The Celtic Ceilidh Dance (pronounced 'kaylee') is a group dance performed during the clan parties, moments of meeting and socializing. The brevity of its sequences (usually 16 beats) and repetitiveness makes it easy to learn and dance with different partners.
The Ceilidh dance is such fun that even those who have never danced this kind of dance before can be easily involved in its joyful and dynamic atmosphere.
The Scottish Ceilidh is an extraordinary celebration of all aspects of national culture: music, dance, food and lots of fun. Everyone is welcome in a Ceilidh event and there is no need to know the traditional dances since the steps are explained before each performance, so that you will learn them without difficulty and you will be immediately ready to go wild on the dance floor.
In Scotland, considered amongst the most beautiful regions in Europe, Gaelic is still spoken, bearing witness to a marked cultural identity. It is therefore natural that Highland Dances are the protagonists of the Scottish scene thanks to the Highland Games, a series of competitions that every year brings to the region the atmosphere of the ancient clan rallies.
The Highland Dance, the one and only dance reserved for these competitions, is a step dance made up of 4 to 6 steps: the dancers hopping on tiptoe. But they also perform coded gestures of the arms and hand beats, unlike what happens in the Irish step dance. The dancers and dancers wear kilts and shoes called Ghillies, accompanied by the typical Scottish bagpipes.
The Highland reel, on the other hand, is a group dance performed by 4 dancers, but is considered a soloist because the competition judges evaluate the competitors individually. He starts solemnly and then moves on to a faster pace, with music from different areas of Scotland.
Amongst the oldest, the Dance of Swords dates back to 1500, when a Scottish clan leader danced above his sword after defeating an enemy. This “triumphal” dance then became a tradition among the Highland warriors, who performed it both before and after the battle, because it was believed that completing the dance without touching the sword was a good omen.
The Ceilidh celebrations now take place all over the country and can consist of a simple evening out with friends or they can be part of a larger traditional festival.
While traditionally the term “ceilidh” was used for any type of social gathering with informal entertainment such as music, storytelling and dance, today the key element of a ceilidh is mostly dance.
Just like in the quadrille, everyone wants to participate in the ceilidh so it’s usually the preferred dance at social events such as weddings or birthday parties but, in reality, any excuse is good to organize a Ceilidh.
A ceilidh orchestra tends to combine all traditional Scottish instruments and perform a mixture of energetic dances and slow waltzes during the same evening. Bagpipes may also be present, depending on the type of occasion. Often the orchestra reminds the dancers of the steps to take, so I repeat: it is not necessary to know the choreography in advance!
A strong team spirit characterizes the Scottish folk dances, which transmit strength and desire for participation. At the sound of bagpipes, both the difficult steps and the Ceilidh revive the atmosphere of the ancient clans.
Thanks to historical emigration, these dances have also spread to other countries, including France and the United States, but it is no coincidence that the steps of the Highland Dance have been codified by the Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing and those of the Country Scottish dance by the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society.
Dance is part of all Scottish events