What follows is a brief update on our local Highland Dance group. The Highland Dancers are currently under the direction of me, Louise Fergusson. I studied Highland Dancing from age eleven to seventeen under the direction of Christie Urquhart as a Tigh Na Creigh highland Dancer. After a four year break (for college and fun) I resumed my instruction under Winifred Macfarlane of Slidell, La. At age twenty five, after approximately eleven years of classes, I am still continuing my lessons with Mrs. Macfarlane once a month, for the greater benefit of my students.
In November, The Caledonian Society of New Orleans, in fulfilling their mission of supporting the Scottish Arts donated the funds to send me to Houston, Texas for the British Association of Teachers of Dance (BATD) members certification examination. The hour and a half long exam was conduncted by Christine Lacey of Scotland, Secretary of the BATD. It included an oral examination of the Highland Fling, Sword Dance, Sean Truibhas, Strathsphey and Highland Reel, and Hullachan. In addition, I was graded on my ability to perform each of these dances. I passed the exam with a grade of Commended which means that I am now a certified teacher of Scottish Highland Dancing.
To date, I have nine students in New Orleans and six in Baton Rouge where I travel twice a month. My students range in age from four to adult and in class from beginner to premier. Lessons in Baton Rouge take place on alternating Saturdays at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Jim Higdon, parents of beginner Julia Higdon. Lessons in New Orleans take place each weekend at my house although we are quickly outgrowing our limited space. I am trying very hard at this point to find a studio or church where the dancers will be allowed to have practice. In addition to needing a place to dance, we also need a name for our group. Suggestions are welcomed!
The dancers practice regularly and perform at least seven or eight times a year. After the departure of Christie Urquhart Walsh, a fund of approximately $200 earned from donations and Jazz Fest and Celtic Nations Festival performances, remained for the Highland Dancers. This fund has grown to more than $750 with the help of the Caledonian Society of N. O. and the Pipes and Drums of New Orleans. The dancers will soon decide whether they would like use this fund to bring an instuctor to New Orleans for a weekend workshop or to bring the entire troupe to the next competition in Jackson.
I am very excited about my fifteen enthusiastic students and hope that we will soon be able to perform a program for the society. Until then, we'll keep dancing! Anyone interested in taking lessons can call me at home 861-9234, or at work 525-3377. Local lessons are currently only $10 per month and Baton Rouge lessons are $20. Thanks for your continued support and encouragement!