The Fairy Dance: new look to an ancient #Orkney Tale for Scotland’s Year of Stories

Supporting Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022, Orcadian artist Martin Laird is proud to announce the release of his second animated short film, The Fairy Dance.

The Fairy Dance is adapted from a folk tale recorded by the Orcadian writer Ernest Marwick. It concerns a fiddle-player who entertains the magical mound-dwelling “peerie folk” (or peedie if you prefer). The animation takes its title from the traditional Scottish fiddle tune of the same name, which is central to the soundtrack.

The fairies, or trows, found in the folklore of Orkney and Shetland are ugly and malevolent. They love music but are also known to shoot livestock and abduct human infants. Doing deals with them is risky. The Fairy Dance is in the tradition of similar dark folk tales found throughout Europe, and is not for very young children.

In addition to folklore, the story draws from personal experience including memories of the late Dougie Shearer (1912-2002), who was a photographer, film-maker, and operator of the Phoenix Cinema in Kirkwall, as well as a talented violinist and teacher.

The Fairy Dance project received support from a Visual Arts and Crafts Makers Award (VACMA). Thanks to Orkney Islands Council, Creative Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, and the VACMA panel. The award enabled Martin to purchase equipment and training with which to develop his animation skills.

Martin’s previous short film, the award-winning ‘A Gude Cause maks a Strong Erm’ – the story of the Orcadian Woman’s Suffrage Society – was written by Fiona Grahame. It consisted of hand-painted 2d cut-out animation. However The Fairy Dance was hand-drawn digitally using a graphics tablet, allowing for some more sophisticated animation techniques.

The Fairy Dance required a large investment of time to complete. It has therefore been made available to watch ad-free and free of charge under the Value for Value model, also known as Pay What You Want. This is a business model which relies on good will and has been notably utilised by the band Radiohead, amongst others. If viewers enjoy the short film and wish to support Martin in his work, they are encouraged to contribute whatever they feel appropriate.

For more information, and to watch The Fairy Dance, visit

Categories: Uncategorized

Tagged as: , , , , , , ,

1 reply »

  1. Thoroughly recommended. A great piece of work that has stayed with me after watching.

Leave a Reply