Scottish Highland Dance

Photos by Daphne Sippel

Photos by Daphne Sippel

Fiona Wright

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Highland Dance is a scottish tradition that dates back to 1054 when the oldest dance known was created. Currently in the Raleigh triangle there are two dance studios teaching this type of dance, including the Annandale Center of Scottish Dance and more in Cary, NC and Erin Bartow’s Highland Dancers in Raleigh, NC. There are also private highland dance teachers in the area.

“I really enjoyed teaching dance to kids because it helped them learn discipline, expend energy, develop skills, and express themselves all with one activity.  It taught me patience and as a teacher what a huge impact i would have on a kid’s life,” said Daphne Sippel, former dancer and dance teacher.

All dancers start at a Primary or Beginner level. The primary age group is only for kids under the age of seven. After this, dancers will progress to the Beginner level where they will receive a dance card on which they have to receive six stamps to move up to the next level. To receive a stamp they must place first, second or third in a single dance. Depending on the competition they could receive all six stamps at once. After this they will proceed to the Novice level, in which they must they must also receive six stamps to move up to the next level which is Intermediate. The dancer will stay at the intermediate level for a year before they move up to the next level, this time can be shortened if their dance teacher wants them to move up early.    

The highest level a Highland Dancer can reach is Premiere which directly follows the intermediate level. When a dancer reaches a premier level they are now considered a professional Scottish highland dancer. This is because most competitions offer money as opposed to medals for Premiere dancers at competitions.     

“I started dancing as soon as I could walk; our type of dance is particularly harder than others sometimes, it requires an extensive amount of technique and endurance. Although it is a very intense sport it is very fun to perform and compete in, and in some dances and choreographies you get add fun personality, it is very exciting and always a fun time,” said Gillian Wright, junior.

Some Highland traditions made hundreds of years ago are still in effect today, other traditions have only been slightly modified from how they used to be. Many different steps have been changed or modified, other steps dancers are no longer allowed to compete in. The methods of dance used today try to stick to the same traditions used over a thousand years ago.

“Being the traditional dance it is, I love it and all the joys it can bring,” said Wright.      



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Scottish Highland Dance