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Ottawa Highland Dancing Association

Highland Dance Competitions

The OHDA organizes four highland dancing competitive events a year, including Canada's Capital City Championship, under the sanctioning of the Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing (SOBHD) of Scotland.

There are 5 classes of competitors in highland dance competitions:

  • Primary - dancers who are 4 years and under 7 years old
  • Beginner - dancers stay at this level until they have a 1st, 2nd or 3rd place in any of the 4 Highland dances (i.e. Fling, Sword, Sean Triubhas and Reel) at 6 different competitions. Since January 1st, 2011 Beginner cards are not stamped for any 1st, 2nd or 3rd place in any National dances (i.e. Flora and Lilt). Beginners may still compete and win awards in the Flora and Lilt and these placings will count towards any overall aggregate award. Dancers may stay at this level for at least 6 months.
  • Novice - dancers stay at this level until they have a 1st, 2nd or 3rd place in any dance at 6 different competitions. Dancers may stay at this level for at least 6 months.
  • Intermediate - dancers stay at this level for one year from the date of the first intermediate competition
  • Premier - dancers at the highest level

There are age classifications in each group, so each dancer competes not only against dancers of a similar standard but also against dancers in their age group.

Dancers are judged on three basic areas:

  • Timing, which is the ability of the dancer to follow the rhythm of the music in the dance. Dancers must place feet, arms and head in very precise positions simultaneously with the music.
  • Technique, which concerns the dancer's footwork and the coordination of head, arms and hands. Good positioning of the feet is most important.
  • General deportment, which concerns the dancer's interpretation and ability to capture the spirit and motif of the dance and includes balance, overall appearance, bearing and carriage of the head, arms, body and hands. Upright posture is essential, and the dancers must exhibit a happy demeanor. Although the dances are very athletic, they must be danced with seeming ease, with no signs of strain and free of elaborate showiness.

There are 4 types of competitions:

  • Championship - open only to Premier dancers. Dancers must dance the highland dances according to the championship steps, which are set each year by the SOBHD. Dancers are judged by a panel of three Judges.
  • Open - open to all levels of dancers. Dances are prescribed in advance, but dancers can chose the steps.
  • Premiership - open only to Premier dancers. Dancers must dance the national dances according to the premiership steps, which are set each year by ScotDance Canada. Dancers are judged by a panel of three Judges.
  • Choreography - may be open to all levels of dancers. Dances are choroegraphed by the dancers and their teachers.


Ottawa Highland Dancing Association (OHDA)
Web site: www.ohda.ca
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