This Scottish Country Dancing (SCD) website is intended as a reference to the traditional dancing of Scotland. It contains two main elements:
• Dance Instructions A-Z Dance Cribs which provides succinct descriptions of over 5000 Scottish Country Dances in a form readily accessible to the preparer of a dance programme;
• Comprehensive DICTIONARY of Dance Terms which provides detailed definitions of the formal terms used in those instructions and by Scottish Country dancers and teachers.
If you are seeking the description of an individual dance, select Dance Instructions A-Z Dance Cribs (on the side navigation bar on every page) which links to a list, in alphabetical order, for each of those Scottish dances for which a Scottish Country Dance crib (instruction) is supplied. Dancing instructions originate from one or more of:
Charles Upton's SCD Minicrib;
our own Maxicrib; and, sometimes,
Wherever a Scottish Country Dance is referenced from a page in this site, a live link leads direct to the specific Scottish Country Dance instruction page.
Some of these Dance Instructions A-Z Dance Crib pages also contain dance notes, background dance information and links to Scottish Dancing YouTube Videos.
If you are seeking the definition of any technical term used in the description of a dance, select Comprehensive DICTIONARY of Dance Terms (on the side navigation bar on every page) and then select from the alphabetical list of links. This is the simplest way to find the explanation of a Scottish Country Dancing term.
You may then discover that the definition refers to a closely associated term. If so, follow the link at the bottom of the page to find the associated page. For example, when you have found the description of Strathspey half poussette, it refers to Strathspey poussette at the same logical level and to the logically higher levels Poussette movements and Complex figures.
Alternatively, if you know that the term is related to one of the main links on the side navigation bar, choose that link. Then, sometimes via an intermediate link, find the exact term you seek. For example, if you seek Corner positions, go to Set structure. Then, via the link at the bottom of the page, to Positions and on to the desired page. This approach consolidates the reader's understanding of a topic by showing its relationship to the various associated topics. Those wishing to adopt this method may find the following description of the structure of this website helpful.
This Home page is primarily concerned with how to use the website.
Dance Instructions A-Z Dance Cribs links to an alphabetical list of descriptions of many Scottish Country Dances.
Comprehensive DICTIONARY of Dance Terms links to an alphabetical list with a page for every technical Scottish Country Dancing term defined.
As formally shown in the Site map, the page for each individual term is also arranged hierarchically under one of the following eight logical headings, all of which are included in the side navigation bar: Types of dance; Footwork; Hand positions (and other niceties); Types of sets; Set structure; Figures; Complex figures; Timing; and Flow of the Dance. The relevant part of the Site map is shown at the bottom of each page with links to every page at the same logical level (except where it would duplicate the side navigation bar) and to every logically associated page at the next lower level, if any. Thus, for example, the page, Usage of steps, has the following links:
Preface covers organization and conventions, notably the significance of Italic font, and the arrangement of content and also has links to:
The objectives of Scottish Country Dancing, Some Scottish Country Dancing history and Acknowledgements.
Types of dance is concerned with the classification of Scottish Country Dances by musical tempo and has links to:
Quick tempo, Reels, Jigs, Hornpipes, Strathspeys, Medleys and Ceilidh dances.
Footwork covers the Scottish Country Dance steps needed for Scottish Dances classified by musical tempo with main links to:
Usage of steps; Steps for jigs, reels and hornpipes which has detailed descriptions and diagrams in the lower level links: Slip step, Skip change, Pas-de-basque and Step up (or down); Steps for strathspeys which has detailed descriptions and diagrams in the lower level links: Strathspey travelling step, Strathspey setting step, Highland Schottische setting step and Step up (or down) in strathspeys; and Other steps. This section is intended as supplementary material to those learning Scottish Country Dance Footwork from a qualified teacher.
Hand positions (and other niceties) covers the various ways in which hands are joined (Holds or Grips) and includes some other matters of SCD etiquette (Eye contact, Bow and Curtsey and Precedence).
Types of sets describes the formats of The set in Scottish Country Dancing and the numbers of Scottish Country Dancers required for each format. The essential feature, Progression, which, in most Scottish dances, enables every dancer to perform at least one Repeat in every Place of the Active set, is covered in detail.
Each type of Longwise set is covered with an especially full description of the 2 Couple repeat in 4 couple set and the 3 Couple repeat in 4 couple set formats. The various types of Square set and the Triangular set are covered under Circular sets. Other sets links to Round the room and Irregular sets; Scottish Country Dance music gives an introduction to the musical structure necessary for the various formats.
Set structure is concerned with the "geography" of the various formats of The set and "navigation" within and around it. The defined terms are categorized under the main links: Dancers; the Positions within The set to and from which they move; and the absolute and relative Directions by which they achieve those movements.
Figures covers all the basic choreographed movements from which the complete Repeat of a Scottish dance is made up. This section defines the simpler movements which the beginner learning dancing needs to master, because they will appear in most class or ball programmes. They are also the building blocks from which the more Complex figures are constructed.
Traditional Royal Scottish Country Dancing Society (RSCDS, Scottish dance key authority) publications used the terms Progressions for those Figures which interchange the Places of two adjacent Couples in a Longwise set and Formations for those which do not. Nowadays, the RSCDS has chosen to use Formations to cover both but Figures is shorter and more widely used.
Complex figures lists those dancing movements which are either combinations of, or derivative forms of those on the Figures pages. They are in no way logically different, but it can be helpful to a Scottish Country Dance learner to know that mastering these is of secondary priority, because they occur much less frequently. Note however that, because they occur in many traditional Scottish dances and so appear in most class or ball programmes, Crown triangles, Double triangles and Hello-goodbye setting are included in the basic Figures section rather than here, even though they are quite complex.
Timing covers the number of bars allocated to each Figure, the Phrasing of Figures to suit the distance to be traversed and Covering. Accuracy in these is especially satisfying to every Scottish dancer.
Flow of the dance is concerned with one of the most important factors in what makes the Scottish Country Dancing experience into a delight: the way in which the Finish of one Figure is subtly modified to suit the subsequent Figure. Flow between repeats covers the transition between one Repeat and the next; Flow between figures covers the transition within the Repeat.
Diagrams links to a list, in numerical order, of the 100+ diagrams used in this website. Each individual Diagram is shown in full size and has an extended navigation bar with links forward and backward within the list. Where appropriate, a link is also provided here to the Diagram showing the conventions applicable to this type of Diagram. A further link, Explanation of this diagram, leads to the page on which the Diagram appears in context; hovering over the link shows the name of that page.
Scottish Dancing YouTube Videos links to an alphabetical list of those freely-available videos of Scottish Country Dances which have sufficient educational merit to warrant inclusion; regrettably, there is a video for only some 10% of those dances which are indexed under Dance Instructions A-Z Dance Cribs though, fortunately, the number of available videos and their quality are both increasing. There is also a link to a page of Advice on Preparing Videos which provides recommendations on how to make a video so that it is more accessible and useful to the inexperienced Dancer.
The Site Map contains most pages sorted into a logical order with a page for each major topic.
Note that all of the links listed above are found on the navigation bar of every page.
The All Pages Site Map consists of two pages, each sorted similarly to the Site Map; one page contains links to every Dance Crib; the other covers every other page on the site.
Ceilidh dances and Dances for children list, with links, those dances which are deemed more suitable for these groups. Similarly, Dance devisors lists the dances of the more prolific devisers and RSCDS books lists the dances collected in those publications.
Note that all of these additional links are on the navigation bar of this Home Page, of Dance Instructions A-Z Dance Cribs and Scottish Dancing YouTube Videos and the alphabetical index pages to which these lead, of the All Pages Site Map, of Ceilidh dances, of the pages of Dances for children and of Dance devisors, of RSCDS books and also of Advice on Preparing Videos.
Where it would be helpful to the user, one or more of these additional links is added to the navigation bar of a closely associated page; for example, the navigation bar of each individual Dance devisor's page includes the Dance devisors tab which leads back to the index of devisers.