The Celtic nations are generally the territories in western Europe where Celtic languages or cultural traits have survived.  The term "nation" is used in its original sense to mean a people who share a common identity and culture and are identified with a traditional territory.   The seven territories widely considered Celtic nations are Brittany (Breizh), Cornwall (Kernow), Wales (Cymru), Scotland (Alba), Ireland (Éire), Isle of Man (Mannin or Ellan Vannin) and Galicia.
While seven “nations” are represented worldwide and no doubt have their related types of dance, the vast majority of American Celtic cultural heritage is associated with the Irish and Scottish traditions.   Therefore the Bitterroot Celtic Society and our related festival, The Bitterroot Celtic Games and Gathering, emphasizes Irish and Scottish dance.
Scottish and Irish dancing
Many think the two Celtic forms are synonymous. In comparison to Scottish highland dance, Irish dancers rarely use their arms which are held beside their bodies (rather than raised above the shoulders), legs and feet are frequently crossed (not turned out at 45°), and frequent use of the hard-soled step shoes (compared to ghillies or 'pumps'). There is a greater use of choreography than traditional movements.
Highland dance or Highland dancing (Scottish Gaelic: dannsa Gàidhealach) is a style of competitive solo dancing developed in the Scottish Highlands in the 19th and 20th centuries in the context of competitions at public events such as the Highland games. It was 'created from the Gaelic folk dance, but formalized with the conventions of ballet and has been subject to influences from outside the Highlands. Highland dancing is often performed to the accompaniment of Highland bagpipe music and dancers wear specialized shoes called ghillies (shown below).

The Bitterroot Celtic Games and Gathering (BCGG) holds a sanctioned Highland Dance competition during the festival each year.  The sanction comes from the Federation of U.S. Teachers and Adjudicators (FUSTA) which is associated with the Scottish Official Highland Dancing Association (SODHD). We also have Highland Dance demonstrations and workshops.
Irish dance or Irish dancing is a group of traditional dance forms originating from Ireland, encompassing dancing both solo and in groups, and dancing for social, competitive, and performance purposes.  While the BCGG does not hold any Irish dance competitions, we have Irish dance demonstrations and teach social dancing usually associated with Ceilis (community gatherings).



Highland Dancing, Irish Dancing, and (new to 2019) Welsh Dancing, competitions,  performances, and demonstrations will take place both Saturday and Sunday at the Bitterroot Celtic Games and Gathering.

Join us at the Daly Mansion, August 15th and 16th. Check out the Schedule Tab for times.

Gary Bladen - Dance coordinator 

Bitterroot Celtic Games & Gathering
PO Box 1774 Hamilton MT 59840 US