French Highland dancer picked to perform at Coronation party

The 18-year-old only took up lessons during lockdown but wowed guests at a British Embassy event in Paris

Anna Ewing, left, and Anna Berkani perform

A French student who learnt Highland dancing by watching internet videos during lockdown danced at the British Embassy’s Coronation party in Paris.

Anna Berkani’s usual ballet classes shut when Covid hit so the 18-year-old turned to Highland dancing because it can be done solo.

“I enjoyed it so much that my mum signed me up for Zoom lessons with a dance studio in Edinburgh,” said Ms Berkani.

She has since visited Edinburgh to dance at the studio and in competitions.

Her dance career took another twist when she started studying at Sciences Po, and social media apps matched her with Anna Ewing, 20, who is spending a year there as part of her degree at the University of St Andrews.

“There are only about three Highland dancers in France, and to find Anna at the same university was just crazy,” said Ms Berkani.

They danced together at various events, including in a Scottish-themed pub in Paris, and word of mouth led to the invitation to perform a Highland Fling and Barracks Johnny at the Coronation party in May.

Ms Berkani, who is from Paris, hopes to continue dancing but is torn between ballet and Highland dancing.

“One advantage of the latter is people do it for longer. I’ve even seen 40-year-olds dance!”

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