Davis & Elkins College Highland Dancer Gabby Pealer missed her first week of classes – all with good reason. The junior is representing the College and is the only American and featured dancer performing throughout Scotland with the Sons of Scotland Pipe Band of Ottawa, Canada.
While the opportunity to join her talents with a premier band is amazing in of itself, it gets better. Highlighting the tour is a private performance for Queen Elizabeth II today at Balmoral, the royal family’s summer estate in Deeside. The event marks the Platinum Jubilee celebration for Elizabeth II’s 70th anniversary of her reign.
“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.”
Pealer and the band have made their mark all around Edinburgh putting on shows for the Lord Provost (mayor) of Edinburgh and at Stirling Castle.
The Sons of Scotland have performed regularly for Queen Elizabeth since 2005, each year by simply making the request. In recognition of the anniversary, they again reached out and were invited for the private performance. Wanting to make the event more special, the band contacted partners throughout the world. Players came from Canada, Mexico, the United States, Australia and Scotland, including the Eagle Pipers Society in Edinburgh.
Pealer isn’t yet ready to say how she was selected to join the group and promises to reveal the details this fall in a campus talk geared toward students interested in adding connections into their lives and careers. Nonetheless, 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. “D&E has always been so supportive of Highland dancing, and we are thankful that they sponsored Gabby on this trip of a lifetime.”
A longtime member of the West Virginia Highland Dancers under Dillon’s direction, Pealer 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 added to her long list of awards by receiving her first championship placing, a sixth-place medal in the Sailor’s Hornpipe at the 2022 ScotDance Championships in Madison, Wisconsin. She also had several placings, including a second in the Highland Fling, during the Pre-Championship competition.
Pealer is the daughter of Monica and Ray Pealer of Elkins.