The New Zealand Academy of Highland and National Dancing

Conference Report 2014


This year, our New Zealand Academy members travelled to Invercargill for our 64th Annual Conference held over the weekend 19th - 21st September 2014.

The Solo Seal Examination was held in the Centrestage Theatre and the audience was treated to dancing from four Solo Seal candidates. The Solo Seal being the Academy’s only examination that the public can attend and is the supreme award of our examination system. The candidates were Serena Sangster, Sarah Gluyas, Leighton Terry and Emma Cropper. Each candidate was accompanied by local piper Mr Jordan Caig. This was the first time Mr Caig has played for this prestigious event. Not only did he display excellent piping, Jordan is a former highland dancer himself. A stirling effort presented in a professional manner, with excellent quality of music being played for the candidates.

Mrs Kirsty Pickett was Compere for the evening and entertainment was provided by The Highland Dance Company of New Zealand who performed two excellent items “Blood on the Loch” and “Amazing Grace”. Thank you to the Director, Assistant Director and to all Dance Company members for being so willing to perform for us.

A social time was had by many of the members back at the Hotel, during which time the Youth entertained us with a fashion parade of Costumes made out of the empty pizza boxes from their Youth event following Solo Seal.

The Youth members met bright and early on Saturday morning at a session facilitated by the Youth Representative Miss Emma Cropper. Even though the overall numbers attending the conference were lower than in past years, there was a good number of youth attended. The Youth used this time to discuss matters they feel are relevant. A summary of the discussion was presented to all members during the Annual General Meeting.

The Annual General meeting took place at Ascot Park Hotel where Invercargill’s Mayor Mr Tim Shadbolt officially opened our conference. The formal requirements of the Annual General meeting were covered including the tabling of reports on various activities. A report from the Kiltie Club editor Nicole Harding was read, advising Conor Hendry has stepped down for the ensuing year. Our members wish to thank Conor for her effort and support given to Nicole in the role of editor.

Following the Annual General Meeting a discussion forum was held – this year the topics that were covered were:
• Degrees of Pass
• Examination Certificates
• Student membership
• Wearing of the Balmoral in public performances
• Irish Jig Shoes
• Report from Management Committee on Dance Company

After lunch members got into groups for the popular Quiz session.
The Dance Development Course commenced with the Music Box Dancer (presented by Jackie Jones and Julie Hawke). This session demonstrated how musical play can be experienced through dance and movement. Many member participated in this session with great enthusiasm.
The afternoon finished with members attending either the Judging Workshop (presented by Jackie Jones and Susan Edwards) or Capturing the Past (presented by Annetta Cowie).
Capturing the Past was an interactive session to capture members knowledge to enable us to record our history, including “who taught you and who taught them” so that we can build on the framework of the initial data researched and provided to us by the late Emma Brown, Jeanie Paton and Orma Smith.

The Saturday evening function was held at the same Venue, Ascot Park Hotel. It was great to have everything under the one roof with splendid Southland hospitality. The evening commenced with a happy hour leading into the photo session, followed by the address to the haggis.

Members of The Highland Dance Company of New Zealand and Dancers from the team who performed at the Virginia Tattoo were introduced to the members. This was a chance for some of the Academy members to put names to faces and to acknowledge the contribution these dancers are making to the Academy.

The Diploma and Service Bars and a Service to the Academy Award were then presented.
This years Diploma recipients were:
Diploma: Teacher:
Larissa McKechie Enid Weir
Kateleen McWhirter Susan Harris
Sarah Moore Julie Hawke
Honours in Theory:
Larissa Banks Jackie Jones
Tessa Hiam Kaye Turrell
Brittany Hoare Elizabeth Smith
Tannah McLay Kimberley Mavor
Hannah Potter Kimberley Mavor
Charlotte Scott Linfield Jackie Jones
Georgina Scott Linfield Jackie Jones
Ashleigh Simpson Jacqui Seque
Kendyll Taylor Kimberley Mavor
MacKenzie Taylor Kimberley Mavor
Morgan Tompsett Christina Peet
Honours in Performance & Theory:
Laura Findlay Lynette Mitchell
Ellarose Hammond Robyn Simmons
Bridget Karton Helene Karton
Serena Sangster Lynette Mitchell

Congratulations to all the above Diploma recipients and their teachers for this achievement.

This years Bar Recipients were:
20 year Bar:
Raylene McEwan Christchurch (not at conference)
Vicki Jamison Oamaru
30 year Bar:
Catherine Flynn Auckland (not at conference)
Phillipa Taylor Oamaru
Jacqueline Seque Dunedin

40 year Bar:
Roie Davenport Lower Hutt (not at conference)
Anne Marie Williams Christchurch (not at conference)
Avalon Moffatt Wellington
Christina Peet Tauranga
50 year Bar:
Jean MacNicol Arrowtown
60 Year Bar:
Enid Weir Dunedin
Our Academy President Mrs Annetta Cowie gave a presentation, followed by a wonderful insight of Mrs Weirs’ dancing life history by her daughter, Mrs Jackie McBride. Mrs Weir was thanked for her continued interest in our organisation.

Congratulations to all of the above members who received their service bars.

Service to the Academy Award:
June Wright from Auckland received an award in appreciation of ‘Loyal and valued service to the Academy’. This was awarded in recognition for her service at the Exam sessions in the two Auckland areas with piano playing and the nurturing of up and coming pianists.

During the course of the evening a mock election was held with each of the tables having a specific political party banner on it. A couple of new parties were formed during the evening and after the initial count the “Tartan Terrors” formed an alliance with the “Happy Party” but unfortunately because they had not registered there parties in time, National won. A wonderful evening was had by all with a beautiful meal and music from the Band called Southern Knights. The dance floor was full all night!

The Dance Development Course continued on Sunday morning with a warm up session – members broke up into groups, choreographed their own warm up then demonstrated their ideas to all members. It was great to see everyone participating.
This followed with practical informative workshops –prepared and presented by our Technical Committee members. The content was varied and something for everyone.
Workshops were:
Building up to Intricate Movements Workshop (presented by Sherilyn Hall and Adele Swanson) – movements covered in this workshop were Entrechat, Low Side Cutting, Winging, Parallel High Cutting and Senior Progressive Cutting.
Basics for Beginners (presented by Cushla Piesse and Susan Edwards) – this covered Initial, Preparatory and the Highland Fling.
Deportment and Poise (presented by Elizabeth Smith and Sue Gill) - This covered the application of Balance, Carriage and Bearing and core technical work from the Syllabus.
Irish Basics (presented by Pamela Fleming and Robyn Simmons) – this covered difficult movements from the Irish Syllabus, including Promenade, Ball and Heel and clearly showing the difference between a batter and a triple.

After Lunch we were priveledged to have four of the local dancers who performed at the Virginia Tattoo perform and teach us “Norfolk Ladies” with the support of Sherilyn Hall and Cushla Piesse.

The Dance Development course concluded with:
Geometry of Dance (presented by the Technical Committee) – This was a main group session and covered circles, squares, figures of eight and diagonal used in our dances.

Congratulations to Mrs Sherilyn Hall and her team - many hours of work goes into the preparation of these workshops and the attention to detail was evident and presented in a very professional manner.

Our guest speakers were Rachel Crampton, who comes from a background of a variety of dancing genres including highland, jazz and ballet along with Laupepa Karalus (Pep) who is a sports podiatrist. Pep has had the privilege to work with elite athletes including players from the Highlanders, Black Caps and the All Blacks. He shared his knowledge and expertise alongside Rachel with our members. Both spoke of the prevention of dance specific injuries. Rachel shared with us her development of a highland dance screening tool to assess and address risk factors for both teachers and dancers. Very informative and knowledgeable speakers.

A huge thank you to the Southland Teachers & Judges Committee for hosting such a friendly and relaxing weekend. The hospitality was amazing and the venue was so accessible for all new and old members to mix and rekindle friendships.

We look forward to our 2015 Annual Conference at the Brentwood in the Capital City, Wellington.
The New Zealand Academy of Highland and National Dancing Inc., PO Box 5470, Palmerston North
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