Scottish highland dance

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Dancer at a Highland games

Highland dancing is a traditional dance which comes from Scotland. Highland dancers need a lot of stamina and strength as they need a good sense of aesthetics. They execute the traditional dance in solo to the sound of the great highland bagpipe. The highland dances are very precise and need a lot of coordination.[1] There are many competitions for highland dancing organized around the world, mainly in Scotland, United States, Canada and Australia.

Competition judging[change | edit source]

Dancers are judged on three elements:

  • Timing: First, dancers have to follow the rhythm of the music.
  • Technique: Secondly, they have to execute the step correctly; the position of the feet, arms and head have to be done precisely.
  • Posture: Finally, they are evaluating on their interpretation of the dance. They have to get a good appearance and have to smile like the dance is very easy and natural.[2]

If a dancer does all these three elements perfectly, they have a great advantage over the others.

Highland dances[change | edit source]

Male dancer at a Highland games

Here are the main traditional highland dances:

  • The Highland fling is traditionally a four or six steps dance performed after a victory in a battle.[2]
  • The sword dance is performed around a crossed sword on the bagpipes song Ghillie Calum. It starts with two or more slow steps and ends with one or two quick steps. The aim of the dance is not to displace the sword.[1]
  • The Sean Triubhas is a dance that represents a person who lost his pants. In fact, at one time, Scottish could not wear the kilt and was only allowed to wear pants. In 1747, the British law abolished this old law and gave back to Scottish the right to wear their kilt. So in the first part, the dancers mimic a Scottish trying to put on his pants and in the last part, they mimic one who is getting back his right to wear the kilt and his customs.
  • The Irish jig is a parody of Irish dancing and is performed with red, black or green hard shoes. An angry house wife, because her husband has taken some money to go to the pub, is waiting him at the halt.
Dancer's executing the sword dance. She wears matching tartan hose and ghilies shoes.

Costumes[change | edit source]

Women wear a feminine tartan kilt, a short white blouse with a sleeveless velvet jacket over it, matching tartan hose and ghilies shoes. Men wear a kilt with a sporran, a white shirt with a thin tie, a dark jacket, green or black hose and ghilies shoes.

References[change | edit source]