August 31, 2011

Wilton takes leap from Highland dancing to focus on piping

After winning his seventh World Championship for Highland Dancing – and fourth in the Adulty category – at the Cowal Gathering last Saturday, David Wilton has decided to hang up his broadswords to concentrate more on his promising piping career. The move harks back to the days of great 19th century pipers like John MacColl, D.C. Mather and Angus MacPherson balancing equally successful dancing and piping careers, and eventually concentrating on their work in piping.

Wilton will make the 2011 Royal Braemar Gathering on September 3rd his final dancing competition.

Born in Hamilton, Ontario, and raised in Forfar, Scotland, and now living with his girlfriend in Glasgow, Wilton has won virtually every major award in dancing, comprising 192 championships in total, including seven World’s, five North American, two Australian Champion of Champions, two European, 13 British, 10 Commonwealth, eight Scottish, and nine Best Male Dancer trophies at Cowal. Since 2004 Wilton has lost only three championships in which he’s competed, and in 2000 alone won 19 out of 19 championships.

But, at the ripe old dancing age of 22 he’s hanging up his competitive shoes.

“I decided to retire because I felt it was the right time, and I always had 2011 in my head as my last year,” Wilton said. “As young as I am my health was the biggest factor in my retirement and I was finding it difficult to switch between [dancing and piping] and do them both to the best of my ability.”

Wilton added, “My fairly long career in dancing which is catching up to me physically – harder to practice, harder to walk in the mornings, lots of aches and pains that at the age of 22 shouldn’t be there. I was finding it harder to fit into my tight schedule with university, band, solos all on top of that and more and more I was finding myself exhausted.”

Wilton is a member of the ScottishPower Pipe Band, and already has a solid string of solo piping success to his name, including prizes in the Silver Medal at Oban and Inverness, the Piobaireachd at Aberdeen, and first-prizes in both A- and B-Grade events at Inveraray. He took time away from solo piping this summer to concentrate on dancing, which obviously paid off handsomely. Wilton receives ongoing instruction in piobaireachd from Roddy MacLeod and light music from Chris Armstrong.

As if his artistic talents weren’t enough, this past year Wilton graduated from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama with first-class honours.

“This year at the British Dancing Championships the day after World Pipe Band Championships I danced one dance and had to go home from exhaustion, which cemented my decision to retire,” Wilton said.


  1. Wow – my wife danced and piped as well, but pretty well gave up the competitive dancing during college (she still plays pipes). I know how hard she worked at it – to do both at this level, AND play with a top-level band? Amazing kid. Congratulations and continued good luck young Mr. Wilton!

  2. Oh, PS – meant to mention that this also brings to mind Jamie Troy, who’s the only person I know who can play both drums and pipes at a ridiculously-excellent professional level. There may be others – he’s the only one I know!



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