The RCMP “H” Division Highland Dance Troupe have earned their ‘Premiere Dancer’ designation after years of dedicated training and practice. Recently we spoke with Aileen Davis & Tina Gripton of the group about their involvement with this Saturday night’s Celtic Christmas Show in Halifax.
What are your own ethnic roots?
Aileen: I have a Scottish heritage from my father’s side about two generations back and Polish from my mother’s side.
Tina: Personally, I come from a Scottish background on one side of my family and distantly Irish roots on the other. I used to wear my own family tartan for my competitive kilt.
What inspired you to get involved with dance?
Aileen: I feel like I’ve been dancing my entire life. I started doing ballet when I was three years old and I moved on to highland dancing when I was six. My best friend and my cousin both did highland and taught me what they knew and I liked it so much that my mom enrolled me in classes as soon as she could.
Tina: I became involved with highland dance when I moved to the small town of Sackville NB. My grade school teacher was a highland teacher as well and got me into the Celtic world. I am so grateful she was my teacher for I would not have experienced the same kind of amazing opportunities through dance that I have gotten the chance to live since. I was a competitive dancer for around 10 years and although I miss it, I am thrilled to be in the performing world of highland dance
Are they the same reasons that you still do it today?
Aileen: I loved highland dance from the moment I started. I remember finding it more challenging than ballet and that made me like it even more. Dance has become such a big part of my life that I can’t imagine not doing it. While I still love highland for purely the dancing aspect, now it’s more the highland community that keeps me doing it today along with the opportunities to perform on international stages.
Tina: I still dance today not because I want the exercise, or the medals but rather for the love of highland dance and Celtic culture. Getting the pleasure to perform in front of others who love to watch it as much as I love to dance it makes it all worth it.
How did you get involved with the Christmas Celtic Concert?
There have been Christmas shows in the past that the RCMP dancers have been involved with so when Zeph (Caissie, organizer) was putting together the show we were certainly interested in being a part of it.
Why is it important for the community here?
The show is a great opportunity to showcase all of the talent we have here in the Celtic community. It’s also a chance to get more people interested in the Celtic roots we have here in Nova Scotia.
Will you be involved with the event again in the years ahead?
The dancers would be pleased to be asked to be a part of the show in future years. It is always a lot of fun to join with other groups and put on a spectacular show.
How else are you involved with the Celtic community here?
Some of our dancers perform with other highland groups in the city of Halifax and are still regularly taking lessons for the traditional and competitive dances. As well, we have dancers that play instruments within our own pipe band and other pipe bands around the city. Most of the dancers have danced in the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo for many years, Aileen has 13 under her belt and Tina has done 3. We also attend many other Celtic events in the city, we love to watch and support all the other Celtic acts Halifax has to offer. As the RCMP pipe band and dancers, we have travelled around the province performing at different local events adding a bit of Celtic flair to each event.
What’s on tap for you for the rest of 2013?
For the rest of 2013 we will be doing a couple of more shows, but mostly bringing our incredible year that included international trips and countless jigs, reels and flings, to an end. So it is time to take a break and celebrate the holiday season, the best way we know how, a good old Nova Scotia kitchen party!