Dancer Diary: Competing at the New Brunswick Provincial Championship

Our Dancers at the 2023 New Brunswick Provincial Championship

Dancer Diary

Another New Brunswick provincial highland dance championship has come and gone! Once again, it was a memorable event that showcased the incredible talent of our New Brunswick dancers.

Not sure what Provincials is or how it works? We’ve got you!

The event took place in our hometown of Fredericton this year, and as the current President of ScotDance New Brunswick, I take on leading the event with the support of all the other highland dance professionals throughout the Province. 

I couldn’t have done it without all of the other dance teachers who were receiving late night texts and emails from me as I thought of things we needed to do or have printed!!

Team New Brunswick in 2019

Prepping for Provincials

The lead up over the last few weeks looked a bit like this at my house:

  • Received all the keeper awards for the future provincial representatives. This year, local business Scott’s Customs, created the most beautiful awards!

These awards were wooden and had all recently been stained so when you walked into my house, it was heavy stain fumes for a couple weeks.

  • Competitor numbers sprawled out all over my kitchen counters as I assigned them to the registered dancers
  • Sending Kate to pick up the medals & engraved plaques for the awards
  • Realizing we may not have access to the venue change rooms…. Which lead to a Teams call with Kate’s mom & many hand-drawn sketches trying to figure out the potential logistics
  • Sorting out last minute award & event sponsorship
  • SO many texts & conversations with our SDNB Treasurer, Sarah Warman, and Vice President, Ann Landry. Two queens!
Then at the end of the day, my main priority was my dancers and making sure they felt prepared for the weekend. I was mindful all week not push practices too much so there weren’t any sore muscles. I decided to focus on the technique and a correction or two that dancers could take into the weekend and focus on in each dance.

Our Dance Families' Experiences

Our studio had dancers doing Provincials for the first time ever, some who were seasoned veterans, and some who were coming back to this event for the first time in years! I caught up with each of them post event, and here’s what they had to say:

Callum Hunter

“Going into provincials this year, I was actually super excited! I definitely had some nerves, but we had prepared lots in class and I felt pretty well prepared. My parents flew in from Calgary the day before the competition, so that helped distract me from last-minute jitters too.

“On the day of the competition, I had fun chatting with some friends I’d made over the past few years, getting ready with my studio, and performing for my friends and family. I felt confident in my dances – I was just aiming for a clean sword, and once I got past that I had my favourite two dances left.

“Overall, it was such a fun day! I am so proud of myself and my classmates, and I am super excited to travel to Halifax this summer and start the experience all over again! I’ve got some work to do before then, but I can’t wait for all that SDCCS 2023 has to offer.”

Rachel Brinkman-Mills

“For provincials this year I was very nervous for the sword as I hit it at the last competition. I felt good for my fling, and Reel but realized I made some mistakes in the other 2 dances that I can work on. overall provincials was a good experience as I got to compete with some of my friends from NB and learn some correction that will help me at the next competition.”

Beautiful post-provincials cupcakes for Premier dancers made by wonderful dance mom and teacher, Laura Kendall
Kate Francoeur

“I hadn’t done a provincial championship since before the pandemic, and I felt like the biggest thing I noticed was that I felt a lot more emotionally stable about the whole thing than I had in previous years. When my fling didn’t go how I wanted it to, I was able to keep looking forward and not let it affect my other dances. I’ve definitely cried in the bathroom over that kind of thing in previous years. It was also my first year in 21 and over, in a group with a lot of really fantastic dancers. 

“I feel really proud of myself for going back to championship dancing and really happy with my results! Being the 3rd runner up and alternate representative for team NB among a group of such great dancers is really special. I can’t wait to go to Halifax and cheer everyone on!”

Are you looking for an awesome, indie-pop girlie, Taylor Swift-centred, pump-up warm-up playlist?

Kate has you covered!

Lauren Horvath

“This past month I competed in my first championship since 2019. It happened to be my first provincial’s in my new home province of New Brunswick. Having been a previous 3x rep from Manitoba, I knew the hard work that was going to be required to earn a spot on the team

“Preparing for provincials was both physically and emotionally challenging. I spent 2-3 days a week at the studio but also practiced on my own and hit the gym almost everyday. Since having numerous injuries over my many years of dance I was having to attend regular physical therapy sessions to keep me going. At the same time, the importance of rest and recovery was critical for me.

“The weeks leading up to the championship, I found myself extremely stressed and overwhelmed as I put extreme performance expectations on myself. Some nights I jolted out of sleep with my heart racing and feeling extremely anxious. Unfortunately this carried over to competition day. As my time for the first dance approached I was paralyzed with anxiety. They called final call for my age group and Nicole realized I wasn’t in the line up, she found me mid panic attack (lol). We worked through breathing exercises and she made me stand in a superhero pose (a queen for that). Once I hit the stage, most of my stresses disappeared.

“Overall I felt my dancing was okay, but I was quick to critique what I could’ve improved. However, the exuberant support I received from my dance family was uplifting and helped me realize I had done the best I could that day. Waiting for results is always stressful but in the end it’s up to the judges.

“I am very blessed and thankful to have received the opportunity to represent NB at SDCCS 2023. I am now taking a brief rest, however from my past experience I know there is no time to lose when preparing for Canadians.”

To capture another perspective, we caught up with Alyssa van de Riet, who was a competitor in the 21 & over category in 2022. Because of travel for work and being unsure of her schedule, she didn’t compete this year, but was helping out all morning and supporting our dancers! We asked her thoughts about the event. Here’s what she had to say!

Alyssa Van de Riet

“Provincials is always a stressful time for dancers, and competing is just as mentally challenging as it is physically. Sometimes it can be very easy to lose perspective because of that. This year, I had the privilege of going to provincials simply to enjoy the things I love the most about highland dance, without the added stress and pressure of competing. Along with motivating me to get back into competing, it also helped me have some perspective shifts.

  1. “We as dancers are so hard on ourselves and our experiences at previous competitions have large impact on how we view competing, for better or especially, for worse. This weekend I got to see some amazing dancers overcome their fears about competing, and it’s amazing to watch. We as dancers are extremely resilient.
  2. “When you’re younger and competing, it’s easy to get caught up in the competitiveness and forget that everyone is there for one reason: a love of dance. At one point, we were all in primary playing I Spy in the line up area. It’s important to remember the balance between competing and enjoying a sport you love.
  3. “Medals don’t matter. A controversial opinion, however, hear me out. There are so many ways to measure improvement other than through winning all 1sts at a competition. Depending on a dancers goals, that may be part of it, but personal improvement is a much more important metric. Someone will always have pointier toes, bigger leaps, and more turn out. BUT, focusing on personal improvement shifts what counts as a “good day”. I don’t think this is an easy shift, especially in highland. But I do think it’s an important shift, because I think it will help improve the competitive environment in highland.

“Provincials is such an amazing day, where everyone’s hard work is on full display and dancers leave everything on the stage. It’s an amazing thing to be a part of, whether competing or watching!”

Sarah Graham

“This year, coming into provincials preparing was a one-hour private with Nicole along with two classes a week & practicing every Wednesday, Friday, Sunday on my own.

“Keeping my body healthy was a main priority with struggling with shinsplints in both legs. After making the Provincial team in 2022, my first year back after a seven year beak from dance, of course I had my sights set on making it again. However, unlike previous years I was able to adjust my goals to individual performance based. While working with my teacher, Nicole, I made it clear I wanted to improve on corrections given from prior championships in the year as well as techniques pointed out in our one-on-one sessions.

“At Provincials, I was able to stay healthy and pain free for the day! Completing all four dances coming off the stage feeling proud and encouraged by my performances.

“Although I made one small error in my Reel, I was extremely happy with how I danced on stage & felt I gave my best performance since being back competing since my break from dance (2015-2022)!

“I came away with 4th place finishing in 3/4 dances against some incredible dancers who inspire me. I am looking forward to seeing how much more progress can be made from my performance at Provincials and moving on to other championships such as Atlantics and the Open Canadian Championships.

“Overall I am proud of what I accomplished (2nd place judge marks for my sword!!!) & although I won’t be representing NB in the Closed SDCCS Champs this year, I look forward to improving and enjoying the sport I love!”

Hannah Howe and Sarah Graham after awards
Hannah Howe
“I was very excited and nervous leading up to provincials. I knew that I had put lots of work in my dancing but I was still a bit worried. I was really hoping at the end of the day that I would feel good about my dances and feel that I did my best. Which ended up happening so I was very happy about that. 

“I was especially happy with the Seann Triubhas; I felt like it was the best one I’ve done this year so I was very pleased with that. When the dancing was finished and It was time for awards I ended up being the 3rd runner up (alternate) in my group! I am very happy with this. I was also super happy with how all my dance friends did. They all worked very hard and it was great to get to see it all pay off in their dances.

“Now I am looking forward to getting to dance at Canadians, even though I am not on the team. I am exciting to compete in the open competitions. Overall, I was happy with how the day went, because I felt good about my dances. I definitely have lots to work on before Canadians. I can’t wait to compete there this summer!”
Rhaya Kendall

“This year was my first time competing at New Brunswick’s provincial selection Championships and it was so much fun!

“I worked very hard to get to this point and I tried my best during the competition. Getting ready for provincials was hard work, but I got through it and practiced non-stop. I do a lot of dance classes each week, but I try my best to practice whenever I can. I practiced at least 4.5 hours most weeks and that doesn’t include my regular classes. I’m proud of myself for how far I’ve come.

“I felt happy when I was announced the winner for 10 and under 12 age category for 2023. I’m excited that my name will be put on big trophy, but the trophy isn’t what mattered the most. What mattered was that I felt I danced my dances as best as I could. Even if I was competing against 100 dancers and I came in very last place, I would still be so proud of myself for how hard I’ve
worked to get here. 

“Don’t get me wrong; being the winner is amazing. But even being able to compete in provincials this year was the best! I had so much fun with my friends and cheering everyone on. This was a BIG part of my dancing goals this year and I’m so glad I
achieved it. 

“I’m only 10, and I have a lot more to achieve in my dancing career. But provincials was a great achievement. Next up, SDCCS in July❤️”


We’re excited to announce we have five provincial representatives who will be competing in the 2023 Canadian Championships in Halifax, Nova Scotia in July. We also have two alternates, which means they were 4th overall, and can compete in the Canadian Championships in the case that one of the top three dancers cannot.

To catch up on what the Canadian Championships is, be sure to check out our guide to the event:

Here are our studio’s results from the weekend:

Premier 10 & 11

Rhaya Kendall 1st representative
Sophie Bowles 2nd representative

*did not have 6 dancers in the group so their group was not a championship. Therefore, they cannot give out the official “Champion” title

Premier 14 & 15

Rachel Brinkman-Mills 2nd representative

*did not have 6 dancers in the group so their group was not a championship. Therefore, they cannot give out the official “Champion” title

Premier 16 & 17

Hannah Howe 3rd runner up (alternate)

Premier 18 & Under 21

Lauren Horvath 2nd runner up

Premier 21 & Over

Callum Hunter 1st runner up
Kate Francoeur 3rd runner up (alternate representative)
Sarah Graham top 6 placings

Next Stop, Halifax!

We’re so excited to be headed to Halifax this year for the ScotDance Canada Championship Series. We love when this event comes to the East Coast, and we think there’s no better place to host the largest Canadian highland dancing event than one of our favourite cities – Halifax!

We’ll be sharing tons of SDCCS content on our socials, so be sure to follow us on Instagram & like our page on Facebook.

Pro tip – follow SDCCS 2023 on IG/FB as well to stay in the loop!

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