The British Association of Teachers of Dancing

Scottish National Dance

BLUE BONNETS: This dance portrays a young women trying to catch the attention and flirt with a blue bonnet. Blue Bonnet was slang for Scotsmen because they wore blue hats.

VILLAGE MAID: This dance has a ballet look and feel. This is one of dances where the dancer can step on the flat foot in certain movements.

THE IRISH JIG: The Scottish version is meant to be a parody of an Irish washerwoman in an agitated frame of mind. Irish Jig is another energetic dance featuring lots of fist shaking and skirt flouncing among female competitors. It is a parody of Irish dancing and the infamous Irish temper. The story of the dance is as follows: Females dancing the Jig are acting out an angry fit of an Irishwoman who’s husband has not made it home from the pub until all hours. Males dancing the Jig act out the happy-go-lucky Irishman facing his wife’s tirade. It is the other National dance that has its own costume rather than the standard Highland or National outfits.

THE SAILOR’S HORNPIPE: This dance is common to many parts of the British Isles. It derived its name from the fact that usually the musical accompaniment was played on a hornpipe rather than on bagpipes. Hornpipes were common instruments in those days; they were comparable to our present-day tin whistle. In time the dance became popular among seafaring men and is now associated with sailors. The modern Hornpipe imitates many shipyard activities common in the days of wooden ships and iron men.

SCOTTISH LILT: The Lilt exemplifies National dances, as it is very graceful and heavily influenced by ballet. It is an unusual dance because it has only six beats per measure rather than the standard eight.

FLORA MACDONALD’S FANCY: This is danced in honor of Flora MacDonald, who helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape to the Isle of Skye. In 1746, this intrepid young Scotswoman helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape to France after his defeat at the Battle of Culloden. Such heroism won her the admiration of the Scottish people who honoured her in this dance.

WILT THOU GO TO BARRACKS JOHNNY?: This is a recruiting dance. A recruiting officer would go into a village with a dancer as entertainment, or to attract people to his temporary recruiting station. Some say that each regiment had its own dance, but this is the only one widely practiced.

HIGHLAND LADDIE: This dance was devised by soldiers in the First World War I and is featured often at dancing competitions. It is always danced to the famous tune of the same name. This dance is also a tribute to the Highland Laddie, Bonnie Prince Charlie.

SCOTCH MEASURE OR THE TWA SOME: When this is danced solo it is called the Scotch Measure. When it is danced with two people, one dancer taking the male role and one the female role, it is called the Twa Some. It is supposed to depict the Scottish dating ritual.

EARL OF ERROL: This was originally a dance performed in hard shoes, which was choreographed for the Earl of Errol. Errol is a small town in Aberdeenshire. Although it looks quite easy, it is perhaps one of the hardest National dances to perform well.