Our First Traditional Dance Residency in Aberdeen

Following our open call, Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland, in a first-time partnership with Citymoves Dance Agency, Aberdeen, has awarded our first joint Traditional Dance Residency to the professional Indian classical dance mother and daughter duo Shailini and Shashwati Vinod (pictured below), practising the codified classical Indian dance forms Bharatanatyam and Mohiniyattam, alongside folk dance forms like Bhangra, Garba, Dandiya and Kollattam.

Throughout their one-week residency at Citymoves’ Schoolhill Studio in early 2023 Aberdeen-based Shailini and Shashwati Vinod will attempt to devise a piece using both Bharatanatyam and Mohiniyattam dance forms while exploring Indian Carnatic and Hindustani music with percussion instruments. They will aim to interpret contemporary themes and stories via the rhythmic and grace elements of the two dance forms.

Stay tuned for further details and in the meantime, please follow Shailini and Shashwati Vinod dance projects on Instagram here.

Catch up Shashwati Vinod (pictured above) free pop-up show today, 25 September, 5pm in her native city of Aberdeen as part of Wayword Festival – a student and youth-led cross-arts festival exploring unconventional forms of expression. Book your free ticket here.



Traditional Dance Residency Open Call

We would like to encourage all current and prospective Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland members to apply by 30 September 2022 for our new Traditional Dance Residency which will take place at our partner’s beautiful studios at Dance Base, Edinburgh over a week between 9 January and 15 April 2023.

  • Is your solo dance practice rooted in or influenced by traditional dance and culture?
  • Are you using traditional or contemporary dance forms?
  • Engaged in an ongoing or first-time collaboration with a traditional musician, e.g. vocals, drums, pipes, harp, fiddle, accordion?
  • Based in Scotland?

If the answer to all of these questions is a resounding YES, our Traditional Dance Residency is for you. Apply now!



Dance and music in the secret poetry garden

Bring your lunch and join us for al fresco circle dance, poetry and live music on Thursday, 22 September 2022, 12 noon in the circle backgreen of our home – the Scottish Storytellng Centre.
Rain or shine, enjoy the ancient dancing in a circle, known in Bulgaria as ‘horo’, but presented by Scottish dance artists and teachers, including our new Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland member Katie Jack from Central Scotland Circle Dance. Horo, spelled ‘хоро’ in Bulgarian Cyrillic, derives from the Greek χορός (khorós), meaning ‘dance’. The original meaning of the Greek word χορός may have been ‘circle’.
Expect also old favourite Bulgarian songs performed live by Edinburgh-based Bulgarian-born vocalist Desislava Stankova. Catch the last day of Thistles and Sunflowers poetry trail featuring 16 Bulgarian and Scottish writers and artists.
Celebrate the end of the first edition of Thistles and Sunflowers Festival 2022 which began in May with poetry writ large on the walls of the Storytelling Court and the launch of Dance Fusion – our new Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland co-commission for ten trad dancers and musicians. The end of this festival also marks 22 September – Bulgaria’s Independence Day.


Part of Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022 and Thistles and Sunflowers Festival running 18 May – 22 September 2022 – a spotlight on artists and stories from the lands of thistles and sunflowers, i.e. Scotland and Bulgaria curated by Iliyana Nedkova and Daniela Dimova-Yaneva. Initiated and produced by the Bulgarian Cultural and Educational Centre Scotland.

This final event is made possible through the support of Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland. It is free and open to all and there is no need to book in advance.

Further details about Thistles and Sunflowers Festival:

New Screen Dance Award

We are delighted to announce that Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland was awarded British Council funding for a new screen dance commission. This new screen dance will be premiered online during the 27th United Nations Climate Change conference, more commonly referred to as COP27. The conference will be held from 6 to 18 November 2022 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. Mark your diary!

Our new commission is funded by the British Council’s Creative Commissions Egypt for COP27, designed as part of British Council Climate Connections programme. It will feature an original score and visuals. Four international dancers based in Scotland and Egypt will reimagine the mythological world inhabited by the Celtic and Egyptian mothers of Earth. Expect a beautifully compelling and vital piece of storytelling and movement for the screen. Sign up for our free Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland newsletter here to follow our creative process.

In the meantime, meet the award-winning filmmaker Marlene Millar (pictured) who will direct our new screen dance. The short dance films from her Migration project were recently shown on the big screen at Netherbow Theatre, Scottish Storytelling Centre as part of Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland mini-festival of percussive dance on 8 June 2019. The screening was accompanied by a post-show Q&A with Marlene Millar and special guests. The Migration films follow a cast of dancer-singers as they travel. Song, rhythm and movement combine with the landscape to recount stories of migration. Find out more about this ongoing film project by exploring Migration dance digital platform here.


Scottish International Storytelling Festival 14 – 31 October 2022: Keep It Lit

The Scottish International Storytelling Festival (SISF) invites audiences round the hearth of storytelling this autumn, as we reveal our 2022 festival theme – Keep It Lit, a symbolic fire where experiences and memories are shared, and the torch of oral storytelling is passed on.

In celebration of Scotland’s Year of Stories, the 2022 festival programme is the largest to date; inviting everyone to the ceilidh – locally, nationally and globally. From Friday 14 to Monday 31 October, over 240 events will form the world’s largest celebration of storytelling, anchored at the Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh, and spreading tales across the city and wider Scotland, and around the world online. During this difficult year, a story shared is a trouble eased, and the festival will host 145 free events so everyone can find a seat round the hearth.

The festival opens on Friday 14 October with its Opening Concert: Speak Out the Other; a blend of voice and music navigating the belonging, becoming, and ‘otherness’ of queer identities that permeate Scottish myth. Performed by the Young Edinburgh Storytellers (YES), members Mark Borthwick, Ailsa Dixon, and David Hughes will perform for their freedom from the fictional Fey court, where the fair folk in the audience decide their fate.

The festival’s Opening Concert leads a series of commissioned events around Interpreting Scotland, which invite creatives from within and beyond the storytelling community to create new work around contemporary discussion points through stories past, present, and future. Examining how Scotland shapes its sense of self during this period of change.

Other highlights in the series include,

  • Fàilte Gu BSL | Welcome to BSL (Sun 16 Oct), exploring the relationship in Scottish culture between Gaelic and BSL through a collaborative performance led by Gaelic speaker, and d/Deaf musician, Evie Waddell.
  • A Fairie Tale (Tue 18 Oct), which explores Scottish race and gender identities through a mediaeval inspired landscape, reimagining the folk classic Thomas the Rhymer, through a brand new piece of storytelling and live music.
  • And Scotia Botanica: Workshops and Seed Stories (Sat 22 & Thu 27 Oct), reflecting on Scotland’s evolving culture to revalue natural habitats, and exploring how we adapt to climate change and recognise diversity.

Elsewhere in the programme, SISF celebrates language, landscape and identities with its Map of Stories events (Sat 15 Oct – Sun 6 Nov); an ambitious new project from Transgressive North for Scotland’s Year of Stories. Supported by EventScotland, the Map of Stories ‘film ceilidhs’, acknowledge the rich and diverse oral storytelling heritage of Scotland with multimedia performances from some of the country’s leading storytellers. Performed as part of SISF’s Edinburgh programme, each performance will then tour to its region of focus – Dumfries & Galloway, the North East, Perth & Kinross, the Outer Hebrides, and Orkney respectively – and explore the distinctive stories, memories and folklore arising from that particular community and landscape.

The Map of Stories live events form part of SISF’s Tales, Tongues and Trails strand; with other highlights from the programme including,

  • Hungarian storytellers Lily Asch and Csenge Virág Zalka connecting continents and traditions in Lost Stories (Tue 18 Oct); tracing movement between tradition and transformation, and how such stories are still active through who we are today.
  • Stories and traditions from the Mi’kmaq and Gaelic speaking cultures in A’ lorg Sruthan Falaichte | Finding Hidden Streams (Sat 22 Oct), examining how North America’s First Nations and Gaelic speaking emigrants handed on their culture through oral tradition.
  • A magical interlude of ancient ballads and stories from folk music duo Pictism and storyteller Stuart McHardy with Female Powers: Fairy Queens and Witches (Sun 30 Oct), focusing on Halloween and its feminine themes.
  • And an epic retelling of Sgiath: Warrior Queen of Skye (Mon 31 Oct), from storyteller Marion Kenny, and musician John Kenny.

As events in Edinburgh explore traditions and stories from around the world, SISF will invite audiences from further afield to join them at the fireside with its Global Platform, a series of digital storytelling and development sessions. Hosted by Festival Director, Donald Smith, the Global Platform will cover the Art of the Storyteller (Mon 17 – Fri 21 Oct), as well as guide discussion around the history of oral storytelling and its contemporary renaissance worldwide through its Global Labs (Mon 24 – Fri 28 Oct), held in association with The Earth Stories Collection and Earth Charter International.

Closer to home, SISF shows that Scotland sparkles with stories that are waiting to be rediscovered in its Go Local programme, with events taking place across the country, from Dumfries to Shetland. Plus, from the start of the festival until Wednesday 30 November, SISF invites communities to take part in The Stone Soup Collective. Based on a European folk story, in which strangers share a small amount of food in order to make a larger meal for everyone to enjoy; at the heart of it is a message of welcoming strangers, kindness, and support. Presented in partnership with Re-Act: Refugee Action Scotland, community Stone Soup events will bring a ceilidh of stories, song, and dance to the heart of Scotland’s communities.

The Scottish Storytelling Centre in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town, and SISF’s natural home, will play host to events; including the festival’s Open Hearth (Mon 17 – Fri 28 Oct) sessions, gathering together storytellers and musicians for a relaxed evening of stories and song in the Scottish Storytelling Centre’s cosy Netherbow Theatre. Elsewhere in the city, storytellers examine our landscape and the climate emergency; rekindle lost myths; and celebrate women’s position in Scotland’s oral storytelling tradition. Highlights include:

  • A tale of three fiddles and the women’s stories they have told in Binnorie: Fiddles and Women’s Stories (Thu 20 – Thu 27 Oct). With a music and storytelling workshop, followed by a performance in the round from Marie Fielding and Beverley Bryant, devised with Lori Watson and Sarah Deters.
  • The premiere of Scottish composer Ailie Robertson’s new work inspired by Craiglockhart Hill; Landscapes and Dances, Songs She Scored Out (Wed 26 Oct).
  • And 75 years after the creation of Pakistan, a live band plus storytellers and singers celebrate diversity and difference in When Mountains Meet | Jub Milain Pahaar (Thu 27 & Fri 28 Oct). Gig theatre, storytelling, and Scottish/Pakistani fusion music, presented in English and Urdu.

There’s plenty for young budding storytellers at SISF, with tales old and new to enjoy. Celebrate the new children’s storybook Silver Unicorns & Golden Birds: Scottish Traveller Tales for Children (Sat 15 Oct); an interactive, sing-along eco adventure, Plop! In the Ocean (Mon 17 Oct), based on an ancient Greek slapstick comedy all about friendship; and prepare to become a Viking poet in School for Skalds with Macastory (Sun 23 Oct), where families can create their own mini-saga and learn to tell it in the style of the ancient Viking Skalds.

Alongside these events, this year’s Festival Exhibition will be hosted at the Scottish Storytelling Centre. John Slavin: Land of the Ravens (Thu 6 – Mon 31 Oct) is a multiform exhibition, inspired by the international folk tale Jack and the Two Ravens. Plus The Big Scottish Story Ripple (Wed 12 Oct – Wed 30 Nov) returns, pairing local storytellers with schools and community groups to start a ripple of stories and kindness across Scotland.

This year, when people’s lives are under pressure on all sides, SISF is striving to make it affordable for everyone. Tickets to each event cost a maximum of £10, with family events costing £5 per ticket. For those planning on attending multiple events, the Festival Pass offers discounted tickets to many live festival events, online and at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, as well as a discount at the Scottish Storytelling Centre’s bookshop and Haggis Box Café.

Listings Information

Scottish International Storytelling Festival
14 – 31 October 2022
In person in Edinburgh and across Scotland, and online
For tickets and more info visit

Connect with the festival on social media @ScotStoryFest, #KeepItLit

Book Tickets!Browse the Programme

Buy a Festival Pass


Directory of Musicians Spotify Playlist #16

Directory of Musicians Spotify Playlist #16

A 44 minute playlist including fantastic music from the Paul McKenna BandIan CarrRoss Ainslie – Brighde Chaimbeul – Steven BrynesJosie DuncanFaraElephant SessionsIona FyfeAlistair McCulloch TrioValtos & Man of the Minch, and Alasdair Roberts.


BLAS Festival – Earliest collection of Highland music given fresh lease of life with new edition

📷 SIAN – Photo by Kris Kesiak

The music collected by Eliza Jane Ross will be performed during the 18th Blas Festival this September

A collection of Highland music, left behind in the library of Raasay House in the 1800s has been given a fresh lease of life in a new edition of the collection by renowned piper, Dr Angus Macdonald.

The Eliza Ross Collection, published by Taigh na Teud and compiled by Dr Angus Macdonald, features the Highland tunes and songs collected by Elizabeth (Eliza) Jane Ross, a niece of James MacLeod, one-time laird of the Isle of Raasay. The collection was left behind in the library of Raasay House when Eliza Ross left in 1813 to travel, with her sister, to India where she later married Baronet Charles D’Oyly. The collection is thought to be the earliest unpublished collection of Highland music and was discovered and bought for the School of Scottish Studies by folklorist and collector, Francis Collinson in 1954. It contains 150 airs of which about 100 are vocal airs, the others being instrumental dance tunes or slow airs. These instrumental tunes are now available for the first time in bagpipe notation with a complete section in the book featuring these tunes.

Dr Angus MacDonald, Gaelic song group, Sian, and fiddler, Ronan Martin, will perform a selection of these tunes and songs during the Blas Festival, which runs from 2-10 September at venues across the Highlands and Islands. On both nights, the concert will opened with a set from up-and-coming 5 piece folk band, Falasgair, from the Isle of Skye.

The performances will be on the following dates:

    • 6th September, 7.30pm, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Isle of Skye
    • 7th September, 7.30pm, Raasay Community Hall, Raasay

Dr Angus Macdonald commented: “Of the 150 tunes Eliza Ross collected in Raasay many of the airs have been paired with their Gaelic songs. In addition 59 tunes have been written out in pipe music. Some of these unknown elsewhere. This is a fascinating and valuable resource for anyone interested in Highland music and we will hear many of the highlights at this year’s Blas festival.”

Christine Martin, Director, Taigh na Teud, added: “We are looking forward to hearing these old tunes from the Eliza Ross Collection played live on Skye and Raasay during Blas Festival.”

The Blas Festival, which is organised by Fèisean nan Gaidheal in partnership with The Highland Council, showcases Gaelic culture and the thriving Scottish traditional music scene over 9 days of events in venues across the Highlands and Islands and this year will host 40 concerts and cèilidhs, an extensive education and communities programme and an online offering which will include workshops and livestreamed concerts. Musicians performing this year include Mary Ann Kennedy, Julie Fowlis, Emma Macleod, Paul McKenna, Gillebride Macmillan, Kim Carnie, Martainn Skene, Norrie MacIver, Allan Henderson and Bruce MacGregor.

Other highlights include two 80th birthday celebrations from Gaelic singer Mary Smith, and storyteller, Essie Stewart; ‘Tomhas’, a collection of new Gaelic songs, by Calum Munro, exploring love, loss and mental health performed by Norrie MacIver and Kim Carnie; The Badenoch Suite by Capercaillie’s Charlie McKerron; Talamh Beò with Mary Ann Kennedy; and Ìtheamaid is Òlamaid, a fascinating evening of songs and stories, all related to food and drink, with research by Jo MacDonald and Gaelic singers Rachel Walker and Gillebrìde MacMillan – perhaps with a wee dram thrown in too!

Calum Alex Macmillan from Blas Festival organisers, Fèisean nan Gàidheal, added: “We are delighted to be able to showcase this important Highland music collection during Blas Festival this year. This year’s festival really will showcase old and brand-new Highland music with concerts like The Eliza Ross Collection and Chloë Bryce’s commission, The Summer Walkers.”

The full programme of events can be found at along with details of how to purchase tickets.


Open Call to Submit a Creative Response to the Theme of Big Ideas within Scottish Literature

Figures of Speech: Creative Commission

November 2022

Scottish Storytelling Centre | Edinburgh City of Literature

What Big Idea from Scottish Literature inspires you?

Figures of Speech is a cross-artform series of six events throughout 2022 which explores who we are as a modern literary nation, celebrating Scotland’s literature and challenging its boundaries. The event series is a collaboration between the Scottish Storytelling Centre and the Edinburgh City of Literature Trust and is funded via EventScotland as part of Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022.

As part of this project we are hosting an open-call to commission a creative response to the theme of Big Ideas within Scottish literature, to spark fresh imaginings of the stories and ideas we know so well and continue the national literary conversation. The inspiration for this could range from historic texts which defined a generation, and had global impact – Hume on philosophy, Hutton on geology etc – to new ideas about nationality, sexuality, artificial intelligence, environmentalism or any big idea within Scottish books (fiction or non-fiction) you feel is worth exploring.


  • Propose a creative response to in your chosen artistic discipline which responds to the theme of Big Ideas within Scottish literature. This response can be inspired by a specific story, character, scene, lyric, or text within the theme, or it can be to the overall theme itself.
  • The final piece must be ready to be presented at the live event at the Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh on Wed 30 Nov 2022. If being presented live it should be no longer than 15mins.
  • If the art form is not suitable for live performance, it will still be featured in some capacity at the event, even if that is via a presentation by the artist or by the audiences accessing it some way post-event (online, on location etc).
  • The selected artist will be paid a fee of £500. This will cover research, development, and creation of the piece, as well as attendance and performance (if suitable) at the live event.
  • Travel expenses will be provided to attend the live event and the costs of any accessibility support requirements will be met.
  • The artist would own all the rights to the work.
  • Applications are welcomed from any artist based or working in Scotland.
  • Applications can also be submitted via video, please contact via the email below.
  • The live event will be filmed, and footage of the piece may be used to promote the project.
  • As part of the commission fee the artist may be asked to contribute to the online dialogue discussing the theme or share a teaser of their work in progress. This is to help engage an international audience in the discussion and promote Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022.


The application deadline is Monday 12th September at 10am. For full information on how to apply, please download the Creative Commissions Brief below.

Creative Commissions Brief PDF Creative Commissions Brief Microsoft Word Document