Exams make many people cringe — but they sometimes bring great rewards.
This reality recently became clearer for three local highland dance students when they learned that their dance theory exam results had earned them invitations to the highly coveted James L. McKenzie and Elspeth Strathern Scholarship Program.
The students nominated for this honour are Grace Harvey, Madison Lagan and Kayla Champis, all of the Laurie Tinkler School of Dance.
Held annually as part of the Scottish Dance Teachers’ Alliance Conference, the J.L. McKenzie and Elspeth Strathern Scholarship program provides aspiring dancers from across the country with a weekend of topnotch highland dance education. This year’s event took place over the Thanksgiving weekend in Toronto. Kayla Champis was fortunate to be able to participate.
On the first day, scholarship nominees were judged in a number of events. They participated in a master class in a form of dance other than highland, danced the fling and sword dances as well as the Tribute to J.L. McKenzie, presented a solo choreography and wrote a theory exam paper. In each of these events, they were evaluated by a panel.
The other two days of the event were educational opportunities to learn more about their art form. The dancers learned more about how ballet can improve their highland style, received instruction in championship steps and had the opportunity to perfect their Irish jig and hornpipe. Fun features included learning to salsa and a choreography for Thriller.
After walking down the tartan carpet at the banquet and ceilildh, each dancer saw their name in lights on the Wall of Fame. At this event, Champis discovered she had received perfect marks on her highland theory paper — tying for first place in that category of 41 dancers from across the country. In addition, she placed sixth in the master class competition.
Taking part in this event was a highlight in Kayla’s dance career thus far.
“I would definitely do it again if I had the chance to because it was a lot of fun, I learned a lot of technical information and I met some amazing friends,” she reports.
— Laurie Tinkler School of Dance