I have been researching various aspects of primarily Scottish and Cape Breton dance traditions since the mid-1980s.
The main areas of research in the 1980s centered on the dance traditions of the Highland and Islands areas of Scotland.
In the 1990s and early 2000s my research focused on percussive dance forms in Scotland, Ireland and particularly Cape Breton step dancing. In addition any dance genres featured in the areas I served as Traditional Dance Artist in Residence in Scotland – Shetland, Sutherland, Angus and Perthshire – which all became part of my study.
As part of the course work for my 2005 MA in Ethnochoreology I conducted an investigation into step dancing in Scotland – ‘Putting the Dirt Back In’. This study looked at the conditions and timeline of Cape Breton step dancers sharing their dance genre with students at courses held in Scotland from the early 1990s onwards. The investigation asked whether this was a revival or an introduction of percussive dance in Scotland.
I was awarded a PhD through the University of Limerick, Ireland, investigating aspects of Cape Breton step-dancing in 2012.
This subsequently led to the publication of One with the Music by Cape Breton University Press informed in part by aspects of my PhD research.
Recent research writing has concentrated on my research findings in the Scottish dance traditions.
Online and soft-cover publications forthcoming on Lorg-press in early 2018 include:
—A Story to Every Dance, an overview of the lore connected to various Scottish solo dances
—Hebridean Step Dancing: the legacy of dancing master Ewen MacLachlan, which examines and describes solo dances in the Hebrides, particularly from the teaching of Fearchar MacNeil of Barra
—Dancie John Reid of Newtyle, a biography and analysis of dance notebooks of this Angus dancing master
—The True Glen Orchy Kick, which traces historical descriptions and recollections of percussive step dancing in Scotland, including analyses of step structures and onomatopoeic terminology labeling step motifs, written in collaboration with Jennifer Schoonover.