In the interest of presenting the widest variety of Scottish-themed entertainment, and because we had so much fun with past Shindigs, Athena Caledonian Games has again chosen to host a “Shindig” instead of a Highland dancing competition. Fans of the Scottish dances, don’t worry; dancing will still be a major part of the program.


Scottish Highland Dance

During the late 1700s many of Scotland’s exciting dances were nearly lost. In response to Scottish Prince Charles Stuart’s unsuccessful attempt to claim the throne in 1745, Britain’s King George III made a new law, the Act of Proscription, which prohibited Scottish customs, tartan use, wearing of kilts, piping and dances. When this law was repealed 36 years later, Scotland’s clan system and culture were thoroughly disrupted. dancersThankfully, the king’s granddaughter Queen Victoria (1819-1901) loved all things Scottish. After she ascended to the throne in 1837, Scottish culture gained a powerful advocate, and the Highland games were restored.

 During the 19th and 20th Centuries, historical and balletic influences contributed to the development of the current form of Scottish Highland dances. Highland dancing competitions became a mainstay of the Highland games from the very start of their modern revival. Even though the games encouraged and preserved certain Highland dances, judging proceduresactually eliminated certain other dances in order to make judging more convenient. Over time the dances themselves changed as judging became the prime factor in forms, steps and performance. (At one time, performing a Sword Dance using the older steps brought immediate disqualification.) The international Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing, created in 1950, clarified criteria for dancing, standardized steps, and established rules for competition and attire.

 Before 1986 only four standard dances were allowed in competitions: Sword, Seann Triubhas, Reel of Tullock and the Highland Fling. Since then the competition roster has expanded to include “character dances” such as Sailor’s Hornpipe and Irish Jig, and national dances such as Scottish Lilt, Blue Bonnets, Highland Laddie, Flora MacDonald’s’ Fancy, the Village Maid, and Wilt Thou Go to the Barracks, Johnny? National dances, featuring colorful costumes and revealing balletic influences, were invented by dancing masters in the 1800s. Several of these dances will be seen in Athena’s competition today.

 Each of these colorful, dynamic dances lends a marvelous touch of Scottish culture to Athena’s Caledonian Games. We welcome all our talented contestants.                                                          

Kayla Durfee