Highland Dancing

If you would like to enter any of our dancing competitions, please use the Mull Highland Games entry form 2024.

Highland Dancing, the origin of which is obscure, is distinct from Scottish Country Dancing. It comprises four dances, all of which were, in times past, exclusively male. No the majority of dancers are female.

The oldest dance is the; GILLE CHALUIM (Sword Dance) which dates from the time of |King Malcolm Canmore (1058 – 1093). Defeating an adversary in battle, he is said to have laid his sword over that of his defeated opponent in the sign of the cross and executed a dance of victory over them. The feet must be placed close to the swords, but must never touch them.

The HIGHLAND FLING is said to have been inspired by the antics of a Red Deer Stag prancing on a Scottish hillside. The arms and fingers being held like antlers it is danced on the same spot throughout.

The SEANN TRIUBHAS (Old Trousers)dates from the time of Culloden in 1746 when the Highlander was forbidden to wear the kilt. It shows his contempt for having to dance in the hated trousers (trews), and he is seen trying to shake off the confining trouser legs. The last part of the dance in quick time shows his joy at returning once more to wearing the kilt.

No 7
no 9

The REELS are danced by four people with the origin obscure. The slow movement the STRATHSPEY, is thought by many to be a mourning dance used at funerals. The REEL OF TULLOCHJ or HULLACHAN, is reputed to have originated in the village of Tulloch. The minister was late in arriving for his service and the assembled congregation, waiting in the cold, stamped their feet and started swinging each other by the arm to keep warm.

The HIGHLAND REEL is a quick, livelier version of the STRATHSPEY.

The Scottish version of the IRISH JIG, is a dance used at Highland Games and is not a traditional Irish dance. It has achieved great popularity in Scotland and has become a regular feature at games. The arm movements are an intrinsic part of Scottish Dancing and the Shellealagh, used by male dancers only adds to the tribute to our Celtic brethren from across the sea.

The SAILORS HORNPIPE This dance derived its name from the fact that it is usually accompanied by music from the horn-pipe. The dance became popular amongst seafaring men. The modern dance is performed in nautical costume. And imitates many shipboard activities from the days of wooden ships and iron men.