BC Highland Dancing Association

About Highland Dancing

Scottish Highland Dancing is a celebration of the Scottish spirit. The dances are a spectacular combination of strength, agility, movement, music, and costume. In competition, highland dances are generally danced solo, but duet and group Choreography categories in competitions are becoming more common. Dancers typically dance to traditional Scottish music all played by an accompanying bagpiper. The dances are made up of different parts, called steps and there are usually four or six steps to a dance. The dances are great fun and anyone, not just those with a Scottish heritage, can join in and learn the dances.  Highland dancing was traditionally performed by men but is now performed by men and women. It is one of few arenas where men and women compete equally.


Ambitious new students develop self-discipline and confidence as they learn to tackle the physical demands of Highland dancing. Indeed, the tremendous strength, stamina, and technical precision that accomplished dancers exhibit on stage comes from years of independent training and collaboration with experienced teachers.

In addition to perpetuating a great cultural tradition, highland dancers appreciate the athletic challenges, competitive goals, performance opportunities as well as the opportunity to meet and become lifelong friends with dancers from other areas, both nationally and internationally, that participation in this ethnic art form/sport affords them.

Recreation or Competitive?

Highland Dancing, whether done for recreation or in preparation for competitions, is a healthy workout for adults and for children. It is a great way to develop good coordination, posture and overall muscle tone, not to mention aerobic capacity and strength. One study*(link - link2 (no longer free to view) showed that highland dancing requires more energy (8.6 MET’s) than Hockey or Soccer (8.0 MET’s)!

Highland Dancing is known to be very competitive, but dancers also have the opportunity to track their dancing progress through medal tests. Usually offered once a year through your dance studio, these tests measure a dancer’s progress against a “standard” level rather than against other competitors. The higher the testing level, the more difficult the standard.

Choosing a Teacher

All Highland Dance teachers in BC should be members of the BATD, SDTA or UKA. They should be able to produce a current membership card from one of these associations.  Teachers should also be members of ScotDance BC / ScotDance Canada.

Other than the obvious questions regarding location, costs and class schedules, you may want to ask a prospective teacher about things like:
– class sizes and composition (age and ability)
– whether or not a parent can observe the class
– any concerns about the competitive aspects
– if medal tests are done each year
– choreography, if that interests you
– performances or events
– what length of commitment is required initially
– the competitive achievements of the teacher and his/her students
– expectations they have of their students (practicing, attending performances, competitions)

BCHDA Competition Secretary - Leah Holland - Email: bchda.competitionsecretary@gmail.com

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