Our Story

Alexandria School of Highland Dance has its roots in the Granfling School of Highland Dance, founded by Eileen Grant in 2005 - all of our instructors received their primary training from Mrs. Grant. Though based in Alexandria, Virginia, our dancers live and perform all over the Washington, D.C. metropolitan region. All are welcome to join us, no matter your age, heritage, gender, or prior dance experience!

Our mission is to celebrate and spread the joy of Highland Dance. We perform regularly, everywhere from libraries to formal banquets, nursing homes to Celtic festivals! We have a long affiliation with the Washington Scottish Pipe Band, and we regularly appear in local events in and around Alexandria. Performing is definitely our first love, and we attract many adult students who danced as children and want to take it up again for fun!

Alexandria School of Highland Dance focuses on traditional dances, but we also often create original choreography. Our teachers are certified through the British Association of Teachers of Dancing, and they also have training in other styles of dancing including Scottish ceilidh dancing, Irish, classical ballet, and modern. Check out our Facebook and Instagram pages, and feel free to contact us for more information, to register for classes, or to book a performance!

Two women wearing a Scottish dancing costume called an Aboyne are shown dancing a turn in a ballroom, with a band of bagpipers performing and a portrait of Robbie Burns in the background.
A group of Washington Scottish Pipe Band Dancers during the 1990s.
About 10 women and children, wearing Scottish dancing costumes, dance a Highland Fling in a grassy field. Bagpipers and drummers are shown accompanying them in the background.
Dancing a Highland Fling with the Washington Scottish Pipe Band

Scottish Highland dancing is an ancient sport and artform, which originated as a way for Scottish warriors to stay fit during the winter and learn the complicated footwork necessary for fighting. As such, many of the traditional dances we do have military origin stories - the Highland Fling was a victory dance, the Sword Dance was an omen of good (or bad) luck prior to battle, and the Seann Triubhas tells the story of the Jacobite Rebellion. In the 19th Century, Scottish National dances were introduced in order for women to participate. Dances such as the Scottish Lilt, Flora MacDonald's Fancy, and the Village Maid are noticeable for their grace and balletic influence. Today, both men and women perform and compete in both the Highland and Scottish National styles, in addition to character dances such as the Sailor's Hornpipe and the Scottish Version of the Irish Jig.

In addition to performing, many of our dancers enjoy participating in Highland dance competitions, regularly traveling as far as North Carolina and Pennsylvania. Competition, though never required, is a fun way to challenge yourself, learn stage presence and good sportsmanship, and make new friends! Our dancers also have the chance to take dance exams, testing their knowledge and skills against the official text set by the Royal Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing, and receive personalized feedback from an expert examiner.

Four dancers in kilts and competition numbers are shown doing a group dance in a gymnasium.
Our dancers also have the opportunity to participate in Highland Dancing competitions.Photo by Kathy Park Photography.