About the Dances


Scottish Highland dancing is a great way for girls and boys to develop good co-ordination, posture, muscle tone, stamina and flexibilty.  New students develop self-discipline and confidence as they learn the intricate footwork and physical demands of the dances.


Scottish Highland Dancing is one of the premier events at Highland Games throughout the world including Scotland, England, Northern Ireland, Europe, USA, Canada, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Russia and Japan.


The main styles of dance are the traditional Scottish Highland Dances and the graceful Scottish National Dances as well as the Sailor's Hornpipe, Irish Jig and Choreography.


Traditional Scottish Highland Dances

​​Students train in 4 Highland Dances all of which are performed in the traditional kilt.

  • Highland Fling evolved around 1790 and signifies victory following a battle. The warriors made this dance a feat of strength and agility by dancing on their upturned shields. The graceful curve of the arms and hands in this dance are thought to represent a deer's antlers.

  • Sword Dance orginated after a battle in 1054 when Malcom Canmore, crossed his opponent's sword with his own and danced over them celebrating his victory. Warriors also performed the Sword dance prior to battle and if a warrior touched the swords, it was considered a bad omen symbolizing injury or death in battle. 

  • Seann Triubhas originated as a protest dance reflecting the Highlanders contempt at having to wear trousers when the kilt was prohibited after the 1745 rebellion. It is pronounced "Shawn Trews" which is Gaelic for "Old Trousers". 

  • Strathspey, Highland Reel & Reel of Tulloch were danced towards the end of the 17th century. The Strathspey is thought to be a mourning dance, named after the river "Strath" in the valley of the "Spey". The Reel is supposed to have originated in a churchyard on a cold morning when the minister was late for his service. The congregation kept warm by dancing and swinging each other by the arms.​


Scottish National Dances

Women were originally not allowed to dance the traditional Highland Dances and were forbidden from wearing the kilt, so the National Dances (in the Aboyne dress) were developed so women could particiapte. Today, these dances can also be performed by males but they wear the traditional kilt or tartan trousers. The National Dances are considered more balletic and include:

  • Flora MacDonald's Fancy

  • Scottish Lilt

  • Blue Bonnets

  • Village Maid

  • Scotch Measure

  • The Earl of Errol

Two of the National Dances are still performed in the kilt as they were originally men's dances. They are called the:

  • Highland Laddie - this dance is a tribute to Bonny Prince Charlie

  • Wilt Thou Go To Barracks Johnny? 


Sailor's Hornpipe / Irish Jig / Choreography

  • Sailor's Hornpipe - this dance is performed in a British Sailor's uniform. It derived its name from the fact that usually the music accompaniment was played on a hornpipe (tin whistle) rather than the bagpipes. The dance requires a lot of stamina and mimics a variety of shipboard tasks including climbing the ships rigging, standing watch and hauling in rope.

  • Irish Jig - this is an energetic dance performed in Irish jig shoes and is a parody of Irish dancing. If danced by females, it acts out an angry Irishwoman who's husband has not made it home from the pub. If danced by males, it acts out the happy-go-lucky Irishman facing his wife's tirade.

  • Choreography - choreographed dance consists primarily of movements from the Highland, National, Hornpipe and Jig text books and is predominantly danced to Scottish or Celtic style music which may include vocal or percussion selections.