This is the oldest and probably most familiar of the Highland Dances. Today you will see that a good dancer does not move from the now imaginary hat, and raises her arms like a proud stag.
This is one of the Scottish National dances. Flora MacDonald was a courageous young woman from the Isle of Skye who helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape from Scotland after his defeat at Culloden.
Give a Scotsman a little time to himself and a simple instrument and he will wind up dancing. In the age of the great sailing ships sailors used some of their free time mimicking their day-to-day tasks in dance. The Hornpipe is now one of the favorite Scottish dances. As you watch, you will still see the sailors climb ladders, coil rope, haul cable, and stand lookout duty.
The Ghillie Callum, the solo Sword Dance, is a very old and powerful dance. Dating from the days of Malcolm Canmore, this dance, like the Highland Fling, began as a victory dance after battle. After winning a duel Canmore took his and his opponent's sword, crossed them on the ground, and leapt jubilantly over them. Today you will still see those joyous leaps, as well as a very precise set of steps.
The Scottish Reel is one of the few opportunities Highland dancers have to dance together. Four dancers do this elegant dance together (though they are judged as individuals) in the traditional weaving pattern of a reel. It begins in stately Strathspey tempo then picks up to the lively reel tempo for the last half of the dance.
There are some times when you do not need an excuse, such as a battle, to dance. You are just so pleased to be a Scot that you have to dance! The Scottish Lilt is one of those dance; it is a very graceful, ballet-like dance that celebrates our life and heritage.
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