So this post hasn’t worked out exactly as planned – as Glow is insisting to view the video from the post you have to download it – but don’t worry, I promise it’s worth it!
I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to share a bit of Scottish Culture – Highland Dancing!
Albeit one of the oldest styles out there, it was traditionally only danced by men. (Which is very different nowadays, as the sport is now around 95% female!) In the past, the style was used as a way of selecting the strongest men for battle, as the dances test strength, stamina, accuracy and agility.
This particular dance that I have filmed (myself!) doing, is the highland fling. Historically, it was danced on a small round shield by soldiers heading into battle. Nowadays, as a solo dance, dancers are only encouraged to dance on the spot, no shield needed! it is the first dance in the programme at competitions where it can either be 4 or 6 steps long. This dance was inspired by the Stag – the arm movements used represent the animal’s antlers. There is a legend that states an old shepherd was giving his grandson a lesson on the chanter when he spotted a stag in the distance. The Grandson got up and imitated the stag, whilst moving to the music of the chanter – alas, the Highland Fling was born!
There are some lovely stories behind other highland dances. One of which is the sword dance (OR “Gillie Callum”). This would be performed by a soldier over two crossed swords, prior to battle. He would dance around them and then over them, getting faster towards the end. If he was to touch the swords at any point, it would be a bad omen for the battle ahead. Nowadays, this is obviously not the case, but a clattering of the swords will have you disqualified and you won’t place in the dance! Luckily for younger dancers, there is some leeway, if they gently touch the swords, it only means some points are deducted…
The Seann Truibhas (“shin trews”) is another great story. The name comes from the Gaelic word for “old trousers”, and there is very good reason for this. In 1745, the kilt was banned, and this meant it could not be worn for dancing purposes, therefore, the dancers were forced to find an alternative. Thus, being the tartan trews! The dance starts off very graceful and has a lot of shaking momevents of the legs, this symbolises the hatred to the garments they were wearing and is supposed to look like they are being kicked off! The final step of the dance is faster, and ends with a leap (front-split like movement in the air!), demonstrating the satisfaction of finally being allowed to wear a kilt again in 1782.
Highland Dancing has grown in popularity over the years and there are now major championships in almost every corner of the Globe. Derivations of the movements have been created and some amazing choreographies have been thought up and performed in front of crowds of thousands!