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About Us

In its newest incarnation, Red Thistle Music with Lyle Ramshaw (piano) and Micah Reinhold (fiddle) provide a lively and beautiful accompaniment to the dancers performance and continue the tradition of live music for the Red Thistle performance since its inception. 


Red Thistle Music is frequently joined by guest musicians and singers for performances, including Andy Imbrie on piano, Janet Kurnick on violin and Calli Morrow on harp. Their graceful Strathspeys and lively jigs and reels enhance the experience of a Red Thistle show.

Dancing to live music is a special experience, especially when we invite the audience to join in!


Audience participation is a memorable way to complete a performance.

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.


Traditional dances such as the Fling, the Sword Dance, and Seann Triubhas that were traditionally performed by men are now performed by women as well.

The elegance and grace of the Scottish Ladies' Step Dancing, a more balletic form of Scottish dance, complements the strength and power of the men’s dances.

Kamrin MacKnight 

Highland Dance Director

The Red Thistle Dancers have produced a unique series of instructional videos for Scottish Country Dancing available for purchase in our store along with a new release of dances, music, and instructions for "Jennifer's Dances", favorite choreography and accompanying music by founder Jennifer Kelly.

The Red Thistle Dancers
- Scottish Dancing & Music  -

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