation who are also Highland dancers have been quick to point out where he needs to work on his technique, Robertson said.
After he performs the fling in front of his congregation, Robertson said he will probably continue taking lessons. For one thing, he is interested in learning the dance, which is a huge part of his Scottish heritage.
As well, Robertson said it’s a good workout.
“It’s just a different way to move the body other than what I normally do which is running and weight training,” he said. “I appreciate the fact this makes my brain think in a different way.”
Roe, who is donating her time for the lessons, said her new student is doing well.
“This is the third class and he’s learning the entire fling and now it’s just a matter of perfecting the movements,” she said.
Learning the steps is just one part of learning the fling. It and other Highland dances are technical, requiring stamina and precise movements and positioning.
Roe, who has been dancing since she was three years old, said Highland dances are not only an art form, but they also require athleticism.
“It’s like sprinting, but it’s sprinting with grace and with style,” she said. “It’s an art form that is very athletic and I think that is forgotten sometimes.”
While most people today think Highland dancing is performed by women, Roe said the dances were historically created and done by men.
According to Roe, it would have originally been performed on a Targe – a battle shield with a long spike in the middle.
“It was supposed to show how dexterous you were, how capable you were with your feet, you were light and nimble,” she said. “The idea was not to impale yourself on that spike.”