About us

Why we exist.

The Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing (SOBHD) was formed in 1950 through a wish by the major Highland Dance Examining Bodies, plus other teachers and leading dancers in the UK at that time, to have a supervisory Board, comprising delegates from the many different organisations involved in Highland Dance, which could lay down quality standards for all areas of Highland Dancing.

It is important to note that the SOBHD is not a single Association but a representative body for all dancing organisations and associations ranging from the largest Professional Dance Teachers Associations who conduct Medal Tests and Teachers Exams to the many small local Highland Games organisations.

It was also hoped to try and resolve the many arguments and complaints made by Highland Games competition organisations about the biased or simply bad judging which was prevalent at the time.

The SOBHD has gained in stature and status through its acceptance by the vast majority of highland dance associations, competitions, dancers, teachers and adjudicators around the world as the leading, indeed the only truly international representative body. It is the organisation which the majority of people turn to in the Highland Dance world for advice and information, represents the vast majority of those involved in Highland Dancing around the world, and is accepted by them as the World Governing Body.

The main function of the SOBHD is to bring about co-operation between recognised associations, organisations, individuals and dancers connected with Highland Dancing.

Sum of all our parts

The Board comprises delegates from the Dance Examining Bodies, Affiliated Organisations in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States which represent the many highland dance organisations and associations in those countries, Representatives of dance organisations in the UK, a limited number of Competition Organisations, Independent Members, and Honorary Members, all of whom have voting powers. There is a further category of Associate Members for more general organisations world-wide who wish to support Highland Dancing in their locality. Associate Membership confers no voting powers.

The Board meets on a bi-monthly basis with an Annual General Meeting held in November. Propositions to change, amend or add rules or constitutional matters are discussed and voted on at the AGM and it is necessary for propositions to gain a 2/3 majority before any proposal can be accepted. All changes come into operation from the first of January of the following year. With the exception of Associate Members all other Members are entitled to vote on all matters relevant to the constitution and rules. However when any matter involving technique is discussed only Examining Bodies, Affiliated Members, Independent Members and Honorary Members may vote.

A Family Affair

Since its earliest days the Board has maintained a World Wide Judges Panel to which entry is by examination. Those examinations are held periodically in different cities and countries with at least an annual exam diet in Scotland. A World Wide Registration Scheme for dancers is also operated. Competitive dancers register with the local SOBHD Registration Agents within their own country, i.e. ABHDI (Australia), OBHDA(SA) (South Africa), Scotdance Canada (Canada), Scotdance New Zealand (New Zealand) and FUSTA (USA). Dancers carry an SOBHD Registration Card which shows their current performance category or level and it entitles them to compete at all competitions within that category anywhere in the world. The Scheme incorporates levels for Primary (under 7 years only) Beginner, Novice, Intermediate and Premier grades and permits dancers to monitor their own progress through the different competition categories by a system of achievement stamps when prizes are won.

Competitions running under SOBHD rules and regulations register with the local Registration Agents in their country and lists of competitions and championship events are available from those Agents.

The Board is thus like a very large family, with the SOBHD headquarters leading the family and the various organisations represented on the Board, operating the SOBHD system within their own country or domain.