Book, Novella, Young Adult/Teen

About a Book – The Highland Dancer by Chantal Bellehumeur

Introducing Chantal Bellehumeur

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Where did the idea for the story come from?

I’ve been to the Highland Games in Maxville (Canada) a few times and seen live performances of highland dancers which I loved.  My talented niece Abby became a highland dancer. Although I never had the chance to see her perform live yet (only in shared videos), watching her inspired me to write this short fictional story.  

Give a quote from the books, one that says little but speaks volumes. 

“After trying on her first pair of dance shoes, Ainsley did not want to take them off.” 

Give a short summary of what the book is about.

A Nova Scotia girl deeply embraces her Scottish heritage through the art of highland dancing. 
 
With her family’s ongoing support, Ainsley’s growing talent and determination lead her to win multiple dance competitions which seeds her eventual career as a renowned dance teacher. 

What genre is it?

It’s a toss between young adult and woman’s general fiction.  

How many pages is it?

30

Why do you think the readers will want to read it?

It’s a fun and inspiring story. You don’t have to know anything about highland dancing to enjoy the book. Readers will learn the terms and lifestyle without being overwhelmed. They will also discover Scottish culture. It’s a light read. 

Where are you located? 

I currently live in Montreal (Canada).  

(I have been to the province of Nova Scotia where my character is from, and plan on going to Scotland in a couple of years since its part of my husband’s cultural background.) 


Description

A Nova Scotia girl deeply embraces her Scottish heritage through the art of highland dancing.

With her family’s ongoing support, Ainsley’s growing talent and determination lead her to win multiple dance competitions which seeds her eventual career as a renowned dance teacher.


Excerpt

It was a MacKinnon family tradition to attend the Highland Games in Antigonish, Nova Scotia every July; the three-day festival was a grand celebration of Scottish music, sports, and culture.  

Ainsley had gone to the Scottish festival every single year since she was born, but her earliest memories dated back to when she was four years old. She remembers watching some of the female Highland dancers practicing a choreography on the green grass of the well-maintained field, and clumsily trying to imitate their feet and leg movements while hopping. She held her left hand on her hip like a teapot handle and her curved right one up in the air with her fingers pinched. Her parents apparently thought it was cute, and asked her if she would like to take dance lessons. Ainsley had excitedly said yes while jumping up and down. 

The young girl was just as excited when she went shopping with her parents for her dance clothing. She required a bodysuit, dance shorts, knee-high socks, and of course Ghillies.  

After trying on her first pair of dance shoes, Ainsley did not want to take them off. Duncan ended up paying for them and carrying his petite daughter to the car with the black leather Ghillies still on her little feet. Ainsley only removed the soft shoes when it was time for her evening bath, but would have entered the water-filled tub with them on had she been allowed to do so. 

In the weekly half hour children’s Highland dance classes Ainsley ended up taking, she learned a basic Pas-de-Basques step as well as Highcuts. Although easily excitable, she was always attentive when her pleasant seventeen-year-old teacher showed her and the other little girls around her age new steps.  

Ainsley loved practicing all the moves to the various bagpipe music Miss Melanie played in the small dance studio. She also liked looking at herself in the large floor to ceiling mirrors when she danced, to make sure she was doing everything right. When she got frustrated at doing something incorrectly, Miss Melanie would calmly tell her it was okay and to keep trying. “You’ll get it,” she always encouraged with a smile. 

After each class, Ainsley always enthusiastically showed her interested parents what she learned. She rarely took off her beloved Gillies afterwards, and sometimes wore them to bed. Ainsley danced in her dreams. 

If she felt like performing and her parents were too busy to watch, Ainsley placed all her stuffed animals and dolls on the living room couch and lively danced for them without music. She would sometimes mimic bagpipe noises with her vocal cords as she performed. Ainsley would always bow at the end of her random solo shows, and thank her special audience for watching. 

When Ainsley’s grandparents on her mother’s side visited, they would ask Ainsley to dance for them. She was more than happy to do so, and would run off to get her dance shoes; if she was not already wearing them.  

Seeing their precious granddaughter cutely bounce around energetically always brought a smile to the Wilson’s faces. They clapped at the end of her short performances and yelled out “Encore!” Ainsley would dance for them again and again until she ran out of energy. 

Highland dancer at highland games in scotland, UK

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