Dancers rise to challenge

Dancers rise to challenge

Fifteen dancers from the Margaret Cleves School of Dancing will travel to Melbourne this Easter long weekend to compete in the prestigious Champion of Champions Championship of Australia competition.

The event is Australia’s most prestigious highland dancing event, bringing together competitors both nationally and internationally.

Initially the concept for a Champion of Champions Championship event to be held within Australia, it was the idea of Frank Cleves, the late father of Margaret Cleves School of Dancing principal Margaret Reichelt OAM.

“The event is very significant to me as it was my late father’s brainchild,” Mrs Reichelt said.

“My students have been practising hard over the last few months to prepare for what is the biggest event on our dancing calendar.

“The competition attracts competitors from all over Australia and New Zealand and several from other parts of the world including Scotland.”

The early events were organised by the South Eastern National Dancing Association of which Mr Cleves was secretary for many years, with the event held in Mount Gambier from the mid-1960s.

At a meeting of the Australian Board of Highland Dancing Inc (ABDHI) on April 20, 1974, a motion was carried unanimously by state/regional delegates present ‘the Champion of Champions be held whenever possible in conjunction with the Australasian Pipe Band Championships and that representatives of ABHDI or delegated officials attend’.

It was stated that moving the title in this way would give the championship the prestige it deserves.

At the October ADBHI meeting of that same year, the title was relinquished by the South Eastern National Dancing Association Inc, following a motion by Mr Cleves granting the title to ABHDI.

The first Champion of Champions Championship by the ABHDI was conducted in Mr Cleve’s home town of Mount Gambier in 1976 and has rotated every two years through most states of Australia since.

The title has changed in recent years to ‘The Champion of Champions Championship of Australia’ with the Frank Cleves trophy now presented to the highest placing Australian competitor in the championship by Mrs Riechelt.

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