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Yvonne Baillie, Matt Wyon and Andrew Head


This study looked at the physiological effects of performance in Highland-dance competition to consider whether the traditional methods used during class and rehearsal provide an appropriate training stimulus toward this performance.


Nine championship standard, female Highland dancers (age 14.2 ± 1.47 years) had their heart rate and blood lactate concentrations measured before and after 3 dances during a championship competition. Heart rate was also measured during the same 3 dances in rehearsal and during class.


Repeated-measures analysis of variance showed significant differences in pre dance lactate concentrations between the first dance (Highland Fling, 1.4 ± 0.3 mM/L), the second dance (Sword dance, 2.3 ± 0.8 mM/L), and the third dance (Sean Truibhas, 3.5 ± 1.8 mM/L; F 2,16 = 11.72, P < .01. This, coupled with a significant rise in lactate concentration during the dances (F 1,8 = 76.75, P < .001), resulted in a final post dance lactate concentration of 7.3 ± 2.96 mM/L. Heart-rate data during competition, rehearsal, and class (195.0 ± 6.5, 172.6 ± 5.4, and 151.9 ± 7.4 beats/min, respectively) showed significant differences between all 3 (F2,16 = 107.1, P < .001); these are comparable to research on other dance forms.


Given the disparity between the anaerobic predominance of competition and the aerobic predominance during class, it is suggested that the class does not provide an appropriate training stimulus as preparation for competitive performance in Highland dance.