The Beaumont School of Highland Dance has prepared a celebration of St. Patrick’s Day 2021 video for Place Beausejour as an in-person performance is not possible this year due to Covid.
They’ve included a couple Irish Dancing entries in amongst their Scottish fare, just to commemorate the special holiday this week. And below, a very brief history for each of the dances performed. You can either use this text script in conjunction with the video or just watch it without the background.
YouTube video link – https://youtu.be/oPDukel6En0
Beaumont School of Highland Dance
St. Patrick’s Day Video
A History of Dances Performed
Highland Dancing is one of the oldest forms of folk dance, and both modern ballet and square dancing can trace their roots back to the Highlands.
Blue Bonnets over the Border can be traced back to Jacobean times in the 18th century. This dance portrays young women flirting with the Blue Bonnets, a slang term for the Regimental Scotsman, in reference to the blue hats they wore.
Flora MacDonald’s Fancy. During the Jacobite rebellions in 1745/46 and after the Battle of Culloden, Bonnie Prince Charlie took refuge on the west coast of Scotland, where he met young Flora MacDonald. Flora helped the Prince escape capture and flee to Skye and, ultimately, to France. This dance is in her honour and is known for its balletic steps and graceful movements.
The Highland Laddie was devised by soldiers in the First World War and is a tribute to the most famous Highland laddie, Bonnie Prince Charlie. Unlike most National Dances, which are usually danced in an Aboyne dress, the Laddie is performed in the standard kilt-based outfit.
The Sailor’s Hornpipe is a very old dance, and it is said that the English sailing ship and Royal Navy Captain James Cook thought dancing was most useful to keep his men in good health during a voyage. It is one of the most physically demanding of all Highland dances, and the intricate steps mimic some of the activities done by sailors on the ship such as climbing ladders, coiling rope, hauling cables, and standing on lookout duty.
The Irish Jig is a character dance that sees the Scots poking a wee bit o’ fun at their Celtic-Irish neighbors. One of the stories behind the dance tells of a leprechaun making mischief with the washerwoman’s clothesline. There is lots of foot stomping and shaking of fists, as she tries to chase him away.
The Highland Fling originated as a wild dance of triumph following victory in battle, and it is probably the most well known of Scottish dances. It is said to be inspired by the capers of the stag, with the dancer’s upraised arms representing the animals’ antlers. It is also said that Scottish kings used the Fling as a test of strength, stamina and agility to choose their best warriors.
The Scottish Lilt is one of the Scottish National dances, performed in an outfit called an aboyne or lilt dress. It is a combination of the Highland and Ballet forms of dance. The Scottish Lilt is gentler, more flowing, and more graceful than the more energetic Highland Dances.
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The IRISH Treble Reel is a dance done in hard shoes to a reel (4/4) timing. Arm movement in Irish dancing is discouraged, as the dancer is trained to display control and grace. This minimal upper body movement is paired with precise and quick foot movements.
The Earl of Erroll is a Scottish National dance. The dance takes its name from James Hay, 15th Earl of Erroll. The Earl of Erroll is considered one of the hardest national dances to perform well.
The Seann Truibhas or “Torn Trousers” dates back to 1746, when Bonnie Prince Charlie challenged the might of England … and lost. The wearing of the kilt was forbidden by British King George II following the defeat at Culloden. When this English law was repealed in 1782, this dance was created as an act of celebration.
The Reel bridges the gap between Highland Dance and Scottish Country Dancing. It is one of the few dances performed in a group and done for recreational purposes (vs. military origins). The Reel o’ Tulloch was said to have started outside a locked church by parishioners trying to stay warm on a chilly day, waiting for the tardy Clergyman to show up.
The Sword Dance was used the night before a battle as a bit of fortune telling. If the warrior touched the swords while dancing, it was believed that he would be wounded in the ensuing battle; if he kicked the swords apart, he would surely die! A slip in footwork, even in competitions today, acts as the principal method of eliminating contestants.
Pas de Basque & High Cuts are some of the first basic steps learned by new Highland dancers. This also becomes the first step of the sword dance and can be seen within other footstep combinations, as well.
The IRISH Hornpipe has been danced in Ireland and elsewhere from the 16th century until the present day. The hornpipe is in 4/4 time and is related to the jig and the solo reel. It has intricate steps and often imitates a sailor’s dance.
We hope that you all have a very Happy St. Patrick’s Day
… from all of us here at Beaumont Highland Dance!!
We are looking forward to performing for you again in person, one day soon. (Fingers crossed.)
A ’guidhe dhut slàinte agus deagh fhortan
(Wishing you health and good fortune!)