The New Zealand Academy of Highland and National Dancing

Conference Report 2010

Highland Dancers from throughout New Zealand were treated to a fantastic weekend for the 60th Annual Conference – it was wonderful to see so many members who had travelled considerable distances to be there.

The Solo Seal examination, Dance Development Course, Saturday evening function, Youth Forum and Annual General Meeting were held in the historic town of Oamaru with the spectacular Oamaru Opera House being the venue for all functions.

Activities commenced on Friday evening with the Solo Seal examination. This examination is the only Academy examination open to the public and is the supreme award in the examination system. A fabulous evening of dance and entertainment was provided for the audience. We were fortunate to have Kendall Reid from Dunedin enter the examination this year; her dancing was complimented with excellent piping from our own Academy member Mr Neil Baxter from Christchurch. The Youth of the Academy then attended a ten pin bowling function organised by the Youth representative Kimberley Burnside – this gave the youth a chance to meet at the beginning of the weekend's activities.

The Dance Development course on Saturday held a large number of interesting and informative workshops. We were also fortunate to have two excellent guest speakers – Julie Wylie from Christchurch and Gary Barclay from Dunedin – they both gave very interesting talks and all in attendance gained useful information to take back to their dancing school – whether they were teachers or students. The varied content presented by the Technical Committee showed great attention to detail and covered subjects from Elevation, Reel Dancing and Irish Step Dance construction through to an Introduction to Judging. We finished the day with a Visual Quiz that certainly had every member thinking!!

The Diploma and Bar awards were presented in the Ink Room of the Opera House. It was great to see such a large number present to congratulate those who received awards. Mrs Annetta Cowie made a presentation to our long serving Executive member Miss Glenys Gray who had retired after 19 years of service. Mrs Cowie spoke of Glenys' loyal commitment to the Academy and how freely she has given of her time over many years – Glenys will be missed but we know she will always follow all activities with interest and we look forward to seeing her at conferences and dancing events in the future.

It was incredible walking into the Opera House on Saturday night to see the stage transformed into a formal banquet setting. The diploma recipients were piped in along with participants in a Haggis ceremony. A delicious dinner and a brilliant band with plenty of dancing completed the evening.

There was a bright and early start at 8.00am on Sunday morning for the Youth Forum. This was organised and led by Kimberly Burnside – they had a varied agenda and all members participated in this discussing matters that particularly relate to them.

Following the Youth Forum the Annual General Meeting commenced.

A Lament for Mrs Paton was played by Mr Neil Baxter and all members were given the opportunity to share their special memories of a wonderful lady who gave so much to everyone and who helped the Academy have the solid foundations we are fortunate to have and build on.

The meeting then covered all formal aspects relating to the Academy with all reports tabled for various activities. This year we were pleased to launch our new website – the same web address with a new and improved layout and a new feature being the Shopping Basket where now orders for Academy merchandise can be made online – please visit the website for a look.
With Miss Glenys Gray retiring the announcement was made of her replacement as one of the North Island Representative following a postal ballot, and we are pleased to welcome Miss June Wright from Auckland onto the Executive Council.

Mrs Annetta Cowie announced the appointment of our new Academy Patron – Mrs Beckie Rout was the first of our own members to be elected President and has been a member of the Academy for 59 years. Mrs Rout spoke of the honour of accepting this appointment and we know how hard she has and will continue to work for the Academy.

Once the Annual General Meeting ended a Discussion Forum was held and covered topics including Building the Academy, The Crest, Pathways, The Building Fund and the Training Course on Technique. At last years Forum in Auckland members worked in their regions to think of ideas on how we can grow the Academy numbers and they were asked to submit business plans to the Academy Executive to see if they could qualify for a grant of up to $1,000.00. The year the Ghillie Callum Club from Dunedin received the grant – they submitted a plan showing the relaunch of their Chance to Dance programme which had lapsed years ago. They detailed how they had gone about setting this up and from that they entered 16 candidates into the 2010 September examinations in Getting Started in Dance Levels 1 and 2 and the Preparatory examination. Mrs Jacqui Seque accepted the award on behalf of the Ghillie Callum Club from Executive member Miss Glenys Gray.

Thank you to the North Otago members for a wonderful weekend with superb organisation and great attention to detail.
The New Zealand Academy of Highland and National Dancing Inc., PO Box 5470, Palmerston North
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