I just spent the last half an hour or so watching highland dancing videos on Youtube.
You should probably do this too because, for lack of a more eloquent descriptor, THEY ARE AWESOME.
I love watching these videos because they totally jazz me up, and I remember the good old (olden) days when I too used to be a highland dancer.
From the ages of five to twelve, I flinged, reeled, and jigged with the best of them.
And I loved it, truly.
In so many areas of my life, my passion for dance bled through: Instead of walking places, I just danced. Sitting at the computer, I would curl my feet up into tight points, always trying to strengthen my arches, and I would hum different bagpipe tunes under my breath while I wrote tests.
More than anything, I really wanted to be Canadian champion, and more than that I really, really wanted to get married in my National costume.
A little highland dance background:
National costumes are different from Highland costumes (Highland being the “traditional” outfits that will most likely spring to mind when you think about highland dancing.)
National outfits instead are much softer and, in traditional terms, much more “feminine.”
This makes a lot of sense when you think about how the dances you complete in the Highland outfit are the Fling, Sword Dance, Seann Truibhas, and the Reel, whereas the dances associated with the National costume are the Blue Bonnets, Lilt, and Flora Macdonald.
Not exactly hard core stuff.
I highly doubt any Englishman felt a quake or two in his boots upon espying a bunch of bonny lasses, heel-toeing about to the Blue Bonnets Over the Border.
The Sword Dance on the other hand?
There’s no way in heck you’d want to mess with the crazies jumping about on top of multiple, sharp sabres.
Anywho, highland dancing was my total jam pretty much all through out elementary school. I even spent two weeks away from home after the summer of grade four at a dance camp in Red Deer, Alberta.
I stayed in the college dorms all by myself, ate at the school’s cafeteria (I had a punch card that let me know how much money I had left on my tab!) and signed up for different activities through my dorm mother and dance lead (the oldest girl in my training class.)
Every morning I would put my hair in a bun, put on my tights and leotard, and walk across the campus to class.
I don’t know if to this day I’ve ever felt as grown up, mature, and accomplished as I did at eleven during those two weeks.
The pièce de résistance was when a young piper asked me out the night that we went to the carnival. (What was this, Dawson’s Creek!?)
I mean, the guy couldn’t have been older than thirteen, but this basically exploded my on-the-cusp-pubescent mind.
A BOY LIKES ME AND IS ASKING ME OUT.
CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT GUYS.
I didn’t think things could get any more epic until the last night of the camp: all the dancers participated in a big gala, and we all performed the group dances we had been practicing over the length of the camp.
(I loved my group’s dance SO much that I practiced it every day for the rest of the summer.)
At the end of the evening, they announced the dancer who had won the scholarship to return following year’s camp, free of charge. The winner would also receive free accommodation, food, and receive a small living allowance over the course of the camp.
And would you believe it?
They announced little old me as the winner!
I was so shocked I didn’t really know what to do, so I kind of just continued sitting there, smiling like the pint-sized loon that I was.
I remember two older girls sitting behind me said something like, “Way to go Vanessa! You totally deserve it!” They then kind of pulled me out of my chair and pushed me towards the stage.
It was such an unbelievably happy moment for me walking up there to receive my certificate. I had just spent two weeks doing something I loved more than anything in the world, with a new group of friends, in a setting where I felt incredibly grown up.
Over the years I have definitely enjoyed other similar moments – different iterations of that pure joy and incredulity – but this one was definitely my first.
And watching these amazing videos is a great reminder of the brilliance of that feeling.
I hope so much that you too have a similar memory.
And if you do, take a moment and just sit back.
And press play.