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Local students compete at several Highland Dance competitions

Highland dancers

Two Red Deer Public students went on the adventure of a lifetime across the pond this past summer as they competed in a number of Highland Dance competitions.

Tyler Martinez, 15, a Grade 10 student at Hunting Hills High School, and Kenzie Martinez, 13, a Grade 8 student at Eastview Middle School traveled to Scotland in August with their family. Both girls have been highland dancing for the last four years, and have done exceptionally well.

“They started dancing when they were three with jazz, tap and musical theater,” said Kelly Martinez, Tyler and Kenzie’s mom and a Teacher with Red Deer Public Schools. “The girls take lessons in Red Deer and they also do Zoom lessons with the current Highland Dance Canadian Adult Champion.”

Although both Tyler and Kenzie have enjoyed dance for many years, they have become particularly fond of highland dance.

“I like the competitiveness of highland dance and being an individual sport, how well you do is based on your efforts and how hard you’ve worked,” said Tyler.

For Kenzie, she said she enjoys the travel the most because competitions take place all over the world. “We get to compete in so many places and meet new people,” she said.

Kelly, who was a former highland dancer herself, said the travel is something she enjoyed when she was competing, adding the girls have competed in Halifax, Winnipeg, British Columbia and now Scotland. “When you are at a competition there are competitors from all over the world and it’s so neat to see the kids talking and exchanging stories,” she said.

As for their adventure in Scotland, the Martinez family left on Aug. 12 and competed at the Stirling Highland Games, the Commonwealth Championship and Cowal World Championship Qualifiers  held in Dunoon, Argyll. At  the competitions they danced a Highland Fling, Sword, Seann Triubhas, Reel, Jig,  Barracks Johnny and Laddie.

Tyler received a judge’s placing at both the Commonwealth Championship and the Cowal Gathering. This means she was given a  score by a judge as being top six in her class in the world. Both girls also took home prize money for their performances at the Stirling Highland Games.

Reflecting on their experience, it was a trip to remember. “The weather of course was so different, and the dancing outside was different than we’re used to,” said Tyler, adding a highlight for her was the Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

For Kenzie, a highlight was competing at the Cowal Gathering. “I like that we could travel to Scotland and we could be at a big competition like that,” she said.

Kelly competed in Scotland in 1992, so the experience of taking her daughters was extra special. “It was amazing because it was such a different experience as a parent than as a dancer,” she said. “I’m very proud of the girls because they are very driven, and they train four or five times a week. They really love it and it makes me happy to see my kids doing something that I loved growing up, too. We really enjoyed being immersed in the culture in Scotland, there’s bagpipers everywhere you go. It was a really great experience.”

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