Scottish Dancing

Dancing in Scotland

Traditional dance is a hugely vibrant and popular pastime in Scotland today. There are numerous variations throughout the country and many of the styles have much in common with their Irish counterparts.

However, four main categories cover the majority of Scotland’s dance scene.

Scottish Dancing - Celtic Link - Home of the Celts

As in Ireland, the cèilidh – literally meaning ‘a social visit’ – can take place in a house, a village hall, community centre or a much larger venue and involves the dancing and the playing of Gaelic folk music.

Dances are done in couples or in sets of three to eight people and in order to involve as many as possible, they are relatively straightforward. To make sure nobody is left out, there is usually a caller to explain the steps. A cèilidh is a very common feature of a Scottish wedding, accompanied by a cèilidh band of course.

Scottish Country Dancing

is a more formal thing altogether, frequently taking place in grand houses and castles. A mix of formal 18th and 19th century styles and traditional Scottish reels, dances typically comprise four or five couples who face each other to form ‘sets’.

One couple progresses to the bottom and the dance is then repeated until all have returned to their starting positions.

Highland Dancing

Is an energetic discipline requiring a mix of strength and balance to execute the jumps and intricate foot and arm work that make it so distinctive.

Highland Fling

The sword dances and the Highland Fling are iconic parts of Scottish culture. Highland dancing competitions are at the core of the many Highland Games festivals.  

The final discipline is step dancing, which is perhaps less known than the others. Like its Irish counterpart, it is performed in hard-soled shoes with a rhythm tapped out to music played on pipes or fiddle.

Find out about other Celtic Dancing:

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Scottish Dance
Highland Fling?