Dancers take centre stage at annual jigging competition

Competitors in the Men’s and Women’s categories combine for a post-awards performance at the Prince Albert Winter Festival Jigging Competition on Sunday, Feb. 17. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

Kala Montgrand learned jigging the way some people used to learn how to swim: by getting thrown into the deep end of the pool.

Of course, in this case the “deep end” was the middle of a dance floor, but the prospect of learning to dance that way was still daunting. She wouldn’t have had it any other way.

“My grandmother used to take me to dry dances across the province. They’d just played fiddle music all night and she would throw us on the floor,” Montgrand remembered with a chuckle. “We had no choice but to learn, basically. I’m glad she did.”

Almost 20 years later, Montgrand is still jigging. She was one of many competitors who took the E.A. Rawlinson stage for the annual Prince Albert Winter Festival Jigging Competition on Sunday.

As an adult, Montgrand said the love for dancing is still there, but it’s about more than just having fun. It’s a way to stay healthy, build relationships, and maintain a cultural heritage.

“It’s great exercise, but not only that, we get to travel all over the country, dancing and showing off our culture, making money of course, and passing it on to people, which is really fun to do,” she said.

The annual jigging competition has been a Winter Festival mainstay for as long the current group of organizers can remember.

Dancers like Montgrand credit that longevity to the entertainment factor, and to how easy it is to take part, as evidence by the youth competitors who took part in the competition.

“It’s something where, right as soon as they learn how to walk, they’re dancing,” she said.

Prince Albert Winter Festival Jigging Competition champions

Tiny Tots: Dineen Dobersheck

Youth (ages 16-12): Janeisha Tawipisim

Junior Women (ages 13-17): Delphina Highway

Adult Women: Sharon Johnson

Junior Men (ages 13-17): Brennan Linklater

Adult Men: Timothy Linklater