Highland Dance is a traditional style of dancing from Scotland. It is one of two dance forms in the world that are danced entirely on the ball of the foot (the other is Irish step dance). The music is typically a tune on the bagpipes, and a dancer usually wears a kilt. The dances are made up of different parts, called steps. There are usually four or six steps to a dance, which are chosen by the dancer.

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For dance inquiries, contact Allie Lewis: schm2812@umn.edu.

Highland Fling
The Highland Fling is one of the oldest of the traditional Highland Dances. The Fling was a dance to celebrate a victory following a battle and driving away evil spirits. The warriors made this dance a feat of strength and agility by dancing on their upturned shields, or targe. Agility, nimble footwork, and strength allowed the dancer to avoid the sharp spike in the center of the targe, which often projected five to six inches upwards.
Sword Dance
Tradition says the original Ghillie Callum was a Celtic prince who was a hero of mortal combat against one of King Malcolm Canmore’s (MacBeth) Chiefs at the Battle of Dunsinane in 1504. He is said to have crossed his own claymore (the two-handed broadsword of Scotland) over the sword of the defeated Chief and danced over them both in exultation. This dance became a tradition among the highland warriors and in addition to being a test of skill and agility, it was believed that if they could complete the dance without touching the swords, it was a good omen for the coming battle.
Seann Triubhas
Pronounced “shawn trews”, the literal translation from Gaelic means “old trousers”. This dance is reputed to date from the rebellion of 1745 when Bonnie Prince Charlie challenged the might of England at Culloden, and lost. As a penalty, Highlanders were forbidden to wear the kilt. Seann Triubhas is a dance of celebration developed in response to the repealing by the English of the Act of Proscription in 1747, which restored to the Scots the right to wear their kilts and play the bagpipes once more.
Strathspey & Reel
Reels are the only Highland Dances danced by more than one person. The Reel is danced by a team of 4 dancers, initially beginning in a line, and dancing a ‘figure of eight’. In competition, all dancers are judged separately. The Reel is said to have started in a church on a cold winter morning when the minister was late to service. The parishioners tried to keep warm by stamping their feet, swinging each other by the arms, and weaving in and out in a figure-8 pattern between the narrow pews.

For dance inquiries, contact Allie Schmitz: schm2812@umn.edu.

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