History of RMHD

In the late 1960s and early 1970s there existed a small group called the Highland Dancers of the St. Andrew Society. For about ten years, these dancers performed at St. Andrew Society of Colorado (SASC) functions and organized the highland dancing for the SASC picnic. George and Mickey Barnes were key figures in organizing this group and the area highland dancers. George and Mickey’s daughter, Liz, and son, Craig, were highland dancers. Later in the 70s, a Canadian judge happened to be in Denver and offered to judge the highland dance competition at the SASC picnic. Everyone thought the event was wonderful and decided to organize the group even more.

SASC gave the group $150.00 as seed money, and on September 23, 1979 , the Rocky Mountain Highland Dancers (RMHD) had their first organizational meeting. Among those present at the meeting were: Nancey Stevens, the Patrick family, the Barnes family, the Gillette Family, the Center family,  Debbie Wygent, and the Batliner family. Some of the subjects discussed at this meeting were, as always, dues and fund raising. Also considered was whether to become affiliated with the St. Andrew Society of Colorado , and how many dance workshops and dance competitions to hold each year.

The original By-laws state RMHD’s purpose is to create and encourage the expression of ethnic history and dances of Scotland through performances and workshops. RMHD’s first board, and all others to date, has always kept in mind the best interests of the dancers and the highland dance community, and how to best promote highland dancing and keep it alive in Colorado.

RMHD holds at least two workshops each year bringing in a variety of accredited teachers including Mrs. Betty Lawrence, a Scottish dance teacher, who has been with RMHD since the beginning. RMHD hosts a Mid-winter dance competition and every third year hosts the annual Southwest Regional Competition. Premier dancers placing first, second, or third in their age group at the Regional Competition are eligible to represent the region and compete at the national level in the United States Inter-Regional Championships (USIR). Over the years, RMHD has had many dancers represent our area at the USIR. We have always received moral and monetary support from the St. Andrew Society of Colorado . Although the Colorado Scottish Festival and Rocky Mountain Highland Games are responsible for organizing the highland dance competition at their annual festival in August, many of the organizational committee members and volunteers are RMHD members.

The St. Andrew Society has honored many RMHD dancers by asking them to be the Chieftain’s Dancer. RMHD is delighted to provide dancers for the St. Andrew’s Ball, Burn’s Night Supper, Kirkin of the Tartan and any other function of the Society. RMHD tries to dance at as many performances as they can throughout the Front Range area, often with the Denver and District Pipeband.

It has been 40 years since RMHD became an organization and we are still going strong. RMHD still has many dancers and dance teachers who were either part of the founding group or are children or grandchildren of that group. We can attribute the success of RMHD to the foresight of our founding members, as well as the many fine highland dancers, teachers and parents who provide many hours of volunteer work to keep this a strong community.