Research into Highland and Irish dancing

I was delighted to read on the UKA website that two funded, research projects are being carried out as part of three post-graduate Masters Physiotherapy (pre-registration) dissertations exploring the impact forces of Irish and Highland dancing and the potential influences on skeletal health, as well as quantifying their energy expenditure during their routines.

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In my competitive days, (a very long time ago), it took a long time to master the art of backstepping in Highland dancing.  The aim was to perform a very smooth backstepping action with all required positions reached at the right time.  Backstepping back then truly was a magnificent step to watch and a very demanding one to perform well.  But it was worth the effort it took to achieve some of the smoothest backsteps in town. When I see backsteps being danced today, I feel uncomfortable. Instead of a lovely smooth action, today’s backsteps are danced with such a staccato, jerky action that they no longer look like backsteps at all. And they do not have the aesthetic quality of the backsteps danced in my day.

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Highland Dancing competitors – are we expecting too much?

I always think that Highland dancing is a tough, stamina demanding, highly technical form of dance. And I am conscious that it is a dance genre where the youngest dancers need to do the same as the adults. Even when young children are dancing a three-step Fling, the three steps are the same steps that adult dancers do. Adult dancers are likely to dance more steps than very young dancers but the basic steps, such as the first step of the Fling is the same for everyone. When it comes to Championship level dancers the number of steps that the 7 and under 10 years need to dance is less than those who are 10 years and over. But 10 year olds need to do the same number of steps as the adults.

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Preparation for Performance

Prep for performance

You can download a free copy of my Preparation for Performance for Highland Dancers.  The non dance techniques introduced in this book aim to be an effective aid to enhancing performance.  If you are a dancer and want to have an edge on your fellow Highland dancing competitors then this book is for you.  If you are a teacher then encourage your dancers to learn and use these non dance techniques to help them to cope with the pressures of competition.

If you do not do or teach Highland dancing then don’t worry, these non dance technique skills and tips are easily transferrable to other dance genres.  And you can even use them in everyday life.

Topics include:-

  • Mental training skills
  • Breathing and relaxation
  • Practical exercises using balls and bands

You can go to the website to download your free copy now.