Highland Dancing is regarded as being one of the most sophisticated forms of national dancing in the world and whilst it is almost impossible for dance historians to separate fact from fiction when researching the more popular Scottish dances, the following explanations have gained great currency, probably because they are imaginative and picturesque stories.
Traditionally, dancing competitions included just four standard dances - The Sword Dance, The Seann Triubhas, The Reel of Tulloch and The Highland Fling, but in 1986 a couple of imports were added to the repertoire - The Sailor's Hornpipe and The Irish Jig.
Said to have originated in 1054 when King Malcolm Canmore clashed in battle near Dunsinane with one of Macbeth's chiefs. Having slain his opponent, Malcolm crossed his claymore with that of his opponent to make the sign of the cross and danced in exultation over them. After this time, it is said, clansmen would cross their swords prior to battle and if they could complete the war dance without touching the swords, it signified that they would be the victors.
Said to reflect the highlander's desire to shake off the hated Sassenach trousers that Scots were forced to wear when the kilt was prohibited after the 1745 rebellion. The dance is performed in the then much-hated triubhas (pronounced trews) and the slow tempo shows the dancer's disgust. The quicker steps show either the dancer's attempts to shake off the offending garment, or the pleasure at the rescinding of the ban in 1782. The very great French influence on Scottish culture is shown by the embellishments such as pirouettes and the final French-style entrechat.
Originated in the north east village of Tulloch one winter morning long ago, when the minister was late in arriving. The assembled congregation waiting outside the church doors, stamped their feet and clapped their hands to keep warm and as someone began to whistle a Highland air, the movements developed into a lively dance.
Together with the Sword Dance, the Highland Fling is probably the most famous of Scottish dances. Thought to have originated in about 1790, legend has it that an old shepherd was giving chanter lessons to his grandson on a hillside when he saw a stag rearing and wheeling in the near distance. He asked the boy if he could imitate the stag's dance which he did, and hence the steps and the graceful curve of the arms and hands depicting the stag's antlers. The dance is performed on the same spot throughout and this is held to be because the clansmen of old danced it on their targe (leather-covered, studded shield). Another more prosaic explanation is that the dance evolved as a solo performance of the reel.
Is danced in the form of naval uniform and simulate the hauling on ropes, manning of the yardman, splicing of the mainbrace and other feats performed by seamen under sail.
Is performed in a stylised red and green outfit. Customarily danced to the tune of "Paddy's leather Breeches" and "The Irish Washerwoman". It symbolises Paddy's rage at his breeches being shrunk by a washerwoman and her spirited defiance at the attack on her competence.
Copyright © 2011-2013 - All Rights Reserved - Edinburgh Pipe Band Championships 2012
Website and Hosting by Scotia Web Design Ltd