The New Zealand Academy of Highland and National Dancing

Dance Company

Dance Company


The Highland Dance Company of New Zealand evolved in late 2010, from discussions with members of The Academy of Highland & National Dancing’s Executive and Technical Committees. We wanted to create opportunities for our senior dancers throughout New Zealand, in a non–competitive environment, with innovative and inspiring choreography, for the purpose of promoting Highland Dancing both in New Zealand and overseas.

The initial auditions for positions within the company created considerable interest throughout New Zealand. Live auditions were held for the company in January 2011, in Auckland and Christchurch for Highland Dancers aged 14 years and over. DVD auditions were also available.

The Company dancers, both male and female, have been challenged by expanding their movement repertoire, and working collaboratively at workshops in a team environment with the Dance Company Directors/Choreographers (Julie Hawke, Christchurch and Robyn Simmons, Blenheim).

Highland Dancing is an individual competitive art form, and the dance company challenges and works outside these parameters.

Regional Dance Groups have also been formed under the umbrella of the national company, with a Regional Co-ordinator being appointed for each region. This has generated exciting opportunities for both students and teachers. The regional members have been able to perform with members of the dance company and also worked with the dance company directors. This has resulted in increased exposure and enabled dancers to work with others outside their normal studio.

The effect of the dance company has had a positive effect for not only those directly involved, it has also created a pathway for our younger members to aspire to, and for our older members to enjoy the results.

While traditions and techniques of the academy are maintained, the dance company allows the development of a contemporary presentation of our art form to appeal to a a broader audience outside the competitive platform.

In the first year, 2011, the dance company’s inaugural performance was in Palmerston North, at our National Conference. What was achieved in the first year was inspiring. The Regional Groups were also given opportunities and many performed at the Rugby World cup Events. This gave highland dancing a whole new opportunity for exposure of our art.

Key achievements in 2012 were two overseas trips by special invitation. April 2012, following an invitation to perform in the USA at the Virginia International Tattoo. The tattoo was a breath-taking extravaganza of military pageantry, ceremony and soul stirring music, presented in the tradition of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. This was an amazing experience for the 18 dance company members. It is the largest tattoo in the United States, with nearly 900 artists from around the world performing to approximately 30,000 patrons, including 12,000 children, during the three public performances and two school performances.

The second international tour by the company was to China in September 2012, where they were invited guests at The Shanghai Tourism Festival. It was a once in a lifetime experience for the 22 company members, to present our culture with specially choreographed dances onto the world stage, while at the same time discovering the fascination of the Chinese history and culture.

Key achievements have been experienced by not only the dancers, who challenged themselves to extend their movement repertoire and technical skills, it also enabled the Dance Company Directors to expand their choreographic content to a more advanced level.

The members of the group provided a daily blog of their trips and posted daily photos on our website to keep all our members, family and friends who had supported them. They also created a video of each trip which identified the positive team environment.

The evaluation of the first two years indicated that we as an organisation, needed to create more awareness of the dance company activities on a national level, and a proposed concert tour in August, commencing in Blenheim for one show on Thursday 29 August, and Christchurch on Saturday 31 august for two shows.

The theme of these shows will be a development of one of their choreographed items “The thistle and the Fern”. It will portray through dance, the story of the Celts immigrating to New Zealand and will reflect the preservation and development of the Celtic culture in New Zealand. The production will be linked with a narrative and audio-visuals and feature guest performances by a Celtic singer and a bagpiper.

To view performances, follow these links:
2015 – Journey of the Celts Trailer -
2015 – HARDSHIP -

The dance company’s aim is to build their reputation both nationally and internationally.

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