The day-long Highland Dance Competition, a premier event offering medals, trophies and cash prizes, celebrates its 11th anniversary at the Saline Celtic Festival, July 12-13 in Mill Pond Park.
“I’m very excited to do this and look forward to the event every year,” says organizer Cindy Kopenski, a Highland Dance competitor from the age of 10 to 21, a teacher for 27 years and a judge since 2003.
“Dances all have historical significance in Scottish history,” Kopenski explains. “The Highland Fling is derived from Celtic warriors dancing on their battle shields—the stationary positioning of the dancer comes from a soldier having to dance in the middle of their shield, that had huge blades on the edges. The Sword Dance was performed by soldiers prior to battle. Soldiers would dance over the blades—and if they touched the sword, they would have bad luck in battle.”
The Seann Trews dance also has a fascinating history. “After the Scots defeated the British in the late 1700s the Scots were again able to dress in their kilts—the shaking actions in this dance depict the Scots shaking off their dreaded trousers,” Kopenski says.
The first year attracted about 50 dancers and each year the number has grown, attracting dancers ranging from 4 years old to adults from the local area and as far afield as Florida, Kansas, Ohio, Illinois and Ontario. This year, Kopenski expects about 80 dancers.
The dances are regulated by the Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing. The Primary Category performs 16 Pas de Bas, Pas de Bas and Hicuts, 4-Step Highland Fling and a 2+1 Sword Dance. The Beginner, Novice and Intermediate group will perform the Scottish Lilt, Highland Fling, Sword Dance and Seann Truibhas. The Premier Group will perform the Scotch Measure, Flora MacDonald, Highland Fling and Seann Truibhas.
Each dancer is given a score based on 100 points: 80 for technique, 10 for timing, and 10 for deportment, with standardized deductions issued based on these categories.
For more information, email Kopenski at [email protected].
For information on the festival, visit www.salineceltic.org.