Highland dance competition returns to Peace River for first time in 14 years

Intermediate and Premier dancers from PRSS ready to dance.

Susan Thompson
Express Staff

The Peace River Scottish Society (PRSS) held their first home competition in 14 years on Sunday, June 9.

The club, which was founded 40 years ago, held a Highland Competition annually from about 1995 until the last one in 2005.

“The reason for not having the competition over them years has really been commitment,” says PRSS board member Lindsay Gauvreau.

“The competition used to take place outside which took a lot of planning and cost. The PRSS hasn’t had a board who have been able to commit to the process of the competition in a long time. In our current membership we have about 75 per cent of our dancers are competitive and travel a lot for competitions. The desire was there to bring back a home competition and we took a different approach. By having it inside we saved a bit in cost and it was more manageable for the amount of volunteers we have,” she explains.

“We would love someday to take it outdoors again like it had been done in years before but with the unpredictable June weather and the financial ability to support an outdoor stage, tents etc for a little club like ours is a bit overwhelming so for now it’s indoors.”

This year’s competition was held at Peace River High School, where 72 dancers from around Alberta, BC and NWT competed in all levels of Highland Dance.

In sanctioned Highland events, dancers perform five different traditional dances in front of judges.

Dancers at this year’s competition ranged in age from as young as 4 to19 years old.

Primary, beginner and novice dancers made up the majority of the registrations and competed in the morning, while Intermediate and Premier groups competed in the afternoon.

“Having this competition complements the Grande Prairie Highland Games on Saturday. It creates a competition circuit and an incentive for dancers to travel to our area,” says Gauvreau.

“It means a lot to not only our club to have the competition back but to the Highland community. Since announcing the return of the competition last fall we have had people from all around Alberta contact us excited.”

“They remember coming to Peace River as kids and competing and it being such a great experience,” she says.

“We had people sponsor trophies because as children this was their first competition. And we had former dancers bringing their children this weekend from places like Beaumont and Edmonton because they had attended themselves. For our dancers it was so exciting to not have to travel to compete, [and to] have their friends and families come and watch them.”

Strong club and community support made the competition a success this year.

“It was a fantastic effort put forward by the Peace River Scottish Society, with all hands on deck to keep the competition running smoothly. We also had community volunteers and former dancers who helped us out and played important roles during the day,” Gauvreau says.

“We had tremendous support from the community. Peace Country Ventures, Peace River Rogers Club, Mercer, Fitness in the Go, Kit Office Plus, Peace River Masonic Lodge, and CIMS were our main event donors. Domino’s Pizza, IGA, Co-op, Shoppers Drug Mart and Jardin Foods donated to our canteen which was used as a fundraiser for the event. We also had individual families and former dancers who sponsored our trophies.”

The awards were created by Caribou Cresting and Custom Laser Works.

The overall winners of the competition were:

Beginner 7&8
178 Eva Scobey (Fox Creek AB)
Beginner 9
140 Brooklynn Taylor (Fox Creek AB)
Beginner 10
150 Alyssa Troster (Prince George BC)
Beginner 11
183 Elisabeth Milligan-Coyle (Peace River)
Beginner 12 and over
180 Gracie Kobasiuk ( Fort St John BC)
The Nicole Dufresne Novice Special Award
192 Brielle DeCiccio (Fox Creek AB)
Novice 11 and under
192 Brielle DeCiccio
Novice 12 and over
155 Kate Priestley (Tofield, AB)
142 Emma Haight (Prince George, BC)
Premier 14 & Under
177 Ava Kupfers-chmid (Prince George BC)
Premier 15 & 16
199 Seanna Novak (Peace River AB)
Premier 17 and over
157 Tacy Wilkes (Peace River AB)

Dancer of the day was awarded for both morning and afternoon highest point earners. The morning winner was Brielle DeCiccio of Fox Creek, and the afternoon winner was Seanna Novak of Peace River.

“Peace River is such a beautiful place and to get to share it with the Highland community again and to create a warm fun inviting experience that people want to come back to, means the world to our little club. We hope to continue to do it for many years to come,” Gauvreau says.

The Peace River Scottish Society is home to 17 Highland Dancers as well as Celtic Step Dancing, and has three Associate Teachers; Carey Imrie, Ashlea Hubert, and Melanie Lamont. Registration is now open for the 2019/2020 dance season. PRSS accepts dancers ages 4 and up, and beginners are always welcome at any age.

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