Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

La Baratte

This Figure, La baratte, is a complicated way of Crossing for a Couple or, more generally, for any Man and the Lady Facing him to Exchange positions. La baratte requires 6 bars of the Strathspey travelling step or Skip change as appropriate to the tempo of the dance; it is most commonly preceded by Setting to make up the 8 bar phrase.

The French name, La baratte, translates as The Churn (here meaning the action rather than the vessel) in recognition of the rapid flowing movement. Although La baratte appears in a few Scottish Country Dances, the Figure actually owes more to Olde Tyme and Sequence Dancing, notably in bars 3-4 in a Quick tempo dance, where Skip change is used for Travelling sideways rather than in the Direction Faced.

In a Longwise set and danced from their Original Places, as for example for the 2nd couple in bars 3-8 of Hunter's Moon:

Bars 1-2
The Couple Turn by the right halfway, Finishing Facing each other and retaining the Hold at the full extent of their arms;

Bar 3
the Couple Advance, raising their joined right hands so that the Lady can Dance under the Man's raised arm, both Finishing on the Centre line Facing Down, Man Above Lady, and Taking left hands as though preparing for Allemande hold;

Bar 4
both Dancers continue to Travel toward their Own sides, releasing the right hand Hold and raising their joined left hands so that the Lady can Dance under the Man's raised arm, Finishing Facing each other and retaining the left hand Hold at the full extent of the arms;

Bars 5-6
the Couple Cross By the left, each Finishing on the Opposite side.

Note that, in the last part of bar 4, the Lady is actually Travelling backwards under the Man's raised left arm; he should help her by passing their joined hands over her head toward the Bottom of The set.

In a Longwise set and starting from Opposite sides, as for example for the 3rd couple in those same bars of the same dance, the Couple are Facing Up, with Man Below Lady, at the end of bar 3 and, in the last part of bar 4, the Man can help the Lady by passing their joined left hands over her head toward the Top of The set.

The Facing Direction at the end of the Figure depends on the requirement of the succeeding Figure; in this example dance, it is Outward for both Couples.

In a Square set, the pairs of Dancers are Opposites rather than Partners; when performed by 1st and 3rd couples, the Figure as described here is rotated through 90o so that the Dancers Exchange positions Up and down The set.


For example, here are some Scottish Country Dances in which the term, La Baratte, is used in either the MiniCrib or the MaxiCrib Dance instructions or both -
Acadian Jig
Dawn In The Heather
Glenmoriston Ceilidh Special
Haggis Tree
Hunter's Moon
Lewis And Colin's Rant
Micmac Rotary
Red Ghillies
Stanford Swing
Sunlit Square

Dance Video Clip Which Demonstrates La Baratte

La Baratte Video Clip

Links To Pages Related To 'La Baratte'

Complex Figures

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