Highland Dance

Highland dance is a style of competitive dancing developed in the Scottish Highlands in the 19th  and 20th  centuries, in the context of competitions at public events such as the Highland games. It was created from the Gaelic folk dance repertoire, but formalized with the conventions of ballet, and has been subject to influences from outside the Highlands. Highland dancing is often performed with the accompaniment of Highland bagpipe music and dancers wear  specialized shoes called ghillies.  It is now seen at nearly every modern-day Highland  Games event including Fergus where kilts of competitors fly and leap throughout the weekend.


To enter the Fergus Dance competitions, please go to the H.D.A.O. website: https://www.hdaontario.com/

2022 Competition Registration & Schedule


Sanctioned by R.S.O.B.H.D. – C-ON-CO-22-2235

ONLINE ENTRIES are available at
the Highland Dancers’ Association of Ontario website.
and select the Entries Tab

CLOSING DATE: FRIDAY, JULY 22, 2022 at 10:00 pm EDT


PRE- PREMIER HIGHLAND – 7:45 A.M.     Registration for Pre-Premier

7:45 A.M. Registration for All Pre-Premier

8:30 A.M. Competition Pre-Premier — Primary, Beginner, Novice and Intermediate doing all dances to completion.

  • Primary / Beginner / Novice / Intermediate: Fling (4).
  • Primary: Pas de Bas and Pas de Bas & HiCuts.
  • Beginner / Novice / Intermediate / Primary: Sword (2&1).
  • Beginner / Novice / Intermediate: Seann Triubhas (3&1).
  • Intermediate: Strathspey & Highland Reel.

10:00 A.M. Registration for Fergus Scottish Festival Championship

11:00 A.M. (approx) Fergus Scottish Festival Championship

  • 2022 Championship steps must be danced.
  • Age classes: 7 to 9 Yrs, 10 Yrs, 11 Yrs, 12 Yrs, 13 Yrs, 14 Yrs, 15 Yrs, 16 Yrs, 17 Yrs, 18 Yrs and 19 Yrs & Over.
  • Fergus Dance Committee reserves the right to combine groups if entries not sufficient.
  • Dancers are asked to participate in the Mass Fling during Opening Ceremonies on Saturday. Morning awards will be presented after Opening Ceremonies on Saturday.


NATIONALS COMPETITION – 8:30 A.M.     Registration

8:30 A.M. Registration for All Nationals Dancers (ONLY If not registered day before)

9:00 A.M. Competition – Beginner, Novice, Intermediate, Restricted Premier and Premier doing all dances to completion.

  • Beginner / Novice: Trophy Fling (4). Must enter regular Nationals Competition.
  • Beginner / Novice: Srathspey & Highland Reel, Flora MacDonald’s Fancy (4). Scottish Lilt (4).
  • Intermediate: Barracks (4), Flora MacDonald’s Fancy (4), Scottish Lilt (4).
  • Premier & Restricted Premier: Earl of Errol (4), Flora MacDonald’s Fancy (4), Scottish Lilt (4).

12:00 NOON (Est) HIGHLAND COMPETITION – Premier & Restricted Premier

  • Restricted Premier: Fling (4), Sword (2&1), Seann Triubhas (3&1),
    Strathspey & Half Tulloch.
  • Premier: Fling (4), Sword (2&1), Seann Triubhas (3&1),
    Strathspey & Half Tulloch.

Description of Dances

National Dances

Barracks (Wilt Thou Go To Barracks Johnny)
This is a recruiting dance. A recruiting officer would go into a village with a dancer as entertainment, or to attract people to his temporary recruiting station. Some say that each regiment had its own dance this is the only one widely practiced.

Earl of Errol
The ‘Earl of Errol’ may be based on an 18th-century Irish-style hard shoe dance (although today it is performed in soft shoes), which was choreographed for the Earl of Errol.

Flora MacDonald’s Fancy
This is a dance in honour o Flora MacDonald who helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape to the Isle of Skye. In 1746 this intrepid young Scotswoman helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape to France after his defeat at the Battle of Aulloden. Such heroism won her the admiration of the Scottish people who honoured her in this dance.

Scottish Lilt
The Lilt exemplifies National dances as it is very graceful and heavily influenced by ballet. It is an unusual dance because it has only six beats per measure rather the standard eight.

Highland Dances

Highland Fling
One legend associates it as a warriors dance of triumph following a battle. It was supposedly danced over a small round shield, with a spike projecting from the centre, known as a Targe. Yet another legend links the dance to a young boy imitating the antics of a stag rearing and wheeling on a hillside; the curved arms and hands representing the stag’s antlers.

Gillie Callum (Sword Dance)
One story said to originate from the times of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, recalls that when King Malcolm III (Canmore) of Scotland killed a fellow chieftain in battle, he celebrated by dancing over his own bloody claymore crossed with the sword of his enemy. Yet another story tells that a soldier would dance around and over crossed swords prior to battle; should his feet touch the blade during the dance however, then this was considered an ill omen for the following day. Another and more practical explanation is that the dance was simply an exercise used to develop and hone the nibble footwork required to stay alive in sword play.

Seann Triubhas
Gaelic for “old trousers” – Pronounced “shawn trewus”, the dance is romantically associated with the highlander’s disgust at having the wear the hated Sassenach trousers that they were forced to wear when the kilt was banned following the 1745 rebellion. The initial slow dance steps involve lots of leg shaking; symbolising attempts to shed the hated garments; the final faster steps demonstrating the joy of returning to the kilt when the ban ended in 1782.

Strathspey and Highland Reel
A Strathspey is performed by four dancers, initially beginning in a line, and dancing a ‘figure of eight’, although the formation actually uses three loops. A quicker Highland Reel, using the same formation and with dancers taking turns doing steps follows the Strathspey.


Give Us a Place to Stand
Learn the Highland Fling

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