Highland dancers to compete this weekend; free concert follows event Saturday evening
By: Crystal Snow
Morgan Pell (’17) travels 15 hours to attend Alma College. The distance between Alma and the home of Katie Ochs (’16) is over 2,300 miles.
What do these two ladies have in common? They are just two of the nine Kiltie Dancers who travel from far and wide to perform, compete, and study as a Scot.
Saturday is the next time that students, staff, and the entire community can see the popular performances that are the product of hours of time, practice, and commitment.
The annual Alma Indoor Highland Dancing Competition takes place this weekend, featuring a multi-level event, as well as a workshop for dancers on Sunday.
The competition portion of Saturday will be at the Masonic Home in Alma, while the Alma College Kiltie Dancers’ fall concert will be in the Heritage Center at 7:30 p.m.
“It would be a great opportunity to experience a part of Scottish culture and to see first-hand the amazing art that is Scottish Highland Dancing,” said Pell.
Dances that viewers can expect to see during the competition segment include the Highland Fling, the Sword, the Seann Truibhas, and various national dances, according to Ochs.
“I like the national dances because it gives me a chance to perform with more of my own personal style, since the dances are more graceful,” Ochs said. “However, I prefer the Highland dances because I like the intensity and athleticism of the four Highland dances.”
Besides the concerts they host, the Kilties can also be seen performing at events like homecoming, traditions dinner, or other events in the area.
“I love competing and performing Scottish Highland dancing,” said Pell. “Entertaining an audience is a wonderful feeling, and knowing that I am carrying on this tradition is extremely empowering.”
“Since starting school here, I’ve made it my goal to compete in at least three competitions per term, but when I’m home, I can have three in one month,” said Ochs, who has been dancing for 17 years.
Pell has been competing since the age of five and performs in competitions all over the United States and Canada. She often competes every weekend during the summer.
“Highland dance is a beautiful art form,” she added. “Each dance has its own rich history, from The Highland Fling to the Sailor’s Hornpipe. It is so empowering knowing that these dances have been done for hundreds of years and that I am still carrying on the tradition.”
“The best part about Alma Indoor is that it’s a small, laid-back competition, so it’s a great way to kick off the season,” said Ochs.
However, this weekend will not all be competitive. Saturday evening’s concert will showcase the Kiltie Dancers as they perform classics like the Highland Fling alongside less traditional pieces, such as choreographies to “Wake Me Up” by the Red Hot Chili Pipers and a Christmas medley.
The Kiltie Dancers are instructed by Kate Degood, the director of Highland Dance and co-coordinator of Highland Arts at Alma. Admission is free to staff, students, and the public.
*This has been corrected since print publication*
Images courtesy of: Katie Ochs (’16)