This page will give you the history of all the highland dances. There are many dance that are done and each has its own history and reasons for the way each dance looks. The dances are the traditional ones Fling, Sword, and the national dances like the Floria Macdonald, Lilt, Wilt thou go to thee Barracks...Johnny!!, and many more!

Just Alittle Clarification!!

Highland Dancing is nothing like Irish Dancing!!!

Highland Dancing the dancers have turn out like ballet danciers whereas Irish dancers do not. The other differents are that highland dancers use their arms, Irish dancers have their arm straight beside them.

We will start with the Fling one of the most common dances.


It is victory dance usually preformed after a victorious battle.It was danced by the warriors over a round sheild called "Targe". Many Targes had a sharp spike in the centre, dancers learnt fast to dance on the spot. The dance is said to represent the Stag (Deer) on the hillside: The fingers are grouped together and arms raised to represent the antlers of the stag. It is a victory dance usually preformed after a victorious battle.

This is a little boy doing a sword (left). My friend Laruen doing a sword (right). This was at the Montreal Highland Games summer '98.

Seann Triubhas

It is pronounced "Shawn Trews". Seann Triubhas is Gaelic for "Old Trousers".
This dance came about from the rebellion in 1745 when Prince Charles challenged England at Cullode, where he lost; and highlanders were not allowed to wear their kilts. After, the Proscription Repeal which gave the Scot their right to wear their kilts and play the bagpipes once again. The seann triubhas is the dance of joy in response to the Repeal in 1782. The movements especially in the first stepare confined and sharp representing the restrictions of the trousers. The following steps are more flowing which shows the freedom of their kilts.

The next type of of dance is called a Reel. It is a dance which is performed in a group.


There are three types of reels. There is a Strathspey and Highland reel, Strathspey and Half Tulloch and there is Stathspey and full Tulloch.
These dances are danced in a group of four. There is a slow part and a quick part to every dance. The slow part is called a Stathspey movement where the dancers move around each other in a figure of eight and once back to their original postion do a setting step or Stationary step, usually one of the fling steps are done. This is done twice with two different setting steps.
The tempo of the music changes which dancers call quick time. the quick time is a reel. During reel or quick time dancers move around each other in a figure eight at a quicker pace, and again once in the origional postion do a setting step, another figure eight is performed and the last setting step all dancers do the same step in competition.

This is a comparison between the Highland dress for men and women and what they also have in common.

Highland Dress
Mens Dress
    Sgian Dhubl(the knife in the sock)

    Womens Dress
      Vest or Jacket
      Silver or Gold edging on jacket or vest
      Silver or Gold Buttons
      White shirt with lace at neck

      Standard Tartan kilt
      Matching socks
      Black Gillies(dancing shoes)


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