Highland Dance

Highland Dancing

Instructor:  Jennifer Stephenson

Scottish Highland dancing is one of the oldest forms of folk dance, and both modern ballet and square dancing can trace their roots back to the Highlands. Dating back to the 11th or 12th century, the Highland Dances of Scotland tended to be highly athletic male celebratory dances of triumph or joy, or warrior dances performed over swords and spiked shield. According to tradition, the old kings and chiefs of Scotland used the Highland Games as a way of choosing the best men for their retinue and men at arms. Highland dancing was one of the various ways men were tested for strength, stamina, accuracy, and agility. The Scottish military regiments used to use Highland dancing as a form of training to develop stamina and agility, and today Highland Dancing is officially recognized as a sport in Scotland.

Competitive Highland dancing started during the Highland revival of Victorian Britain, and was for men only. Ladies began competing only at the turn of the century. Over the centuries the dancing style has become more refined and now shares many elements from classical ballet and has much in common with Irish step dance. Although historically Highland dancing was restricted to men, today it is mostly performed by females. Highland dances require both athletic and artistic skill, with an strong emphasis on precise footwork, timing, techique and deportment requiring arm work.

Beginner & Novice Program: (Part Time)

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 1:15-2:45  (bonus ceilidh dance class to follow till 4:00)*

Newer dancers may come to a shortened program offered each weekday for an hour and a half.  The focus on this class is to strenthen the dancer's knowledge and basic technique and execution and to instill good habits.

*ceilidh dance is open to all CeltFest registered students, and also to non-students by donation to the CeltFest bursary fund.  Parents and siblings are welcome to drop in and attend!

Intermediate & Premier Programs: (Full Time)

Intermediate through to Championship level dancers will be placed in the appropriate classes with a focus on further developing their technique and skill for competition, where applicable.  Highland National dances, Jig and Hornpipe and where time and opportunity permit, a choreography class will be incorporated.

Additional Bonuses in the CeltFest Dance program:

  • Dancer Wellness, conditioniing & injury prevention
  • Brain Gym techniques to "switch on" muscles and provide focus and concentration on performance
  • Irish  & Cape Breton stepdance sessions
  • Irish Ceili, Scottish Ceilidh, and Cape Breton sessions
  • May incorporate some song and/or celtic knotwork art if time permits

Performance Opportunities for Dancers:

Don't forget the Wacky Jig & Hornpipe Contest on Monday night!  Get your costume and Jig or Hornpipe together and come on out to the cafeteria and perform!

Each night after the theatre concerts Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, there will be ceilidhs to follow! There is a good chance of spontaneous dance performances (like the one below) and and ceili dancing happening.  Be there!

CeltFest students receive a reduced ticket price on theatre concerts when tickets are ordered
using their registration form.

highland dance