The Fairy Dance animation release

The Fairy Dance animation release

In this, Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022, I am proud to announce the release of my second animated short film, The Fairy Dance.

Watch The Fairy Dance now. Click here!

The Fairy Dance - an Orcadian folk tale, supporting Scotland's Year of Stories 2022.
The Fairy Dance, an Orcadian folk tale.

The Fairy Dance is adapted from a folk tale, recorded by the writer Ernest Marwick, about a fiddle-player who entertains the magical mound-dwelling ‘peerie (or peedie if you prefer) folk.’ The animation takes its title from the traditional Scottish fiddle tune of the same name. This popular tune is also central to the soundtrack.

Known as “trows“, the fairies found in the folklore of Orkney and Shetland are a far cry from Tinkerbell. Such magical creatures are sinister, and dealing with them can be dangerous. They love music but are also known for shooting livestock with magical darts and stealing human babies to replace them with sickly ‘changelings’. The Fairy Dance is in the tradition of other dark fairy tales found throughout Europe.

The Fairy Dance. An Orkney folk tale by Orcadian artist Martin Laird. Picture shows Trows dancing with a changeling baby.
Orcadian Trow family with changeling baby.

The story concerns trickery, change, and the magical manipulation of time itself. In addition to mythology it draws from personal experience and memories of the late Dougie Shearer (1912-2002), who was a photographer, film-maker, and owner 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). This allowed the purchase of equipment and training to help with the animation. The Fairy Dance has been hand-drawn digitally using a graphics tablet, unlike A Gude Cause maks a Strong Erm, the story of The Orcadian Woman’s Suffrage Society, which was a cut-out animation consisting of gouache paintings on paper.

Thanks to Orkney Islands Council, Creative Scotland and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, and the VACMA panel for their support.

The Fairy Dance. An Orkney folk tale by Orcadian artist Martin Laird. Picture shows a young fiddler at a violin lesson.
Violin lessons.

The Fairy Dance required a large investment of time to create. It has therefore been released free to view online under the Value for Value model, also known as Pay What You Want or Name Your Price. This business model relies on good will and has been notably utilised by the band Radiohead, among others. Viewers are under no obligation to pay to watch The Fairy Dance, but if you feel it has value, and if you would like to see more work in this vein, you are invited to contribute whatever you feel appropriate.

Watch The Fairy Dance now. Click here!

You can also find information about The Fairy Dance at a dedicated website that has been set up for it, at