A group of 10 local highland dancers from Central Alberta will be making their way across the Atlantic Ocean and over to Scotland for the trip of a lifetime next year. The group will depart Aug. 6, 2013 and will return on the 21st.
The dancers range from age seven to 17 and their dancing abilities range from beginner to novice to intermediate and premier.
“We are going out for the experience of dance in the birthplace of highland dancing,” said Shelley Rodney, competition secretary with the Red Deer Region Highland Dancing Association.
The first week will be spent in Edinburgh and the second week will be spent in Sterling. The dancers will be branching out to the smaller surrounding communities to attend dance competitions. They are going to participate in as many of the competitions in the area as they can. They are hoping to have each dancer participate in two to five dances while on this trip.
“We are trying to find competitions that everyone can participate in,” said Rodney.
While they are in Scotland the dancers also plan to take in the Tattoo, an event that takes place throughout the month of August.
The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is an annual series of military tattoos performed by British Armed Forces, Commonwealth and International military bands and display teams on the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle.
“We want to plan to go to the Tattoo because it is amazing. It is just one of those things that you have to do while you are there,” said Rodney. “There will be pipers, drummers, dancers and all things Scottish.”
This group of dancers has been planning this trip for three years now and has been fundraising for just as long. The cost for each dancer for the two weeks, including accommodations, the flights and other necessities, will be about $3,000. This does not include entry fees into the competitions.
In order to bring this cost down the dancers and their parents have been working hard at casinos, holding concessions at dance competitions, selling pizzas, baskets of flowers and baskets of apples. Some people have raised enough to cover the entire trip while others are still raising funds. Fundraising continues to help the dancers and their families with the financial burden of the journey.
“It’s going to be a once-in-a-lifetime trip, we are probably never going to be able to go back so we are grasping the opportunity and going when we can.”
Rodney’s daughter Anika Rodney, 11, who has been dancing for over eight years, is one of the 10 dancers going. She is a premier dancer and has been for just under two years.
According to her mother, Anika has always been destined to be a dancer, even before she was born. “No word of a lie, every time she heard a bagpipe she would kick. Every time. Even as a little baby she just loved the bagpipes.”
Anika tried different forms of dance including ballet, jazz and tap, and she didn’t like them. Then one day she said “Mommy, I want to do highland dancing” so they found her a teacher and she has been doing it ever since.
“(Highland dance) is really fun and you get to learn new stuff everyday that you are there. Everyone is really nice and it is a really big sport and it is really fun to meet new people when you go on trips,” said Anika.
This trip to Scotland will be the biggest trip Anika has been on.
“The Red Deer Region Highland Dancing Association did a similar trip a couple of years ago. They have been very supportive of the dancers wanting to go to Scotland because it is the birthplace of highland dance, and it is something that not many dancers get to experience,” said Rodney.
For more information on the Red Deer Regional Highland Dancing Association and the upcoming trip to Scotland, visit RDRHDA.com or email Shelley Rodney at RDRHDAcomp@gmail.com.