by Jo Kalat
Starting out this choreography project was very intimidating to me! The plan was to create choreographies that could be learned by any premier dancer to use with visiting performing artists. It seemed like a great way to use an existing resource to promote highland dancing. Different schools could work together on the same choreography. Much good could come of this project. But the thought of creating something to be approved by the FUSTA board and used across the United States? I wasn’t sure I was up to that!
But my choreography committee is up to the task. The committee is composed of Kate DeGood, Kathleen Hall, Trish MacConnell, and Laura Hester Madden. What a joy and an eye opener it has been for me to work with these motivated young ladies. They have shown me what the new generation can do and how to use technology to bridge the geographical gap of highland dancers. These dancers are dedicated to the cause of highland dancing. They have devoted a great deal of time and energy to this project. I want the highland dance world to know more about these young leaders.
Kate DeGood’s competitive dancing career has brought worldwide championship success in every age category. She is the holder of over 80 major championship titles throughout the United States, Canada, Scotland, and Australia. She is a 7 time US champion, 2 time World First Runner-up, 10-time World Finalist, having placed in the top 6 in the World Championships 7 times. Kate is a Fellow of the BATD and SDTA, Chairperson of the BATD Great Lakes Region, and Coordinator of the North American BATD New Professionals Forum. She is an S.O.B.H.D. Judge, passing the exam at the youngest possible age of 21. An active member of FUSTA, Kate is involved in the “Discover Scottish Dance” campaign. In addition to instructing at Alma College, she is director at the Kate DeGood School of Dance at the Detroit St. Andrew’s Society’s Kilgour Centre in Troy, MI. Kate also judges, lectures, and performs throughout North America.
Kathleen Hall has been a highland dancer since 1991, when she started dancing with the Jo Moore Kalat Scottish Dancers in Raleigh, NC. She is a member of the BATD, FUSTA, and ScotDance Canada. She has danced and taught with a number of different studios, including the Edinburgh University New Scotland Dance Society, the Columbus (OH) Scottish Highland Dancers, the Weaver Highlanders (St. Louis, MI), the Reid School of Scottish Dance (Philadelphia, PA), and Charlene Ward’s highland dancers (Vancouver, BC). She co-founded a group of premier-level performance highland dancers, Shot of Scotch, in New York City. In her non-dancing life, she is a linguistics professor at the University of British Columbia.
Trisha MacConnell began dancing in 1991 at the San Jose School of Scottish Dancing in San Jose, CA under the direction of the late Norine Harmon. She is a five-time Western Regional Champion, a 13-time USIR finalist, (finishing in the top six at the USIR ten times) and a two-time World Championship finalist. Outside of highland dancing, Trisha holds a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Duke University in Durham, NC. She now practices as an orthopedic physical therapist for Providence Health Systems in Portland, OR, specializing in treating musculoskeletal pain.
Laura Hester Madden has been Scottish dancing for over 20 years and hopes that there are many more years to come! In her earlier dancing days, Laura had the honor of being an Ontario representative for several years, winning the Canadian Championships during that time. After college, Laura started back up dancing and has been fortunate enough to represent the southeast region at the USIR for the past 4 years. Laura now lives in Michigan and is enjoying being a part of the Midwest region. She has a special love for choreography and was thrilled to be asked to join this FUSTA committee.
My thanks to this wonderful committee. And also to all of those local teachers who have taken their time to utilize this resource. Look for more exciting projects to come. The future of FUSTA is bright with these leaders on the horizon.