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Heather Highland
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Heather Highland
Dancers’ Art Form

Traditions in Artist's Work

Traditions In
Their Art


Heather Highland Dancers

Scottish Highland Dance
Madison, WI


Act of Proscription: A law in the 1700s that said Scots could not wear any part of the traditional Highland clothing, including the kilt and tartan.
Bonnet: A hat without a visor that is made of cloth or wool. It has a tight headband and a soft full top.
Brooch: (sounds like, BROCH) A decorative pin.
Caber Toss: A contest of strength, balance and accuracy. The tosser throws a 20-foot pole end over end in as straight a line as possible.
Celtic: (sounds like, KEL-tik) Related to people who speak Celtic languages.
Characteristic: A quality that’s typical for a certain person or thing. A quality that makes someone or something distinct.
Flashes: Small flag-like pieces of fabric worn around the top of tartan hose. They face to the outside and are decorative.
Folk belief: A traditional belief passed from person to person by word of mouth, imitation, and observation.
Folklife: A group’s traditions, passed on in informal ways. Another word for folklore.
Gaelic: A Celtic language spoken in Scotland, Ireland, and the Isle of Man.
Haggis: A sheep’s stomach stuffed with meats and oats and then boiled for a long time.
Highlands: The mountainous region of northern Scotland.
Hose: Socks, stockings.
Intergenerational: From more than one generation.
Kilt: A wrap-around garment made from heavy wool with pleats in the back.
Petticoat: A woman’s skirted undergarment, a slip.
Pipe: A nickname for bagpipe.
Scottish Country Dance: Another type of Scottish dance, danced in patterns with partners.
Scottish Highland Dance: Traditional dances from the Highlands of Scotland, usually danced solo.
Solo: Single, alone.
Sporran: A pouch, usually made from animal skin with the hair or fur on, that a man wears on the center front of his kilt. He uses it to hold knives and money.
Sword dance: A Highland Dance performed between two crossed swords.
Tartan: A woven pattern with stripes of different sizes and colors that cross in straight lines. Different patterns represent different Scottish clans.
Vigorous: Showing a lot of energy and strength.

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Journal Questions

QuestionDo you know what type of dance is part of your region’s folklife? Do you know any traditional dances from your ancestors’ regions?

QuestionIs there a special activity that you do with one or both of your parents? Is it something that they did with their parents?

QuestionIn the photos on the Heather Highland Dancers’ Traditions page, both dancers are wearing kilts. What is different about the rest of their outfits? What is the same?

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Resources For Teachers

Web ResourceRobert Burns is Scotland’s national poet. The The Official Robert Burns Site offers his complete works on line, including a glossary for English/Scots dialect translations. The Robert Burns Club of Milwaukee meets regularly to celebrate the poet.

Web ResourceAlong with Highland Dance, there are several strong Scottish Country dance groups in Wisconsin: Madison Wisconsin Scottish Country Dancers and the Milwaukee Scottish Country Dancers.

Web ResourcePipers often accompany Highland dancers. Here are two Wisconsin pipe bands that may be in your part of the state: Madison Pipes and Drums and Milwaukee Scottish Pipe Band.

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Resources For Students

Web ResourceVisit the Heather Highland Dancers’ website. You can see lots of photos showing the dancers in action, and learn about other dances they perform.

Web ResourceHave you ever sung “Auld Lang Syne” on New Year’s Eve? Then you have sung a Robert Burns song, with words in the Scots dialect! Read the original lyrics and their English translation on this page from The World Burns Club, Robert Burns Federation.

Web ResourceWant to hear three poems of Robert Burns’ read in Scots dialect? Go to The Poetry of Robert Burns. You can hear “To a Mouse,” “Willie Wastle,” and “A Man’s a Man for A’ That.”

Web ResourceHave you ever eaten haggis? Want to see what it looks like? Go to Address to a Haggis. Scroll down the page to find a photo. Scroll further and you’ll find the Burns poem, “Address to a Haggis” that is read at each Burns Dinner. This version has a translation too.
     Try to find a St. Andrew’s Society or Robert Burns Club in your community. If they have a Burns Dinner in January, go and taste haggis!

Web ResourceThere are thousands of different patterns for tartans! View just a few of them at Am Breachdan, the Tartan.

Web ResourceWant to do historical research on Scottish Wisconsinites using primary documents? Visit the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Library archives. Use the materials in the Catherine Campbell Papers. Catherine was an active member of Milwaukee’s St. Andrew’s Society and participated in Highland Games as a dancer during the first half of the 20th century.

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Text written by Jamie Yuenger and Anne Pryor.

Sources consulted include fieldwork with the Heather Highland Dancer by Jamie Yuenger (11/19/02) and by Anne Pryor (9/16/96); phone interviews with Carrie Marlette by Jamie Yuenger (7/3/02) and with Susan Jeffrey by Anne Pryor (2/8/03); the Scottish Official Board of Highland Dance pamphlet, “What it is and What it does;” and the website Minnesota Scottish Celtic Dance Association.


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