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Step Dance with Nic Gareiss

START: 08 April 2019
END: 12 April 2019
COST: £260

Step Dance with Nic Gareiss – The Art of Treepling

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig are very excited to have the extremely talented Nic Gareiss who will be teaching step dance as part of the 2019 Easter short courses program.

photo credit: Michael Erlewine

In the final chapter of dance collectors Joan and Tom Flett’s 1964 book Traditional Dancing in Scotland, the authors make reference to “the art of treepling.” At the time of its publication, treepling, “beating out the rhythm of the music with the feet,” was one of the lesser-known features of Scottish dancing and had almost entirely disappeared. (Flett & Flett, 1964, p. 260)

Today step dance in Scotland is growing in popularity thanks in part to inspirational visits to Scotland beginning in the late 20th century by dancers from Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada. In light of step dance’s recent rise in popularity, it feels important to look back at historical precedents for the form. This course we will engage with the Flett’s original research, both through reading and embodied movement, to learn some the steps documented in their 1964 text, discuss possible reasons for the decline of treepling, and, perhaps most importantly, re-imagine treepling as a locus of creative interpretation of traditional music & dance, in Scotland and beyond. This will include supplementary instruction in percussive dance from other geographies in which treepling is found, including Ireland, Canada, and Appalachia.

  • This course is designed for dancers with some previous percussive dance experience (Irish step dance, clog dance, tap dance, Flamenco, Cape Breton step dance, etc.)
  • Participants must be age 16 or over.


There’s space for up to 12 people on the course – to ensure your place please book early!

Nic Gareiss Bio

Dancer and dance researcher Nic Gareiss has been described by the Irish Times as “the human epitome of the unbearable lightness of being,” and called “the most inventive and expressive step dancer on the scene” by the Boston Herald. He re-imagines movement as a musical practice, recasting dance as medium that appeals to both eyes and ears. Originally from Michigan, Gareiss draws from many percussive dance traditions, weaving together a dance technique facilitating his love of improvisation, traditional dance footwork vocabulary, and musical collaboration. He has concertized in fifteen countries for over ten years with many of the luminaries of traditional music including fiddlers Alasdair Fraser, Bruce Molsky, Frankie Gavin, Darol Anger, and Liz Carroll, blues legend Phil Wiggins, experimental guitarist Bill Frisell, and bands Genticorum, Le Vent du Nord, The Gloaming, and The Chieftains. Nic holds degrees in Anthropology and Music from Central Michigan University and a MA in Ethnochoreology from the University of Limerick.

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