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 Spearheading The Future of Highland Dancing

By The SOHDA Technical Committee, 29/05/2002

The Scottish Official Highland Dancing Association, being the oldest remaining “specialist” association of its kind in Scotland, was founded in 1947 by well-known teachers and dancers of that decade and has grown into a steadfast body of Dancers, Teachers, Associate Teachers, Pipers, Parents and Interested Members.

Throughout each year we participate in Highland Dancing events at many of the top summer Highland Games plus regular monthly indoor competitions throughout the winter months. Most of these regional competitions culminate in annual Championship events, which, like all of our dancing events, are open to ALL dancers, regardless of which dancing body they belong.

It is our policy and stated objective to encourage the opening up of all Highland Dancing events, giving every dancer the right to enter competitions at venues of their own choice, without fear of retribution.

The SOHDA regularly organise examinations throughout the various regions of Scotland where our members can enter practical and theoretical exams in Highland and National Dancing from the initial Baby/Beginners stage through to Full Teacher/Adjudicator/Examiner status.

Due to the re-introduction of many “lesser-known” dances to the dancing catalogue, we regularly organise workshops and seminars where our members are given the opportunity to learn these “new” dances under the guidance of expert and qualified tutors.

Over the past few years, the SOHDA has been widening its horizons in various parts of the world and have affiliated with many similar free-thinking dancing organisations both in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, and through constant interchange we have greatly increased our mutual knowledge regarding dances, styles, dress, history, videos, etc.

These are just a few of the opportunities available to you through coming under the umbrella of the SOHDA. If you are interested in any small way in having a say in the advancement of Highland Dancing, then it’s time you contacted the free-thinking SOHDA now!


We pride ourselves in the fact that the Association is run by a highly-experienced technical committee whose decisions on technical dance matters have been a major factor in enhancing the future development of the SOHDA. To assist in promoting and discussing ideas that would benefit the advancement of the SOHDA and the art of Highland Dancing, parents and interested members have the opportunity to attend our regular general meetings where they have the freedom to ask questions and voice their opinions and therefore have a say in structuring the future of their Association.

We are regularly being requested by Highland Games secretaries to organise the dancing events at their venues, knowing that the “entries” are open to ALL dancers and not restricted in any way. This ensures a larger entry and a smile on the face of each secretary!

Within the framework of the SOHDA there are various sub-committees whose task it is to research the many aspects of Highland Dancing and indeed, in every corner of the world. They are continually investigating and researching details and facts, which they pass on to our membership.

Does your present dancing organisation inform you of ALL that is happening in the dancing world? Are you kept in the dark with no chance to ask questions? Then isn’t it time you “had-a-say” and made enquiries about the SOHDA?


All events organised and run under the rules of the SOHDA are open to ALL dancers from anywhere in the world. At many of these venues there is a Pre-open section available to Babies, Beginners, Novice and Intermediate dancers, so giving a greater advantage to the young dancer in progressing through the grades to eventually becoming an Open class dancer and competing on level terms with the world’s finest performers.

All the time the dancer is competing, there are regular medal tests and examinations that can be entered from Pre-Primary, Primary, Grades, Bronze, Silver and Gold, through to the Star Awards section, which examines the practical and theoretical side of Highland Dancing, to the stage when the dancer is equipped to sit the Associate Teacher exam. On attaining the status of Associate Teacher, between the ages of 16 and 20, this entitles the entrants name to be added to the panel of adjudicators for indoor competitions after a short spell of training. It also allows the successful entrants to open a school of dance!

On attaining the age of 21, the dancer can sit the Full Teachers exam, which, on being successful, puts the entrants name on various other panels, and, after a training period, the teacher is eligible to adjudicate at SOHDA examinations. Full encouragement and assistance, re hints and tips will be provided for all exams. So, if a dancer has been successful in most of these exams then he or she can truthfully say they are fully experienced and fully qualified in the art of Highland Dancing.

If you are currently sitting exams with another dancing body, then there will be no problem in transferring your equivalent level of exam over to the appropriate SOHDA exam. The SOHDA fully encourage our teenage dancers towards eventual teacher status and will help greatly in achieving this aim. So, it is up to you to contact our National Examining Convener for a syllabus giving full details of our Highland and National examinations!


As well as learning traditional Highland Dances there has been a very welcome resurgence of National and Hebridean Dances appearing on the dancing scene over the past few decades. So, to keep among the front-runners in learning these “new” dances, the SOHDA hold regular seminars all over the country, where we “break down” and teach these dances in full to our dancers, teachers and interested members.

Does your present dancing organisation invite you to take part in learning these dances? Can you truthfully say your repertoire includes at least 40 solo Scottish dances? Isn’t this another good reason to consider becoming a member of the SOHDA?


To further assist the dancer in extending his/her knowledge of Highland and Hebridean Dancing, the SOHDA is continually producing several publications which will greatly enhance each dancer’s practical and theoretical knowledge. These volumes are sure to make the dancer more aware of the structure of these dances, the individual movements and steps, the variety of steps, and the history and music of each dance. Already available are many dance instruction booklets in easy-to-follow explanations covering all the regular Highland and Hebridean dances plus many simple “lesser-known” dances.

A publication we are proud off is our “ABC of Highland Dancing and Games Directory” which lists hundreds and hundreds of definitions and information of dance movements for those about to sit an exam and to refresh the memories of those who have possibly let the explanation fall by the wayside! It also lists the dates and secretary details of all the Highland Games in Scotland as well as those throughout the world! Several other booklets on Helpful Highland Hints are also available to help build up your library of Highland Dance study!

Also, there is no need to search for the finest-quality Highland Dance shoes – the SOHDA can supply you with soft competition-type dance shoes at low, low prices for your dance school or individual pupil.

That’s not all; if you require sets of Highland Dance swords we can supply them, too! And we haven’t even started on the variety of overseas dance books, videos, etc; we now provide for hire to our members! Can you afford to miss out? Then contact our National Secretary now for details of all that’s available!


For some years now we have been corresponding on a regular basis with many other free-thinking dancing organisations all over the world – there are so many organisations that entirely agree with us that the art of Highland Dancing should be open to ALL without fear of retribution. Through this continued correspondence we have linked up in friendly affiliation with various world-wide bodies and gained knowledge of Highland Dancing in other countries, exchanging many ideas on dances, steps, movements, etc; which have augmented our mutual knowledge of our favourite hobby.

Work is in progress to increase the number of these associations and to eventually establish a World Alliance of Highland Dancing Associations, where the various worldwide organisations would be encouraged to keep their own style, steps, dances and rules, which would all be accepted by the other bodies, and where future events concerning Alliance membership would be truly open to ALL dancers from all over the world, performing and being adjudicated on their own styles and steps, and not restricted to one organisation. It would then be envisaged that, to prevent any power base from emerging, the various countries that make up the Alliance would “take turns” to be the governing body and during their period of office would organise a truly open-to-all World Championship event!

So get smart, contact the association that gives you a say and whose future is expanding in leaps and bounds!


Are you interested about becoming a member of the SOHDA? Have you the desire to learn more about Highland and Hebridean Dancing and to gain more theoretical skills? The answer is simple! All you need do is complete the coupon below, requesting what particular section of the SOHDA initially interests you, and our National Secretary will forward you a Membership Form along with full details of the benefits of becoming a member of the SOHDA – the association that welcomes ALL dancers.

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