Young Lower Branch dancer leaping onto North American stage

by Gayle Wilson

  • <p>CONTRIBUTED PHOTO</p><p>Abbie Smeltzer was 12 when she won a trophy and $500 at the 2019 SDTA North American Highland Dance Conference/Scholarship, held in Seattle, Washington October 11 to 13.</p>
  • <p>CONTRIBUTED PHOTO</p><p>Abbie Smeltzer does a Highland leap at the Space Needle in Seattle.</p>

Thirteen-year-old Abbie Smeltzer of Lower Branch, Lunenburg County, is advancing in leaps and bounds on the North American stage as a Highland dancer.

A student of McKinnon's Dance in Pine Grove, she placed first in the juvenile division at the SDTA (Scottish Dance Teachers' Aliance) North American Highland Dance Conference/Scholarship, held in Seattle, Washington October 11 to 13.

Competing against approximately 50 dancers aged 12 and under, she walked away with a trophy and a $500 scholarship.

The annual competition draws hundreds of dancers from across North America, testing them in a variety of categories such as theory, choreography and execution.

Training under the owner of the dance school, Angela McKinnon, early in November Abbie was nominated to participate at the junior level in next year's competition, which will be held in Dartmouth.

Asked what is her edge, Abbie, who has been dancing she was four years old, responded simply, "I love to dance."

As a proud mother, Heidi Smeltzer, pointed out in an email that her daughter is "very modest, so she didn't tell you she was NS Champion in 2016 and a rep for the NS highland dance team for three years and won a 6th place medal in the Scottish open world highland dance championship in Scotland last year out of over 80 dancers from all around the world!"

In any case, Abbie seems determined to soar on to even greater heights.

"I want to dance all my life and I'm planning on being a dance instructor, like a dance teacher. And maybe even go into judging one day," she told LighthouseNOW.

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