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City Of Liverpool Tattoo Highland DancersHighland dance or Highland dancing is a style of competitive solo dancing developed in the Scottish Highlands in the 19th and 20th centuries in the context of competitions at public events such as the Highland games. It was 'created from the Gaelic folk dance repertoire, but formalised with the conventions of ballet', and has been subject to influences from outside the Highlands. Highland dancing is often performed to the accompaniment of Highland bagpipe music and dancers wear specialised shoes called Ghillies. It is now seen at nearly every modern-day Highland games event.

Basic description of Highland dancing

Highland dancing is a competitive and technical dance form requiring technique, stamina, and strength, and is recognised as a sport by the Sport Council of Scotland.

In Highland dancing, the dancers dance on the balls of the feet, Highland dancing is a form of solo step dancing, from which it evolved, but while some forms of step dancing are purely percussive in nature, Highland dancing involves not only a combination of steps but also some integral upper body, arm, and hand movements.

Highland dancing should not be confused with Scottish country dancing which is both a social dance (that is, a dance which is danced with a partner or partners) like ballroom dancing, and a formation dance (that is, a dance in which an important element is the pattern of group movement about the dance floor) like square dancing.

Some Highland dances do derive from traditional social dances, however. An example is the Highland Reel, also known as the Foursome Reel, in which groups of four dancers alternate between solo steps facing one another and a figure-of-eight style with intertwining progressive movement. Even so, in competitions, the Highland Reel dancers are judged individually. Most Highland dances are danced solo.

Scottish and Irish dancing

Many non-practitioners think the two Celtic forms are synonymous. While some dance studios teach both, they are two distinct styles, not just in the attire. In comparison to Scottish highland dance, Irish dancers rarely use their arms which are held beside their bodies (rather than raised above the shoulders), legs and feet are frequently crossed (not turned out at 45 degrees), and frequent use of the hard-soled step shoes (compared to Ghillies or 'pumps'). There is a greater use of choreography than traditional movements.

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