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Archiver > Scotch-Irish > 1998-02 > 0886358115

From: John Giacoletti <>
Subject: Re: Highland /Lowland Ritual
Date: Sun, 1 Feb 1998 13:35:15 -0500

Bonnie wrote:

Can you say when the sword dance
changed so drastically.....

The Highland Fling was originally danced on the warrior's shield, this
dates from Malcom.
The drawings appear to be early 18th century. It is only in this century
that females have danced the sword dance.

She continued ...

>>> from a dangerous dance of dexterity to one of
comparative ease?

Careful Bonnie. You need to see the Black Watch on tour. Check out the
regimental dancers. The sword dance is not a dance of "comparative ease."
Go to any Highland competition. Even for most of the dancers these days
in this country who are prepubescent girls, the sword dance is physically
demanding and above all a dance of dexterity.

>>> My grandpa always told me that when he danced that
dance in Scotland, 1895-1900, it was dangerous and a dance of supreme
skill. Perhaps it's a good thing for me that he was somewhat proficient
at it....

Your grandpa told it like it is.

In some styles of Arabic belly dances, eunichs perform with swords. In
the Scottish court and in the Scottish Clans, a virile male was preferred.
The sword dance is a vigorous warrior's dance.

>>>>" I had the impression that the swords were actually held by the
dancers and whipped rapidly 'round their heads. Wrong?

Yep. Wrong. There are some eerie and very powerful pagan dances done in
the Scottish Lowlands and north of England where swords are brandished and
then locked at the hilt performed by about 6-8 dancers, apparently a Celtic
or Druid beheading procedure.

There may also be some Morris Dances done with swords but I am not sure of
this. Morris Dancers usually use sticks that they clack together which at
one time may have been swords, wave kerchiefs in elaborate patterns and
wear adornments of bells strapped to their calves and shins.

The Highland and Lowland cultures are quite different as shown by the above
dancing differences.

John Giacoletti

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