Skye dancers are disappointed after being unable to compete at their local games, say local Highland dance group, Dannsairean an Eilein Sgitheanaich.
The group, which consists of 75 dancers, stated that the Skye Games Committee run an Open Only competition, meaning that dancers working through the rankings are unable to take part. They claim this results in over 40 Skye-based dancers, as well as dancers from off the island, are excluded from the Games.
A petition has been started to allow Beginner, Novice and Intermediate dancers to compete at the Games.
The petition stated: "Of course, we understand that the Skye Games do attract world-class Highland dancers, and indeed Champions, and while this is wonderful, no dancer ever became a champion without first going through the ranks! It is so disheartening that some members of the committee appear to have no interest in developing talent, disregarding the young up-and-coming dancers so eager to tread the boards in the most iconic of locations.
We annually visit the games in both South and North Uist and are welcomed with open arms to their Official Board Registered Competitions. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we were able to offer the same hospitality in return?
"This is not, however, just a local issue. There are dancers the world over who would dearly love to compete in Skye, in fact, one school travelled all the way from Canada to enter, only to be bitterly disappointed when not one of their pre-premier dancers was able to take part."
In the petition, Dannsairean an Eilein Sgitheanaich shared the story of Canadian dancers who were disappointed after being unable to dance. Lee Vossler from Diamond V Highland Dance said: “I had the great pleasure of bringing my dance school to Scotland during the summer of 2016. Being Canadian, we were all very excited, and ,of course, used the experience to also see the beautiful country and sites.
"We decided that Skye would be one stop during our trip, and that we would dance at the Highland games. We were blown away by the number of competitors and tourists the community could bring in with their games. It was truly spectacular and so great for the village of Portree.
"It was with much disappointment that we realized this was an unsanctioned event, therefore the pre-premier dancers were unable to dance; a real disappointment for the little ones who just wanted to dance, and didn't really understand that the "rules" say they can't. We did have a wonderful time at the games, and it would have certainly been nice for everyone to dance, as this was the main purpose of our trip.
"I hope to bring my dancers back in a couple of years and would love for this to be another destination point for us as it was so beautiful, and very welcoming.”
Dannsairean an Eilein Sgitheanaich conclude by stating: "We would like to ask the people of Skye whom we are proud to represent, as well as Beginner, Novice, and Intermediate dancers from all over the world, their teachers and families, to support us in our request to the Isle of Skye Games Committee: Please hold a Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing Registered Competition."
As of the time of writing, the petition has received over 1,600 signatures. It can be viewed here.