'Such passion': Calgary-based highland dance champ hits nationals ahead of worlds
'We just love what we do and the joy comes out in it,' says Rebecca Thow
A Calgary-based world champion says community and life lessons are just some of the benefits of being a part of the small but tight-knit highland dance world, as she heads into the national championships this weekend.
"I think the highland community itself, no matter where you go in the world, we do something that we all have such passion for. We just love what we do and the joy comes out in it," Rebecca Thow told The Homestretch.
"It's pretty amazing the things I have learned in highland, but also the friends and the community.
"I moved to Canada and I didn't know anybody and I came into the highland community and I felt like I knew everyone. No matter where in the world you go, you can find a highland dance community somewhere. You have that automatic connection, and it's a lot of fun, too."
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Thow took the award for best overseas adult dancer in the August 2017 Cowal Highland Gathering Highland Dancing global competition.
She said the ScotDance Canada Championship Series in Calgary this weekend also has international reach, attracting several hundred competitors from all over the world.
"We have dancers coming from Australia, Scotland, the U.S., South Africa, all over," Thow said.
Thow, 25, has been dancing since she was two. She moved from Aberdeen, Scotland, six years ago to teach skiing at Lake Louise.
After two seasons, she fell in love with the physical literacy program at Mount Royal University.
Watch Rebecca Thow perform the highland fling:
She said there are subtle differences between highland and the perhaps more visible Irish dancing.
"A lot of people know what Irish dancing is because of how much it's on TV," she said. "It's like Irish dancing but instead of our legs going forward, they go to the sides.
"Our costumes are completely different. We wear a traditional kilt with a jacket and tartan socks to go with our shoes."
Listen to Rebecca Thow on going into competition:
After this weekend, Thow has her sights set on defending her title in August's international championships in Dunoon, Scotland.
"I practice around five days a week. Coming into 2017, I figured out the importance of rest and recovering my body and muscles properly. Then I was able to go into dance class, train to the best of my ability and not be fatigued in any way," Thow said.
"It's a different pressure. I just go out there and have a good time, and that works for me."
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With files from Ellis Choe and The Homestretch.