Highland Highlights

By Loraine Ritchey

The following is a response to the Victor Wesley article featured below, which appears with permission from Bruce Campbell, Celtic World, Sept 2003

Alex responds:

UNPRINCIPLED!!Allow me to say from the outset that, Victor Wesley, to date, was the greatest male dancer that I have ever seen. As a fellow competitor I do not detract from this view. He was one of the all-time-greats.

Mr. Wesley presented me with a scroll in 1993 entitled "The Presidents Award" which, since then, I have been proud to displayed this in my home.The words written on the scroll are as follows: -To Alexander McGuire As President elect of the Scottish Official Highland Dancing Association that I join to honour the above named personality in full recognition of his outstanding professional services over the years in Teaching and Judging the art of Scottish Highland Dancing And In recognition of all his efforts to preserve and restore the integrity of Scottish Highland Dancing traditions free from all restrictions and encumbrances, for dancers of all nations and organisations to compete openly and without bias. And for his contribution to uphold civil rights with dignity against oppression within the Art of Scottish Highland and National Dancing.Presented August 1993 By Victor Wesley

You can therefore imagine how shocked, sickened and dismayed I was to hear that Mr. Wesley has decided to choose the path of attempting to become an SOBHD adjudicator. He, of all people, has been a vociferous, consistent and long time critic of the SOBHD. I therefore ask, "what has changed"? The above mentioned scroll will be returned to him in due course.

In the September 2003 article, he uses the word "betrayed". Does he realise that he has betrayed many people in this process, least of all me? He has betrayed the SOHDA as an organisation and betrayed other individuals who have helped, defended and nurtured him in recent times.

Many of Mr. Wesley's views were in concert with those of the SOHDA and others. Whenever he came to Scotland he was offered and accepted judging positions from the SOHDA.

When he was last here in Scotland, in August 2003, he accepted a lift from me in my car to attend Lonach Highland Gathering in Strathdon. He never uttered a word to me either travelling to or back from Lonach about his intentions. Why not I ask? Was he afraid to reveal his unprincipled actions?

He maintains that "one of my biggest ambitions is to judge Cowal HighlandGathering........" Can I tell you Mr. Wesley that, I and many other peoplewould dearly love to judge at Cowal but, all of us are a bit more principled than you appear to be? You have seemingly sacrificed your principles for thesake of "short-term gain".

When Cowal Highland Gathering adopted to organise their competition under the "RESTRICTIVE" rules of the SOBHD then, for meand others like me put themselves beyond the possibility of being invited to adjudicate at Cowal. That's the sacrifice we made - that's what you would call "standing by your principles". I couldn't in all conscience join anorganisation such as the SOBHD given their restrictive and discriminating rules and practices.

There are times in this life when one becomes our brother's keeper and it is, therefore, incumbent in such circumstances forall of us to do the right thing. In this case the right thing is to resist the temptation to "cross over"!!Mr. Wesley makes much play of his so-called "independent" status. To this I pose two propositions:(a) He was a member of the SOHDA for the year 2002/2003 and his name was also included on the SOHDA judges panel. He "claims" to have been a member in years gone by sitting his Full Teachers examination which, was used as justification for "renewing" his membership again.(/b) Yet, at the same time, Mr. Wesley says in the article "I am a lifetimemember of UKA". This is an obvious contradiction!!What has CHANGED though is the seeming fact that Mr. Wesley was "allowed" to be a member of UKA and SOHDA - when others were/are not.

What has CHANGED though is that in a matter of weeks, after making the following statement, Mr. Wesley is preparing for a February test date.In an article written by Loraine Ritchey for a recent edition of Celtic World - "The Good Bad and Ugly" the following was said viz: -"The Board has no ongoing dispute with Mr. Wesley".Mr. Wesley is fully aware that he would always be welcome to join the SOBHDthrough existing methods e.g. by joining a recognised examining body andjudges panel" (CW note - Wesley, apart from his three titles and Director ofthe Wilmington Ballet and Academy of the Dance, Delaware is a member ofSOHDA examining body and Independent adjudicator which are not recognised bythe SOBHD). "The SOBHD has not been made aware of any official complaints by Mr. Wesley during this past year".Contacting Mr. Wesley with this information - his response:"How many times do I have to say this? I DO NOT WISH TO JOIN the SOBHD; I have no wish to be an SOBHD adjudicator! My concern and complaints against the SOBHD as an organization is their restrictive policy, which negates me from having students who wish to learn Highland in my studio in the USA from competing and effectively causes loss of income. This perception that I wish to be an SOBHD adjudicator is a myth put out through Billy Forsyth in an article in the Daily Mail 1993".

Enough said!! I rest my case!!Alex McGuire Teacher, Adjudicator and Examiner of the SOHDA

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

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