Scottish sister act to take on world's best for mum
THREE days every week highland dancers Steffaney and Courteney Treadwell travel 80km up the Pacific Highway from Korora to Grafton to train under the watchful eye of Jacaranda Highland Dancers teacher Kristina Sanne.
Since last October the pair have tirelessly worked to perfect the moves of the six-step highland fling, the sword dance, seann triubhas (shredding the trousers) and the reel, which are all traditional Scottish routines listed for this year's World Highland Dancing Championships.
"We have three lessons with Kristina a week and then we dance every day at home," Steffaney said.
The sisters generously agreed to an extra trip up the highway to join myself and Ms Sanne on stage for my highland dancing routine as part of Stars of Clarence - Dance For Cancer at Saraton Theatre on June 28, helping to present the traditional style to an unfamiliar audience.
"Because highland is not popular like jazz, ballet and tap, we don't always get asked to do thing likes that, so we all grabbed the opportunity and ran with it," Ms Sanne said.
"Their mother died five years ago with breast cancer, so that connection made it more special."
But when the sisters dropped into Grafton yesterday, they were on their way to a much longer journey. Throughout August they will travel all over Scotland to compete at 15 highland games events, culminating in the world championships on August 29-31, held every year at the Cowal Highland Gathering at Dunoon.
The world championships consists of four different dances, each with a different panel of three judges who determine the top six to qualify for the final of each event.
This won't their first trip to Scotland. Steffaney, now 18, competed four years ago.
While she didn't reach the finals, she was the highest scoring Australian competitor.
"I would love to qualify (for the finals), but I do know that it's a lot more challenging now that I'm older and the age group is a lot bigger, so just hoping for the best," she said.
While Steffaney first started highland dancing under Ms Sanne when she was two, her 21-year-old sister was a self-confessed "late bloomer", first taking it up when she was 11.
While this will be Courteney's first world championships, her first trip to Scotland as a spectator made a lasting impression.
"It's just magical," Courteney said. "Everything about it, the scenery, even the fresh air."
Ms Sanne has competed in Scotland five times and was thrilled to now take her students to compete.
"It is always my goal as a teacher to take my pupils over there," she said.
"This is the second time I've taken my students over and another trip is in the pipeline for 2021. I even had one of my four year-old students tell me that she's going to Scotland in two years time.
"I'd love for the girls to qualify, but as long as they can get a personal best, that is all I can ask for.
"They have both put in a lot of work to get there."
While most of the trip will be spent "highland games hunting", they are hoping to find time to a little bit of extra sight-seeing.
"Their mother who passed away is a Chisholm, and her parents are both Scottish," Ms Sanne said. "So the desperately want to go Glamis Castle and see their family heritage."
This trip is likely to be the "final hurrah" in highland dancing for Courteney before she becomes a school teacher.
However, there will be no rest for Steffaney when they return to Australia on September 2. She has been selected among 15,000 dancers to perform at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo at ANZ Stadium in Sydney on October 15,000.