Saline Celtic Festival Highland Dance Competition is set July 9

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The Saline Celtic Festival Highland Dance Competition—returning July 9 to Mill Pond Park, Saline—is a premier, family friendly event offering trophies and cash prizes as well as full access to the Festival.

“After a 2-year hiatus, we’re holding one of the most exciting competitions ever,” says event Chair Cindy Kopenski, who has her own long history of dancing, teaching, competing and judging.

“We’re offering four new events for each dancer to participate in—these are known as Challenge Events and are being held in addition to the basic competitive dance events, and will be scored separately. We also are including the ‘Most-Promising’ Dancer Events in the Beginner, Novice and Intermediate categories. There are so many ways dancers can earn recognition!”

Dances include the Pas De Bas and High-Cuts; Fling; Sword Dance; Seann Trews; Scotch Measure; Lilt; and Earl of Errol; as well as four Challenge events;

This year’s Judge, Megan Grant, who hails from Fredericksburg, Va., will judge all of the Highland Dance Competition. An accomplished teacher of this art form, Grant has been a member of the Royal Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing (RSOBHD) Adjudicator’s Panel since 2002.

“During the pandemic much thought was given by our national organization—Scot Dance USA—to determine how to hold a ‘safe’ competition,” Kopenski says. “The United States is allowing dancers to compete with a mask if they desire. We want families to feel safe.

“Highland Dancing is back and we’re so fortunate that competitions are being held throughout the world.

“With the tremendous support of the Saline community, and the Saline Celtic Festival, we’re going to be able to offer the 12th Highland Dancing competition. So please put July 9 on your calendars, and join us in Mill Pond Park—I guarantee you may even want to pick up your feet and dance!

For information about the Highland Dance Competition, the July 9 Saline Celtic Festival, Friday evening music and events on July 8, and the 2022 prices, visit https://www.salineceltic.org/.

A Brief Introduction to Highland Dance

The Highland Fling, the oldest of the traditional dances of Scotland, is a dance of joy performed at the end of a victorious battle, originally danced by male warriors over a small round shield called a Targe. Most Targes had a sharp steel spike projecting from the center, so dancers had to move with great skill and dexterity. Today, the Highland Fling is danced on the spot, with grouped fingers and upheld arms representing the antlers of a stag.

The Sword Dance (Gillie Challum), dating back to the days of Malcolm III, King of Scotland 1058 to 1093, began as a victory dance. One legend has it that after winning a duel, the king took his and his opponent’s sword, crossed them on the ground, and leapt jubilantly over them. Others say the Sword Dance was danced prior to a battle. To kick the swords was considered a bad omen and the soldier would expect to be wounded. If many soldiers kicked their swords the clan chieftain would expect to lose the battle.

The sword dance is very difficult and requires tremendous skill and dexterity.

The Seann Triubhas, or Seann Trews, a Gaelic phrase meaning “old trousers,” dates back to the 1745 Jacobite rebellion when Charles Edward Stuart—aka The Young Pretender, or Bonnie Prince Charlie—lost to the English Redcoats at the Battle of Culloden.

As penalty, the defeated Highlanders were then forbidden to wear kilts. The dance is a celebration in response to the 1782 Act of Proscription repeal that restored the right to wear kilts and play bagpipes. The dance movements depict shaking and shedding trousers and returning to the freedom of the kilt.

The Scottish Lilt is a graceful, ballet-like dance that celebrates the Scottish life and heritage.

The Earl of Errol was originally a dance performed in hard shoes, and choreographed for the Earl of Errol, a small town in Aberdeenshire. It is perhaps one of the hardest National dances to perform well.

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