A 17-year-old from British Columbia won the World Highland Dance Championships in Scotland, the birthplace of the dance form.
Annalize Lamm, of Brigadon Dance Academy in Nanaimo, BC, took first place in the junior championships at the Koala Highland Pool in Dunoon last Saturday.
The teenager has been practicing highland dance for more than a decade, qualifying for the event in Scotland after winning the Canadian Championships in Regina in July.
Lahm beat Australian Morvin Johnston and Nova Scotian Olivia Burke for the junior title, which is reserved for teenagers under the age of 18.
“I just got past the moon, and I’m excited,” CBC host Robin Burns told CBC. All points are west.
“My friends won’t let me forget her,” she said with a laugh. “I am very proud of myself. They are too.”
Dozens of people showed up at Nanaimo airport to welcome Lam home, and one of her friends even brought a bagpipe to give a little Scottish air to her arrival.
“It was so much fun,” Lamm said.
“You have to show these judges what you can do.”
Highland dance is a form of competitive dance developed in Scotland in the 19th century, practiced by men as a ritual on the battlefield and also as a form of social storytelling.
Today, women win almost all major tournaments around the world. At Dunon, dancers had to compete in four specific categories of bagpipe and percussion: toss, sword, ancient tribe and reel.
Lamm coach Dina Henry attended the tournament with another dancer from the academy, Kelty Willis – who earlier on the same trip had won medals at the Commonwealth Competition in Stirling.
Before the trip to Scotland, Lam finished 2nd place in British Columbia before winning the competition, which Henry says was the first for a Vancouver Island-born dancer since 1988.
After her stepdaughter passed playoffs at Dunoon last weekend, Henry said there weren’t many opportunities to train due to the quick turnaround between events.
She said, “We talked… Our goal has always been to not beat anyone. Our goal has always been to dance to the best of our ability.”
“Our discussion was, for the World Final, you can’t hold back. You need to show these judges what you can do.”
Lamm said she felt “really good” about her performance before the judges handed down their ruling.
“I was crying just hugging her,” Henry said, describing her feelings after Lamm won first place. “She went her way, you know? It was very exciting.”
Henry said she couldn’t sleep that night because she kept reminiscing about the last event of the gathering – a festive event in the Highlands in which Lamm danced with the other heroes.
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Lam says she was drawn to the dance because of the strength, power, and technique required to perform it properly. She also has a Scottish heritage on her mother’s side in the family.
She trains at Henry Academy twice a week, and at home in the meantime.
Henry likened Lamm’s position in class to “a Border Collie who wants to go to work.”
“She just wants the ball, like, give it to me,” Henry told CBC News. “It’s a pleasure working with her because she’s too hungry to get better.”
The hero has now set her sights on performing at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo – a series of parades in the Scottish capital including bands, rehearsals and parade bands – which take place each August.
“[It] “It’s going to be a new experience with performance rather than competition,” Lamm said. “I have to take the test, but it would be great if I could get in.”
5:27Highland dancer from Nanaimo tops world championships in Scotland