20 years! It has been 20 years since I attended my first Highland Dance Class at just the age of 3 years old. And although it was my beautiful Mum who took me along to that very first class, it was me who made the decision to go back each and every week for the last 20 years.
I was never quite aware of what it was that kept be going back to my classes and it is only now as I write this that I realise exactly why. The opportunities. The friendships. The discipline instilled. But most of all the love I have developed for this dance form.
But less about me, Why should your dancer take Highland Classes?
Highland dance is infamous for its structure, discipline and “strictness”. It is a very traditional dance form and unlike Tap, Jazz and Hiphop, it hasn’t really evolved. Now, I know what you’re thinking.. I thought you were trying to sell highland dance lessons to me? However, I genuinely believe that this is its selling point. Highland Dance teaches discipline, structure and the professionalism and resilience required for not only dance but general life.
Highland is a more traditional dance form, there is no hiding that, especially when we are dressed head to toe like an extra from Braveheart while dancing over swords. However, what some often forget is that traditional does not mean boring. Discipline does not mean dancers cannot have fun. And the hours spent working to perfect each and every movement of the same dance over years builds resilience and character in your dancer.
Technique, Turnout, and Stamina.
These three words have been ingrained in my brain for as long as I can remember. Highland is very alike ballet in that you must aim to perfect technique. In Highland the technique, steps and dances are taught from the Royal Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing’s (RSOBHD) Highland textbook. Throughout this book it details how each movement should be executed with frequent mention of the importance of turnout (an enemy of mine!).
It goes without saying that in order to perform Highland to any standard your dancer must maintain a high level of stamina. This is regularly worked on in Highland Dance classes helping your dancer improve their fitness, endurance and strength - particularly within their legs and core (I mean have you ever had a glance at a highland dancers calf muscles!!). Each of these elements are transferable, helping to improve your dancers performance in other dance styles and sporting activities.
Did you know that a 6-step Highland Fling is the equivalent of running a mile? However, Highland Dancers do it on the balls of our feet, arms in the air, wearing a heavy kilt outfit….. oh and of course a smile!
World Champion Highland Dancer - Robyn Hart Winks, also went on to become the Indoor Rowing World Champion
Ok so now I have bored you with the benefits of adding a Highland Dance Class to your dancers timetable.. what about some of the opportunities Highland can bring outside the studio? Here is just a few:
Military Tattoo’s: I am sure you have seen or heard about the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Dancers from across the world take part in this month long event every summer, dancing for thousands including some famous and Royal guests. These events are also taken on the road, I am very lucky to have had the opportunity to travel to Norway, Germany and Australia to perform.
TV and Advertisements: From Specsaver’s and Bank of Scotland Advertisements, CBeebies and Comic Relief Specials and featured performances on popular TV series - Outlander, you are seeing more and more Highland Dancers take to your screens.
Red Hot Chilli Pipers, Skerryvore & More: You may have heard of a few Scottish inspired bands, such as the Red Hot Chilli Piper’s and Skerryvore. Most of these bands often invite Highland Dancers to perform alongside them on stage.
Competitive Travel: For those who dive into the competitive world of Highland Dance, there are even more opportunities to travel and create friendships far and wide. From Canada to New Zealand, Australia to South Africa, each and every week you can find a competition on the other side of the world. As I write this blog, I am packing to travel to Phoenix, Arizona, where I will take part in a two day dancing event.
Examinations: Highland Dance also allows dancers to take part in examinations. These begin as a way for dancers to be assessed on technique, musicality, turnout, stamina and much more. They can also act as stepping stones for dancers to one day become trained Highland teachers themselves.
Boy am I glad that at three years old I walked into my dance class and fell in love with this style of dance. I thank Highland Dance for making me resilient. For showing me that it is ok to make mistakes. For pushing me to never give up (even when my toes are tired). And for teaching me that if you want something bad enough you’ve got to put in the hard work to make it possible. And although I will cherish and love every memory and opportunity that has been sent my way, it is these lesson that have shaped the person I am today!
Fancy giving it a go? You can sign up to Tap 2 Pointe’s Highland Classes HERE! We have just added a brand new class to our Baillieston Timetable launching next Thursday at 6:40PM.
Written by: Miss Chloé