The Highland Fling

This is the oldest of the traditional dances of Scotland.

According to tradition, the old kings and chiefs of Scotland used the Highland Dances as a way of choosing the best men for their retinue and men at arms. These dances tested a warrior's strength, stamina, accuracy, and agility.
The ancient warriors and clansmen performed this dance on the small round shield (called a targe), which they carried into battle. Most Targes had a sharp spike of steel of some 5 to 6 inches in length projecting from the centre, so dancers learned early to move with great skill and dexterity - a false or careless step could be more than a little painful.

The dance is said to have been inspired by the capers of the stag - the dancers upraised arms representing the animalís antlers. Danced vigorously and exultantly, it is now highly stylised and calls for the greatest skill in technique and exactness of timing.

It has become the classic solo dance at modern competitive dancing events, and is often selected at competitions to decide who will be judged the best Highland dancer of the day.

The word fling has entered our language to mean an especially careless and happy time. So much for the idea of the "dour Scot". (dour = stern, harsh, obstinate, unyielding).

Return to index of dances