Piper Eilidh Inspires New Dance Work

A powerful and emotional musical tribute with dancers spanning the length of Britain has been unveiled in memory of Manchester Arena victim Eilidh MacLeod to support the work of the music education charity set up in her memory, writes Iagan MacNeil.

Composed by musician Glenn Ross, ‘A Dance for Eilidh’ was inspired by the story of the 14-year-old from the Outer Hebrides, her creativity and love of music as well as the vision of hope that the Eilidh MacLeod Memorial Trust strives to achieve in her name.

Complementing the instrumental music, which has a distinct Scottish flavour, are dancers of all ages from Eilidh’s home island of Barra in the Hebrides and Dorset on England’s south coast – almost 500 miles apart. The dancers stepped forward to contribute their skills for the tribute after an appeal by Glenn for volunteers to perform and provide their own expressive interpretation of the composition.

‘A Dance for Eilidh’ has now been compiled into a video featuring the dancers and released to help raise awareness of the Eilidh MacLeod Memorial Trust and raise funds to support their work with young musicians. 

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The composition is in three parts. The first captures the freedom of island life reflecting Eilidh’s upbringing on the Isle of Barra before moving to build excitement and trepidation of new adventures and experiences that come with youth. The final section reflects loss and deep sorrow but ends on a note of hope and positivity to encapsulate the mission of Eilidh’s Trust. 

The dancers mirror the musical story and create a powerful visual expression of it.

A Dance for Eilidh’ will now support Eilidh’s Trust which was established in 2018 in memory of the talented musician from the Isle of Barra who died in the Manchester Arena attack in May 2017. The trust supports music education for young people reflecting Eilidh’s own love of music and her musical ability and enjoyment as a piper with the local Sgoil Lionacleit Pipe Band. The trust will also manage and maintain a permanent memorial to Eilidh and a garden of remembrance and reflection on Barra.  

Composer Glenn Ross said: ‘ Eilidh’s story resonated so much with me, in particular her love of music and I was eager to do something to pay tribute and support the work of Eilidh’s Trust. ’A Dance for Eilidh’ has been two years in the making but it has been a project I have loved and feel I have produced a piece of art that reflects Eilidh’s life and captures the hope the charity aims to create with other young musicians in her memory. 

‘The music has more than a hint of Scotland in it, in particular a Hebridean life of golden beaches, flower covered fields, heather clad hills and gentle summer breezes, all of which surrounded Eilidh as she grew up on the Isle of Barra. I hope the listeners will be able to close their eyes and visualise themselves walking in the serene surroundings of the Hebrides. I am particularly grateful to all the dancers who volunteered their time to take part in this project and I am delighted with what they have done for us.’

Suzanne White, founder of Eilidh’s Trust added: ‘We are very grateful to Glenn and all the dancers for this creative piece of music and dance. It is a truly beautiful piece of art that we feel encapsulates what Eilidh’s Trust is all about. ‘A Dance for Eilidh’ will help us continue our valuable work with young musicians in Eilidh’s memory.’

Mairi MacLean from the Isle of Barra, whose dance school took part in the video, commented on why they got involved: ‘We were delighted to be part of ‘A Dance for Eilidh’ and contribute to Glenn’s vision of creating a tribute but also adding to the hope and positivity of Eilidh’s Trust. This was very personal to us all at the dance school and we wanted to be involved. Knowing the story of the music made it easy for us to create an interpretation in dance that helps to bring it to life.’ 

‘A Dance for Eilidh’ was written and performed by guitarist Glenn with the piano arrangement by Robin Howes.

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