WILLIAM MACLENNAN (l860-1892). Piper and dancer.
Born 11.6.1860 at Fairburn, Urray, Ross & Cromarty. Married 3.9.188?, Edinburgh, Marie Kohler, a Governesss from Alsace. He appears only twice in the Edinburgh P.O Directories as a Teacher of Dancing 1888-89 & 1890-91. His widow died 19.6.1938 in Edinburgh.
Was taught piping by his uncle Lieut. John MacLennan whom he
was brought up by upon the death of the his father. Another uncle, Murdo MacLennan, taught Willism dancing . After leaving school Willie became a newspaper reporter before turning to architecture, of which he became a fully qualified practitioner. During these pursuits he continued with his piping and dancing, and also studied ballet in Paris. On his return to Scotland he made radical changes in the style of Highland dancing, which were acclaimed great improvements and quickly adopted by the leading dancers of that day. Forming his own concert party, which included Scott Skinner, the well-known Aberdeenshire violinist, he made three tours of the United States and Canada, teaching dancing in Montreal during several winters, where he also conducted art classes in painting and drawing. An impressive setting of his for reels was the deck of a ship, the dancers dipping torches in a paraffin drum and carrying these as they danced, the bright flames silhouetted against sky and water. He won all the piping and dancing honours of his day, including the Highland Society of London Medal at the Argyllshire Gathering in 1875, and also at Inverness in 1879. When Willie died in Montreal General Hospital, in October, 1892, at the early age of thirty-two, the newspapers carried the caption, “King of Dancers Dead.”