Highland Dances

The Highland Dances 

Highland Fling

Likely the oldest of the traditional dances of Scotland, the Highland Fling signifies victory following a battle. The warriors made this dance a feat of strength and agility by dancing on their upturned shields which had a sharp spike of steel projecting from the center. Dancers learned early to move with great skill and dexterity. Others say the sight of a deer prancing on a hillside inspired the Highland Fling. The upraised arms and hands in the dance represent the deer’s antlers.

Sword Dance (Gillie Callum)

Legend has it that Malcolm Canmore, a Celtic Prince who fought a battle in 1054, created the initial Gillie Callum. Triumphant, he crossed his opponent’s sword with his own and danced over them celebrating his victory. It is also said that the warriors danced the Sword Dance prior to battle. If the warrior touched the swords, it was considered an omen symbolizing injury or death in battle.

Seann Triubhas (Old Trousers)

This dance originated as a political protest dating back to 1745 when the wearing of the kilt was an act of treason. Pronounced “shawn trews”, this Gaelic phrase means “old trousers”. The beautiful, graceful steps reflect the restrictions imposed by the foreign trousers. The lively quick time in the dance recreates the Highlanders’ celebration of rediscovered freedom.

The Reels

The Reel O’Tulloch is said to have started in a churchyard on a cold winter morning when the minister was late for his service. The parishioners tried to keep warm by stamping their feet, clapping their hands and swinging each other by the arms.