The Western Australian Metropolitan Regional Committee of Highland Dancing Inc. (WAMRCHDI) is an affiliated regional committee of the Australian Board of Highland Dancing Inc. (ABHDI). The ABHDI is a subsidiary board of the Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing (SOBHD). The WAMRCHDI operates under the rules as laid down by the SOBHD as adopted by the ABHDI.
Please contact us for further information.
Assistant Technical Secretary
Please click here to view the PDF document.
Highland Dancing Over The Years in Western Australia
Contributed in 1995 by Beryl Stewart (nee Howie)
Highland Dancing has been a great tradition in Western Australia for many years.
The trophy for the Open Championship Dancer (Adult) in WA is the Dewar Cup, donated by Dewar’s Whisky in 1926. It is a solid silver cup and weighs over 2,000 grams. We believe the trophy was donated to the Perth Championships as John Dewar commenced his small wine and spirit business in Perth, Scotland in 1846. Two of his sons opened in Sydney in 1903 and Melbourne in 1905.
The first winner of the Dewar Cup was Miss Renee Esler, a sister of Miss Peggy Esler who was a well known teacher of dancing in Perth. Peggy’s son Kevan Johnston won the Dewar Cup in 1947 and 1948. He became a member of the WA Ballet Company when it was first formed and later achieved fame as a dancer in many musicals in Perth and the Eastern States - The Pyjama Game, Can Can and Paint Your Wagon, Hello Dolly and many others. He married that well known star of stage and song Jill Perryman. Many other Dewar Cup winners have gone on to successful careers in stage productions and associated arts.
The trophy for the Open Championship prior to the Dewar Cup was the Lapsley Cup. Here is an extract from the minutes of the Meeting of Perth Caledonian Society Council, held at Albany Bells Tearooms, Hay Street West, on Tuesday 1st February 1916:
The Hon. Chief intimated that Mr J M Lapsley had donated a flag to the Socy. And also a Silver Cup to be competed for, for Highland Dancing at Annual Sports on New Year’s Day, with the stipulation that the cup would not be won outright but would remain the property of the Perth Caledonian Society and that also intended presenting a medal to the successful competitor each year.
One of the winners of this trophy was Miss Evelyn Hodgkinson. She came from Boulder, having learnt her Highland Dancing on the Goldfields, and could also play the bagpipes. One of her best friends was piper Bill Craib. He also taught her the Reel of Tulloch, which was not well known in WA at that time. She went on to become one of the leading teachers in Highland Dancing in Perth and is still teaching Classical Ballet. She produced many good dancers and teachers, some of whom are still involved with Highland Dancing today. They are Mrs Beryl Stewart (nee Howie), Adjudicator for the Australian Board of Highland Dancing and Examiner in WA for the Victorian Scottish Dance Association; Ms Kerry Grosser (nee Rice), teacher of the winner of this year’s Dewar Cup (Miss Paula Collett); and Mrs Shirley Sherlock (nee Farrell), teacher.
New Year’s Day was a popular day for Highland Dancing competitions, but later the main championship and Highland Games were held on Easter Saturday, which allowed visitors from country areas to participate and enjoy the spectacle. Midland Junction Oval was the venue for many years, as most competitors and spectators could travel there by train. In later years, Claremont Showgrounds and Robinson Reserve in Osborne Park were popular.
Originally four dances had to be performed in the Open Championship. These were Highland Fling, Seann Triubhas, Gillie Callum (Sword Dance) and Sailor’s Hornpipe. The Reel of Tulloch was danced as a team dance and a separate trophy, The Angus McCleod Cup, was awarded for the Champion team. After the WA Scottish Union joined the Australian Board of Highland Dancing in 1964, the rules of Championships became uniform throughout Australia and the dances for championships had to consist of Highland Fling, Seann Triubhas, Gillie Callum and Reel (Strathspey, Highland Reel or Reel of Tulloch). To this day this remains the same in Australian and throughout the world. The steps for each dance are set by the Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing and are danced at every recognised championship in the ensuing year.
Today there is a standard scrutineering system that is used worldwide and judges’ marks are allocated for the overall performance and are not in categories. Competitions and Championships would now always be completed on that day.