National Dance Company to headline Te Anau Tartan Festival

An elite dance company of New Zealand’s champion Highland Dancers, renowned for performing innovative choreography worldwide, will perform an exclusive show at the 8th Te Anau Tartan Festival this Easter. The Highland Dance Company of New Zealand is usually in demand performing its energetic and contemporary acts at festivals, tattoos and shows around the world, but opportunities have been stalled by the Coronavirus pandemic.

With assistance from the Regional Events Fund, which was created to stimulate domestic tourism and travel between regions through holding events, the Te Anau Tartan Festival’s invitation to the dance company to headline this year’s event was met with overwhelming enthusiasm. The company will perform a revised version of its Heart of the Highlands show, which included Invercargill in its 2018 tour, specially adapted to suit the Te Anau town hall stage at the Fiordland Events Centre. As part of their goal to inspire and encourage other young dancers, the company is giving those competing at the festival the exciting opportunity to apply to be part of the cast.

How exciting and innovative Highland Dancing can be

Auckland-based Highland Dancer Imogen Grayson, currently ranked number 2 in the country, will join the cast performing the acclaimed show at the Te Anau Tartan Festival this Easter. Photo: Chris Watson/Profocus Photography.

Numbers are limited and priority will be given to Southland-based dancers. Te Anau Tartan Festival convener Kirsty Pickett, who is also a Highland Dancing teacher, said the festival committee was extremely excited to be hosting the dance company, and she hoped as many people as possible would take the opportunity to come and witness the spectacle, “I can’t emphasise enough just what a unique opportunity this is. While we see them in competition around the country, these dancers usually only come together as a troupe for international performances. Shows around New Zealand are rare. Although it’s grounded in our traditional technique, the choreography and costuming is contemporary and dynamic and will appeal to a wide range of people. I think people will be genuinely surprised at just how exciting and innovative Highland Dancing can be. What these dancers are doing for Highland Dancing is akin to what Riverdance did for Irish dancing.”

Past and present champions and nationally-ranked dancers make up the cast, including the reigning New Zealand Champion, Angus Hendry. Full programme details will soon be unveiled, but the Dance Company will perform two shows over the course of the Tartan festival, the first to open the festival on Friday, 15th April. Tickets will be available on the festival website: Alongside highland dancing and solo bagpiping competitions, other events planned are the ever-popular have-a-go highland games on Saturday, 16th April, that the whole family can take part in, along with food stalls and a market. And, for the first time, piping and Highland Dancing workshops will be offered on Sunday, 17th April, to encourage competitors and their families to stay in the region longer, and learn from some of the country’s leading tutors.

For details on the Te Anau Tartan Festival see:

Main photo: Reigning New Zealand Highland Dance champion Angus Hendry, of Palmerston North, will join the New Zealand Highland Dance Company at the Te Anau Tartan Festival this Easter. Photo: Chris Watson/Profocus Photography.

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