Dating back to before recorded history, the Highland Dances of Scotland were originally highly athletic male dances of triumph, joy, and other reflections of emotion. Competitive Highland dancing as we know it began during the revival of interest in Highland culture during the 19th century. Women first began competing at the turn of the century. Highland dances require both athletic and artistic skill and are danced both informally and in competition. In competition, dancers are judged on three elements: timing, technique and general deportment. Timing is the dancers ability to follow the rhythm of the music. Technique concerns the dancers footwork and the coordination of head, arms and hands. Good positioning of the feet is most important. General Deportment concerns the dancers interpretation and ability to capture the spirit and motif of the dance and includes balance, overall appearance, bearing and carriage of the head, arms, body and hands. Upright posture is essential, and the dancers must exhibit a happy demeanor. Although the dances are very athletic, they must be danced with seeming ease, with no signs of strain and free of elaborate showiness. For competitive purposes, each dancer is ranked according to one of five groups: Primary, under 7 years of age; Beginner until winning 6 different contests; Novice, until winning 6 more competitions; Advanced Intermediate, for one year from date of last Novice competition; and the big leagues, Championship or Premiere. There are age classifications in each group.
Making sure you warm up before dancing is always a good thing. It will prevent injuries and also help you dance to the best of your ability. Sanding or wetting the bottoms of your Ghillies so you don’t slip on the stage. Taping injuries so that they don’t get worse by dancing on them.
At all competitions run under the Association dancers will dance in reverse order of enter, i.e. first to enter will be last to dance unless otherwise stated on the entry form. Dancers must dance to pipers supplied by the dancing committee. Dancing committees must be careful to select reliable pipers for dancing. All dancers must be registered with S.D.B.C., (ScotDance B.C.) or other registration scheme which is recognized by the S.O.B.H.D., (Scottish Official Board Of Highland Dance), prior to receiving awards. Pre-Premier dancers who attain a first, second, or third placing must have their registration card stamped. All scoring will be done as outlined by the S.O.B.H.D. The competition committee may cancel or combine classes as deemed necessary. The Association will not be responsible for ant accidents, injury or illness to competitors or spectators at any of its competitions. All steps for Highland dance must be taken from the Official Text Book of the S.O.B.H.D.
This can go from a theatre stage, to a gymnasium floor, to an outdoor platform in Scotland. Depending on the weather, outdoor platforms are most of the time very slippery, so we must be prepared by sanding our shoes ahead of time.
Highland dancing has 4 different dance categories; Highland, National, Sailors Hornpipe, and Irish Jig. In the ‘Highland’ component dancers are required to wear a traditional kilt, tartan of their choice, along with wool socks and velvet jacket or vest. Must always be accompanied by a ‘dickey.’ In the ‘National’ component dancers were something slightly different than a kilt. More of a ‘pretty’ skirt compared to the kilt. Also accompanied with a velvet vest and dickey. As for the Hornpipe, a dancer must wear a sailor suit. The Jig was a dance based on a washerwoman, so the dancer is required to wear a red or green dress with jig shoes that are have slightly higher heels.