History of Highland Dance

November 30, 2019

Perhaps absolutely nothing captures the character of Scottish tradition a lot better than the picture of Highland dance becoming carried out at some Highland gathering in a few far-flung spot of the world. This sophisticated kind of nationwide dance has been spread by Scottish migrants around the globe and tournaments are now regularly organised in Australia, Canada, Southern Africa, brand new Zealand as well as the united states of america. Whilst the most performers today entered into these tournaments tend to be female, the origins of the ritualistic dances lay with warriors imitating epic deeds from Scottish folklore.

Relating to tradition, the old kings and clan chiefs used the Highland Games as a way to pick their best men at arms, and also the discipline needed to do the Highland dances allowed men to demonstrate their particular power, stamina and agility.

Although very likely to date back once again to a much previous period, 1st documented evidence of intricate war-dances becoming done to “the wailing music of bagpipes” was at the second relationship of Alexander III to their French bride Yolande de Dreux at Jedburgh in 1285.

Additionally it is said that Scottish mercenaries performed a sword dance ahead of the Swedish King John III at a banquet held at Stockholm Castle in 1573. The party ended up being evidently element of a plot to assassinate the king, the weapons essential to finish the dastardly deed ‘just took place’ is a normal prop when it comes to festivities. Thank goodness for the master the sign ended up being never ever fond of implement the master plan.

A reception given in honour of Anne of Denmark at Edinburgh in 1589 included a “Sword dance and Hieland Danses”, plus in 1617 a blade party ended up being performed before James VI. Nonetheless later on in 1633, the Incorporation of Skinners and Glovers of Perth performed their type of the sword party for Charles I whilst floating on a raft in the exact middle of the River Tay.

It was after the Battle of Culloden in 1746 that government in London attemptedto purge the Highlands of all illegal elements by seeking to crush the rebellious clan system. An Act of Parliament was passed away which made the carrying of tools while the using of kilts a penal offense. The Act was rigorously enforced. So much so it seems that by the time the Act had been repealed in 1785, Highlanders had lost all enthusiasm for tartan garb and lacked the main prop necessary to perform their particular sword dances.

The revival of Highland tradition ended up being considerably boosted when Queen Victoria found the street north and recognised first-hand, the magnificence of Scotland for herself. This revival saw the beginnings of this modern Highland games, with definitely, Highland dance forming an integrated part.

Mainly in order to make judging simpler however, the selection of dances becoming performed were slowly narrowed down over the years and decades that accompanied. The result of this is many standard dances simply got lost, as they were no further necessary for competition purposes. In addition, over the years Highland dancing has actually moved from becoming an exclusively male quest, to 1 that today includes over 95% of feminine performers.

So far as competitive Highland dance is concerned, until 1986 only four standard dances stayed – The Sword Dance (Gille Chaluim), The Seann Triubhas, The Highland Fling plus the Reel of Tulloch. Like a great many other party practices Highland dancing has changed and developed over time, integrating elements which will have their particular origins set in hundreds of years old tradition with elements which can be even more modern.

A few of the legends involving today’s modern-day dances consist of;

The Sword Dance (Gille Chaluim – Gaelic for “the servant of Calum”) One story thought to are derived from the days of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, recalls that whenever King Malcolm III (Canmore) of Scotland killed a fellow chieftain in battle, he celebrated by moving over his own bloody claymore crossed with the sword of their enemy. Yet another tale informs that a soldier would dance around and over entered swords ahead of battle; should their foot touch the blade throughout the party however, then this was considered an ill omen when it comes to after day. Another plus useful explanation is that the party was merely a fitness accustomed develop and develop the nibble footwork needed to remain live in sword-play.

The Seann Triubhas – Gaelic for “old pants” – Pronounced “shawn trewus”, the dance is romantically linked to the highlander’s disgust at obtaining the use the hated Sassenach trousers that they had been forced to wear when the kilt had been banned following the 1745 rebellion. The original slow party actions include countless leg trembling; symbolising tries to shed the hated clothes; the final quicker steps showing the joy of returning to the kilt as soon as the ban concluded in 1782.

The Highland Fling – One legend associates it as a warriors party of success following a fight. It was supposedly danced over a small round shield, with a spike projecting from centre, generally a Targe. Yet another legend connects the dance to a child imitating the antics of a stag rearing and wheeling on a hillside; the curved arms and hands representing the stag’s antlers.

The Reel of Tulloch (Ruidhle Thulaichean) – It was supposedly on one cool morning in the village of Tulloch in north-east Scotland, that lots of years back the congregation were awaiting the minister to allow them into the church. To keep warm individuals started to stamp their particular foot and clap their particular hands, so when some one began to whistle a highland tune your whole developed into a lively dance. A set possibly, later stolen by the cast of Fame! An even more gruesome tale but links the party to a casino game of soccer believed to have-been played because of the men of Tulloch because of the severed head of an enemy.

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Source: www.historic-uk.com
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Traditional Scottish Highland sword dance
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