Highland Dancing

Competitions run on Saturday and Sunday

Dancing Competitions

Championships are special competitions for Premier dancers and are sanctioned by the Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing. The Fergus Scottish Festival Championship was created in 2006 in celebration of the Festival’s 60th Anniversary. Dancers perform The Highland Fling, The Sword Dance, The Seann Triubhas and The Reel with set steps chosen each year by the Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing. Dancers are judged by three adjudicators with the marks being combined to determine the winner in each dance and the overall Champion. Overall Trophies are awarded to six places with the Champion receiving the Fergus Scottish Festival Trophy.

This competition is for primary to intermediate dancers and includes the Highland Fling, Pas de Bas, Pas des Bas & High Cuts, Sword Dance, Seann Triubbas, and Reel. The competitors are judged individually by a single adjudicator for each dance.  Medals are awarded to six places.  Primary dancers also receive participation gifts while Beginners to Intermediates receive winner and runner-up trophies and monetary scholarships.

The four highland dances are included in this competition for Premier and Restricted Premier dancers with the competitors being judged individually by a single adjudicator for each dance. Trophies and cash prizes are awarded.

Open to Beginners through Premier dancers, dances include the Strathspey & Highland Reel, The Barracks, The Blue Bonnets, The Village Maid, The Flora MacDonald and the Scottish Lilt. Trophies and cash prizes are awarded.

The Highland Dances

The most commonly recounted history of the ‘Fling’ is that it is a dance of celebration, performed after victory in battle. Clansmen performed the dance on a small round targe,  a circular shield of wood with the front covered in tough hide, and the back in deer or sheepskin.. The front of the shield was decorated with brass studs and plates, and often had a long spike in the centre.  Agility, nimble footwork, and strength allowed the dancer to avoid the sharp spike, which often projected five to six inches upwards.
Other experts, however, suggest that a deer leaping across the moors may have motivated the creation of the dance, as the arms held like antlers, the body turning around, the feet dancing from side to side, are all reminiscent of a stag at play. A similar interpretation suggests the dance celebrates a successful stag hunt

It is probable that the tune, Ghillie Calum, dates back to the days of Malcolm Canmore (Shakespeare’s MacBeth). The earliest references to the *dance* are from the 19th century, and it is unlikely that it is very much older. One story is that this was a dance of victory, as the King danced over his bloody claymore (the two-handed broadsword of Scotland) and the even bloodier head of his enemy. Some say that no severed head was used and that the King danced over his own sword crossed over the sword of his enemy. Another story is that the Sword Dance was danced prior to a battle. To kick the swords was considered a bad omen for the impending battle, and the soldier would expect to be wounded. If many of the soldiers kicked their swords the chieftain of the clan would expect to lose the battle.

Pronounced “shawn trews”, this Gaelic phrase means “old trousers”. This dance is reputed to date from the rebellion of 1745 when Bonnie Prince Charlie challenged the might of England at Culloden, and lost. As a penalty, Highlanders were forbidden to wear the kilt. Seann Triubhas is a dance of celebration developed in response to the Proscription Repeal which restored to the Scots the right to wear their kilts and play the bagpipes once more. The movements of this dance clearly depict the legs defiantly shaking and shedding the hated trousers and returning to the freedom of the kilt.

There are several “group” dances which are performed by four dancers.  The Strathspey is never danced on its own in competition and must be followed by a Reel. These dances illustrate the “set” and “travel” steps which are common in Scottish social dancing.
The Reel of Tulloch or Hullachan (performed to the tune of the same name) refers to a dance performed outside a cottage. This Reel is thought to have originated in the Churchyard, where on a cold winter’s Sunday a Minister was late for his service– parishioners tried to keep warm by clapping their hands and stamping their feet.

Scottish National dances are of a more modern origin and have been collected from old dance masters. In North America, National dances were not danced in competition until the 1960s. The attire worn by female dancers is called the Aboyne dress, named after the Aboyne Highland Games of Scotland where up to this day, the wearing of the kilt is strictly forbidden to women. The National dances are very similar to Highland dances, but the style is more flowing and balletic. They require a lot of skill to execute correctly, and spectators will note that often the rhythms are more complicated than in conventional Highland dancing.

This is said to be the last dance Flora McDonald danced for Bonnie Prince Charlie before he fled overseas, but is more likely to be a dance named in her honour. Flora McDonald helped the prince escape from North Uist to Skye disguised as her maid. She emigrated to America but returned home to Skye later in life.

The original tunes for the Lilt are ‘Drops of Brandy’ and ‘Brose and Butter”. The Scottish Lilt is claimed by both the Hebrides and Perthshire.

The Highland Irish Jig is an energetic character dance featuring fist shaking and stomping motions.   It is meant to parody an angry Irish washerwoman when she finds some neighborhood boys have knocked her clean wash to the ground.   

Female dancers wear green/red dresses/skirts, complete with apron, and hard shoes for ‘stomping out the rhythm’, while male dancers wear green/red tails, breeches, hat, and twirl a shillelagh.

2018 Competition Results

Primary Encouragement Award – Haven Brown

Spirit Award 

  • Beginner – Emma Breeze
  • Novice – Keira Prong
  • Intermediate – Brianne Dakin

Fergus Scholarships

  • Beginner  – Amelia Racher / Riley Campbell / Leah Patterson
  • Novice – Ashley Elliott / Payton Daley
  • Intermediate – Kira Bourque / Ana Antonakos

Championship Winners

Champion 1st RU 2nd RU

  • 7 & Under 11 Years – Victoria Wood, Grace Barclay, Addyson Knowles
  • 11 Years – Claire Dixon, Avery Taylor, Ava Stutzman
  • 12 & Under 14 Years – Paisley Hanson, Sophie Hamilton, Alexandra Gaffney
  • 14 Years – Bronwyn Juby, Kaylee Reddington, Rebecca Srebot
  • 15 Years – Amy Goodison, Cole Leslie, Madison Tersigni-Jonkman
  • 16 Years – Elizabeth Wood, Morgan Caruana, Olivia Kyle
  • 17 & Under 19 Years – Sophie Dunn, Mackenzie Taylor, Nikki Gaul
  • 19 Years & Over – Marielle Lesperence, Mackenzie Smrekar, Alessamdra Bruce-Fuoco

Championship Draw for Air Fare to Scotland Amy McGowan

Spirit Awards

  • Beginner Hannah Ellis
  • Novice Finley Simpson
  • Intermediate Claire Fraser

Fergus Scholarships

  • Beginner – Hannah Ellis
  • Novice – Lauren Bradbury, Finley Simpson, Makaila Wilson
  • Intermediate – Ana Antonakos

Fergus Scholarship – Premier 14 – Rebecca Srebot

Highland Draw for Air Fare to Scotland – Marielle Lesperence

Highland Shirley Ashdown Memorial – Marielle Lesperence

Dancer of the Games – Marielle Lesperence