When I was sixteen years old, I was given the opportunity to be an assistant choreographer for Moorpark College’s performance of Brigadoon. My years of competitive experience in Scottish Highland dancing, and the fact that the choreographer for Brigadoon was also the choreographer in the theater production I was currently in, landed me the job. I gave the cast some basic lessons in Scottish Highland dancing, worked with the choreographer on the Big Wedding Scene, then taught the choreography to the cast. This was a memorable and rewarding experience, mostly because the cast for Brigadoon gave me 120% every time. They really worked hard to not only memorize the steps, but to also hone the technique. I remember one of them writing notes, and asking me for details. I remember watching them practice over and over again, pushing themselves without any help from me to get it right. They gave me their full respect, though I was only sixteen years old. That Big Wedding Scene was the best dance number in the whole production. And it had nothing to do with the fact that I had basically choreographed the whole thing. (The choreographer had given me free rein practically, as it was to be very traditional in dance style and that was my specialty.) It had everything to do with the cast and their hard work, determination and dedication.
This experience remains with me because it demonstrates the importance of unity. It gives credence to the saying that “it takes two.” I could have taught them Scottish Highland dancing until I was blue in the face, but if they hadn’t listened and practiced, it would have made no difference. A part of me wishes I could meet those cast members again and thank them for their professionalism and passion. I’ve been a part of many casts over the years. This is one of the few that holds a place in my heart. They were good examples to me.
What have you learned about unity? What past experiences have influenced you? Do you think Scottish Highland dancing is the same as Irish dancing? Did you know clogging isn’t Irish? Have you ever seen the movie Brigadoon with Gene Kelly? (Some pet peeves of the movie: there are only elements of Scottish Highland dancing put in, of which, the technique is awful and whoever they got to play the bagpipes in the recording is very painful to the educated ear.)
Go to http://youtu.be/PTOx1ziDzTU to watch a clip of the movie Brigadoon.