How Scottish Country Dancing Works

Couples and Sets

  • we dance in couples, with one partner nominated as the man, one as the lady

  • we change partners between each dance

  • each dance is designed for a particular number of couples, usually 3, 4 or 5. These 3,4 or 5 couples make up a set

  • usually, but not always, sets are arranged longwise, the men on one side, the ladies facing them.

Repeats
  • typically the steps and music are repeated  a number of times so that each couple gets a chance to dance twice from each position

  • for each iteration one couple is designated the dancing couple, the others are either supporting couples or the resting couple who take no part in this iteration

  • usually 1s start as the dancing couple with 2s and 3s as supporting couples and 4s as the resting couple. In this example just 3 couples dance each time and by the end they will be in new positions . This is called progression. 

Steps and Formations

 

  • there are just 5 basic steps to learn, 3 fast and 2 slow. All dances use a  combination of these. 

  • all dances are made up of a series of formations or figures combined in a particular order and danced in one of the 5 steps.

  • once you know the most common formations you can dance a wide range of dances, without having to remember the individual rules for each one. Then you can add new formations gradually as you come across them.  

         4th couple

             3rd couple

                2nd couple

                   1st couple 

        resting couple

             supporting couple

                supporting couple

                   dancing couple 

DON'T LET THIS PUT YOU OFF: IT'S GREAT FUN AND THE JARGON WILL GRADUALLY FALL INTO PLACE