Flings will be flung and jigs will be jigged as local Highland dancers head east for a North American conference.
Breanna Larson, 11, and sisters Rebecca, 17, and Katherine Saunderson, 12, are heading to the ScottDance Canada Highland dance British Association Teachers of Dancing conference in Niagara Falls, Ont., this weekend.
"This is a very special event for Highland dancers," said Bonnie Leach of Excalibur Theatre Arts Company. "The children qualify for this each year as they take dance exams and theory exams. If an examiner thinks a student excels in both, then I get an invitation for my students to attend the competition."
Along with the contest, it's also a conference that students, teachers and judges attend, Leach said.
In the first Highland class Breanna attended, she said she couldn't find the beat to the music and three years later she's going to a North American competition.
"She's earned many trophies and she's worked very hard," said Leach, who considers Highland dancing close to a sport and very athletic because it requires a great deal of endurance. "The intricate footwork and the technique involved on top of jumping high on the ball of your foot is an exhausting form of dance. It's the best form of exercise you'll ever get. You don't need to go to the gym, just join Highland class."
Rebecca, Katherine and Breanna will all perform choreographed dances that will showcase their talents and play to their strengths.
The girls often compete in several categories, including the fling and sword dances that are the more masculine dances, and the Aboyne, a style of dance geared for women with flowy-skirted costumes. For character dances there are other costumes worn. A dancer will wear a sailor suit for the horn pipe and a washer woman's outfit in green or red for the jig.
"It's all very traditional," said Leach. "We're very proud of the girls and know they will learn so much. It will be a great experience for them."
tap jazz lyrical, modern
Mykhala, 18 sister to Breanna, and has a younger sister that dances as well.