Currently viewing the tag: "Scottish"

Check out this neat video of a Full Tulloch performed at the Chicago Spring Fling Championship in February 2009! The reel chosen for championship Highland dance competitions varies from year to year. It is usually a combination of Strathspey, Highland Reel, and/or Full or Half Tulloch. As you can see in the video, rather than starting in a straight line, the Full Tulloch (and Half Tulloch, when performed alone) begins with the dancers facing one another in a square formation. In case you like the music, this particular reel tune is known as Kelsey’s Wee Reel. And don’t forget that this year’s Spring Fling will be held at the Eaglewood Resort in Itasca, IL on February 25, 2012!

Let us know what you think in the comments and please submit any videos you’d like to see posted here to!

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By Jo Kalat, Choreography Committee

In 2011, we presented the Alien Ceilidh Choreography choreographed by FUSTA’s choreography committee andAlasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas open to all FUSTA members to use in performances across the United States.

In 2012 we are pleased to announce that some performances on Alasdair Fraser’s tour have presented opportunities for dancers to join him on stage with our very own Alien Ceilidh Choreography!

Jocelyn Case took the lead and organized a group that performed with Alasdair Frasier on January 22 in Portland, Oregon. Alasdair was pleased and so are we. We’re including a video so you can all enjoy the show. Other performances are planned in East Lansing, Michigan, and Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio. This is a great opportunity to showcase Highland dancing.

If Alasdair is not going to be in your area, there can still be opportunities for you to perform. A new choreography to Scotland the Brave is now on the website. This is very versatile and can be performed with any group. So keep your eyes open for any touring group in your area.

For those instructors who are current FUSTA members and are interested in teaching the choreography to their students the instructional videos are available on this site under the Video, Members section. The password can be obtained by emailing us at

photo of Highland Extension Site

Interactive flash card on Highland Extension

I would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year and to suggest making a New Year’s resolution of taking a highland theory exam this year!

Theory exams allow dancers to learn the meaning of Scottish Highland technical terms and ways of verbally describing them. One great way to study for theory exams is to use the highland theory website: This website helps dancers study for BATD theory exams using interactive flashcards. The flashcards are broken down into the different examination grade levels one through elementary so dancers are only studying what is required of them for the exam they are taking. The website is built to be a study aid to be used in addition to studying with a teacher and the SOBHD highland textbook.


Studying for theory exams can be challenging. It is important to study ahead of time and to set study goals. You can fit studying in wherever you are: the school bus, the ride to dance class, or even during TV commercial breaks! Studying for and completing highland theory exams give dancers a stronger knowledge of basic positions and movements. It is my hope that the website will allow more dancers to consider theory exams and possibly a professional exam to continue their highland career past their competing years.


Happy dancing and good luck on your theory exams this year!

- Megan Ashworth

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Miss Vermont - Katie Levasseur performs a Scottish highland dance choreography in the 2012 Miss America Pageant Talent Competition

This year, we believe for the first time, one of the Miss America contestants is performing a Scottish highland dance choreography in the talent portion of the competition. Katie Levasseur, Miss Vermont, dances with the Saint Andrew’s Highland Dancers of Vermont and is a senior at the University of Vermont.

We can’t promise that they’ll show her choreography on national tv, but tune in tonight, Saturday, January 14, 2012 to support Katie as she competes for the title of Miss America! The broadcast will be at 9:00pm EST on ABC.

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Legend has it that the initial Gillie Callum, more commonly known as the Sword Dance, was created by Malcolm Canmore, a Celtic Prince who fought a battle in 1054. Triumphant, he crossed his opponent’s sword with his own and danced over them celebrating his victory. It is also said that the warriors danced the Sword Dance prior to battle. If the warrior touched the swords, it was considered an omen symbolizing injury or death in battle.

We no longer have to worry about going into battle, but the dance links us to those soldiers. Highland dancing has been handed down to us as a proud tradition that we continue to celebrate today. Originally, only men performed and competed in the dances, but now men and women compete as equals. The strength and agility once necessary for victory in battle will now bring medals and trophies.

We hope you enjoy this video of a group of talented male dancers performing the Sword Dance. Watch their strength showcasing the tradition that unites highland dancers worldwide.

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Happy New Years and welcome back to a brand new year at! We’re going to kick off 2012 with a remarkable video of the Royal Scots Guard accompanied by an impressive collection of Scottish Highland Dancers. This was shot at the Las Vegas International Tattoo in 2011.

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It’s early in the morning and all around the highland dance platform, dancers are getting their hair fixed, nervously warming up, and taking in last minute advice from their teachers. Within the larger highland games, we’re often in our own little world.

Nearby, the sound of a hundred bagpipers fills the air, punctuated by cheers from the crowd as men toss logs the size of telephone poles. The scent of meat pies, roast corn, and other tasty treats being prepared for the lunchtime rush wafts across the field. Each year thousands of people enjoy attending highland games in the United States. They come for the food, the cultural celebration, the music, the athletics, as well as the dancing.

Next time your siblings, grandparents, and friends want to tag along to support you, encourage them to come and watch, and then to take part in the children’s athletics, the kilted mile, whiskey tasting, or whatever excites them.

Have you been to a big Highland Games? One with thousands of people and activities from morning to night? Tell us about your favorite part (besides the dancing, of course) in the comments!


If you have a video you would like to see featured here, email it to and tell us about it.

video by Christine Newton, danced by Kaitlin Krebs (Irish) and Simone Gringas (Scottish) at the 2009 Monterey Scottish Games & Celtic Festival

What’s that you do? Riverdance? Many of you might’ve been asked that question at one time or another and tried to explain your art form and what makes it unique. Or you may just be curious yourself about highland dancing’s trendy cousin, Irish dancing. See for yourself the differences in this entertaining video that playfully pits the Irish version against the Scottish version of the Jig. Let us know what you love about highland dance in the comments, or if you’ve done Irish dance too, your favorite aspects of each.


If you have a video you would like to see featured here, email it to along with the name of your dance school and your location, and optionally an explanation of its significance to you.

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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 Nancy Strolle

Seven Premier Scottish highland dancers ranging in age from 22 – 46 took the stage on Saturday, September 3rd to compete in the Wisconsin Scottish Festival held in Waukesha, WI.    The competition offered a “special” event category established to cater to the seasoned, former competitive dancers that were enticed to come out of retirement, dust off their gillies, locate suitable outfits, renew their FUSTA cards and challenge themselves to get on stage with their contemporaries.  Several “goals” were met.  The goal of being able to participate, the goal of winning a “Badgie” medal, and the personal goal of proving to themselves and the audience that they could still do it!  Each one of them are still passionately interested and still enjoy highland dancing but recognize that they are no longer able to compete against the teenagers. This particular competition has a very unique logo featuring an adorable Wisconsin badger wearing a kilt, so the fact that medals were offered as the prize in this category just added to the excitement for the participating dancers.  The 25 & Over Category offered cut steps with a Lilt, Village Maid, Fling and Triubhas as an enticement.

With the goal of “encouragement”, the Premier age groups were modified the day of the event to better suit the entry.  For the “actively competing” dancers there was a 14 & Under, and a 15 & Under 21 category.  For the veteran dancers the adult entry was split into a 22 & Under 40 and 40 & Over.  There were 4 competitors in the 22 & Under 40 and 3 in the 40 & Over. Everyone went home a WINNER!   All the dancers received a great round of applause as those in the audience appreciated what it took for each one of them to get up the courage and the nerve to get back on stage and compete. Of the four dancers in the “younger” category, one just graduated from college, one has just moved back to the US from several years abroad and is teaching with one of the other competitors in the category, and one is still actively dancing in a performance group. Of the three in the 40 & Over, two are sisters that managed to never compete against each other when they were actively dancing, and one was the mother of two current dancers.  Family bragging rights were spared as the sisters each received the same combination of medals and “tied” in this event.

All agreed that they had a wonderful experience and plan to compete again next year at this event.  They even indicated that they would participate in other competitions in the area if a similar category break down was offered.   It is already in the works for adding this category to two additional Midwest competitions in 2012!

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