Teen steps into tattoo in Scotland

JEMMA McCarthy has been dancing since she was a tot, but even she is feeling a little anxious about her next big gig.

The Redbank Plains teenager will fly to Scotland next month to perform at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo in front of the Queen and a worldwide TV audience of millions.

Jemma is one of Australia's top highland dancers, but says nothing she has previously achieved will match stepping on to the historic stage in Scotland.

“I am excited, but I must admit I'm feeling pretty nervous too,” the 15-year-old said.

“The experience will be great and I'm really looking forward to it.”

Jemma will join only 45 other dancers from throughout Australia who will be performing at the tattoo.

The ambitious and talented dance student has been performing with her dance instructor Lynelle McAtee since the age of four.

Ms McAtee, who has more than 37 years of experience teaching highland dancing, began mentoring Jemma when she was based in Bundaberg.

When Ms McAtee moved to Brisbane in 2001, Jemma's family relocated too.

Ms McAtee is now based in Laidley, where Jemma now trains twice a week for two hours.

“They are a very committed family and Jemma is a very talented student,” Ms McAtee said.

Jemma's mother, who is originally from Scotland, enjoys watching her daughter perform.

Jemma's entire family, including her mother, father, brother and grandparents, will travel with her to Scotland for support.

But before then Jemma, who is the Australian Commonwealth champion for her age, has plenty of other performances planned.

This month she will be competing in the Grand Australasian championships in front of thousands of Aussie “clansmen” in Sydney.

Just days later Jemma will go into lockdown for a week of full-on rehearsals in preparation for her performance in the military tattoo.

This year will be the 60th season of the tattoo, which will also celebrate the 250th anniversary of the birth of Scotland's national bard, Robert Burns.

Australia's highland dancers will be joined on stage by a host of other acts, including the Band of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, Switzerland's Top Secret Drum Corps and the world-famous Massed Pipes and Drums.

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