Highland Dancing Events are thought to have originated in the Highlands of Scotland around the 11th Century. The dances were originally performed by men and without a doubt do this sort of dancing a great deal of stamina is needed. Those judging the competition dances look for the precision and timing of the steps in conjunction with the correct arm and leg movements. The dancer should appear both relaxed but in full control of all movements.
Of course the Dancing Events is just one part of a traditional Highland Games; you'll also find the Athletic Events and of course the famous Tossing the Caber or if you don't know what that means, you may have referred to it as, 'poles tossed by Scots'. Then there is the wonderful 'toe-tapping' Music Events with the wonderful pipes and drums. A Highland Games Gathering is well worth attending when you are in Scotland in the summer months. Check out Highland Games in Fife - for this year's venues for the games in the Kingdom.
There is something just wonderful about seeing the men in their kilts and often even the children are dressed in tartan clothes. Of course, you may be asking yourself the age-old question, "What do Scotsmen wear underneath their kilts?" If you're not sure what the difference is between tartan and plaid, please click HERE. However, back to the Dancing Events:
The Highland Fling
According to tradition, the Highland Fling was originally performed by the Highland warrior after battle. Accordingly, it is danced in one spot without travelling steps.
The steps are simple but must be executed precisely with positions being strongly held. This dance is often considered to be the greatest test for the Highland Dance. You'll see this on the programme of the dancing events at all Highland Games. It is a delight to see.
The Sword Dance
This dance is also usually featured at the dancing events of every Highland Games. It was traditionally performed by the Highland warriors on the eve of the battle using the their sword and scabbard. The swords are crossed on the ground to define the dancing spot. According to legend, the warriors that were able to dance the Sword Dance without touching the sword with his feet would be successful in the approaching battle. Again, watching the dancers perform this is a real treat to see.
Strathspey and Highland Reel
The Strathspey and Highland Reel dance begins with the slow tempo of the strathspey, which later changes to the fast tempo of the reel. The basic step is the same as that used in Scottish Country Dancing, combined with figure eight movements. However the Dancers are judged individually in this group dance.
Strathspey and Half Tulloch
Legend tells us that The Strathspey and Half Tulloch is attributed to the movements of cold parishioners used to stay warm. The parishioners were waiting outside the Church one cold morning for a rather tardy preacher! Dancers are also judged individually in this group dance.
Of Celtic origin, the Sailor's Hornpipe is a traditional solo dance known throughout to the British Isles. The name is derived from and English wind instrument made from an ox horn with a costume based on the historical British sailor. The dance depicts shipboard activities such as rope hauling, climbing, looking to the sea and being a bit worse for wear for having one drink too many. This dance makes quite a change from the traditional highland and country dances, and obviously the appropriate costumes are worn.
See also the following pages:-
Athletic Events - Highland Games Categories always include a variety of athletic or sporting competition. Music Events - Learn a wee bit more about the different Music Events which are a common feature in all Highland Games. Tossing The Caber - Look at this wonderful athletic event. If you don't know what it is, you might refer to it as 'poles tossed by Scots'. Highland Games in Fife - for this year's venues for the games in the Kingdom.