Please allow Beginner, Novice & Intermediate dancers to compete at Skye's Highland Games
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A little more than four weeks ago, the Skye Highland games took place, once again drawing an international crowd of competitors and spectators. Games day creates a buzz like no other in the village of Portree, and is so exciting for all involved.
Unfortunately another year has passed with Skye's own dancers unable to compete at their local games. The Skye Games Committee have refused, in spite of many attempts by local Highland dance group Dannsairean an Eilein Sgitheanaich, to move with the times. While almost every other Highland Games runs a registered dance competition, the Skye Games Committee continue to insist on running an Open only competition.
For those unfamiliar with Highland dancing rules and terminology, this means that dancers working through the rankings, competing to attain stamps and sitting exams to attain grades, are unable to take part while dancers who have never earned a stamp, as well as those who are through the rankings of Beginner, Novice, and Intermediate, are free to take to the stage. In practical terms, this means that over 40 of our Skye-based dancers, as well as countless from elsewhere, who travel far and wide to compete, are excluded from the Skye Games.
Of course, we understand that the Skye Games do attract world-class Highland dancers, and indeed Champions, and while this is wonderful, no dancer ever became a champion without first going through the ranks! It is so disheartening that some members of the committee appear to have no interest in developing talent, disregarding the young up-and-coming dancers so eager to tread the boards in the most iconic of locations.
We annually visit the games in both South and North Uist and are welcomed with open arms to their Official Board Registered Competitions. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we were able to offer the same hospitality in return? This is not, however, just a local issue. There are dancers the world over who would dearly love to compete in Skye, in fact, one school travelled all the way from Canada to enter, only to be bitterly disappointed when not one of their pre-premier dancers was able to take part.
Lee Vossler from Diamond V Highland Dance said:
“I had the great pleasure of bringing my dance school to Scotland during the summer of 2016. Being Canadian, we were all very excited, and of course used the experience to also see the beautiful country and sites.
We decided that Skye would be one stop during our trip, and that we would dance at the Highland games. We were blown away by the number of competitors and tourists the community could bring in with their games. It was truly spectacular and so great for the village of Portree.
It was with much disappointment that we realized this was an unsanctioned event, therefore the pre-premier dancers were unable to dance; a real disappointment for the little ones who just wanted to dance, and didn't really understand that the "rules" say they can't. We did have a wonderful time at the games, and it would have certainly been nice for everyone to dance, as this was the main purpose of our trip.
I hope to bring my dancers back in a couple of years and would love for this to be another destination point for us as it was so beautiful, and very welcoming.”
D.A.E.S. are most appreciative of ongoing support and investment received from the local community thus far. Interest in Highland Dancing continues to grow and the dedication and enthusiasm of teacher, parents, and pupils are evident. This school which started off with 12 pupils when established on a formal basis in 2009 now has 75 dancers, ranging in age from 3 to 21, attending weekly classes at present. We would like to ask the people of Skye whom we are proud to represent, as well as Beginner, Novice, and Intermediate dancers from all over the world, their teachers and families, to support us in our request to the Isle of Skye Games Committee : Please Hold a Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing Registered Competition.
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