John Gibson discusses Cape Breton Step Dance and the importance of the Nova Scotia Gaidhealtachd to its study.
Harvey was raised in Port Hastings, Cape Breton. He began step-dancing at 14 and was soon dancing on the summer Scottish concert circuit. Besides being an accomplished dancer, Harvey is also in demand as an instructor. He has performed and taught in many parts of Canada, the US, and Europe, including University College Cork in Ireland, Sabhal Mor Ostaig Gaelic College in Skye, Feis Ross in Ullapool, and Ceòlas in the Hebrides. Although primarily known as a dancer, Harvey is also an accomplished piano accompanist who has played with a number of Cape Breton fiddlers.
Hilda Chiasson-Cormier is one of the most sought after piano players of this generation and has played on more than 50 recordings in Canada, Ireland, Scotland, Denmark and the US. A native of Cheticamp where she played for dances and recorded since she was a teenager, Hilda is also a very good step dancer and has played and recorded with a who’s who of Cape Breton fiddlers including Winston Scotty Fitzgerald, Donald Angus Beaton, Jerry Holland, Carl MacKenzie and J.P. Cormier. Hilda has performed throughout Canada, the US, Scotland, Ireland and Denmark as well as in Dubai, Bahrain, and Afghanistan.
Derrick and Melody Cameron live in Mabou, Cape Breton on the small dairy farm where Derrick was raised. Melody is an accomplished Cape Breton style dancer and fiddle player and they have performed together throughout Canada’s Maritime Provinces and the New England States. Highlights include playing the Stan Rogers Folk Festival and the Washington Irish Folk Festival, teaching workshops and performing at the North Atlantic Fiddle Convention in Aberdeen, Scotland and playing for many dances, pubs and concerts throughout Cape Breton Island. They were featured in the documentary “And They Danced” and have released three recordings.
Zeph Caissie started dancing at the age of four in Vancouver, competing and performing locally and internationally until he was 21. After placing 2nd in the Great Britain and All Ireland Championships and 4th in the World Championships, he signed on with Riverdance The Show, and went toured with the company for 8 years. Upon leaving the show, Zeph choreographed and performed solo pieces with Ballet de Printmeps and Lunasa. He moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia and started his own dance school, Diaga Irish Dance, in 2010. The school has 35 full time dancers from ages 4 to 25.
Kimberley Fraser is a multitalented musician from Sydney Mines. Equally in demand for her fiddle and piano skills, she performs and teaches workshops all over North America and across the Atlantic. A Tic Butler award-winner and St. Francis Xavier graduate in Celtic Studies and Jazz, Kimberley went on to study music at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Still in her 20s, Kimberley has released two records, won an ECMA, played with Ashley MacIsaac, Natalie MacMaster, Gordie Sampson, John Allan Cameron and Irish supergroup Cherish The Ladies and shared stages with such notables as Alasdair Fraser, Lunasa and Danu.
Margie Beaton along with her sister Dawn, comprise the Beaton Sisters from Mabou, Cape Breton. With her ECMA winning CD, “Taste of Gaelic”, she has toured around the globe–most recently to the North Atlantic Fiddle Convention in Northern Ireland and teaching at the Ceòlas school of music in South Uist, Scotland. Her flair for intricate harmonies, graceful steps, and a tasty musical style will feature prominently at Celtic Colours this year, both in her solo performance at Fiddles and Prose, and in the Beaton Sisters Band performance at Roarin’ Roots.
Jennifer was nine years old when she began studying the fiddle with Kyle MacNeil of the world renowned Barra MacNeils. In 1997, Jennifer released her debut CD, and went on to wow crowds in Canada and internationally with her enthusiastically performed jigs, reels and strathspeys and the delicate touch of her slow airs. Jennifer’s third album, For Each New Day, is an energetic mixture of traditional and original material produced by Allie Bennett. The album was nominated for a 2007 East Coast Music Award in the Instrumental Recording of the Year category.