The New Zealand Academy of Highland and National Dancing

Conference Report 2019

This year saw New Zealand Academy members travel to the City of Sails, Auckland, for the 69th Annual Conference. The enthusiastic members of the Auckland National Dancing Teachers & Judges Association hosted members over the weekend of the 20th-22nd September. The conference was held at the Waipuna Hotel and Conference Centre which provided a welcoming, premier venue for all aspects of this successful conference.
The 2019 Solo Seal candidates presenting polished performances were: Aine Blackman,
Imogen Grayson, Angus Hendry, Hannah Roche, Rina McDonald, Elyssa McDonnell and
Harriet Lintern. 
Solo seal candidates were fortunate once again to have their performances enhanced by Neil Baxter’s emphatic musical accompaniment. Mrs Fiona Cording eloquently compered the evening. Entertainment during performances were by The Highland Dance Company of New Zealand, who showcased their 2019 PCANZ item.
Saturday morning saw 44 members attend the Youth Forum, which was a hive of activity with Chantelle Shatford at the helm. Topics discussed were; NZ Champs videos, livestreaming of dancing events, international opportunities for dancers overseas, overcoming barriers to establishing dance school, youth census on skills and personal connections, facilitating youth involvement on committees and competition days and safe running times. The common theme that was reiterated to youth members was to “get involved and volunteer”.  It was heartening to see past youth members give their time, skill and expertise to help deliver topics to the Youth Forum.
The Annual General Meeting was officially opened on the Saturday morning by Honorary Life Member Mrs Kay Grout.  Mrs Beckie Rout, Life Member and Past President of the NZAHND also wished members a successful conference.
Both Mrs Jeanie Borsboom (South Island representative and Mrs Barbara Tait (North Island representative) were re-elected unopposed.
The members then voted unanimously that Life Membership of the Academy be awarded to, Executive member Mrs Barbara Tait.
Acknowledgement of the success of the 2019 NZ Champions was given to Angus Hendry, 18 years & over, Imogen Grayson under 18 years and Abby Smith under 16 years.
Summer schools are to be held again in Christchurch and Tauranga in January 2020.
After the official business of the AGM, members participated in forum discussions. The 2019 topics which members deliberated in groups were; overview on the progress on projects in the Academy’s five-year plan, judges’ reports, positives and negatives of theory, where to next once you have your diploma and feedback on the downloadable music.
Academy members were again treated to presentations of history of past Executive members; Mr Peter Ryan and Mrs Tui Downie. Both members had an association with Auckland, so it was fitting for them to be recognised at this conference. Executive member Mrs Jackie McBride presented details and photographs pertinent to their dancing careers.
The Dance Development course commenced with guest speaker Nutritionist Emily Hope from Blenheim. Emily instilled her passion about non-diet nutrition to members. Her special interest in Sports nutrition was reiterated with ways that Highland Dancers should eat when training and competing. Her presentation finished with a practical session on making bliss balls and a Chia pudding, which certainly had members thinking of different practical food options.
The afternoon judges’ workshop had groups assessing Irish performances. These practical workshops provided some healthy discussions amongst older and younger judges. Attendees appreciated the time and effort local dancers put into demonstrating for this. The seniors learn a dance workshop was again popular and member Glenys Gray from Auckland took this session.
Another beautiful Auckland evening emerged, and it was time for the Diploma Presentations/Bar Recipients/Solo Seal Medals and evening function. Significant awards went to Marion Loveday and Robyn Heaton – 60 year bar, Mrs Enid Weir on her 65th year Bar and to Zenda Smith on her 70th year Bar. Zenda spoke eloquently upon receiving her Bar and made a very generous donation to The Highland Dance Company of New Zealand fund. Special mention must be made of Executive member Mrs Barbara Tait, who received a Life Membership of the Academy. A very worthy recipient Mrs Tait was humbled and privileged to have received this honour. The beautifully decorated cake was befittingly cut by Mrs Marion Loveday (who received a 60th year Bar) and Mrs Zenda Smith of Auckland .
A pleasant evening was had by all who attended, and many danced to the tunes of Academy member Brodie Reid. The highlight of the evening was the inaugural showcasing of the Seniors Workshop troupes under the direction of Miss Glenys Gray. Some very polished, well-practiced, seriously performed routines delighted the audience! We may have more entries in the PACANZ troupe event next time!

The New Zealand Academy of Highland and National Dancing Inc., PO Box 5470, Palmerston North
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