The Highland Fling is a sacred Highland dance that gained fame in the early 19th century. The term ‘Fling’ means literally a movement in dance. 1 In John Jamieson’s Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language, 1808, the Highland Fling was described as ‘one species of motion ‘ in dance, not as one particular movement. 2 There is some speculation that the first solo Highland Fling dances simply showed off measures that person dancers preferred from the Strathspey Reel, a social dance.
This dance is now performed at dance competitions and events across the world. One goal of dancers today is to keep in precisely the same spot throughout the dance. The Highland Fling is danced at almost all competition levels, from primary to premier. It’s also performed for Highland and theory examinations. Dancers wear the conventional kilt outfit to carry out this dance. It’s in 4 4 time.
A variant of a Fling at a percussive dance fashion was recalled and danced by John Gillis at Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, and these measures were written down in 1957 by Frank Rhodes. 3 Each thing was preceded by a travelling measure in a circular pathway danced into the first part of the tune Sterling Castle, while the person Fling measures were danced into the second part of the tune.
The Highland Fling is referenced at the lyrics of Harlem sexy jazz artist Harry Gibson’s 1947 hit, "Who put the Benzedrine in Mrs. Murphy’s Ovaltine? "
The dance can be done as a:
Four-step dance. Usually danced by primary, beginner, and novice dancers at competitions. Six-step dance. Usually danced by intermediate and premier dancers at competitions. Eight-step dance. Very rarely done at Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing (SOBHD) competitions, although it’s still danced at some traditional Highland Games.
The first and last steps must always be danced in these areas, but the rest of the measures are around the dancer to pick. For championships, the SOBHD will launch a different sequence of measures for every year to be appreciated in championship competitions. Dancers taking theory exams may also should understand all these measures, as well as their purchase, depending on the level of exam they achieve.
Music (Bagpipes) — "Monymusk" or some other suitable Strathspey tune.
Measures Tempo — 114* beats to the minute.
First Step: Shedding Second Step:Back-stepping Third Step: Toe-and-heel Fourth Step: Rocking Fifth Step: Second back-stepping Sixth Step: Cross-over Seventh Step: Shake and turn Eighth Step: Last shedding.
These measures include the measures for your Highland Fling included from the SOBHD text publication. 4 There are many more measures in existence, some of which have been listed in publications, for example, Traditional Step-Dancing at Scotland, 5 while others exist only in the memories of mature dancers.
The present (2008) tempo recommended by the SOBHD for its Highland Fling is 112-124 bpm. This has slowed substantially over the years — from 192 bpm a hundred years back, 152 bpm from the 1960s and 134 bpm from the 1980s.
^ Flett, JF and TM (1996). Conventional Step-Dancing at Scotland. p. 29. ISBN1898218455 . A Handbook of Traditional Scottish Dance . p. 50. ISBN0969065361 . ^ Flett, JF and TM (1996). Conventional Step-Dancing at Scotland. ISBN1898218455 . ^ Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing (2008). Lindsay Publications. ISBN1898169365 . ^ Flett, JF and TM (1996). Conventional Step-Dancing at Scotland. Scottish Cultural Press. pp. 109–125. ISBN1898218455 .
The Highland Fling can also been seen at the 2002 movie Nicholas Nickleby, performed by Alan Cumming.