Elise Berrevoets started dancing when she was six years old, starting with ballet but quickly shifting to the Scottish Highland style.
Eleven years later, in 2019, she was competing in the country where the style had originated, winning second overall at the Commonwealth Championships and second overall at the Cowal World Highland Dancing Championships in Dunoon, Scotland.
She also placed sixth at the World Pipeband Championships and took two top overseas dancer trophies.
“I’m very competitive,“ Berrevoets said. “I think that’s what drew me to it.
“It’s a sport that you aim to reach perfection, which no one ever quite reaches, as there’s always something to work on. But I like always striving for something new. There’s never nothing to work on.”
Berrevoets has a long string of wins behind her. She has qualified to represent B.C. at the Canadian Championships nine times, competing as the B.C. Champion for six of those championships.
She has competed in the Canadian Championships eight times, placing in the top seven at every competition, and making it into the top four five times.
But even with all those accolades behind her, Berrevoets explained that dancing in Scotland did make her a little nervous.
“As a Canadian, you’re entering the land of Scottish dancers, you’re now the underdog, you are in their home territory,” she said.
“So yeah, nerves were to be expected but you just kind of go and you do your thing. You go to have fun.”
A total of eleven dancers made the trip from Lorena’s School of Highland Dance, and according to instructor Lorena Harrison, most of the three weeks they spent in Scotland was focused on work.
“Basically every day was dancing at some point,” she said. “Whether they’re in a competition or they had practice before they went out.”
Berrevoets admitted that having the opportunity to compete in Scotland stirred up some emotions in her.
“After I finished my last dance, the day of worlds I walked off the stage, and not even knowing if I had placed or got a call back or even if I got a judge’s placing. I just cried,” she said.
“Just knowing that I danced on the stage where legends have danced before, knowing that I accomplished one of my childhood dreams. That was probably one of the biggest.”
Though she didn’t have a lot of opportunity to explore Scotland while she was there, she did have a favourite spot.
“My favorite spot was our little cottage that we had in Dunoon,” Berrevoets said. “We were all jam packed in this little cottage and, I don’t know, just great memories that will last forever.”