Highland & Step Dancing Lessons

Highland Dancing has origins several hundred years ago and actually has scripted steps which date back to the early 1900’s.  In many of the traditional dances – the Highland Fling, Sword Dance and Reels – you would recognize the steps as similar to earlier forms however, the tempo at which the dances are executed is now much slower.  This allows for great precision and strength of movements.  Traditionally it was only the men who danced and often in a military setting but these days, females greatly outnumber males.

The Rob Roy Highland Dancing programme focuses on three elements – medal tests, performances and if the dancer is interested, competitions.

All dancers are encouraged to take part in local performances – we are often asked to provide entertainment at senior citizens’ residences, walk in parades (we participate in up to ten local Santa Claus parades each year) and a variety of other engagements.  All dancers also take part in the Christmas tea and spring concert.  Everyone loves the opportunity to show off what they have learned during the term.

Each year an examiner from the Scottish Dance Teacher’s Alliance (SDTA) visits the area to conduct medal exams.  There are opportunities for dancers of all levels to participate in this valuable experience.

Finally, as dancers become proficient, they are encouraged to give competitions a try.  A good first event is the Kingston Scottish Festival which is organized by our group.  A first time competitor is categorized as a “beginner” and then each category is again divided by age.  If you are interested in pursuing competitions, please discuss this with your teacher.

In the first year, students will learn to recognize and differentiate between different types of music (e.g. reel, strathsbey, jig) and how to choose steps to fit different music. Students will learn at least 15 steps in their first year in a gradual progression that allows new beginners lots of time to master basic movements to music with slower tempos. If they wish, beginner dancers will have the opportunity to perform their developing skills at recitals and community engagements such as the Robbie Burns supper and visits to local seniors centres.
After dancers master the basic movements and steps and can dance confidently to slower tempos, they are ready to progress to the intermediate/advanced class. In this class, dancers will be taught a new step each week, and will also be taught to combine series of steps. The intermediate and advanced dancers practice to faster tempos and will perform generally longer and more intricate steps or step combinations. Although the majority of traditional Cape Breton step dancing is done low to the floor without a great deal of travelling, in our intermediate and advanced class we play with these limitations and choreograph numbers in groups and with some movement. The intermediate and advanced dancers also have the opportunity to perform if they wish. In previous years, we have worked with live musicians and choreographed group numbers to popular celtic music as well.

Dancers require a black, hard soled shoe preferably with a small heel. Step or tap dance shoes can be purchased and are recommended especially if students advance in experience and wish to perform. Dancers should wear comfortable clothes that they can move and be physically active in. 



Rob Roy has a number of dance teachers who are qualified under the Scottish Dance Teachers’ Alliance (SDTA).  They are under the direction of Carol-Anne Bell, herself a Fellow of the SDTA and certified adjudicator for the Scottish Official Board of Highland Dance (SOBHD).

Dance Classes

Classes currently run on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings at St Marguerite Bourgeoys Catholic School in Kingston’s west end.  They are available for new beginners to advanced students starting at age five (by Christmas). Additional classes include:

  • Separate adult class
  • Advanced competition preparation class available for dancers intending to compete or improve technique

Classes begin in September, follow the school calendar year, and end in June with a final concert.  Lessons are usually one hour, depending on the experience level, and include warm-up exercises, technique improvement, learning of new steps and dances, choreography, and annual Medal Test Preparation. Fall registration information will be available in August.

Come out and give our classes a try.  It is lots of fun and great exercise!

Registration begins in August-September. See our registration page for more information.

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