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Name of Activity:

Scottish Highland Fling Dance

Purpose of Activity:

To introduce students to traditional Scottish Highland dancing. This dance is a modification of type of competitive highland dancing. It can also be used as a fitness and agility challenge.

Suggested Grade Level:


Recommended music:

Battle of Harlaw (Witch Hollow book 2), sung by the Old Blind Dogs. More traditional bagpipe music written for this type of dance can also be used.

Beginning dance formation:

Students will space themselves throughout the area of the gym. There will be no partners for this dance so students should be placed so that they can see the instructor and still maintain their personal space.

Description of Idea

Scottish Highland dancing, developed during the 19th and 20th centuries, was named after the area it was developed in, the Scottish Highlands. This type of dancing has been around for many centuries leading up to what is today a highly developed and socialized type of dance. In previous centuries Highland dancing was used by Scottish regiments to exercise and keep their troops in shape. There was also a type of dance referred to as sword dancing, a style in which warriors would place their swords in front of them forming a cross and dance a jig around their swords. The goal was to dance all around the swords without stepping on or touching them. The success of this pre-war dance was said to determine how successful the outcome of the actual battle would be. Today many people compete in Highland Games around the globe and preform these types of dance competitively. Since the 19th century this form of dance has been heavily influenced by the aesthetics of Scottish culture and artistry. Highland dancing is comparable to ballet and influences from this are evident in the dance.

Hands should be placed on hips and remain there throughout the dance:

Step #1 - Foot in Front. (Counts 1-8)
Point R foot to side, bring R foot in front of L knee, in back of L knee and in front of L knee while hopping on L foot (counts 1-4).
Reverse: Point L foot out to side, bring L foot in front of R knee, in back of R knee, in front of R knee while hopping on R foot (counts 5-8).

Step #2 – Toe-Heel Step (Counts 1-8)
Point R foot to side, place R toe next to L foot, place R heel out in front, bring R toe back next to L foot while hopping on L foot (counts 1-4).
Reverse: Point L foot to side, place L toes next to R foot, place L heel out in front, bring L toe back next to R foot while hopping on R foot (counts 5-8).

Step #3 - Spin Step. (Counts 1-8)
Point R foot to the side, bring R foot to L knee, hop 3 times on L foot making a complete turn to the L (counts 1-4).
Reverse: Point L foot to the side, bring L foot to the R knee, hop 3 times on R foot making a complete turn to the R (counts 5-8).

Step #4 - Alternating feet. (Counts 1-8)
This is similar to a high knee running step: R foot comes up in front of L knee, then L foot in front of R knee, R foot in front of L knee, L foot in front of R knee (counts 1-4).

Continue to repeat 4 more times for counts 5-8.

Repeat entire dance for the remainder of the song.


After the students have had time to learn and practice the dance, the class can participate in a dance competition by seeing who can perform the dance the longest without making any mistakes.

Assessment Ideas:

Cognitive: Students will be able to tell where the dance came from and why/how the dance was used centuries ago and how the dance is used today.

Psycho-motor: students will be able to perform all four dance steps repetitively, at first at their own pace and eventually staying with the tempo of the music.

Adaptations for Students with Disabilities

Children in wheelchairs could do this dance with arm movements that mimic the movement of the feet. They could turn their wheelchairs during the spin step. If the dance is too fast for some children the steps can be performed more slowly or each step repeated several times before going to the next combination.


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Scottish Highland Fling Dance

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Previous Comments:


why is there a troll


If they had done any type of research about the art, they would know they are doing the first step backwards.The rest of it is just plain wrong. If you are going to try and modify it at least TRY and stay true to the dance. There are other ways that you can modify dances for the purposes of physical education without ruining the integrity of the art form.

Please do some further research before you publish anything else.

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