Highland Dancing ~ The Sword Dance

The Sword Dance

Of all the dances I learned as a young girl, this one was my favourite. Maybe because I reached the podium in it the last year I danced competitively. I should add, it was the only medal I ever won.

Yes, those are real swords. Yes, they are sharp. My cousin can attest to that. She cut the end of her big toe at dancing lessons one night when she got a bit to close to the point.

It was the summer of ’69 (and not the song by Bryan Adams) that I competed for the last time. My father had died in the spring of that year and after that, Highland Dancing didn’t hold the same appeal anymore.

Melanie, Lisa and Leslie

Here we are posing with our medals – me on the left with my silver, my cousin on the right with her bronze, and our little cousin from Florida who came up with our aunt for a few weeks holding Leslie’s other bronze that she received in The Highland Fling.

1969 was the only year that I’m aware of where the medals were this style. It was also the only year they held a Highland Games at this venue near the International Bridge between Canada and the US.



I still have my Robertson tartan kilt from back in these days. It needs new straps (the leather became brittle and tore) and buckles but otherwise is in almost the same condition as when I wore it back then.


10 thoughts on “Highland Dancing ~ The Sword Dance”

  1. Fascinating. Great pictures. A person would sure have to watch where they stepped. Clumsy me would never make it. 🙂

  2. You did have to watch where you stepped for sure, Beverly. That was part of the challenge. I never cut my foot but I did move the sword on occasion which you lost points for doing in competition. 😉

  3. All I can say is, “Wow!!” Like Beverly, I would be way too clumsy to do that. Very impressive that you won the silver medal your last year. I understand your desire to quit after the passing of your dad, but, I guess, if you’ve got to stop, it’s good you went out with a bang. 🙂 For someone like me from the states, who’s never been to Scotland, ( yet- it’s on my bucket list), I just love the tradition of the music and the dancing. Thanks for sharing!

  4. The sword dance isn’t for the clumsy, although you get over that really quick if you decide to try it. You have to get to Scotland, Shawn! Not sure where you live in the US but if there are Highland Games taking place anywhere near you, you should go and soak up the atmosphere – massed pipe bands, dancers, fiddlers, and the heavyweight competitions (caber toss, hammer throw and more).

  5. Yeah, I’ll have to look into that. I’m in SOCAL, so there’s probably something around here… That sounds really fun!

    My mom visited Scotland years ago. She has been just about everywhere, and she said that Scotland was one of her favorite places because she had never encountered nicer people anywhere else. That’s a nice compliment to a country, I think. 🙂

  6. You’ll have to let me know if you find and attend a Highland Games this summer, Shawn. The Scots are a pretty nice bunch. Lovely compliment to the country.

  7. Great to see your dancing photos and the medal. I never heard of anyone being cut on the sword dance so it just goes to show. A friend and I used to do it for fun but only with sticks!

  8. The last “live” sword dance demonstration I saw earlier this year was done with a wooden sword with a blunt end, Ali. Definitely safer than that pointy tip of a metal blade. 🙂

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