Also sometimes referred to as "The Darling Diversion," or "Controlled Abandon," Scottish country dance is the traditional dance of Scotland. It’s based on ancient folk dances, mixed with elements of ballet, influences from the Royal court of France, and some overlap with Highland dancing. Scottish country dance was carried around the world by Scottish immigrants, and by Highland regiments. It remains popular world-wide, in places as far away as Paris, Japan, and Moscow. There is an extensive repertoire of dances, some over 300 years old, many newly (and cleverly) devised to incorporate intricate formations. Dances include lively jigs and reels and the distinctively Scottish, and very stately, Strathspey. There are dances for every occasion and theme. "Mairi's Wedding, "The Reel of the 51st Division," "The Bees of MaggieKnockater," and "Roaring Jelly" are sure to delight both the dancers and audience.
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 "Highland Fling," "Sword Dance," "Seann Triubhas," and, "Strathspey & Highland Reel" are some of the most well- known dances. 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. 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 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.
Scottish Ladies' Step Dancing
Traditional Scottish Ladies' Step Dancing is graceful and balletic, an includes such old dances as "Yellow Haired Laddie," "Scottish Lilt," "The King Sweden" and "Miss Forbes," as well as dances of more modern origin. A number of these dance steps were originally choreographed by itinerant dance masters, who would visit villages and towns in Scotland and teach step and Highland dances to the young people. In some cases, the dancing masters would choreograph special dances for favored pupils. This is likely the origin of such named dances as "Miss Forbes." These dances would then be performed at great balls put on by the dancing masters to showcase their talents as choreographers, as well as the dancing prowess of their pupils.