From After School Dance to the World Stage

Highland dancing is more than just a dance; it’s a celebration of tradition, dedication, and the pursuit of excellence. For Ashleigh Civiello (2010), her journey in Highland dancing has spanned two incredible decades, taking her from Perth to stages around the world.

Ashleigh’s Highland dance adventure began at PLC, where she first learned the art form as part of an afterschool club in the Junior School! Her love for Highland dancing led her to the Scottish Highland Dance Academy, where she honed her skills and passion for this dynamic dance style. Since 2007, she has proudly represented Australia as a member of the OzScot Australia Highland Dance team, travelling the globe to showcase her talent.

Ashleigh’s international Highland dance journey has taken her to Switzerland, Canada, the U.S.A, Scotland, and South Africa. She has not only represented Australia but has consistently achieved success at Highland Dance Championships, both at home and abroad. Her proudest moments, however, are the memories created as part of a team.

“I absolutely love performing”, said Ashleigh. “There is no better feeling than experiencing the excitement and adrenaline rush of putting on an amazing show as a team, knowing that you have put in extensive preparation, rehearsals and teamwork to deliver an amazing show together.”

One of Ashleigh’s most recent highlights was her selection as a member of an International Tattoo Dance team for the 2023 Belgium Tattoo in Oostende. There, she had the opportunity to collaborate with dancers, musicians, and performers from around the world.

“I was incredibly proud to be only one of two Australians who was selected for the team.” Said Ashleigh. “For this particular tattoo, we were required to learn the choreography via Google Classroom prior to meeting up as a team for the first time. We had one online rehearsal before we met in Belgium and had two days to put together three dance items with a team of 36 dancers.”

Returning from the Belgium Tattoo, Ashleigh received further exciting news. She was selected as part of a team of 11 dancers to perform at the 2024 Washington Tattoo and the NYC Tartan Parade, as well as a team of 30 dancers, to take part in the 2024 Belfast Tattoo in Northern Ireland. “I am so grateful for these opportunities and am looking forward to the hard work ahead.” Said Ashleigh.

Not content with personal success alone, in 2017, Ashleigh opened her own Highland Dance studio, the Perth Academy of Highland Dance (PAHD). Here, she imparts her knowledge to students ranging from 3 years old to adults, ensuring that the tradition of Highland dance is passed down to the next generation. She’s also undertaking a journey to become a Royal Scottish Official Board of Highland Dance Adjudicator, a prestigious qualification that reflects her dedication to the art.

Ashleigh’s story doesn’t end there. She’s also fostering the talent of young dancers like Samantha Capelli (2010), a fellow PLC Old Collegian, who attends Highland classes at PAHD and assists Ashleigh with the younger students. Together, they frequently perform at events throughout WA, showcasing the enduring impact of Highland dancing on the community.

In a journey spanning two decades, Ashleigh’s passion for Highland dancing has not only led her to personal achievement but has also had a profound impact on the Highland dance community and those she teaches. Her unwavering dedication and love for the art continue to inspire and enrich the lives of many.

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