Did you know...
that corpulence among Highlanders of old was so abhorred, that to determine and discourage the increasing of girth, especially the paunch, a measure or girdle of average size was used as a test; those men exceeding it's dimensions being subject to a fine? A bitter pill indeed, for any thrifty Scot!
that participation in the traditional
and vigorous Highland dancing
was encouraged among clansmen and chiefs, alike, as a form of exercise
to develop the strength and agility so important and necessary for the
frequent combat in which the Scots so often engaged?
that the Highland Fling, the Ghillie Callum (Sword Dance), and the Seann Truibbas (Old Trews) are historically and traditionally men's dances?
that girls who compete in the Highland Dancing Competitions in kilts, the traditional and historical Highland dress for men, are so frowned upon by native Scots that they have acquired the soubriquet, "The Tartan Terrors"?
that the Celtic King, Malcolm Canmore, is not only credited with encouraging Highland dancing among his men, but with participating himself, and even originating the Ghillie Callum in 1054?
that a contemporary "wag" offers this explanation as to how the Highland Fling was' inspired into being?
"The dances danced on Highland ridges,
Proof of this statement bring;
It needed kilts plus Highland midges, (mosquitoes!)
To start the Highland Fling."
that there are documents, preserved
today in various museums, written as far back in history as 54 B.C. by
some of the Roman invaders, describing the wild and amazing sword dances
which were executed with incredible agility by the Caledonian natives?
that one very old dance which has become popular, is called "Flora Macdonald's Fancy," and, strictly a young lady's dance, that its steps and figures enact an imaginary flirtation between Flora and Bonnie Prince Charlie?
that the Seann Truibbas, for which exceptional grace and precise footwork is a primary requisite, is said to be an interpretation of the distaste the Scots had for the English laws enacted to forbid the wearing of the kilt, and thus forcing the Highlanders to wear trousers, usually referred to as "trews" or "breeks"?
that Highland dances are not limited to competitions, but are so exhilarating, that an accomplished dancer will often, at the first notes from a bagpipe, spring into action for the simple joy and inspiration of the dance?
that for many years, Highland dancing was the standard form of exercise in the Scottish Regiments, to insure muscular development, agility of movement, and mental alertness?
that some of the Reels and figures of the Scottish Country or Social Dances for both men and women, were brought to Scotland from the French Court by Mary, Queen of Scots in the 16th Century, and popularized by her and her own Court in Scotland?
that the similarity of figures and steps between Scottish Country-Dances and American Square Dances is so striking as to leave little doubt that the latter are an uninhibited version of the more elegant originals, brought to the American Colonies and States by Scottish immigrants?
that although most of the Reels and Strathspeys of the social Dances were developed for grace and elegance, the Reel o' Tulloch, is more akin to the Highland Fling, and, surprisingly, had its origin in a Scottish country church, where the congregation, waiting for the minister one wintry Sabbath, danced the vigorous steps to keep warm?
that the reel called "The Eight
Men of Moidart" depicts Prince Charlie arriving in Scotland from France
with his meager following of seven men? It originated about 1754, and although
is customarily danced by couples, it can be an even more attractive and
effective display when danced by "men only." Historically, the "Eight"
were Prince Charles; William Murray, Marquis of Tullibardine; Sir John
MacDonald; Angus MacDonald, the brother of Kinlochmoidart; Sir Thomas Sheridan,
Charles' Irish tutor; Francis Strickland, an Englishman; Thomas O'Sullivan;
and the Rev. George Kelly, the latter two also Irish.