The Art of Treepling – Mini Traditional Dance Festival Announced on International Dance Day

The Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland & The University of Edinburgh present ‘The Art of Treepling’, a mini festival of percussive dance culminating the First Footing residency with international dance artist Nic Gareiss. 

TODAY, on International Dance Day, the grand culmination of the First Footing residency – The Art of Treepling – is announced. The mini festival of percussive dance including public workshops, masterclasses, work-in-progress showings, dance-for-camera screenings, panels and performances with international dance artists Sandy Silva (Canada), Colin Dunne (Ireland) and artist-in-residence Nic Gareiss (USA) is now on sale, and celebrates bringing Scotland’s dance communities and traditional musicians together to encourage renewed engagement, connectivity and support for traditional dance.

Colin Dunne, Sandy Silva, Nic Gareiss

The Art of Treepling weekend celebrates and unites these relationships and although it marks the close of the First Footing residency, it is just the beginning for imaging new futures for step dance.

Treepling is a phrase found in Joan and Tom Flett’s 1964 book ‘Traditional Dancing in Scotland’ which means “beating out the rhythm of the music with the feet” and was one of the lesser-known features of Scottish dancing that almost completely disappeared.

The residency has rejuvenated treepling, bringing the phrase back into the vocabulary of contemporary dance artists and educators and reaching across Scotland to bring new energy and support to the Scottish step dance tradition, as Nic Gareiss states:

Over the past six months of the First Footing residency, I’ve had the distinct pleasure of travelling widely throughout Scotland – from Aberdeen to the Isle of Skye, Inverness to Dumfries – to teach workshops, give performances, and offer professional development to step dancers and teachers. I have been overwhelmed by the warmth, enthusiasm, and tremendous heart across dance communities here.

There’s new palpable energy around percussive dance – the act of making music with our feet – which is a practice indigenous to Scotland that many dancers here are joyfully engaging with once again. In this spirit, I wanted to put together a weekend of events to culminate and celebrate the eight-month residency. The Art of Treepling weekend is a parting gift designed to intrigue, nourish, encourage, exhort and hopefully delight the rich community of dancers and dance lovers in this country, and we hope you can join us in Edinburgh from Friday 7 – Sunday 9 June!


The packed programme has been coordinated and supported by the Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland and The University of Edinburgh who host 8 opportunities to engage, reimaging percussive dance as a rich cultural locus of music-making, creativity, identity and community-building.

Nic is an internationally recognised percussive dance artist voted Dance Magazine’s 2019 “25 to Watch” and we’ve been extremely lucky to have him in Scotland these past seven months, working with the Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland to inspire and foster new connections, sharing footwork and his wealth of knowledge on traditional dance forms.

He has taken influence from Scotland’s communities and through the School of Scottish Studies archives to reimagine The Art of Treepling, which we’ll have the pleasure of seeing and hearing at his work-in-progress sharing on Friday 7 June. We also have the great honour of hosting two of Nic’s former teachers, acclaimed dance artists Sandy Silva and Colin Dunne who will share their years of practice in masterclasses, panel talks and the final treat – Treepling in Performance – featuring solos and improvisations by these three masters of contemporary percussive dance.(Michelle Brady, Dance Network Co-ordinator Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland)

Traditional step dance in a contemporary setting is the ethos of the First Footing residency, ensuring ancient methods are understood and utilised in modern times, with dance integral to human expression, as Wendy Timmons states:

2019 marks a celebratory year for dance at The University of Edinburgh. It is ten years since the MSc Dance Science and Education was launched and delivered at Moray House School of Education and Sport, which provides dance practitioners and artists with a distinctive route to academic study, research and optional qualified teacher status.

‘Over the past decade we’ve developed a strong “community of practice” where the conforms of dance are explored, challenged and questioned. The artist in residence project is a vital part of this community and Nic Gareiss marks our fourth successful residency, which has been a very distinct and rewarding journey.

DATES:           Friday 7 – Sunday 9 June 2019
LOCATIONS:  Scottish Storytelling Centre, St. Leonard’s Land Dance Studio, St. Cecilia’s Hall, The University of Edinburgh
TICKETS:       Available from the Scottish Storytelling Centre’s Box Office, 0131 556 9579

Book Tickets

Event Listings

Fri 7 June

Sat 8 June

Sun 9 June