New Dancers On The Banner

To celebrate that the Discover Scottish Dance efforts have been going strong for over a year, we thought we’d change up the dancers on the banner. Thank you for submitting 3rd rear aerial photos to bring our logo to life. Keep submitting photos to the Discover Scottish Dance Facebook Group photo album so that you may find yourself on the banner in the future. Enjoy all the photos that have been posted in the Facebook group so far and continue to share the group with your Highland friends so that they know to join.  Thank you for all of your support in the first full year of

– Sara Gilchrist

USA Scottish Highland Dancing Version of “Off The Platform”

The USA Scottish Highland Dancing version of “Off The Platform” was recorded by Annika Strolle in Hunt Valley Maryland at the United States Inter-Regional Championship. USIR was hosted by the Eastern Region from July 19-22, 2012. “Off The Platform” is based on the “Outside the Circle” videos done by Pipe Bands. There are Australian, British and Canadian versions!  Enjoy the video and please, share it!

Scottish Highland Dancers Share Their Performances at “Brave” Premiers Across The USA

From coast to coast the June 22nd premier of Disney Pixar’s “Brave” brought with it the opportunity for dancers all over the nation to perform at their local movie theaters.  The experience was rich and exciting for Highland dancers.   Clementyne Vega wrote the following.

Highland Dancing has brought many interesting adventures and opportunities to my life.  Most recently, dancing at the BRAVE Hollywood Premiere After Party.    It was an exciting and rewarding experience.    We arrived in Hollywood early and walked up and down Hollywood Blvd.  We watched the crew roll out the red “green grass” carpet and erect a castle in front of the theater.    All of the dancers met up for dinner and then we headed up to the green room to prepare for rehearsal and the grand performance.

The ballroom we performed in was amazing.  It was decorated in true Disney fashion.  They created a Scottish highland forest theme, complete with fire pits and trees.   While we were on stage it was exciting to know that the movie cast and many celebrities were watching us dance!   I recognized several famous faces in the audience and was thrilled to be a part of this event.   It was a night I will always remember.  A night where I got to do what I love most, Highland Dance, in a truly awe-inspiring venue.   I am thankful and grateful to have been included with such a fine group of dancers.

The Minnesotta Highland Dancers were on T.V.! The video is below and the full article follow this link:

The Discover Scottish Dance Facebook Group provides a great place to upload your own photos.  You can share your own experiences there or in the comments section below.

New York City is the place to be for Tartan Day

By Kathleen Currie Hall

New York City is the place to be for Tartan Day. Or rather, Tartan Week. Or really – Tartan Month! From March 31st to April 29th, more than 25 Scotland-related events take place in the city, from a fashion show to museum exhibits, whisky tastings to Gaelic poetry readings, and lots of other things in between. The highlight of the celebration is the annual NYC Tartan Day Parade, which
was held this year on April 14th, and goes for ten blocks along the Avenue of the Americas.

Highland dancing is definitely a part of the celebrations! There are often visiting dancers from Scotland and Canada, as well as local talent. This is good, because events happen all over the city – often at the same time! While the New York Celtic Dancers ( “Scottish Dance – New York Attitude”) were performing for the crowds coming to Ellis Island to explore the history of immigration to the city, Shot of Scotch ( “New York City’s Premier Scottish Highland Dancers”) was performing for families at Lincoln Center as part of their “Meet the Artist” series.

Both groups participated in the parade…as well as the after-parade festivities. Some of the best moments for participants and parade-watchers alike were the impromptu jam sessions that formed when pipers, drummers, and dancers from various groups found each other and just started having fun.

So: start saving your money now – come join us in New York City for next year’s Tartan Day celebrations! This could be you:

Dancers from the New York Celtic Dancers pose on Ellis Island with the Statue of Liberty behind them! (photo from
Dancers from the New York Celtic Dancers pose on Ellis Island with the Statue of Liberty behind them! (photo from
Dancers from Shot of Scotch perform at the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center. (photo from
Dancers from Shot of Scotch perform at the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center. (photo from
The New York Celtic Dancers perform for the reviewing stand during the Tartan Day Parade. (photo from
The New York Celtic Dancers perform for the reviewing stand during the Tartan Day Parade. (photo from
Shot of Scotch prepares to join the parade! (photo from
Shot of Scotch prepares to join the parade! (photo from
Dancers and musicians gather for an impromptu jam session after the parade. (photo from
Dancers and musicians gather for an impromptu jam session after the parade. (photo from

Discover the meaning of true bravery. In Theaters Soon: “Brave”

Merida is a skilled archer and impetuous daughter of King Fergus and Queen Elinor. Determined to carve her own path in life, Merida defies an age-old custom sacred to the uproarious lords of the land: massive Lord MacGuffin, surly Lord Macintosh and cantankerous Lord Dingwall. Merida’s actions inadvertently unleash chaos and fury in the kingdom, and when she turns to an eccentric old Witch for help, she is granted an ill-fated wish. The ensuing peril forces Merida to discover the meaning of true bravery in order to undo a beastly curse before it’s too late.

Honoring FUSTA Hall of Fame Member Cathy Hynd

Cathy Hynd
Cathy Hynd

CATHY HYND was born and raised in Buffalo, New York. Living close to the Canadian border she began Highland lessons at an early age in St. Catherines, Ontario, first from Bill Cameron and most of her competitive years from Shirley Ashdown. She had a very successful career as a competitor from a young age into her twenties at all the major competitions in the Eastern United States and Ontario.

After completing a degree from the University of Buffalo, she began teaching and often judged when she retired from competition. At the start of a career in Journalism, she became eager to organize a cohesive group of Highland teachers in the Eastern U.S. states, and was the co-founder of the United States Highland Dancing Association (USHDA). The original group included Marguerite Reid, Margaret Callendar, Vera Miller, M.E. Davidson, Margaret Killen and several others who were teaching in major cities.

After getting the organization up and running and organizing the first SOBHD sanctioned championship in the U.S. in the early 1960′s, she met her future husband John Hynd, and after their marriage she moved to California and began teaching along with John and then on her own. Cathy and John were amongst the first American members of the Worldwide SOBHD Judges Panel.

One of Cathy’s legacies will be that she and Jenny MacLachlan from Kitchener, Ontario organized the first Highland workshop for dancers from the U.S. and Canada who came together to enhance their skills and knowledge. Instructors at this event were Heather Jolley and Sandra Bald Jones. Years later, Cathy and Sandra organized the first “World of Highland Dancing Conference” in Las Vegas with professionals gathering from the U.S, Canada, Scotland, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. This event made the world of Highland much smaller and resulted in new communication and friendships that had not been seen prior to this event.

Cathy was part of a group who organized what is now FUSTA at that first Conference which was held in Las Vegas in 1980. From its inception, she has continued to be committed to the goals and success of FUSTA and has actively participated from the beginning until the present day. Christie Freestone acted as the first President and Cathy was supportive from day one acting in various capacities. She served as the first West Regional Delegate for several terms, then as Vice-President and President for two years beginning in 1996. She prides herself in having attended all but two of the USIR events and has served often as co-organizer or FUSTA Liaison at the USIR’s in California. As President she attended the first SOBHD Liaison meeting in Glasgow, and began the practice of holding a mid-winter meeting for the FUSTA Board of Directors, which has become an essential part in running FUSTA today. She also appointed Lynne Erbrick as chairman of the much needed and important Judges Committee, and produced the CD “Dance to the Piper”, coaxing several U.S. pipers to donate their time and effort. The CD has become a significant and worthwhile fundraiser for FUSTA for many years.

Apart from her administrative and organizational efforts, Cathy has managed to produce 12 USIR champions, a Junior World Champion and a 1st runner up, as well as champions at the Commonwealth and Bute Championships. Some of her former pupils are current members of FUSTA and several are on the SOBHD Worldwide Judges Panel.

Over a 50-plus year span, Cathy remains committed to the goals of FUSTA and the SOBHD, and to excellence in competitive Highland Dancing. She is currently a life member of the BATD and a member and examiner of the UKA.

Cathy and John reside in Manhattan Beach, CA. Their daughter Janeen, also a successful competitive dancer, is married to Richard Tronnes and they reside in Vancouver, Canada with their three year old daughter, Ava.

Scottish Highland Dance Costumes 101

Part 1:  by Nancy Kimsey

Congratulations!  Your Highland dancer is now ready to perform or compete.  This article is designed to give the basics you need to know when outfitting your dancer. Notes for male dancers will be at the end.  This link will take you to a copy of the official dress code:

  1. Plan ahead so that you can buy good used costumes as they become available.   Some places to find these are at workshops, competitions, or websites such as  Good costumes do not necessarily have to cost a fortune, and in Highland Dance, costumes retain their value and do not change much with fashion trends.   Talk to the experienced dance moms in your studio for advice on costume details.
  2. The primary dancer only needs the kilt outfit.  You will see some primary dancers wearing complete outfits with tartan socks and a vest or jacket; however this is not necessary.  Primaries may wear a costume as simple as a white shirt , solid white knee socks, dance briefs, ghillies, and a kilt or kiltie in any tartan.  The kiltie has less fabric and the pleats are more shallow, so there will be less “swing”, but the cost is less. Hair should be in a bun, French braid, or in the case of very short hair, just pinned away from the face.  Hair spray is your friend!  If you make or purchase a highland vest, it should be from 100% cotton velvet or velveteen.  Shiny velvets crush and just don’t work out.  The highland vest has points in front, at the hips and one in the back.  Silver or gold braid and up to 5 pairs of diamond shaped silver or gold buttons complete the vest. (Braid and buttons may be purchased from highland suppliers).
  3. Ghillies should fit snugly in order to show off the dancer’s point and should be properly tied to prevent loose laces during the dance.  Many dancers use an older pair for practice and a nicer pair for competitions.  If your dancer has tartan socks, always check to see that the diamonds are lined up straight.  Dancers wear bands of elastic under the fold-over part of the socks so the socks will stay up.  Dance briefs should be black or a dark color that matches the kilt.  Cheerleader briefs work well. Hem the kilt to just at the knee.  Suspenders should be worn to keep the kilt hanging straight.  These may be purchased used at formal wear shops or found in the boys’ section of some department stores.  The main impression should be of neatness and confidence.
  4. Beginners (and novice level dancers) will need the kilt outfit for the fling, sword, Sean Truibhas, and Reel, and will wear the aboyne outfit (sometimes referred to as the national outfit or an arasaid) for the Lilt and Flora.  The rules for the beginner and novice kilt outfit are the same as for primaries; however most beginners do purchase a vest and white blouse with elbow length sleeves and a lace or eyelet front insert (not lace sleeves, however.)   Some dancers have vests with white sleeves sewn into the vest and then wear a lace or eyelet “dickie” that is pinned or sewn onto a camisole or sports bra.


Kilt or kiltie for beginners?  If you can purchase a used kilt of good quality, it usually retains its value well when your dancer outgrows it, and it will swing better.  Vest or jacket?  Unless your beginner has stopped growing, the vest will last much longer and be much less expensive.  Jackets are difficult to resell and are outgrown quickly because they must fit “just so”.  Family tartan?  Many dancers do not choose family tartans for their kilt if the tartan is dark.  They might decide to use a family tartan for the pladdie of the national outfit (if a white dress/type A is selected) or to incorporate their family tartan into a choreography costume later in their dance career.   What color and tartan to choose?  Select vest colors that complement your child’s skin tone. Do not select a vest color that is a very minor part of the tartan. Choose a tartan that looks crisp and bright, and most importantly, makes your child feel happy and confident!  Go to some competitions and watch the older dancers, looking for a tartan that catches your eye and your heart.  A good place to see pictures of tartans grouped by colors is

The national outfit can be one of two types:  (A) a white dress with just above the elbow length sleeves and a tartan plaiddie (square or rectangular shawl) attached on the right shoulder with a brooch or (B) a white underdress, (or blouse and petticoat), gathered skirt in a true tartan or simply a bright, even plaid (not madras), the skirt being at least 3 yards in circumference for fullness, a velvet petal vest that ties in front with a ribbon or a cord made of tartan, and a matching pladdie and brooch as in “A”.   The plaiddie is attached at the right shoulder with a brooch and then pinned up under the waist, usually pinned to the underside of the vest.  The plaiddie should be fringed on all sides for about an inch.  A few extra hidden pins under the right shoulder and back of the vest are also helpful.

 If you choose “A”, select a white fabric that is substantial enough to prevent see-through without being too hot.

If you choose “B”, the underdress should be made from a cotton/poly blend for wash and wear ease and may have a cotton eyelet trim at the hem only.  The fabric of the gathered skirt and plaiddie can be a true tartan in wool (lovely but also thicker around the waist) or a cotton blend; it helps to have a bit of weight to the fabric as a very thin cotton won’t hang well.  No shiny plaid fabrics, no plaids cut on the diagonal, and no circle skirts!  A decent size hem will not only make the skirt hang better but will also help it to fit longer.

Buttons on the petal vest do not have to be the “official” diamond shaped buttons,  but it is nice to have buttons with a Celtic knot, thistle,etc.  The ribbon can go through hook and eyes, grommets, or just wrap around the buttons (although when wrapped they may come loose).  Plain white dance briefs and plain white ankle socks, plain white knee socks, or flesh colored stockings (for older girls) complete the national outfit.  Hair can be in a bun, French braid, etc.  Although you will see dancers with their hair down or “half up-half down” at performances, for competitions, it is more tidy to keep the hair secured.  Do not wear a scrunchie over the bun.

Primary and Beginner male dancers need a kilt, white shirt, optional vest and/or jacket, or tie if no vest or jacket is worn,  small sporran (leather or with metal top) , socks, and ghillies.  Tartan trews may be worn for the national dances if desired.  If a hat is desired, it should be a Balmoral with appropriate crest and/or badge.  Male dancers need dark underwear/shorts of some type.  Male dancers also have the option to wear garter flashes on the socks.

You will be filled with joy and pride when your dancer appears on stage properly costumed:  looking confident, colorful , and crisp!

To be continued for intermediate and premier dance costumes in Part 2 …

Honoring FUSTA Hall of Fame Member Florence Hart

Florence Hart
Florence Hart

Florence Hart started highland dancing lessons in Scotland when she was 5 years old. She became a Cowal medalist and Fife champion. At 15, she won a scholarship to the Celtic Ballet School of Theatre Dance and studied there for 3 years in Glasgow. Florence danced in Britain until the age of 23. She arrived in the United States in 1961 where she started teaching highland dancing. She began her SOBHD judging career in 1967. Florence has a fellowship in SDTA and is a member of UKAPTD. She has trained many champion dancers and has had representatives from the Midwest at the USIR for the last 25 years. She taught at Macalester College for 38 years and organized the Macalester Highland Games in 1965.

Please take a moment to post a comment.  This is a space to share stories, show your appreciation and let Florence Hart know how she has impacted and enriched your experience with Highland dance.

On behalf of FUSTA and the Discover Scottish Dance efforts we’d like to be the first to say “Thank You” to Mrs. Hart for her honorable commitment and outstanding achievements that contributed to making the USA Highland dance community what it is today.

Video: Highland Dancing on Good Morning America

It may no longer be Christmas time, but our upcoming Dining to Donate charity event is putting us in the giving spirit! The team at Discover Scottish Dance uncovered this footage of a Good Morning America episode from November 2010 taped in Chicago, IL. Watch the Thistle and Heather Highland Dancers perform a Highland Fling at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry (MSI). And dancing isn’t all these talented dancers do. They also donated coats to support a coat collection put on by MSI.

If your dance group would like to participate in the fundraiser for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, see our previous post for more information and get in touch with Megan today!

Let us know if you have a great video to share, we’d love to post it here!

Community Service Opportunity: Highland Dancers Make a “Reel” Difference!

by Jo Kalat

On April 11, in celebration of Tartan Week, we have partnered with Applebee’s Dining to Donate program. FUSTA members who would like to participate will receive flyers that they can distribute to their students. Anybody showing up at Applebee’s all day on April 11 with a flyer will receive a 10% discount on their bill and additionally, 10% will be donated to the Juvenile Diabetes Association! Dancers will be invited to do highland reels at their local Applebee’s. This is a win/win/win! Our dancers get to have the wonderful feeling one has when doing community service, highland dance gets publicity, and the Juvenile Diabetes Association gets a donation. And you get a discount on your meal. All you have to do is hand out flyers to family and friends and show up at your local Applebee’s.

Megan Monroe is handling this project for FUSTA. Please see the Letter to Dance Teachers for more information, speak to your dance teacher, and contact Megan byMarch 11th to participate and support this worthy project.

Dancing with Diabetes

First comes the blurry vision followed by extreme fatigue, hunger and weight loss. Later comes the devastating thirst as your body begins to shut down. Then the diagnosis – juvenile diabetes. This diagnosis is followed by a rigorous schedule of insulin injections, diet, exercise, and worry.

I have had two dancers and a son with Juvenile Diabetes so I know the routine well. At least 3 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with diabetes. The rate of diabetes in children under age 14 is projected to increase by 3% yearly world wide. Insulin is a treatment, not a cure. We need a cure for this devastating disease.

Prior to my son getting diabetes, I remember vividly thinking – “Diabetes is not so bad – you just have to take a shot every day and you are fine.” I later so regretted this thought. Living with diabetes requires constant work and management. You have to monitor your blood sugars with multiple blood tests (think finger pricks 4 times a day!). Then you have to order your life around your insulin.

If you are a highland dancer, so much more is required of you than of your competitors. Shannon Anfindsen, a two time USIR champion, says this about competing with diabetes:

A day that was supposed to be about me focusing on dancing my very best would also consist of me worrying about my blood sugar levels. While other dancers only had to worry about touching the sword, or doing perfect hi-cuts, I had to make sure that my blood sugar was perfect. The slightest difference in blood sugar level would translate to whether or not I could make it through a dance with adequate energy. During competitions, I would have to test before and after every dance, while giving myself enough time to allow for corrections. Highland dancing is hard enough without the added stress of dealing with diabetes. Please donate to JDRF so that a cure can be found.

If you are a dancer with diabetes and you have a story to tell, I invite you to contact so we can share it.

I have always thought of highland dancing as a wonderful way for our young people to increase their fitness and to learn the drive for excellence. Isn’t it great that we now have a chance for it also to be an opportunity for our young people to serve their greater community and make a “reel” difference?