Highland Dancing, which requires the endurance of an athlete and the artistry of a dancer, is the traditional solo dancing of Scotland. Highland dancing is a competitive and technical dance form requiring technique, stamina, and strength, and is recognised as a sport by the Sport Council of Scotland. 

The Red Thistle Dancers

The Red Thistle Dancers

Scottish Highland dancing is one of the oldest forms of folk dance. Modern ballet and square dance trace their roots back to the Highlands. In the eleventh or twelfth century, the Scottish Highland dances were highly athletic male celebratory dances of triumph or warrior dances performed over swords and spiked shield.

The Red Thistle Dancers

The Red Thistle Dancers

According to tradition, the kings and chiefs of Scotland used the Highland Games as a way of choosing the best men for their men at arms and highland dancing was one of the various ways men were tested for strength, stamina, accuracy, and agility. The Scottish military regiments used Highland dancing as one form of training to develop stamina and agility.

The Red Thistle Dancers

The Red Thistle Dancers

The Sword Dances, "Ghillie Callum" and "Lochaber" include dancing over two naked swords which are laid across each other on the floor, while the dancer moves nimbly around them. Legend has it that on the eve of battle the highland chief would call out the clan’s best dancers, who would dance the sword dance. If the dancers successfully avoided touching either blade, then it was considered an omen that the next day's battle would be in the clan’s favour.

The Red Thistle Dancers

The Red Thistle Dancers

The "Highland Fling," "Sword Dance," "Seann Triubhas," and, "Strathspey & Highland Reel" are some of the most well- known dances.

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