cslogo1.gif'Proposal to re-introduce old steps into competition'

I have decided to renew my efforts in my quest for the re-introduction of the many old steps that were once danced in competition by our teachers and our teacher's teachers.

It is my belief that by the re-introduction of these steps we will:
· aid the preservation of our Highland Dancing Heritage and its traditions
· bring new enthusiasm and excitement to the dancers
· reverse the trend of declining numbers of dancers involved in Highland Dancing (competitive or otherwise)

Many of these steps exist only in the memories of our senior Highland Dancing teachers and judges and for this reason we MUST act now before these memories begin to fade or die.

We must all take responsibility to ensure that these steps are not lost through memories and time and voice our opinions through our dancing organizations to the Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing (S.O.B.H.D.).

I am proposing that 2 old steps are re-introduced into competition each year by inclusion in the set Championship steps for the year.

There are a great number of steps that were traditionally danced throughout Scotland, and indeed other parts of the Highland Dancing world, some 40 or more years ago world that are no longer included in the list of steps available to be used in competition.

Many of these steps now exist only in the memories of our senior teachers and judges.

At the time that the first S.O.B.H.D. Highland Dancing text-book was compiled and published technological aids such as word processors and computers were not commonly available and as a result restrictions had to be put in place on the quantity and variation of steps included in the book. As a result only a small sample from the selection of steps used in the competition circuit at that time were included.

It is my understanding that there are in fact many more of these traditional steps not in the book than are in it!

Preservation of our Heritage through competition
Highland Dancing is an important part of our cultural heritage and the effort require to ensure its continued preservation can not be underestimated.

The S.O.B.H.D. has been central to this preservation to date and I believe that a major factor in its success has been through the use of steps in competition.

It is through this avenue of competition that the old steps can be best preserved for the future and through their inclusion in the annual list of set Championship steps that their introduction to competition can best be achieved.

Joint responsibility
As participants in the world of Highland Dancing, whether as a dancer, teacher, judge, examiner, competition organizer or parent, we all share a joint responsibility for the stewardship of our Highland Dancing heritage.

The S.O.B.H.D. is the world governing body on competitive Highland Dancing and it is through the S.O.B.H.D. that we must act.

It must be proactive and take the lead in fulfilling our stewardship obligations and it is to the S.O.B.H.D. that we must voice our opinions.

My suggestion
It is my suggestion that we look to re-introduce into competition every year 2 of the old steps referred to above. The method to achieve this would be by inclusion in the set Championship steps issued annually by the S.O.B.H.D. - 1 step in each of the under 16 and the 16 & over sections.

What will this achieve?
- Renewed energy and enthusiasm
The re-introduction of old steps will act as a catalyst bringing renewed energy and enthusiasm to our current dancers - most of whom will have been dancing the same steps for years and years. Imagine the excitement on a dancer's face when they find that after many years of dancing the same steps that there is a new one to learn!

- An increase to dancer numbers
It will also increase dancer (both competitor and non-competitor) numbers by encouraging new participants and also by motivating existing dancers to continue dancing.

What do we need to do?
I have been pursuing this cause for almost 10 years now and would like to see the re-introduction of these steps start with the 2006 Championship season and so prompt action is required.

I have received a great deal of positive feedback in the last few years and it appears to be growing in momentum.

There was a lengthy discussion on this issue at the World of Highland Dancing Conference in Las Vegas in 2003 (at which there were representatives from all over and all aspects of the Highland Dancing world, including the office bearers of FUSTA, Scotdance Canada, the South African board and the S.O.B.H.D. President and Chairman). During the discussion I took the opportunity to voice my suggestion as noted above, which was met with overwhelming support and notably no arguments against.

It also received a favourable outcome at a recent judges meeting.

Decision making authority on this issue rests with the S.O.B.H.D. and so to force any action will require the backing of its member organizations (see below).

I am therefore asking that you contact your respective Highland Dancing organization and voice your opinion so that they in turn can act on your behalf at the next S.O.B.H.D. meetings in March and May.

Gareth Mitchelson

As a footnote - my suggestions for the steps to be re-introduced into the 2006 Championship year are the old 'pause' crossover and the 'shake' crossover steps - there were listed in previous SOBHD text books and as such the technique has been previously passed by the technical committee and so their re-introduction should cause no great problems.

S.O.B.H.D. Member organizations
Australian Board
South African Board
and various competition organisers