Young North River resident on her way to becoming Canadian Highland Dance champ
What began eight years ago as a suggestion from a relative, quickly turned into a passion for Abigael Brownell of North River.
Brownell, 11, has been involved in highland dancing since she was just three years old.
In the years since she first began her dancing career, her accomplishments have been numerous. She has a room full of medals, earned from participating in various competitions and championships.
Most recently Brownell found herself at the Olympic Oval in Richmond, B.C., representing Nova Scotia in the ScotDance Canadian Championship Series.
She earned her spot in May by finishing second in the 10-11 year old category at the Nova Scotia Closed Highland Dance Championship.
Abigael and her mom Heidi then set to work fundraising to help offset the expenses of their trip to Richmond. They had a basket draw, a bake sale and were grateful to receive many donations.
On July 1 they, along with Heidi’s mother and best friend, boarded a plane bound for British Columbia.
The event, which started on July 3, was comprised of four days of rigorous competition. Each day dancers competed in various categories including Highlands, Broad Swords, Closed Championship, Premiership and Nationals. The facility’s nine stages were constantly in use as the dancers showed off their skills.
Out of more than 800 dancers that participated in Richmond, only 21 from Nova Scotia qualified for the closed championship. Brownell was the only dancer from the Colchester Highland Dance Association to earn a spot in the competition.
Though she was a little bit nervous on the first day, Brownell quickly adjusted to her new surroundings and made an impressive showing, bringing home second place, fifth place and sixth place medals from different dances.
When asked what her favourite part of the event was Brownell simply replied, “everything”. She enjoyed meeting the other competitors, taking her first plane ride, dancing and finding time to do a little bit of sightseeing. She also participated in a pin swap in which competitors from Scotland and across Canada brought lapel pins from their hometowns to trade with other participants.
After the event she had an opportunity to visit the Vancouver Aquarium where she thoroughly enjoyed seeing all of the fish, birds and other wildlife. Among her favourites were the penguins and the sea otters.
Although she will not soon forget the experiences she had in B.C., Brownell will be keeping busy now that she’s home. In addition to competing at other highland dance competitions throughout Nova Scotia, she’s also involved in gymnastics, trampoline and 4-H.
She also makes time to visit local seniors’ homes, along with some of her fellow dance students. They enjoy sharing their love of dance with appreciative audiences.
When asked about her future goals Brownell didn’t skip a beat, “I would like to be Canadian Champion.”
A big goal, but with her drive and dedication it wouldn’t be a surprise to see this young lady go on to be the Canadian Champion, maybe even more than once. One thing is for certain though: our community should be very proud of Abigael Brownell and all she has accomplished.
Julie Johnstone is a married mother of two school-aged children, fiddle and step dance teacher and a community volunteer. She lives in North River. If you have any community news to report, send it to her at email@example.com.