Highland Highlights


"A Champion of Scotland"

by Loraine Ritchey


This years Adult winner at the prestigious Braemar Games in fact, always on the podium whenever she competes. (Note Braemar is judged by SOBHD, SOHDA and Independent judges all obviously in agreement as to this year’s winner) In previous years giving the multi SOBHD World Champion Gregor Bowman a run for his money whenever they competed on the same platform. Who is this “true Lady of the Dance” (Victor Wesley, Celtic World/Highland Gathering 2000) this Champion of Scotland who is unknown to the majority of dancers (SOBHD) in Australia, USA, Canada and South Africa. These dancers look at their (SOBHD) World Champions with pride, younger dancers try to emulate them, and teachers hold them up as examples for their students. Yes, indeed this year a Scot won the Junior World (SOBHD) at Cowal, but could the young woman who won Braemar, and other numerous trophies this year have given the Canadians a run for their money? Could a Scot have walked away with the Adult? We will never know, you see the young woman whose portrait adorns hundreds of Scottish postcards that are sent back to the folks back home is unable to dance at the Cowal Gathering. Some would say it is her choice, she could join the dance organization that runs the Highland Dancing and whose dancers are the only ones allowed to compete so why doesn’t she? Roo’s story:

Roo Killick, a name that is as distinctive as the dancer to whom it belongs. It is unlikely that you will forget the name and those who have seen her dance are unlikely to forget the dancer. Roo, has been mentioned as the trophy winner in numerous articles that I have written over the years. Frequently her name was mentioned along with the winner of multi (SOBHD) World titles, Gregor Bowman. Although there are competitions where Roo and Gregor met the World Championships at Cowal was not one of them. Roo is not a registered dancer with the SOBHD and therefore unable to compete at Cowal.

Roo’s dancing career started at the age of 4. “We used to live in the north of Scotland. My mother danced competitively when she was young she went to Jean Telfer. Jean Telfer was one of the all time best dancers, winning World Championships, many times, long before the Board (SOBHD) was established. I was therefore, greatly influenced by the way she had taught my mother, who always kept a critical eye on my progress!” Roo actually danced for many years under the SOBHD. “Although I started to vary my style of dancing at some of the “OPEN” games (e.g. Independently run games or Non SOBHD run competitions.it should be noted that in Scotland at least there is some opportunity for SOBHD dancers (under restrictions) to dance at non Board competitions) incorporating some of the older steps” Roo goes on to explain that she fell foul of a SOBHD ruling. “My disagreement with the SOBHD came in the summer of 1994 when I danced at the Royal Highland Show, a brand new and independently run competition. I had won the Overall Adult competition and a few weeks later was informed that the SOBHD wanted to ban me from their competitions for a year, as the cup I had won was entitled a “Championship” and according to SOBHD rules, a dancer is not allowed to compete at any “championship” run outwith the SOBHD.

Ongoing correspondence between the SOBHD and Miss Killicks lawyers failed to reach a satisfactory conclusion. However, Roo, being a student at Cambridge (England) was not living in Scotland and was not competing for the year anyway. “I decided myself to leave the Board entirely and only dance at Independent competitions. American, and Canadian dancers of course would not have this option, as there aren’t any independent competitions in the USA and Canada. “I, since then, have been unrestricted in my choice of step, movement and style and have danced every games season since then with much success. Roo since her ban has not only won a great many titles but has also found the time and energy to pursue a medical career. Now 23 not only this years Adult winner at Braemar (2000)

Roo has also become a judge with the SOHDA and is helping promote and keep alive the dances and steps of her forefathers. However, sadly Roo cannot dance for her country at the Cowal Highland Gathering. Scotland’s loss! Roo can be reached through the offices of the SOHDA, 36, High Street, Dunbar, East Lothian, EH42 1JH, Scotland.

Loraine Ritchey,

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

Tel: 440.246.6046

e-mail ritch@adelphia.net