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D&E dancer performs for Queen of England

By Sam Kirk,


ELKINS, W.Va. (WBOY) — A student and Highland Dancer at Davis & Elkins College got the chance of a lifetime to perform for one of the world’s most prestigious people.

Gabby Pealer is a junior at D&E and the only featured dancer performing with the Sons of Scotland Pipe Band of Ottawa, Canada—a bagpipe band that regularly performs for the queen and other royals. While in their current tour throughout Scotland, Pealer is the only American in the group.

One stop on the group’s tour is a private performance for Queen Elizabeth II. On Wednesday, Pealer and Sons of Scotland performed at the royal family’s summer estate, Balmoral in Deeside. The event was part of the Platinum Jubilee celebration for Elizabeth II’s 70th anniversary of her reign.

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“Each of us in the group, musician, dancer, or guest, has a mixture of excitement and nervousness for our performance,” Pealer said Tuesday via Messenger. “I could not be more happy to represent my country as the one American citizen and featured dancer in this tour. My band mates have created the best atmosphere I could hope for, and we all feel like family in our residential flats. Although tomorrow presents our greatest performance yet, I feel peaceful. With over 160 performers and guests to be hidden on the lawn of Balmoral Castle, and a private reception in the adjacent cottage for performers to meet royals currently staying at the castle, it will be a venue not soon forgotten.”

A longtime member of the West Virginia Highland Dancers, the Elkins native joined the D&E troupe in 2020. She dances at the premier/championship level and last year earned her Highland Dance Teaching Certification. In July, Pealer received her first championship with a sixth-place finish in the Sailor’s Hornpipe at the 2022 ScotDance Championships in Madison, Wisconsin.
Pealer displays a framed certificate from Elkins Mayor Jerry Marco recognizing her representation of the community. (Courtesy: Davis & Elkins College)

When D&E leaders learned of her invitation, they were eager to sponsor her trip.

“Gabby has worked incredibly hard on her dancing and she is so deserving of this amazing opportunity,” said Katy Dillon, advisor to the Davis & Elkins College Highland Dancers and Pealer’s mentor for several years.

Pealer did miss the first week of classes at D&E for the performance, but the release from the college said it was with good reason.

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