San Jose School of Highland Dancing


Levels and Registration Cards

The school encourages all dancers whom our teachers deem ready to compete to participate in at least 2 local-level competitions and one local Championship per year. Our instructors focus the classes on short- and long-term competition goals.

A dancer who plans to compete must register with the Federation of US Teachers and Adjudicators (FUSTA), the governing body for Highland Dancing in the US, at the regional level (Western Region) and obtain a Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing (SOBHD) Worldwide registration card. This card indicates the competition level of the dancer: Primary, Beginner, Novice, Intermediate, or Premier. A dancer is a Primary dancer until she/he turns age seven. In the Beginner and Novice categories, a competition win of at least one 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place medal entitles the dancer to receive a stamp on their registration card. When a dancer has six stamps, or has been in the category for six months (whichever is longer), she/he progresses to the next level.

Intermediate dancers remain in the category for one calendar year from the date of the first intermediate competition entered, whether or not they compete at it. After that time period is up, regardless of how many wins, the dancer moves into the highest and most prestigious category, Premier, where they will remain the rest of their dancing career. All dancers are required to re-register every year. Primary dancers do not get their cards stamped until they turn seven years old and enter the Beginner category.

Dancers must present their registration cards at each competition in order to receive their awards. The loss of a registration card requires the dancer to move up to the next category (without exception)! Therefore, it is vital to keep this card in a safe place! This registration scheme is a very effective way of keeping track of the dancer's progress, and ensures that every dancer has the opportunity to compete with others of comparable ability throughout the world.


There are many competitions locally and worldwide throughout the year. Several of the competitions most frequently attended by SJSHD dancers are:

Local Highland Games and Festivals

  • Los Gatos - January
  • Modesto - June
  • Santa Cruz - June
  • Monterey/Salinas - August
  • Fresno - September

Larger Competitions/Championships in California

  • Queen Mary Festival in Long Beach - February
  • Sacramento Valley in Woodland - April
  • USS in Costa Mesa - May (Western Region Qualifier)
  • Pleasanton - September

National-level Competitions/Championships

  • United States Inter-Regional (USIR) - July

International-level Competitions/Championships

  • Canadian Inter-Provincial Championship Series - July

World Championships

  • Cowal Games in Scotland - August

More Competition Calendars

The SJSHD calendar only lists competitions in the West region of FUSTA. Here is a list of websites that have lists of competitions elsewhere:

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