Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo | Melbourne 2016
In February 2016, The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is bringing its Highland extravaganza to Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium and will feature 50 of the best Australian highland dancers as part of the 1,200 strong cast.
With its unique, stirring blend of military ceremony, music and entertainment, The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is one of the most popular events in the world.
Internationally acclaimed OzScot Highland Dancers have chosen the 50 dancers from around the country to join 20 Scottish dancers at the Melbourne event. This will be the third time the Tattoo has been held in Australia.
Director of Dance of The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, Aileen Robertson, said “We’re absolutely thrilled at how the dance piece for Melbourne is coming together and await overwhelmed with excitement the opportunity to reveal our ‘poetry of the foot’ on February 12.”
OzScot Australia, based in Bathurst, was formed by Cheryl Roach OAM when she was asked to put together an Australian team to participate in the 2002 Edinburgh Military Tattoo for the Queen’s Jubilee.
“I’ve been associated with competitive highland dance for many years both as a dancer and teacher. In 2000 the CEO of the Tattoo asked that I put together a team of 16 Australian dancers to join with other Commonwealth nations to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee. I thought it would be a one-off thing at the time, but here we are now having done 19 international events with teams of up to 120 Australian dancers!” said Cheryl Roach.
OzScot has proven to be quite a successful venture and is well known throughout the world for its innovative choreography, which reflects a unique blending of traditional highland dancing with contemporary segments. The dancing is highly synchronised and is physically demanding.
Some of the groups’ highlights include being invited to perform for the Sultan of Oman in 2005, being invited to perform at the Edinburgh Festival, being described as the ‘Best Dance Act Ever’ at Basel, Switzerland, in 2014 as well as performing 7 times with the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
Cheryl Roach says she formed OzScot in 2002 to give highland dancers in Australia something more than just competitive dance to aim for. “In competitions, Highland dancing is only judged at an individual level and OzScot provides these dancers a team experience … which is both very different and very aerobic!”
“I’ve coordinated groups at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo five times, and in 2012 we did our first standalone group as OzScot at the Tattoo. The first time the Tattoo came to Australia was in 2005 in Sydney where we had 100 Australian dancers, then again in Sydney in 2010. But next year will be the first time in Melbourne.”
“I’m collaborating with Aileen Robertson for the Melbourne event. OzScot’s choreography reflects a unique blending of traditional highland dance steps providing a challenging combination for the dancer and a fresh experience for the Melbourne audience.”
“There are two boys dancing this year. Our own Australian male champion Hamish McGuiness will join a Scottish boy and they will feature in the team of 70 in Melbourne. We have highland dancers from Cairns, Townsville, Newcastle, Bathurst, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Tasmania, SA and WA.” Roach says OzScot Australia aims to select each team to truly represent the entire country.
“The routine is sent out on DVD to our dancers to learn the steps in sequence, but they don’t actually get to perform together until we all arrive in Melbourne! Then we check their technique and steps and then we put it altogether in the pattern work. It takes between 3-5 days to prepare before the event up to 7 hours a day before the dancers have mastered the routines as a group.”
More than 20,000 spectators are expected to attend each of the five performances at Etihad stadium in February.
“The highland dancers will be integral thorough the show. The dancers will be representing the Celtic community of Australia and promoting highland dancing as part of a cast of over 1200 people from all over the world. The audience will experience a first class show of high quality music and precision and non-stop continuous entertainment. There will be military, pipe and brass bands from many countries and the top drum corps. The costuming will also be spectacular with dancers performing in their national dress, kilts, as well as modern dress as there will be a variety of music, choreography and expression throughout the entire event,” says Cheryl Roach.