Subject to Change … please refer to the following link to confirm dress requirements … https://www.fusta.us/dresscode.aspx

Primary Pre-Premier (Female)

  • Kilt (or Kiltie), Vest or Jacket, Blouse, Hose, Dancer Briefs, Ghillies

Primary Pre-Premier (Male)

  • Jacket (or Waistcoat), Kilt, Hose, Garter Flashes, Sporran, Shirt & Tie, Dancer Briefs, Balmoral Headdress with Crest, Ghillies

Beginner / Novice Pre-Premier (Female)

  • Kilt, Vest or Jacket, Blouse, Hose, Dancer Briefs, Ghillies
  • White National Dress with Plaid, Broach and Underskirt, White Briefs, White Ankle Socks, Ghillies OR Aboyne (Skirt, Blouse, Vest, Underskirt, White Ankle Socks (no ruffles/frills), Black Dancer Briefs, Ghillies)

Beginner / Novice Pre-Premier (Male)

  • Jacket (or Waistcoat), Kilt, Hose, Garter Flashes, Sporran, Shirt & Tie, Dancer Briefs, Balmoral Headdress with Crest, Ghillies
  • Trews instead of kilt for National Dances

Intermediate / Premier (Female)

  • Kilt, Vest or Jacket, Blouse or Dickie Attached to Camisole for under Jacket, Hose, Dancer Briefs, Ghillies
  • Aboyne (National), Skirt, Vest, Blouse, Underskirt, White Dancer Briefs, White Ankle Socks (no ruffles/frills), Ghillies
  • Hornpipe, Jacket, Trousers, Hornpipe Hat, White Knee Socks, Ghillies, (Hair should be put up under hat or in a low bun)
  • Jig Dress (there are many variations), 1)  White Blouse, Green or Red Skirt, Cumberband, White Underskirt, White Apron, Dancer Briefs, White Ankle Socks, OR  2)  Red or Green Dress or Jumper, White Under Blouse, White Underskirt, Dancer Briefs, White Apron, White Ankle Socks (no ruffles/frills), Jig Shoes, (Hair may be worn in Ponytail with a Red, Green or White Ribbon tied into it)

Intermediate / Premier (Male)

  • Jacket (or Waistcoat), Kilt, Hose, Garter Flashes, Sporran, Shirt & Tie, Dancer Briefs, Balmoral Headdress with Crest, Ghillies
  • Trews instead of kilt for National Dances
  • Hornpipe, Jacket, Trousers, Hornpipe Hat, White Knee Socks, Ghillies, (Hair should be put up under hat or in a low bun)
  • Jig = Tail Coat, Waistcoat, Trousers, Socks, Paddy Hat, Shillelagh, Jig Shoes



The are two point groups used to determine dancers placements at competitions.  These are the Dance Points and the Judges Points.

The point system used at competitions is as follows (Dance Points) and are used for possible placings of dancers:

1st Place = 88 points

2nd Place = 56 points

3rd Place = 38 points

4th Place = 25 points

5th Place = 16 points

6th Place = 10 points

Judges points are the scores each dancer receive from the judge for each dance.  This # can be any # from 0 to 100 for a perfect dance (although extremely rare).

Dance Points + Judges Points = Cummulative # of Dance Points which determines overall winners in each category.


Coming to MacKinnon Dance Academy in the Fall of 2015!  ALL Competitive Highland Dancers are encouraged to participate!

Medal Testing is in additional to regularly scheduled competitions.  This gives Scottish Highland Dancers the opportunity to track their dancing progress.  It is usually offered annually to bi-annually.  Medal testing measures a dancer's progress against a "standard" level rather than against other competitors.  The higher the testing level, the more difficult the standard.


Dancers are NOT required to participate in every competition although they are strongly encouraged to if they are able ... Remember to always to speak with your dancer's highland teacher BEFORE submitting competition applications ... Every dancer is strongly encouraged to participate in at least the following competitions every year:  

  1. Costa Mesa (May - Memorial Day weekend) @ Orange County Fairgrounds ... www.scottishfest.com ...
  2. Seaside Highland Games (October (2nd weekend) @ Ventura County Fairgrounds ... www.seaside-games.com ...
  3. Anaheim Winter Comp (December) - 1st weekend) @ location TBD ... Ask Susie @ the studio for more information ... 

Additionally, the competitions below have been very popular with MacKinnon Highland Dancers and generally occur during the same month every year in our Region (there are additional competitions to those listed below!).


  • Redwood Empire Winter Indoor Comp (Los Gatos, CA) - generally held mid to late January.


  • Queen Mary Scottish Festival Open Champsionship  |  Queen Mary Scottish Festival Pre-Premier Comp (Queen Mary - Long Beach) - generally held Presidents Day Weekend ... **ONLINE REGISTRATION ONLY** ... www.queenmary.com ...
  • City of Trees Dance Comp & Festival 


  • Margo Naismith Highland Dance Comp Indoor (Balboa Park/San Diego) - generally held in mid March ... 
  • Phoenix Open Championship |  Arizona Scottish Gathering Dance Comp (Phoenix, AZ) - generally held in mid to late March ... www.arizonascots.com ... 


  • Hawaiian Scottish Games & Dance Comp (Honolulu, HI) - generally held the beginning of April ... www.scotshawaii.org ...
  • Las Vegas Highland Games & Dance Comp (Las Vegas - Outdoor) - generally held in mid-April ... **NOTE:  This app has a postmark date for mailing in apps and there is a 10 day penalty if mailed before that date!** ...  www.lasvegashighlandgames.com ...
  • Sacramento Valley Premiership  |  Sacramento Valley Highland Games (Yolo County Fairgrounds) - generally held the last weekend of the month ... www.sacramentoscotgames.org ...


  • Prescott Highland Games & Dance Comp (Prescott, AZ) - generally held the 1st full weekend of the month ... www.prescotthighlandgames.com ... 
  • West Region Closed Championship  |  Nan Daley Memorial Open Premiership  |  USS Highland Games & Dance Comp - Costa Mesa (Orange County Fairgrounds) - generally held Memorial Day Weekend ... www.scottishfest.com ...


  • San Diego Scottish Highland Games Comp (San Diego/Vista - Outdoor) - generally held the last weekend of the month ... www.sdhighlandgames.org ...


  • USIR Champtionships - Locations and Dates vary but mid to late July is when USIR usually occurs ... www.USIR2015.org ...


  • Monterey Highland Games Comp (Monterey County Fairgrounds) - generally held the first weekend of the month ... www.montereyscotgames.com ... 


  • Western US Open Championships  |  San Franciso Caledonian Club Highland Games Comp (Alameda County Fairgrounds) - generally held Labor Day Weekend ... www.caledonian.org ... 
  • LVHDA Fall Comp & Workshop (Las Vegas - Indoor) - generally held the last Saturday of the month ... **NOTE:  This comp has a postmark date for mailing in comp apps and there is a 10 day penalty if mailed in before that date!** ... http://lvhda.tripod.com/ ...
  • Dixon Competition ... Dixon Highland Games ...


  • Seaside Highland Games (Ventura) - generally held the 2nd Saturday of the month ... www.seaside-games.com ...


  • None.


  • SCHDA Winter Comp & Workshop (Oxnard, CA) - generally held the first Saturday of the month ... See Susie @ the Studio for information! ...


There are five (5) levels of dancer groups in Scottish Highland Dancing;  one (1) Premier Level and four (4) Pre-Premier Levels that highland dancers will move through.

Pre-Premier Levels:

  1. Primary (until age 7)
  2. Beginner (6 Stamps)
  3. Novice (6 Stamps)
  4. Intermediate (1 year from the date of the dancers first competition as an Intermediate dancer)

Premier Level

  1. Premier (broken down into age groups)

General Information on Group Breakdown:

  • Primary = a dancer under the age of seven may compete in this section until the seventh birthday is reached after which that dancer is classified as a Beginner dancer and is not eligible to enter a Primary event.  A Primary dancer may elect to compete in a more advanced category at any time before reaching the age of seven, but thereafter must continue in the new category and/or advance in accordance with the Pre-Premier registration scheme or rules.
  • Beginner = this status will be held until the dancer either:  a)  gains a 1st, 2nd, 3rd place in six (6) seperate competitions in either of the Highland dances (Highland Fling, Sword Dance, Sean Triubhas, Reel, or Special or Trophy Fling);  or b)  until 6 months following the first Beginner Stamp, whichever, a) or b) is the later, after which the dancer is classified as a Novice dancer and is no longer eligible to enter a Beginners event.**See 6 Month Rule below.
  • Novice = this status is held until the dancer either:  a)  gains a 1st, 2nd, 3rd place in six (6) separate competitions in any dance;  or b)  until 6 months following the first Novice stamp, whichever, a) or b) is the later, after which the dancer is classified as an Intermediate dancer and is no longer eligible to enter a Novice event.**See 6 Month Rule below.
  • Intermediate = this status is held for one (1) year from the date of the dancer's first intermediate competition entered, whether they actually dance at it or not, after which the dancer becomes a Premier dancer.  (The exception to this Intermediate rule would be an extreme injury to the dancer, which would require a doctor's note to extend the Intermediate's year.  The decision to extend the year would be made by the Scottish Official Board.)
  • Premier = This status is the final level a dancer can achieve in competition.  Once a dancer has become a Premier dancer, they remain at this level and are eligible to compete in Championships.  A dancer under the age of 7 cannot enter to compete in a Championship.

**  NOTE **  = 6 Month Rule (Beginner/Novice) = in regards to the six (6) month rule, a Beginner or Novice dancer could conceivably enter and place in twenty (20) competitions before the six (6) months are up.  There is NO limit to how many wins you can achieve within that six (6) month period.

ACRONYMS & LINKS to Related Scottish Highland Dance Organizations

  • FUSTA = Federation of the United States Teachers and Adjudicators of Highland Dancing ... www.fusta.us ...
  • SCHDA = Southern California Highland Dance Association ... http://www.schda.com/ ...
  • USIR = United States InterRegional Highland Dance Championship 2018 (Gettysburg, PA) ... http://usir2018.org/ ...
  • USIR = United States InterRegional Highland Dance Championship 2019 (Las Vegas, NV) ... (link will be posted when it becomes available - please check back soon!) ...


All Scottish Highland Competitive Dancers MUST have a FUSTA Dancer Card in order to dance.  FUSTA Dancer Cards are issued in January of each year. The studio will have applications available in Nov/Dec of each year and you are encouraged to submit them as soon as they become available!  

You will need to return the following information to the studio in order for it to be submitted:

  1. Passport Size Current Photo of your Dancer (you can also trim a wallet size school portrait)
  2. Completed, Signed FUSTA Card/Registration Application
  3. Your CURRENT FUSTA Card (it will be returned to you with the new card)
  4. STAMPED Self Addressed Return Envelope (so the card can be mailed back directly to you)
  5. $10 Check for Fundraising
  6. $XX Check for the Card Registration Application Fee (price varies depending on class/level)

**Note - if your child moves up a category during the year, a new application will be required (no additional $$ charged).  You will need to provide #'s 1 to 4 from above to the studio so that your application can be submitted as soon as possible!**


**NOTE = Please speak to Joy or Susie before submitting competition applications.  (First IN / Last Out rules apply;  this means that if your application is in first = your dancer will dance last which is a good thing!)  Applications are also available at the studio - please ask Joy or Susie for a copy.

  • Current Competition Forms can be found at ...


  • A complete list of Competitions for the year can be found here (beginning in January of every year) ... You will need to click on the US Events List 20xx and scroll down to the 'Western Region Events' for competitions nearest our location.


This page is dedicated solely to competitive MacKinnon Scottish Highland Dancers and parents. Here you will find information on topics related to Scottish Highland Dance including links and other references and should be used as an informational or reference piece only as it is subject to change from time to time.  If you are unable to find the answers to your questions here, please feel free to speak with Joy MacKinnon or Susie Eskridge at the studio directly.  

Note - this will seem like a whole lot of information to absorb for the new competitive dancer!  It's really not but it will help you to be better prepared and know what to expect and will be a fast resource for answers to any questions you might have.

GOOD LUCK MacKinnon Highland Dancers!  

Scottish Highland Competitive Dancers Resources & General Information

Congratulations Dancers!  

(If you'd like to be added to this album - please send us a photo of you in costume with your awards and be sure to let us know which category/age group along with what you won.


For information on the Highland Dress Code ... https://www.fusta.us/dresscode.aspx ...


Did you know that all highland dancers competing (registered to compete) at an upcoming competition may attend all open Highland Classes beginning two (2) weeks prior to the competition they are registered for? Please note - your dancer must be registered for the competition in order to attend any/all open highland classes during this two week period. Open Highland Classes include the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday Classes only.


Private Lessons are available and for an additional fee.  Please ask for more information at the Front Desk. Private Lessons will be scheduled at the Front Desk ONLY and can be scheduled with Joy and/or Susie directly depending upon studio & instructor availability.

Be Prepared for Class Highland Dancers!

Leotard, Tights, Knee High Socks, Ghillies, Jig Shoes (Intermediate/Premier), Practice Skirts & Water! Hair up in a bun (no bangs down).

HIGHLAND DANCES & DRESS (Costumes & Outfits)

There are two styles of Scottish Highland Dance and those include traditional Highland Dances and the more graceful National Dances.  In addition, there is also Highland Choreography.


  • Highland Fling ... The oldest of the traditional dances of Scotland, the Highland Fling signifies victory following a battle.  Dances wear a kilt and ghillies.
  • Sword Dance (Gillie Callum) ... Legend has it that the initial Gillie Callum was created by Malcolm Canmore, A Celtic Prince who fought a battle in 1054.  Triumphant, he crossed his opponent's sword with his own and danced over them celebrating his victory.  Dancers wear a kilt and ghillies.
  • Seann Triubhass (Old Trousers) ... This dance originated as a political protest dating back to 1745 when the wearing of a kilt was an act of treason.  Dancers wear a kilt and ghillies.
  • The Reels ... There are several which change from year to year and they include:  Hullachan, Strathspey and Half Tulloch, Strahspey and Highland Reel, and Strathspey and Highland Reel and Half Tulloch.  The Reel O'Tulloch is said to have started in a churchyard on a cold winter morning when the minister was late for his service and parishioners were trying to keep warm.  Dancers wear a kilt and ghillies.


Believe it or not, National Dances are the most modern of the Highland Dances and were developed so that women could participate!  The costume worn by women are called Aboyne (Nationals) as women were forbidden to wear the traditional highland outfit.  

  • Flora MacDonald's Fancy ... dance choreographed in honor of Flora MacDonald.  Flora MacDonald helped Bonnie Price Charilie escape to Skye by disguising him as her maid after the massacre at Culloden in 1746.  It is said that Flora loved Bonnie Prince Charlie and that she performed the dance high on a hill as he sailed for France.  Dancers wear an Aboyne (National) and ghillies.
  • Irish Jig ... Is the Scottish version of the Irish Jig and is meant to parody an angry Irish washerwoman when she finds out some neighborhood boys have knocked over all of her clean wash to the ground.  Another version describes a woman who shakes her fists and flounces her skirt because she is furious with her husband who has been out at the bar drinking until the wee hours.  The Irish Jig is danced in Jig Dress and Jig Shoes.
  • Sailor's Hornpipe ... Requires strength and stamina to mimic in dance a variety of shipboard tasks including swabbing the deck, climbing the ship's rigging, standing watch, and hauling in rope.  The Sailor's Hornpipe is danced in a British Sailor's Uniform and ghillies.  
  • Scottish Lilt ... dance has a spirited tune which belies the tragedy of the battle it commemorates.
  • Village Maid ... heavily influenced by ballet and is unusual in that there is very little hoping.
  • Blue Bonnets ... Said to depict a graceful lady trying to attract the attention of soldiers who wore broad blue woolen caps.
  • Scotch Measure ... is though to show a Scottish dating ritual and can be danced by a single dancer or couple.
  • Hielan' Laddie ... It is said that soldiers created the dance during the First World War.
  • Earl of Errol ... said to be based on an 18th century Irish style hard shoe dance.
  • Barracks Johnnie ... said to have been a recruiting dance for the army where a recruiting officer would use a dancer to attract people to his recruiting station.


  • The Broadsword ... performed by four dancers over four highland broadswords that are placed to make a cross.  Dancers wear a kilt and ghillies.
  • The Cakewalk ... originated in the US and imitates a couple promenading in a dignified manner, high stepping and kicking and the dance has its roots from the Old South / Plantations and originates during a time of slavery.  Dancers wear a kilt and ghillies.


  • Generally reserved for registered (FUSTA Dancer Card) Intermediate and Premier Dancers but the age groups are set by the competition organizer.  Contents generally consists of movements from Highland, National, Hornpipe and Jig dances.  A five minute time limit is generally set and includes the entrance and exit of competitors (as well as the setting up and removal of props).  Teams generally consists of a minimum of three (3) dancers and may use props during their performance (no live animals).  Music may be live or pre-recorded but must be predominantly Scottish or Celtic in style.  Costumes must follow theme and content.  Teams should consist of one school only.

USIR's ... Congratulations Dancers!  Just getting their is an honor! 


Be prepared for every competition ... It is highly recommended that you keep all of your competition gear and related items stored together (that way you eliminate the guess work in trying to figure out what you need or what you might forget!).  Don't forget to add your ghillies (all groups) and jig shoes (intermediate/premier)!