Rod Stewart gig for Islands Highland Dance teacher

Claire backstage waiting to go on.
Claire backstage waiting to go on.

The Commonwealth Games has come to a spectacular finish but local dance teacher is still on cloud nine from her part in the celebrations.

Claire Wilson, who runs a Highland Dance school in Lewis and Harris, was chosen to appear in the Opening Ceremony at Celtic Park and was part of group dancing during Rod Stewart’s epic performance.

Originally from Dunoon, Claire took part along with her cousin Ruth, whose Granny Mrs Macauley lives in Sandwick.

Explaining more about the preparations for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Claire said it was all shrouded in secrecy from start to finish!

She said: “Over 27 rehearsals in 23 days I quickly got to know that ‘People make Glasgow’.

“Rehearsals for the Opening Ceremony started under sunshine at Bellahouston Academy at the beginning of my summer holidays, where 500 people in red bibs, wearing name tags, lanyards, radios and each listening intently through earphones to five choreographers, who stood on a gigantic tower at one end of the school pitch, began learning their routine.”

She said the sight of 500 people moving silently around the park was certainly bizarre but it all came together perfectly.

She stressed the dedication by everyone to making the performance a success was key with 500 people keeping it all secret and ensuring they attended every rehearsal.

But with commitments at home in Lewis, constant trips to Glasgow were a must for Claire.

With the fine details of the performance remaining a mystery until the very last minute, the final secret was only revealed at the whole cast rehearsals – the dancers would be performing with Rod Stewart.

“We first performed infront of 15,000 Clydesiders, then 31,000 family and friends, and finally, on Wednesday 23rd to the Queen; 40,000 spectators, and the millions at home and across the Commonwealth and indeed the world,” said Claire.

“As Rod Stewart appeared from under the stage the noise in the stadium ascended.

“My back was to him and on count ‘&8’ I swivelled round and could not help let out a loud screech.

“I was so close, but had to concentrate on the routine as through our ear pieces we were still being directed.”

The dance finale was a mash up of the Gay Gordons, the Cumberland Square Eight (aka the Helicopter Dance) and a chance to show off their own dance skills.

Claire continued: “Of course as it was a Scottish affair I stuck to Highland, demonstrating a Highland Reel movement followed by a double leap.

“The atmosphere was electric, the constant grin across my face said it all.

“I loved every second; even the long waits behind the stage meeting new friends and old, the constant re-runs of the entry and exits points, the constant re-runs of the routine and the nervous waits in the “voms” (entrance tunnels) ready to come onto stage.”

She added: “The best part however was when the cameras stopped rolling and the party nations like Uganda, Papa New Guinea and Jamaica etc all started a mass dance off...of course I joined in!”