When ArtGuy and I realized we were in the business of having boys, we were fine with that. I remember we jokingly said to each other, "Well, one thing we will never have to worry about is dance lessons"!
A few years ago, one of our coop moms, who was also a Scottish Highland Dance teacher, offered to teach Highland Dancing for a semester at coop. The Young Adult and his best friend were the two boys (among some girls) brave enough to try it. The Young Adult technically took a second semester, even though he really never danced, as he had a severely sprained ankle at the time. A little over a year ago, The Young Adult decided to continue to take Highland Dance lessons from Mrs. Murphy. We were thrilled with his decision.
Our oldest son is not skilled in traditional sports. He thinks outside the box most of the time. This really fit him.
Highland dancing requires tremendous physical strength and control. If you have ever seen a man perform Highland Dance, you will first notice his very well-developed leg muscles! This type of dance demands its competitors to be fit. Here is an example from youtube, if you are interested!
First, a little history. This comes from the Houston Highland Games website:
"Scottish Highland Dancing is traditionally a man's dance, used by Chieftains to keep clansmen in good shape physically and mentally. It is considered an athletic event. During World War II, Scottish soldiers in prisoner of war camps did reels to maintain physical strength and mental stability. The Reel of the 51st is a dance choreographed by some of these men. This approach to survival worked so well, soldiers of other nations joined in. "
So, Highland dancing originated as a man's dance. Women only danced the social dances. Of course, today, the majority of Highland dancers are female, which is shame. Not a shame that girls and women dance, but that so much fewer males Highland dance. Highland dancing is a considered a sport officially in Scotland.
On to The Young Adult. He has been taking Scottish Highland dance lessons for over a year now. We just went to his first competition, at the Houston Highland Games in Houston, Texas. This is a big Scottish festival that takes place over 2 days. There were kilts galore there, including many boys and young men proudly wearing the plaid. However, there was only one male Scottish Highland dancer - The Young Adult.
For his first competition, he did well. He came in pretty much last in almost every dance, but as there were only three or four competitors in his age and level, he still placed. It was a good showing for his first time, especially considering 12 is not the age of grace and physical control!
First, let me just say that everyone there was so nice! We have been involved in t-ball, baseball, soccer, and karate, and these are competitive sports with competitive parents. During this weekend at the Highland Dance competition, I was able to experience a setting where the competitors are gracious, where courtesy is expected, where parents root for all the children. One younger girl was dancing the Sword dance quite well, and doing a good job. Everyone was holding their breath. I know this because towards the end she did kick her sword, and the entire crowd on the bleachers said ,"Aaawwwwwwwww". We all knew how much work these kids had done and how difficult it is to get up and dance demanding, intricate steps. Extra applause were given to the group that did not stop or falter when the electricity went out (bad weather) and to the group who were not fazed when loud feedback sounded from another sound system near-by. The audience jumped, but the dancers continued. It was a very positive athletic environment.
Second, let me say this. Scottish Highland dancing is a great place to meet girls! When you are the sole male dancer (and in my humble opinion, a good looking guy), you get quite a lot of female attention. One of the organizers told our instructor that she was concerned that the dancers would not be concentrating on their dancing as well since they would be distracted by the good-looking lad in the kilt joining them. The Young Adult was surrounded by girls from age 4 to age 16 or so. Many were near his age. This kid is on to something - he is going to have many, many opportunities to get to know cute girls. If his friends mock him for dancing, they are going to be jealous when he never wants for a date in a few years!
Lastly, let me say that it was fun to watch so many people walk around in kilts. Kilts are magical! I saw people at the hotel the day before who looked normal. Some were old, some were large, some were cute, some were not-so-attractive. But the next day......put a kilt on these people, and voila! Instant character! Honestly, everyone looked so much more interesting and actually much more attractive!
So, if you are in the DFW area, consider coming out to the Arlington Highland games June 4-6, 2010. It will be a great experience, and you might even see a cute lad dancing the Fling or the Sword dance!