Shot of Scotch was founded on the basis of love for Highland dance, by members incidentally holding careers in completely different fields, but focused on keeping our Scottish community thriving. Shot of Scotch co-founder, Kendra Monroe, recently had the opportunity to sit down with a renowned dancer in the Highland community that holds the same ideals - and a Doctorate in Physical Therapy! Laura (Donlan) Delamarter, an accomplished Premier Highland dancer from Baldwinsville, NY, began her career at the wee age of eight. She would later compete in championships across the United States, Canada, and even qualify for a highly coveted spot at the world championships at the prestigious Cowal Highland Gathering.
In our interview, Laura links her Highland and professional careers, and sheds light on how dancers can enjoy the art of dance well into adulthood.
KM: How did you decide to pursue your career as a Physical Therapist?
LD: When I was younger I had Achilles tendinitis and went to physical therapy for it. Physical therapy helped so much and got me back to dancing again and it was at that time I decided to I wanted to help other people continue to do what they love.
KM: How did you start Highland Dancing?
LD: My mom is a highland dance teacher and she taught at our house all the time. So I grew up watching dancers and decided that's what I wanted to do! There was a small group of highland dancers in Vermont where I grew up. It wasn't a very common activity- most people I met had no idea what highland dancing was.
KM: Did your childhood dancing career play a role in your chosen career path?
LD: It definitely did. Being involved in highland dancing has made me aware of proper stretching, warm-up and exercise techniques which is tied into physical therapy. Also experiencing physical therapy because of a dancing injury really opened my eyes to a great career path
KM: How has your profession helped your dancing and athletics?
LD: I have learned many different stretching techniques, soft tissue techniques and just general training methods because of physical therapy.
KM: What other physical activities do participate in?
LD: I have done some obstacle course races such as the Tough Mudder and have done some 5ks. I really enjoy being outside and being active, so kayaking and hiking is something I like to do also!
KM: Do you train any differently as an adult than you did as a younger competitor?
LD: There is a big difference between how I train now, compared to my younger days. I do more cross training now than I did when I was younger. I would dance almost everyday when I was young and now I dance three or four times a week and alternate with going to the gym. I have also learned how to practice smarter when I dance now.
KM: Do you feel training in general has changed since you were a young competitor?
LD: I think dancers and teachers are more aware of over training and how cross training is important to help with strength and injuries
KM: How do you best avoid injury? And what are your best injury prevention tips?
LD: One of the reasons I cross train now is to avoid over-use injuries which are very common with dancers. I also made sure to warm up properly and stretch after both practicing and competing. Rest days are very important also and I think many dancers don't take enough rest days.
KM: How do you overcome/treat your injuries?
LD: I have had a couple injuries this year- calf strain and a bad ankle sprain. I did some cross training and strengthening during this time because I couldn't dance. For a muscle strain rest is important along with stretching. I will admit I am not a very good patient and get impatient when I have injuries!
KM: What is your best piece(s) of advice to dancers (and athletes) that want to remain active throughout their adult life?
LD: Listen to your body- if you have an ache or pain don't ignore It and hope it will go away. Rest, ice, stretch. Whatever you need to do to keep healthy!
KM: What are your professional goals?
LD: I would love to specialize and treat more dancers because dancing is such a unique sport and many physical therapists don't understand it. I would also like to take more courses in sports and conditioning.
KM: What are your highland dancing goals?
LD: I love dancing and just want to keep improving my dancing. I would love to go back to Scotland again and dance at Cowal. As long as I still enjoy it and am still improving I will keep dancing :)
KM: Outside of performing, training, and competing, what other ways are you involved in the Highland Dance community?
LD: I have taught a few workshops for both dancing and cross training. I contribute different exercises to the eastern region newsletter. I am looking forward to being involved in the 2018 USIR.
KM: You obviously have a passion for Highland Dance. How has it specifically enriched your life?
LD: I have had so many great travel experiences- too many to count, which has allowed me to see so much of this country and Scotland. I have made some of my best friends through dancing as well. Dancing has given me more confidence, focus, determination and has given me so much happiness.
KM: What advice do you have for parents who would like their children to start Highland Dancing?
LD: I think highland dancing is a great sport to get your children involved in. It's fun, can give you the opportunity to travel and make great friends. It helps kids learn self discipline, focus and helps with coordination as well. It really forces kids to use their heads too-lots of thinking is involved in learning new steps and improving technique.
KM: What advice do you have for an adult (of any age) who would like to learn to Highland Dance?
LD: I would say it's never too late to start dancing! Listen to your body and give yourself rest days and cross train. As we get older injuries are more common and take longer to recover from.
KM: Thanks so much for taking the time to chat, Laura! When can NYC expect to host you next and see your beautiful dancing?
LD: I will be at the tartan day parade in April! I participated a few years ago and it was a lot of fun- looking forward to it next year!