Highland Highlights

By Loraine Ritchey

Laudable and Lamentable part two by Loraine Ritchey

Lamentable: to be lamented; grievous; deplorable; distressing; expressing sorrow. (The definition as per Webster). Two of the meanings are expressed in this month’s column.

The first...deplorable and distressing:
The situation that fits the meaning of these particular words comes from Australia. I was asked by a teacher of Highland to bring to the Highland dancing world and parents a situation, both dangerous and deplorable that caused great anger and anguish.

A dance studio found a viper in their bosom in the guise of an assistant teacher and student of Highland.The man in question used his access to children to prey upon their young bodies and minds.This was deplorable enough but delving further into the situation the teacher found that a sister dancing organization and its members KNEW that the man in question was a "registered pedophile".

Highland is an extremely small world and if you sneeze in California it is heard in New Zealand, so for months this man had access to children with judges, teachers and parents knowing of his past and not one person picked up a phone. Of course the inevitable happened, children’s lives would never be the same WHY? Because of a silence of the enablers.The young man is once again in prison but the non-action of those in one section of the Australian dancing community has to be the epitome of lamentable.

April, found a hue and cry in Australia and world wide because a dancer danced under Australian rules and therefore did not garner enough points to take a “6th “ place. Meetings were held, the lists held discussions, word spread in a matter of minutes through the internet, yet the placing of a child of highland dance in such insidious danger garnered no such concern from the dancing organization that knew of this mans history.

One has to wonder what is truly important to the Highland Organizations trophies or children. The excuses “ we wanted to give him a second chance!” At what I ask? His brother is a well-known professional dancer in the Irish Circuit, who performed worldwide and his mother was a “higher up “ in the organization, could the reason be that “they” didn’t want to upset such people of perceived importance?

I personally find it distressing that people will be “outraged” at the missing of a 6th place trophy and yet excuse the “outrage to a child!”

From one sorrow to another kind of sorrow and the meaning of the word grief as it pertains to lamentable. Highland dance has lost a great man Charlie Mill.

Readers will remember him from some of my previous columns. Alex McGuire a close friend and fellow judge wrote of Charlie and his passing on May 9th:

“He just hated being the center of attraction and shunned publicity from whatever quarter. He was a shy sort of a guy escaping as he did all of the “politics” associated with the Art of Highland Dancing. Nevertheless, his contribution to the Art was great and surpassed all expectations.Charlie’s activity in the Highland Dance scene spanned 60 years.

He started dancing at the age of 4 years when his mother took him along to a local Highland Dance teacher.From there he had some wonderful successes competing all over Scotland but, more especially, the Games of the Highlands.Later in life he was a teacher of Highland Dance with dance classes in Dundee and Blairgowrie.He taught Highland Dancing for approximately 35 years. All of this, coupled with a very successful career on stage and television with the “White Heather Club” and other Variety Shows, during which time Charlie performed all over the U.K.

When his performing days were over, Charlie then had to find a second career, which he found as a Writer and Proof Reader within the employment of D.C. Thomson, Publishers in Dundee. During this time, Charlie became an Adjudicator judging at numerous Highland Games all over Scotland and abroad and also included judging at a multitude of indoor competitions.He was a favorite judge of the Highland Dance community in New Zealand.

Charlie wrote a multitude of inspiring articles for inclusion within the many Highland Games Programmes – every year, without exception, he was invited to contribute. He, also, was a regular writer for “The Scottish Banner” a publication of the USA.Charlie’s love was that of the “Scottish Official Highland Dancing Association” (SOHDA).

He was a Teacher, Judge and Examiner of the SOHDA and held the position of Technical Convener. During his many years with the Association, Charlie held Workshops, Seminars etc. up and down the country - he also held these in New Zealand. Charlie was also responsible for the “revival” of many Hebridean and Lesser-known dances of Scotland, which were taught and brought to the attention of the members of the SOHDA and which, in turn, are now being widely taught. He fought, in his usual quiet and unassuming way, for the freedom of dancers to compete anywhere and everywhere.With the passing of Charlie a great chasm has suddenly appeared in the world of Highland Dance – a chasm not to be replaced.He is, without doubt, irreplaceable!

To be continued:

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

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