Scottish Highland dancing is a very aerobic dance form (which is also recognised as a sport) and is best described as a mix of folk and ballet. It has similar feet and arm positions to ballet, in comparison to Irish dancing, which is a bit more like tap dancing. It’s not as well known (in Australia) as Irish dancing which came to the fore with advent of Riverdance but it’s gaining in popularity here and we got to see the dancers perform at both visits of the Edinburgh Military Tatoo held in Sydney in 2005 and 2010.
Everything in highland dance is related to Scottish culture and history, for example the Seann Truibhas, which means “ragged trousers.” This is a reference to the time in history just after the ban on the kilt was revoked. It contains many kicking or shaking motions of the legs, representing the kicking off of the trousers.
The Ghillie Callum or Sword Dance is a traditional battle dance. The Highland Fling is a dance of victory. The Barracks Johnnie was a traditional recruitment dance performed to the tune ‘Scotland the Brave.’
The dance form can be quite versatile with a mix of contemporary and highland forms.
Two of my daughters, 20 years old and 8 years old, are highland dancers and have classes together. The older girl has been dancing for about 8 years and the youngest started a year ago after a couple of years of learning ballet.Dancers may choose to compete and/or do examinations which can lead to a teaching qualification. More information here.