Sunday, November 23, 2014

Live, Breathe, Highland dance!

That she does!

It has been a big big year - and Miss E has embraced her dancing.

She absolutely adores it!

Saturday, November 22, 2014


Oh my gosh - was this the hottest exam day ever?

Even with air conditioning in the dance studio temperatures were at 37C at 9am! Our little dancers were stars to cope with that heat!

This year E was completing her QSDA grade 1 exam - dances were the 5 step fling and sword 2+1.
She knew her theory backwards and was very confident going in.

I am pleased to say - that despite the heat she was awarded Honours for her exam. A very fitting end to the year.

Monday, October 20, 2014

How true is this

Even after seeing these girls dance their 7th dance on the weekend they would finish poised and smiling.

So amazing!

One final comp for the year

Once again we travelled to Brisbane Sunday for the Southern Qld Championships and competition.

This has been a fairly low key prep to this competition this year. E has been practicing steadily - but really more focused just in the last month. She has also not had private lessons at all through this time (apart from one on school holidays).

It has been a nice change though - she seems to be approaching practice with a new maturity and doesn't fight me to do it ... (just doesn't like too much critism either!)

When we arrived we discovered E was in the beginner's 9 and 10 years section. This was the first time she has had to compete with girls a year older than her.

First dance was her lilt - and it was lovely! And she was rewarded - third place~!

Her flora was next - and it was lovely. I am really seeing her understand the grace in the music more.
Unfortunately she did not place - even her teacher was a little suprised - but these things happen.

A quick change and into her kilt outfit for the highland dances.

Her fling was lovely - her turnout has improved very much over the last year. E placed 5th in this.

Then the swords. Once again she had some sliding on the stage in the swords. It seems to be a consistent problem for her on this stage - and it was evident that other dancers also struggled. No place in the swords.

Trophy fling was next. She danced a lovely fling and still danced strongly even though she had had a very long day. Perhaps all the running she does pays off in increased stamina.

Her final dance was the strathspey and highland reel. She was devastated as she felt she had made a tiny mistake and it was her last chance to have a square marked off on her beginner card this year. She really really REALLY wanted that square marked off.

In fact - she had gone outside to play with her little sister when the results were announced. She came running in! THIRD in the reel!!! I have never seen her so happy! I think that square meant more to her than any trophy could!

Finally the numbers were called up for the presentation on stage.

E got 5th in the title and 4th for her trophy fling!! Such a happy girl!

So much improvement this year! The comp was well worth the travel - her practice was well rewarded and her confidence is up!

Onwards and upwards to next year!

A modified hornpipe!

How much fun was this! Five of the girls in E's highland class were given the opportunity to perform their dancing in the school musical!

Time was short - they had one lesson to learn the dance - but the girls were able to perform a modified hornpipe in their musical "A school for pirates".

Big credit to the girls who took care of rehearsals and polished the dance themselves!

I have video - just need to figure out how to load it!

Fun and fabulous work!

Displays Displays and more displays!

Tis the season of school fetes and spring fairs it seems!

Miss E and her friends have been very busy performing! It has been a wonderful opportunity for them.

One of the things I love about highland dance is the many opportunities they get to perform.

It is not only a fabulous way of promoting Highland Dancing, but it gives the girls excellent practise in performing in front of an audience.

I also firmly believe they need to learn how to behave when they are representing dance, and their studio. Displays give them plenty of opportunity to practise that!

Oh- and it's fun!

Their is nothing better than getting dressed and dancing!

The little dancers love sharing the stage with the older girls too!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

International Tartan Day

International Tartan Day is July 1.

As things would have it - this fell in line with the first day of our girls school holidays this year.

E's teacher had a fabulous - and slightly crazy idea. They would dress in their kilts (of course) and do random acts of highland throughout the town!

International tartan day is celebrated by the Scots in recognition of the scots defying a ban by the English on wearing tartan.

 First stop ... they interupted a Step class at the local gym!

Showed those fitness fanatics just how much hard work a fling is!

Then another fling outside the local barber shop ...

A chemist ...

Inside the cinema ...

In the main street of town ...

The national bank ...

 And inside a local coffee shop!

The girls then performed a lengthier display at the Senior Citizens morning tea ...

 And the croquet club!

Several other locations were visited including a basketball court, more local stores and the council chambers where a local piper ensured a fantastic audience was gathered!

So much fun and a great way to celebrate highland

Scotia Highland Dancing Competition

 9th of June was another great comp for Miss E.

Once again the venue was the Bracken Ridge High school. This is a venue we really like. We've been there enough to know it well, and it is in an area we are familiar with. It is a big day out tho with plenty of driving!

This competition was the first that E danced in all her beginner dancers as we could finally add the Strathspey and Highland Reel to her dances.  She danced her reel beautifully - especially for a new dance - but unfortunately did not place.

I am continually amazed with how well she copes with competition. I think now my job is to learn to step back, and let her have as much independance as possible. She doesn't like "smothering" and is quite a capable little dancer.

Trophy Highland Fling - 8th
Title Scottish Lilt - 7th
Title Sword dance - 4th
Flora McDonald's Fancy -5th
Scotia title  - 7th

It was a big section with lots of talented dancers. E danced well -but also knows she has lots of ways to improve!

Oh - and Scotia trophies are lovely !

Thursday, June 12, 2014

E's kilt tartan

Like many beginning dancers we sourced our kilt second hand.

A kilt is a big investment - and quite frankly I wanted to know she would stick with dancing before I invested in a brand new kilt.

It also gives her time to truly know what tartans look good on stage and which ones she likes.

I have, however wondered for quite some time what tartan this kilt was. There are just so many in the world it was hard to find out!

It turns out that E is wearing Dress Green Gilles. Thank you to the person on dancenet who was kind enough to answer my question!

Although E loves the modern aquas and purples I love this kilt. It swings beautifully as she dances and she looks beautiful in it.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Review : practice swords from Rachel Dances

I admit it. I'm a bad highland dancing mum.

For a long time Miss E practised her sword dance without swords cause it was just all too hard!
And the swords I found were just far too expensive.

Then a google search led me to Racheldances on facebook.

The swords have are made from mild steel with a plastic hilt for safety. You can choose from a myriad of colours for your hilt - we chose blue as Miss E loves aqua and is starting to get a little bit over the traditional girly pink and purple.

For beginners you can lay the swords the other way for a flatter sword for practice.

All up, including post to Australia from the UK the swords were approx $60AUD for the pair. Definately within budget.

I have certainly seen Miss E's sword improve with practice with real swords. They are sturdy, true to size and definately worth the price.

A short video review is here on youtube

Facebook page

Please note- this is an unpaid review. I purchased these myself and am reviewing them after. All opinions are my own.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Dances to date ...

So - Miss E has been dancing about 18 months ...

I thought it would be interesting to list the dances she has learnt so far - and what she thinks of them ... so we can look back later on.

So ... as of May 2014

Highland Fling - 4 step.
This is becoming much tighter. I do think I will forever be saying KNEES OUT tho! You would think all those years of ballet would have helped!

Sword Dance.
I think this is E's least favourite dance. But it's one of the one's she's been dancing the longest so that is understandable.
Her confidence in not hitting the swords has grown and it is getting much more technically correct

She loves the lilt. I think it really suits her. Maybe it's the ballet. She does a really pretty Lilt.

Flora Mcdonald's Fancy (Flora)
Again - she loves it!

Seann Triubhas
One of her newer dances and she has worked so so so much on it. She loves it - especially the intro

Well - we have only covered the first step or so. I think she is going to really enjoy this one tho - she likes the character dances when she watches them.

Strathspey and reel.
Her teacher says the new dances are always the favourite. Definately the case right now. She is practising it twice as much as her other dances. She should be competing in it in 3 weeks. I am rather nervous.

That's where we are right now! What will another 6 months bring??

Saturday, May 10, 2014

A display ...

Sigh - this is the first time I have ever missed E's dancing.

I had to work - but thanks to daddy and some good friends E was ready and able to attend a highland dancing display at the local church fete.

Big Big thanks to one of the mums from parkrun who did E's dance bun! Daddy certainly needs lessons!

Seann Triubhas

 Sword dance  

Highland Fling

In the midst of competition season she said it was great to dance "just for fun". Although I do hear she was begging to join in the reel.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Something truly special ....

Photos in this post are courtesy of Rachel Spies Photography. To see more of her work follow her on facebook at

When miss E began highland ... I never ever suspected she would get so many opportunities to dance. It truly has been wonderful for her.

But out of all the competitions , displays, and events ... this is my favourite of all, and will be a precious memory forever.

Miss E, along with her teacher and another girl from her dance class were invited to dance down the aisle before a beautiful bride entered on her wedding day.

It was a day I will never forget. They danced down the aisle (and finished at the front) in a modified version of the lilt.

The little girls took their task so seriously and made a beautiful first impression for the wedding guests.

 I think this photo of their teacher piping the bride from the car is one of my favourites.
All day they had taken this special occasion in their stride. I was truly thinking they did not get the honour that it was.

That is, until I saw the above photo, where the curiosity of two little girls was captured as they waited for that first peak of the bride.

The bride wore dress stewart tartan heels under her gown. The groom a matching vest.
It was such a joyous day. I am so pleased that E could be a part of it!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

First comp of 2014!

It was almost a relief to get to competition day - our first comp of 2014!

We attended Bernadette's again in Toowoomba and E just scraped into the 9 year old category.

It was a big category for a Toowoomba comp, with 14 girls. And as the girls competed all day- rather than beginners in the morning it was a long day for them too. But they conducted themselves so well.

Our day started early (thank goodness we didn't have to travel on the day - thanks for the hospitality mum!) and first dance was the Highland Fling.

E did a lovely fling - but didn't place. A little disappointing for her - I think she was worried that would happen all day. She was excited for her two friends that placed tho and it was lovely to see her go and congratulate them and make sure they knew.

Our second dance of the day - was another fling! The trophy highland fling. This was a really lovely fling for E. She still has lots to work on (turn out!) but she is doing nicely.

Unlike many of the section dances, the awards for the trophy fling are presented on stage. It is always a hold your breath moment while you wait to hear if her number is called! And she was so excited to hear it she took off before I could even congratulate her!

Her first prize of the day was 6th in the Highland fling. Well done!

As always - we continued on with the Highland dances. Her sword was a lovely sword (does anyone else feel physically ill until you know they have gotten through that dance without kicking the swords?) and I can see the improvements she is making! Therewas no sword kicking and she placed 6th! How exciting!

This comp was the debut comp for E in her Seann Triubhas. To be honest - I was worried if we would even be good enough to compete in it at one stage. It has gone from one of her most hated dances - to possibly her favourite dance. She danced it nicely and when she came off the stage she said she thought it was her best Seann Triubhas ever! Once again she placed 6th! Seemed to be the day for sixes at this stage!

 On to the national dances (and yes I still love to see her in her aboyne!)
The title today consisted of the lilt and the flora - two of E's favourite dances.

I think she is really suited to these two dances - perhaps it is all those years of ballet. She does seem to have a beautiful graceful feel to these dances - they flow nicely.

E has been working hard on her lilt (with shouts of CORNERS from her mum as she practises) and danced it beautifully on the day!
Obviously this was also agreed by the judges - she was thrilled to get THIRD! Fantastic in such a big group!

Her final dance of the day was the flora. This is one of E's favourite dances, and she danced it beautifully.

Unfortunately she didn't place. She was so disappointed as she thought she danced it well - but sometimes this is just going to happen.

Overall - despite it being an incredibly long day - this was a lovely comp and she loved dancing with so many friends!

A very successful start to the year!

2014 begins - Competition practise and private lessons

E loves her highland classes. They are a HEAP of fun!

Problem is - sometimes I think they are too much fun, and of course, they leave very little time for her to work on small improvements and changes that will make her dancing better.

We have been doing private lessons once a week before school and I really think it is helping. E of course loves another chance to dance, and it gives her time to think about her steps and what she needs to work on in practise.

And speaking of practise ...

Practise is a funny thing.
Some days she is desperate to do it.
Other days it is all out war.

Some things that are helping ...

Making a tally board and letting her see how many times she can dance each dance in a week ...

Letting her watch champion dancers on you tube.

Letting her dance her fling to pop songs ...



Letting her do her practice after she should be in bed! Cheating bedtime seems to be a particularly big incentive!

She knows practice helps her dancing. And she wants to be a better dancer. But let's face it - we ALL try to avoid practise when we can!

Somehow I think I am going to have to keep being creative to keep the practise up!

Do you have any tricks you use?


December truly was a busy time of year for E.
Not only had she just finished competitions, but she had dress rehearsals for her dance concert (ballet, tap and jazz) AND she sat her first Highland Dancing Exam.

The exam E sat was her Primary exam through the Qld Scottish dancing association.

We had practised a lot in the lead up, and when I left her she knew her theory off by heart.

This is my very excited girl just before she went in for her exam.

She was very lucky that we did not have to wait long to get her results. The were announced that evening at the school Christmas breakup party.

E passed her exam with flying colours, and was awarded Honours with Distinction by the examiner.

You can see her being presented with her results here.

2013 was a very very busy year for Miss E with her dancing - but she adored it. She has come so far - and there are many more adventures ahead for her.

Our new aboyne - made by Gran with love

St Andrew's Day was the first competition we required an Aboyne outfit for as we were now competiting in the national dances - the flora and the lilt.

I had promised E that since we had a second hand kilt, we would make her an aboyne brand new in a colour she loved.

I found this gorgeous plaid fabric at Spotlight in Australia. It is a light wool so it hangs absolutely beautifully.

Of course - you can make an aboyne from fabrics such as cottons (most in our studio do) but I am so glad I spent the extra. Her skirt and plaid have a beautiful hang from the fabric, and they just don't crease.

She loves the pink in the skirt - it is perfect for a little girl.

The vest is a beautiful dark blue double velvet.

I will tell you now - I knew from the start that sewing these fabrics was way out of my comfort zone. I have never sewn with velvet, and I wasn't about to start so close to needing the outfit.

There was much frustration as my gorgeous mum worked out the best way to work with these fabrics (by the way - the answer is pay someone else too - or if not - baste them all together first before you sew them) but the result was stunning.

She is a happy little girl - and she looks beautiful on stage