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by Charlotte Pierce, current dance mom

“Mom, I am going to pick the tartan for my next kilt myself. It’s MY decision, and I am going to do it.”

– LILLIAN, age 11 (and choose she did – Dress Blue Buchanan.)

Clearly, our daughter has taken ownership of her Scottish dancing – it is no longer an activity that we as “dance parents” schlep her to every week “for her own good.” We think Lillian’s attitude came together through a combination of factors, including: getting her to classes at a young age when we could still have some influence; enabling her to take classes with her best friend; qualified teachers sensitive to her talents and developmental needs; and the unique qualities of the Highland community and the enduring friendships she’s made along the way.

Still, pursuing Scottish dancing never occurred to any of us growing up. It wasn’t until my friend Laurie, the mother of Lillian’s best friend Anna, found our first Highland teacher from a flyer posted at the local ice cream shop. As dance moms, both of us were ready to move on from kiddie-ballet mega-recitals to an artistic, physical activity that would be both local and meaningful, and we made the call. Before we knew it, we had ordered FUSTA cards and registered the girls for their first competition. Little did we know that six years later, we’d be traveling to dance classes two hours away in Connecticut and competitions across the country – but that’s another story!

It’s always interesting to hear how families got involved in highland dancing. Some merged into it naturally as the daughters or sons of bagpipers or renowned Scottish dancers like Marguerite Reid and Jeannie Brauns. For our family, Scottish heritage on both sides of the family influenced our choice; my husband has Kerrs on his side, and my mother has always kept a strong connection to her MacNeil of Barra and Colquhoun (Cowan) roots. And then, there’s that Braveheart thing!

What are the reasons children and adults first get involved in Scottish dancing?
  • Expression of Scottish heritage
  • Friends or family already involved
  • Combination of athletic training and artistic expression
  • Strong Scottish cultural representation in community
  • A “different” kind of dance for boys as well as girls
  • Historical roots and traditions
  • Closest available dance class
  • Accidental discovery at a local event or community advertisement


How about your family, how did you first get involved in Scottish highland dance?

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by Melissa Johnson, Child psychologist, Cary NC

Dance friends

“Our daughter was taking ballet lessons when a Scottish dance demonstration caught her attention, and she begged to start taking Highland dance lessons. She quickly fell in love with this colorful, energetic, and distinctly beautiful style of dance — as did her parents and grandparents! Her training in highland dance shows through in her poise, self-confidence, and physical fitness, and she cherishes the friendships with teachers and classmates that she has made along the way.”

“My daughter was a highland dancer for almost twelve years. Her dance experiences were among the most important influences in shaping the young woman she grew to become. She is poised, outgoing, confident, and enthusiastic, and I saw all of those traits develop as she learned new skills, made friends, traveled, competed, performed, and experienced the joy of dance. As a young woman, she no longer competes, but she still dances for pleasure regularly and is strong and fit. She and her dad feel lucky that she had this opportunity”


Highland dance parents, how has our sport affected your family? Leave us a comment or email us at

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