We caught up with Kendra from acclaimed Highland Dance group Shot of Scotch to learn more about their love of this Scottish tradition and their involvement in the Tartan Day Parade. We can't wait to meet the group and get a few top tips before the Caledonian Club Ceilidh on Friday night.
• How did you first get involved in Highland Dancing?
After watching my older sister have an early and very successful start to her Highland Dance career, I told my parents I wanted to start too at age 7. Luckily we were living in NC at the time where Scottish culture is easy to come by and a large highland dance community was already established.
• What inspired you to co-found Shot of Scotch New York City?
I moved to NYC in 2010 and had taken almost 10 years off of dance. Eager to get back in shape and back into dance, I connected with fellow adult premier (highest competitive level) dancers who were interested in us all starting a performance group. The group is ever changing. New York is never a stagnant place, causing dancers to move, take breaks due to family/school/job. At present day - we have 12 members!
• What is your involvement in the Tartan Day Parade?
Since 2012, Shot of Scotch NYC, has participated in the NYC Tartan Day Parade. I have been a part of the fun- all but that first year (which included proudly dancing up 6th Ave during 2 pregnancies). The whole Tartan Week is a highlight for our group! We all have the 1st week in April blocked out for years to come.
• I hear you have expanded to Vancouver too?
Shot of Scotch Vancouver was formed when 2 of the founding members moved there and decided to continue the fun, starting up a group there. Since then we haven’t collaborated or performed together but continue to support each other from afar and are happy for each groups individual success.
• Are there any other large events that you perform at regularly?
I have been lucky enough to be regularly invited to the Mohonk Mountain House: Scottish Weekend- such a treat! Shot of Scotch NYC has made regular appearances at the NYC Dance Parade, Mermaid Parade in Coney Island, Long Island Scottish Festival, West Point Military Tattoo, and of course the Offical Pre-Tartan Day Parade Ceilidh. Via application process we feel fortunate to have been accepted into the 8-in-Show through Dixon Theater where we had worked on new choreography pieces each year.
• Do you have a favourite dance to perform together?
Scottish Highland Dance tends to be an individual dance- so any time we get to “interact” with each other it’s always fun. Either doing turns together in a Half Tulloch or collaborating in a choreography- we tend to really bring our personality out during these times.
• Do you perform in a certain tartan or do you all choose your own tartan to wear?
We each have our performance or competition kilts that were picked by the individual dancer, but about 5 years ago, kilt maker, Bonnie Greene made our group mini kilts in the official NYC Tartan which we use to perform and wear to events.
• What’s involved in getting ready for a large performance such as tartan week?
Luckily many of our dances are from a traditional set, which is why we are only for highland dancers who have obtained the “Premier” level of dance. But now that our group is growing- it has been fun to add in new choreography which we take most of the year to master. We hold weekly rehearsals to prepare us for the performances we have throughout the year, and especially for Tartan Week.
• How can people get involved with the group & Highland Dancing in general?
Any and everyone is invited to give it a try. We currently have 4 certified teachers and classes are offered throughout the week. On the occasion, I will hear from a former Premier dancer who wants to start up again, and those are welcome to try a Shot of Scotch NYC rehearsal. We are always eager to spread our passion for this athletic and cultural art form through workshops, lessons, performances, or things like this! Our website is a great starting point (www.shotofscotch.com) or following us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram!
Thank you so much to Kendra and Shot of Scotch for sharing their story and we can't wait to see you in action during Tartan Week. If you are also performing during Tartan Week in New York or anywhere else in the world please get in touch as we would love to hear from you.