Meghan Pike has been a dancer all her life, starting at the tender age of three.
“Originally, I wanted to learn to play the bagpipes,” she recalls by email from her home in Surrey, British Columbia. “However, my parents weren’t so keen on listening to a three-year-old drown the house in screeching, off-tune renditions on the pipes. So, sticking with the Scottish genre, they started me in Highland dancing.”
As a youngster, Pike tried jazz, ballet, modern and hip-hop, eventually returning to Highland dance exclusively. Now 24, she is a full member of the Scottish Dance Teachers Alliance (SDTA), ScotDance Canada and ScotDance British Columbia. She also teaches for multiple dance schools in the greater Vancouver area.
“I continue to dance today because my love and passion for Highland continues to grow each year.”
“I dance for my own enjoyment, but I also dance for my students. I want to lead by example – showing the dedication, the sportsmanship it takes, and assuring my students that even though I am their teacher, I do know what it feels like to put in hours of practice, get up on stage, and be in competition. I do waver about retiring my dance career, yet each year I find myself back to it, entered in more competitions.”
Pike vies in the premier class at competitions, travelling throughout the Pacific Northwest and overseas. Some of her competitive dancing highlights include winning Best Canadian Dancer 2011 at the Bellingham Highland Games, and 5th Runner up for the Western Canadian and BC Open and Closed Championships in 2015 and 2016. In addition to her solo ventures, Pike is a member of the International Highland Performance group known as Shot of Scotch. In October of last year, the group took Paris by storm at the International Body Music Festival (IBMF).
“The IBMF is an unusual music festival because it focuses on sounds that are made only through the actions of the body – no external music,” she explains. “We taught workshops and performed an original choreography focusing on the sounds that Highland dancing makes.”
Nothing is more rewarding, she notes, than the relationships she has with each of her students. Her biggest influences include her mother – who has never missed a competition or performance – as well as her teacher and mentor, Lorraine Graf.
“I hope to be as big of an influence to my dancers as my mom and Miss Lorraine are to me.
“Miss Lorraine had her own extremely successful studio in Surrey for over 55 years. She has guided and mentored me to reach goals and a level of dancing I wouldn’t have thought possible, returning to Highland so late as a teen. She helped me place high in championships, dancing at Canadian and World championships, then helped me to discover that teaching and owning a studio is what I wanted to do.”
Pike realized a typical 9-5 career wouldn’t be her cup of tea. While she dreamed of having her own studio, she thought it was a far-fetched goal.
“That’s when I learned how creative and entrepreneurial I could be.
“I want to have a successful studio for the rest of my teaching career, and to pass my passion for dance on to future generations.”
That desire to make a difference continues to push her forward. These days, she runs Thistlebrook Academy of Highland Dance and teaches children, as well as younger and older adults. Her classes, she says, are like families.
“I put all my effort ensuring each dancer reaches their fullest potential and personal bests, and instilling important qualities such as drive, determination, goal setting, loyalty, respect, sportsmanship, and the value of hard work. My studio motto is: ‘Building confidence and community through dance.’”
Over the coming while, Pike hopes to improve her business and latch on to more performance opportunities for the studio, expanding and welcoming a larger influx of dancers. She plans on having a few students compete in championships, and there is the possibility of taking them to California for the Disneyland Highland dance performance and competition as well.
“I always want to keep sharing and learning, and growing as a dancer and a teacher, not only to better myself – but also my students.”