About Us

The Red Thistle Dancers were founded in 1973 and are a non-profit organization dedicated to sharing and performing the dances and music of Scotland.  


Headed by Artistic Director Fred DeMarse, the Red Thistle Dancers have been regular participants in the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival since 1977 and were honorees in 1991. 












The Red Thistle Dancers  have performed in the Dance Mosaic in Palo Alto, in concerts and full-length theater productions, at outdoor events and fairs, and for  international festivals, schools, parties, fundraising events, weddings, and conventions.  See our performance calendar for upcoming events or for more information about booking a performance.​

The Red Thistle Dancers perform a variety of traditional Scottish dance forms, including Country Dancing, Highland Dancing, and Ladies' Step Dancing.


Scottish Country Dancing is the ballroom dance of Scotland. It consists of energetic jigs and reels and graceful strathspeys. Our repertoire includes dances dating from the 18th century to the present, including original dances devised by our own dancers.  The Red Thistle Dancers even have a namesake dance, "The Red Thistle," devised by John Drewry, one of the greatest devisors of Scottish Country Dances, dedicated to our director, Jennifer Kelly.

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Fred DeMarse 

Artistic Director

Highland Dancing, the oldest form of Scottish Dancing, is highly technical and vigorous. Highland dancing is  is now recognized as a sport by the Sport Council of Scotland.