About The Dances

Highland dancing is both a sport and an art form, and each traditional dance holds a history behind it. The highland dances were traditionally done by the men to prepare themselves for battle in ancient times, while the feminine Aboyne dances were traditionally danced by the ladies. Highland dancing is an excellent form of exercise, as well as a skill that focuses on grace, coordination, and strength.

 

The Sword Dance

The Sword Dance (Gillie Callum) is danced over two crossed swords, that of the triumphant warrior and the fallen adversary. It was also danced prior to battle, and the legend was that if the warrior touched the crossed swords while he was dancing, he would fall in battle the following day.

The Sword Dance, Lady Dancers

The Sword Dance, Men Dancers


 
 

The Highland Fling

Like the Sword Dance, the Highland Fling was a dance done by warriors to prepare for battle. The eve of the battle, the warriors would turn over their shields and dance atop them. The Highland Fling is the only dance that is stationary, and though it is often the first dance that beginners learn, it is rigorous and challenging, full of beauty. The grace of the dance, some say, was taken from the stag. The raised hands and arms are to be the antlers, while the precision and lightness of foot reflects the grace of a bounding stag.


 
 

The Seann Triubhas

‘Seann Triubhas’ is Scottish Gaelic for ‘Old Trousers.’ Back in 1745 when the speaking of the Gaelic, the playing of bagpipes, and the wearing of the kilt was banned, this dance was formed. The first steps of the dance show the dancer trying to shake off the hated English trousers, while the last step(s) shows the joy of the dancer of regaining their beloved kilt.


 
 

The Reel of Tulloch

The Reels are made up of four dancers performing the weaving Strathspey and Reel movements. Its origins are that of a chill Scottish winter morn. The minister of the kirk (church) was late, and so his parishioners were left to their own devices in the churchyard until he arrived. To keep themselves warm, they danced these reels.


 

 

 

The Lilt

Often this is the first Aboyne dance learned by beginners. Set in waltz tempo, this is a graceful and lilting dance.

Scottish Highland Dance -The Lilt

Tacoma Highland Games, Lilt


 

 

 

The Flora

The Flora is often the second Aboyne dance that beginners learn. It commemorates Flora MacDonald, a courageous woman who helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape from Scotland to France after the fatal Battle of Culloden in 1746. She is said to have danced this for him as he left Scotland’s shores.


 

 

 

Additional Videos

Blue Bonnets Over the Border

Village Maid, Highland Games in Enumclaw

Irish Jig, Highland Games in Enumclaw

The Sailor’s Hornpipe