Grab your kilts for Highland Games
Foothills: Dancers display Scottish history through competition
By: By Jenica Foster
| Posted: Wednesday, Aug 14, 2013 12:58 pm
There comes a time every year when people in Okotoks get the chance to share their heritage and passion through the Highland Games. One Okotokian is excited to showcase her passion for Highland dancing.
Kira Schmidt has been dancing for 13 years. She said she likes sharing the story of Scotland’s history through dance because it’s part of her heritage. Her favourite dance, the Seann Truibhas, is about the fight for Scotland’s freedom.
In the 17th Century Highlanders were banned from wearing kilts and after the failed rebellion of 1745 was over, they celebrated by doing this dance. The second step in the dance is a sideways movement followed by shaking the leg, which symbolizes taking off trousers. Today, men seen walking around in a kilt may seem like a faux pas, but back in the 17th Century, Scott’s fought to keep the kilt alive.
When Schmidt dances, she said she celebrates the time to herself.
“It’s my freedom,” Schmidt said. “It’s my release. I don’t think about anything else when I’m dancing except just dancing and having fun.”
Schmidt will be competing in this year’s Foothills Highland Games dance competition on August 24. Competing is nothing new for this dancer. When she was younger she competed in Canadian championships twice a month. Despite her experience, she said nerves will never go away, but the excitement is always there.
“When I’m up on stage I feel like I’m young again,” she said.
Erin Hudson, from High River, also gets the chances to feel young again when she watches her six-year-old daughter, Saoirse, dance. At 26 years old, Hudson has been dancing for 18 years and recently enrolled her daughter. At the highest level, Hudson said she gets to learn the steps all over again from Saoirse who is at the primary level. Hudson will be cheering Saoirse on from the sidelines at the Highland Games this year.
Both Hudson and Schmidt’s dance teacher, Jackie Roe of Highwood Highland Dancers in High River, has been working to prepare them for the competition. Roe said performers are split into categories based on ability and age. Dancing begins at 8:30 a.m. on August 24 at the Foothills Composite High School in Okotoks.
“If you want to see the little wee cuties, that’s the best time to come,” she said.
Two certified judges will be assessing dancers individually and awarding points for correct steps. Dancers will be competing for medals, trophies and cash prizes awarded up to sixth place. First place will receive an envelope containing $50. As well, awards will be handed out to the youngest dancer, the dancer with the most points and the dancer who best shows a love of dance.
“These dances are hundreds of years old,” Roe said. “We spend out lives trying to perfect them.”
Applications to compete have now closed, but Roe said she may be able to fit a couple more dancers. Contact Jackie Roe at 403-585-1619 if you’re interested. It’s $10 per person or $25 for families to attend the Foothills Highland Games, which also features bagpipes, heavy events, food and vendors. For more information, visit foothillshighlandgames.com.