Scottish Dancing takes on several different styles, each having different levels of difficulty and complexity. Briefly, here is an explanation of the dancing variants.
Ceilidh dances: Ceilidhs are often informal, casual gatherings of friends and families. In this setting, socially oriented dancing, usually involving round the room dances can be the norm. The repertoire is limited, there is no formal technique or central authority controlling the dance form.
Scottish Country Dancing : This is sociable dancing, involving numerous couples. It involves the couples arranging themselves in tow lines, and consists of the dancers dancing a sequence of set formations enough times to bring them back to their starting positions. There is a degree of complexity in the dances, as the origins of the dance is in the reels of the 19th century. There are opportunities for competiton but it remains largely social in nature.
Highland Dancing: This is mostly competitive dancing and it is regulated and standards for performing are high. Dancers are often individuals, although some can involve more than one dancer. The Highland Fling and the Sword Dance are the most famous Highland dances and are often the center piece dances of any competition. Training is essential to perform this type of
Cape Breton Step Dancing: This is a form of dance that originated in Scotland but is largely lost there in modern times. However, it has been preserved in Nova Scotia by Scottish emigrants there, and has recently started making a comeback in Scotland. It is a form of percussive hardshoe dance, performed as a solo. It is similar in sound to the hardshoe Irish dances made popular by Riverdance.
Reeling: This form of dance is probably the closest form to how dances were done in earlier centuries. Reeling is a subset of the dances enjoyed by Scottish Country dancers. However, it is more “rolling and less balletic than Scottish Country Dancing” and does have strict rules of etiquette.