Cape Breton dance originated
in the Highlands and Western Islands of Scotland. The Scottish emigrant
community in Cape Breton (an island off the northeast coast of Canada),
Nova Scotia, preserved this dance tradition almost unchanged for centuries...
dancing it in their kitchens and at ceilis (kay-lees: Gaelic "party")
but it was nearly forgotten that the dance was Scottish. Some researchers
argued that it was simply an offshoot of Irish step dance.
Step dance had all but
died in Scotland by the 1960s... only a handful of people alive remembered
it's being a part of highland culture. Artists from Cape Breton have travelled
to Scotland to teach and learn in the last couple decades. See the tullochgorm
link at the bottom of the page for an account of just how much interest
and controversy this has provoked.
How Cape Breton Came
The short story is...
Dixie Campbell. Dixie is the director of Dance of the Gael, a group that
does traditional folk dance from Scotland, Ireland and Cape Breton, She
also teaches beginning and intermediate Cape Breton classes.
"I have danced Scottish
and Irish for many years and had heard rumors of Scottish step dancing,
but always came to a dead end in locating a person that actually knew
how to do it.
After years of searching
I finally was invited to attend a workshop in California taught by Mary
Janet Macdonald from Cape Breton. Mary Janet is wonderful dancer and has
taught in Scotland, Canada and the USA.
I didn't begin step dancing
intending to teach. Teaching became necessary as more and more people
heard of "Scottish hard shoe". Unlike Irish hard shoe, Cape
Breton step dance is not competitive nor is it done in any particular
order. It is a solo dance style that provides the percussion for music
and is done with the arms relaxed and the steps close to the floor. Cape
Breton step dancing is done for the enjoyment of the dancer."
Dance of the Gael
Traditional Celtic Folk Dance
Scottish Country Dancing
Scottish Soft Shoe
Cape Breton Hard Shoe
Irish Set Dance
Sean Nos (Old style)
Cape Breton Classes
Call 503-704-7337 and leave
a message if you'd like more information about beginning or intermediate
Cape Breton classes or about the performance group, DANCE OF THE GAEL.
The intermediate level
class performs about once a month with DANCE OF THE GAEL.
Performances include such
venues as Portland Highland Games, Scottish Heritage Festival, and Pacific
Northwest Highland Games, World Beat Festival, Kelso Highlander Festival
and the local pub when the music is good.
Cape Breton and other Gaelic
links. The article on Scottish Step Dancing is mostly devoted
to Cape Breton Step and is very in-depth. http://www.tullochgorm.com/#