A World of Opportunities

Thistle and Heather Highland Dancers A World of Opportunities

If you stop for a moment and look at the THHD calendar for any given year, you will quickly realize that this group is not just about learning Scottish Highland Dancing. It is about sharing the Scottish culture, heritage and tradition with as many people as possible through performances, competitions, and parades. We have been very fortunate to have had some amazing opportunities presented to us over the years: dancing at the Heartland International Tattoo in DeKalb, marching in the nationally televised State Street Thanksgiving Day Parade, performing with internationally famous Celtic Rock Bands, Skerryvore and the Red Hot Chilli Pipers, performing with world class violinist, Rachel Barton Pine, with well-know fiddler, Alasdair Fraser and cellist, Natalie Haas, and with Scottish fiddle champion, Tim MacDonald. Dancers have also performed at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, with the Bach & Beethoven Ensemble, and in numerous television spots.

We march in parades with the Chicago Scots for the Naperville St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and the Itasca Memorial Day Parade, behind the Stock Yard Kilty Band at the Brookfield and Lyons 4 th of July Parade and on our own with guest pipers at the Chicago Columbus Day Parade and the State Street Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Each year we perform for at least three Burns Suppers celebrating the life of Scottish poet, Robert Burns. Some are in formal settings, some are more casual, but either way it is another opportunity to spread the love of highland dancing with the greater Scottish community both in the Chicago area and beyond.

The Illinois Saint Andrew Society/Chicago Scots and the Caledonia Senior Living and Memory Care/Scottish Home give us several additional opportunities to perform for the residents, their families and the membership of the organization
through Burns Night, Scottish Home Picnic, Feast of the Haggis, Resident Family Christmas Party, ISAS Membership Christmas Party, New Year’s Eve Party and any other time that we are called upon for whatever is needed!

We have many “civic” performances such as Daley Plaza for St. Andrew’s Day where we take part in the “Under the Picasso” noon time events each year in November. “Christmas Around the World” at the Museum of Science and Industry has been a part of our holiday tradition since the group began in 1981 and for me since I started dancing in 1963.

We have been privileged to be part of the “Bagpipes and Bonfire” event hosted by the Lake Forest Open Lands each September, as well as “Passport to Europe” at the Morton Arboretum. Nursing homes, retirement facilities, school
shows, ethnic fairs, international festivals round out our usual yearly events.

In March, we were given the opportunity to perform with two Celtic Rock Bands that we have had the pleasure to dance with previously. What an absolute thrill to perform live with the Red Hot Chilli Pipers as they come through the area on
one of their US tours. This was our third time performing with them and each time has been a wonderful experience for the dancers.

This year was the first time we performed with Skerryvore in a theater setting with a stage, having previously danced with them at the Feast of the Haggis and at Martyrs Pub.

While many of our performances are based on the traditional dances, the additional opportunities we have, stretch our talents and abilities to create and perform new pieces to different instrumentation than a solo bagpiper. This often enables us to integrate a large group of dancers, which takes on a whole new set of dynamics from the traditional competing as an individual.

We try to take advantage of every opportunity that comes our way, be it a wedding, a golf outing, a summer camp program or a girl scout troop. Please pass along any possible engagements that you may come across!