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Family lives their Scottish heritage

January marks four years the Howard family of Denver has been living their Scottish heritage through dance.
Lisa Howard made the decision to have her three girls,
Bethany, then 10, Brittany, then 6; and Baileigh, then 4, to learn Scottish dances at the Burgin Academy of Scottish Dance in Charlotte.
“It’s part of my husband, Rob’s, heritage,” said Lisa. “His grandparents came over from Scotland.”
Howard told her three girls they had to learn Scottish dance for a year, then they could quit. That was in 2001 and according to their dance instructor, Anne Andrews, the trio has progressed nicely in learning the folk dances.
“The girls are all doing very well,” said Anne Andrews, owner of Burgin. “We have 14 students so it’s not a large studio. With the Loch Norman games and the Highland games, there’s a large Scottish population in the greater Charlotte area.”
The Howards’ youngest daughter had to take some time off from dancing after the trio started.
“Baileigh was in preschool when the girls started dancing,” said Lisa. “She took a brief sabbatical from June to October until she had matured.”
Baileigh, now eight, said her favorite Scottish dance is the Seann Truibhas, pronounced sheen trews, which in Gaelic means “old trousers.”
“Wearing kilts were banned in Scotland from 1745 to 1782,” said Lisa. “Baileigh’s favorite dance commemorates the lifting of the ban.”
The movements of the dance indicate a shedding or kicking off of the hated trousers. The sharp turns and leaps toward the end of the dance are expressions of the pride and freedom symbolized by this traditional highland dress.
For Brittany Howard, now 10, she witnessed Scottish dancing at the Highland Games one year and was hooked.
“I got home and started imitating what I saw,” she said. “Then I told my mom that this (Scottish dancing) is something I wanted to do.”
The favorite dance of the Howard’s oldest daughter, Bethany, is the Sailors Hornpipe, which is the national dance of England.
That dance depicts the chores of the British navy and many of the dancers performing the dance wear actual British navy sea caps.
“I like doing that dance,” said Bethany. “But what I really like about Scottish dancing is when I dance with others.”
According to Lisa Howard, her three girls are all award-winning dancers, winning first-place in many competitions.
Recently, the girls performed in Charlotte at the city’s Museum of History.
“They’ve also performed at Hopewell Presbyterian Church in Huntersville at their Celtic traditions service and at St. Peters Episcopal and Sugaw Creek Presbyterian in Charlotte,” said Lisa Howard.
The hardest dance for the girls to do is the Flora MacDonald’s Fancy.
“It’s a fold dance that is perhaps the most graceful and elegant of the Scottish dances,” said Bethany Howard.
The dance commemorates Flora MacDonald, who smuggled Bonnie Prince Charlie from the highlands of Scotland to the Isle of Skye in Hebrides in an open boat.
As the story goes, Charlie was disguised as MacDonald’s maid to avoid detection by the English.
Lisa Howard added that she’s surprised the girls have stuck with their dancing past the one year time-frame she gave them when they first started.
“The girls love doing the competitions more than the discipline of learning the dances,” she said.
by Jon Mayhew

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