Highland Dancing Continues to Soar in Ontario

1001 Fanshawe College Boulevard, London, ON, Canada / CFRL


The Western Ontario Highland Dance Association hosted the Ontario Open Championship and Pre-Championship here at the Thames Valley District School Board’s Education Centre. Local teacher and studio director for the Sutherland Studio of Dance, Anne Sutherland is here supporting her students.

Her studio, which she began following her teacher’s departure to Scotland, is celebrating its 50th year of providing highland classes to dancers in the London area. She says that over the years Canadian’s interest in highland has stayed stable. In fact, she says that “…demands have increased dramatically just because the standard continues to improve.”

Anne shares that Ontario is on the map in comparison to other provinces simply because the province has a larger number of interested dancers. Sutherland says that “whenever there is a large pool, the standard of dance is extremely high and we certainly have a number of teachers in the province as well.”

Fiona Tolley (left) and Kayla Sutherland (right)


What makes highland such a unique art form in comparison to other dance styles is that it requires a great amount of stamina and athleticism. Dancer, Fiona Tolley says that “in a fling, a dancer will jump vertically 192 times which is the equivalent of running a mile…”

Dancers also have a number of opportunities to compete locally and out of country. For example, both Anne Sutherland’s granddaughter, Kayla Sutherland and Fiona Tolley have danced for the Queen of England at the Braemar Royal Gathering in Scotland.

When asked what they hope their dancing careers will bring them both dancers said that they aspire to earn world championship titles.

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