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Mendhi hands by Pushpa Jain. Photographer unknown. All rights reserved.Fish decoy. Photo by Pearl Yee Wong. All rights reserved.Embroidered dress detail. Photo by Pearl Yee Wong. All rights reserved.Cedar bird by Glen VanAntwerp. Photo by Al Kamuda. All rights reserved.
Michigan Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Awards

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Allison Gibson Murad and Maggie Callender
2017 master artist and apprentice
East Lansing, Lansing (Ingham County)
Scottish Highland dance

Allison Gibson Murad has a strong familial connection to Scottish dance and culture. Her paternal grandparents emigrated from Scotland to the United States in the early 1900s. To keep her connected to her heritage, Allison’s parents enrolled her at age 10 in Scottish Highland Dance lessons taught by Tracey Walton. After two years of competing and performing regularly, she visited Scotland where she was able to meet her family and even compete. She represented dancers from the Midwest region at the National Championships from 2002-2005. Her passion for dance continued through at Alma College, which she attended on a partial Highland Arts scholarship. She studied under noted instructor Christie Freestone, and passed her dance teaching examination with the highest rating.

Allison founded the Gibson School of Highland Dance in 2011. It is the only school of its kind with a certified teacher within 50 miles. She also co-founded Lochanna Mora Highland Dance Company, a small group of professional adult dancers. She is involved with the Glen Erin Pipe Band and is the Midwest representative for the United States Scottish Dance Alumni Association.

Maggie Callender has been Highland dancing for three years and attends class with Allie at least once per week. Her father’s family is Scottish, which helped to pique her interest in this dance form. Her goal is to be able to learn more dance theory and history so that she can educate her classmates and community, as well as compete and move into the intermediate level. She hopes to one day be a Scottish Highland dance teacher herself.

-Micah Ling

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