Two Valley highland dancers are heading to Virginia for a scholarship event.
Amelia Marsh, 11, has been highland dancing with the Kathy White Island Highland Dance Academy in Duncan since she was just three years old. Her best friend Maya Sundstrom, also 11, joined her a year later. The pair have been dancing together since then, and have competed in both local and provincial competitions including those in Victoria, Port Hardy, Surrey and Kamloops.
Marsh has also travelled to California and Alberta for competitions, while Sundstrom headed over to Scotland with some of her fellow dancers for touring and competitions this past summer.
This year, both girls were selected to compete in the BATD (British Association of Teacher of Dancing) Sadie Simpson Highland Scholarships in the Juvenile category (under 12 years old).
This event takes place in Alexandria, Virginia from Sept. 27-30 and includes dancers from all over North America. To be invited the girls had to get honours on the Grade 3 highland theory exams (conducted in April), as well as be recommended by the judge presiding over the examinations.
The scholarship consists of a dance technique class, a written theory paper where the girls will demonstrate their technical knowledge, and a choreography component.
Their teacher, Kathy White, who runs her own Highland Dance Academy, has, in conjunction with the girls, arranged a solo performance for each of them, and they have been practising hard for the last several weeks.
White herself has been dancing for more than 40 years, since she was a toddler. During those years many of her dancers have been nominated for this event and she is delighted that Amelia and Maya have earned the honour this year.
“The girls have worked very hard to get to Virginia and I am very proud of them. All the other dancers and I are very supportive and wish them both good luck,” she said.
Sundstrom is looking forward to the weekend with her friend, saying, “I’m very excited to go as it’s a huge honour. I’m ready to challenge myself and represent the Academy the best I can.”
Marsh also can’t wait to get there, noting “I’m excited and nervous, but mostly excited to meet so many new dancers and compete against them. I’m also very happy to have my best friend along to share this with me.”
Both girls know this will be a big challenge for them, but it is an incredible opportunity and they will bring home memories that will last a lifetime. That they get to experience it together makes it even more special.