Scottish & Irish Dance

               Scottish Dance                                      Irish Dance

Scottish Highland Dancing is a celebration of the Scottish spirit. The dances are a spectacular combination of movement, music, and costume. They are generally danced solo, and in competition the music is typically a tune on the bagpipes. The dances are great fun and anyone, not just with a Scottish heritage, who thrills to the sound of the bagpipes, can join in and learn the dances.

The dance stage will host a Scottish Highland dance competition Saturday afternoon. Saturday morning and all day Sunday there will be demonstrations from a variety of dance groups, including Scottish Country, Irish Ceili, Irish Set, and Irish Step dancers.

Dance Stage Schedule

Saturday morning, the dance stage will showcase Irish and Scottish dance demonstration groups.

Saturday afternoon will feature a Scottish Highland Dance Competition.  Scottish Highland Dancing is an athletic art form requiring dancers to excel in strength, stamina, and grace.  Competitors will be performing the dances described below. 

Sunday morning there will be a Scottish Highland Dance workshop, and Sunday afternoon there will be more dance demonstrations from Celtic Dance Groups  

Scottish Highland Dances

Highland Fling

The Highland Fling is one of the most traditional Highland Dances.  It is a victory dance done on the spot, with the arms raised to resemble the antlers of the Highland Stag.  Look for the dancer's raised heels--legend has it that this dance was originally danced on a targe, a shield with a sharp spike in the middle.

Sword Dance

The Sword Dance is another traditional Highland Dance, done over two crossed swords.  According to legend, soldiers used to dance this dance before going into battle.  If they made it through without touching the sword, victory would be theirs.  This tradition is carried over into the world of competitive dancing today--if dancers touch the sword during competition, they are disqualified.

Seann Triubhas

The Seann Triubhas, which means "old trousers" in Gaelic, describes the repression of Scottish culture during the English occupation of Scotland following the Battle of Culloden in 1746.  Scots were forbidden from wearing kilts, and the initial steps of the dance include brushing and shuffling movements commemorating the dancer trying to shake off the unfamiliar trousers.  At the end of the dance, the dancer celebrates being back in the kilt with a livelier tempo and steps. 

Scottish Lilt

Traditionally, the Highland dances described above were only for men.  Not wanting to be left out, women developed their own dances, which often have a more graceful nature than the athleticism of the traditional highland dances.  These dances are called national dances, and the Scottish Lilt is one of the most popular. 

Flora MacDonald's Fancy

Flora MacDonald's Fancy is another national dance.  It commemorates Flora MacDonald, who helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape Scotland following his failed uprising against the English in 1745-6. 

Sailors Hornpipe

The Sailors Hornpipe is a character dance, depicting the work of a sailor at sea. 

Irish Jig

The Irish Jig is another character dance, and reflects the traditional rivalry between the Scots and the Irish by mocking the character of an Irish washerwoman angry at her husband for staying out too late at the neighborhood pub. 


While the dances above have set steps acceptable in competition, choreography allows dancers to express themselves through steps and music of their choice.  Choreographies often create characters and also integrate different dance forms, depending on the background and personality of the dancer. 



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Host Hotel: Marriott Pyramid North

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Rio Grande Valley Celtic Festival

Dance Contact

Emma Trentman
Phone: (505) 275-6633


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