Highland Highlights

By Loraine Ritchey


NOTE: SEPT. 2001 :For the first time in my eight years of writing about Highland Dancing, I have decided to put on the articles page an article before it goes into "hard print"! This decision was not taken lightly. However, due to the" topical timing", length of the article and the fact that real print will take at least 6 weeks prior to publication I have decided to use the electronic medium.


I would ask readers to please read the following Biography on Victor Wesley before reading the rest of the article and to also bear in mind that the conclusion and opinions are Mr. Wesley's personal opinions and experiences. I would also remind readers that Mr. Wesley is generally referring to dancers that have reached "open " or "premier" status in the older age groups.You will find a link at the bottom of each page taking you to the next "chapter"



"I was there….. " Part One/ A background




Victor Wesley, born in Glasgow, Scotland of Scottish/Polish parents, began to study dance at the age of eight. As a competitive dancer, he became one of the world's foremost Scottish Highland dancers and is regarded as one of the greats of all time. Deemed a 'Living Legend', he has won every major title and award for this art form. In 1968, 1969 and 1972, he was proclaimed Adult World Champion Highland Dancer at the famous Cowal Highland Gathering in Dunoon, Scotland, under three variations of competitive scrutiny when the competitions were truly open for all dancers worldwide to compete. His last title was recognized under the SOBHD adjudication, and as such, he is the only person in the world to claim this historic credit.


At an early age, Mr. Wesley was a featured dancer on BBC television, and went on to dance in both television and stage variety programs throughout the United Kingdom and Europe. He was a featured dancer in Scotland's premier TV program, The White Heather Club. He has danced on several command programs for Britain's Royal family and for other European heads of State. In 1969, he was invited to appear on a coast to coast tour of Canada and the United States in 'Clan Gael', a Celtic Art program in which he was a featured dancer and choreographer. It was during this tour that he was seen and invited to study and train in classical ballet in America. In 1970, he was awarded a full scholarship to study Classical Russian Ballet in the Vagonova training method at The Academy of the Dance in Wilmington, Delaware under Mme Helene Antonova, Mr. James McGregor Jamieson and Mme Sonja Wojcikowska.


In 1972, Mr. Wesley returned to his native Scotland and joined the Scottish Ballet Company under the direction of Peter Darrell, where he danced many soloist and principal roles, touring throughout the UK and appearing in Australia and New Zealand as partner to Prima Ballerina Assoluta Dame Margot Fonteyn of the Royal Ballet Shortly after this tour, he was invited to dance as guest artist with many of the world's renowned companies, and as partner to their ballerinas, where he appeared and danced in Sleeping Beauty, Tales of Hoffman, The Merry Widow, Le Corsaire Pas-de-Deux, Spectre-de-La-Rose, Nutcracker Grand Pas-de-Deux, James in La-Sylphide, and Romeo and Juliet. These appearances took him to Milan, Italy, Greece, South Africa, Asia, USSR, Europe, the United Kingdom, and the United States


Mr. Wesley then returned to the United States and became a US citizen. He was hired to dance as principal artist of the Pacific Northwest Ballet under Janet Reed, Director and former ballerina and ballet mistress of New York City Ballet. Soon thereafter, E. Virginia Williams, Director of The Boston Ballet, took an interest in him and invited him to join her company where he was given opportunities to dance soloist and principal roles in the classical, contemporary, and character idiom, from Blue Bird to Champion Roper in Rodeo


He was then invited to dance as principal of the Agnes DeMille Heritage Dance Theater as did his teacher and mentor, Jamie Jamieson. He went on to assist her in restaging some of her works forAmerican Ballet Theatre, Boston Ballet and the Joffrey Ballet in New York, all in her name. Mr. Wesley was invited by Robert Joffrey to dance with his company, the Joffrey Ballet, as a principal guest artist at the New York City Center in conjunction with the Agnes De Milles Conversations of the Dance' where he was noted by Dick Cavet for stopping the show. As an artist he has been schooled and honed in the essence of musical theater passed on through the great master herself, Ms Agnes De Mille


While in New York, he was seen by Kaleria Fedicheva, Russia's famous Kirov Ballet Ballerina, and again was invited to appear with her and dance as guest artist. He danced Don Quixote Pas-de-Deux, La Bayadere Grand Pas, The Miraculous Manderin, and Russian Divertissments. He was featured in the roles of the premier danseur, while still being able to have great versatility in character roles


Since retiring from performing, Mr. Wesley has been guest teaching and choreographing throughout the world, as well as adjudicating at Scottish Highland Games. As a dancer, he has been presented with commendations and special citations for his career as well as his humanitarian services by foreign dignitaries, Governors, State Senators, City Mayors, Councils, civic organizations and leading dance organizations. In Glasgow, Scotland, his birth place, he was proclaimed as being a Lord of the Dance during the European Cultural Capitol City celebrations


Mr. Welsey holds a diploma Honorate for design and is a world authority examiner and adjudicaton of Scottish Highland Dancing. He holds a degree in many organizations of dance: the HDA, the oldest professional Highland Dancing Alliance in Scotland, now known as The Scottish Official Highland Dancing Association, a former teacher in the Highland Dancing Specialists Association, an Examiner of the United Kingdom Alliance of Professional Teachers of Dancing, having taught, coached and produced world class champion dancers, including former students who were Cowal World and Scottish Champions. He remains an Independent Adjudicator at the World renowned Royal Braemar Highland Gathering, where dancers are free of restriction and political restraint to compete openly in this world competition. He is acknowledged as one of the Greats of this past century in books on Highland Dancing 'Scottish Highland Games.' Mr. Wesley now directs the Academy of the Dance in Delaware and has held the position of Artistic Director of the Wilmington Ballet Company for the past 21 years. His students are now dancing in the worlds leading Ballet and Musical Theater companies. His motto for success is - he never asks for himself, he teaches his students to believe in themselves, be true to their goals, and above all WORK


Victor Wesley: Part Two



As always for Questions and Comments, I can be reached at

Loraine Ritchey, 1127.W. 4th Street, Lorain, Ohio, 44052.

lritch7@yahoo.com

ritch@adelphia.net

          

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