Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

Allemande Hold

Instructions for the Allemande hold in Scottish Country Dancing.

The Couple Take Both hands as for Promenade hold and, leaving the left hands unchanged, raise the right hands over the Lady's head Finishing with the right hands just Above her shoulder; it is most important that the Man's right arm should not rest on her shoulder. This is similar to the "Shadow Hold" in Ballroom Dancing though the Lady should be beside her Partner in Allemande hold, not slightly in front of him. The diagram shows an approximate plan view of the arms.

Allemande for 2 Couples in 3-couple Longwise Set, Bar 1.
Men's paths shown as full lines, ladies' broken, 1st couple's emboldened;
arrow heads show finishing points.


This Hold is an essential part of Allemande (see under Complex figures) and is occasionally used in some other Figures, such as Chase.

The Hold should at all times be firm so that the Dancers move as a unit. For the more mechanically minded, it may be helpful to liken Travelling in Allemande hold to the movement of a tank with one track representing the Man's feet and the other track representing the Lady's. Then, when the Lady is on the Man's right:
if the Man and the Lady move at the same speed, they Travel in a straight line;
if the Man moves more slowly, they Travel in an anticlockwise circle, as, for example, in bars 57-62 of Johnnie Walker;
if the Lady moves more slowly, they Travel in a clockwise circle;
if the Man Dances on the spot for the whole or half of a Step, the Lady rotates around him making an abrupt Turn, as required in Allemande Figures;
if the Man Dances backwards, a much more abrupt Turn is possible (It should never be necessary for him to do so but, in extremis, this is a means of recovery when, for example, he is 3rd man in Allemande for 3 couples and 1st and 2nd couples have fallen behind the prescribed Phrasing at bar 5).

It is tempting for the Man to lead (in the Ballroom Dancing sense of guiding his Partner) with the right hand and, indeed, it may be helpful to do just that when the Lady is a Beginner in order to establish the rhythm of some of the more staccato movements. However, the formal rule is to guide with the left hand.


When releasing Allemande hold, first raise the right hands forward over the Lady's head and then lower the right hands to Finish with hands crossed, right over left, and Lady Facing Man; then release the hands While performing whatever movement is required to complete the current Figure and prepare for the next.
For example, here are some Scottish Country Dances in which the term, Allemande hold, is used in either the MiniCrib or the MaxiCrib Dance instructions or both -
Baldovan Square
Haggis Tree
Border Barque
Celtic Cross (Arrowsmith)
Celtic Kiwi
Hunter's Moon
Morland Knot

Dance Video Clip Which Demonstrates Allemande Hold in Allemande Figure

Allemande For 2 Couples Video Clip

Dance Video Clip Which Demonstrates Allemande Hold in Figure other than Allemande

Allemande Hold Video Clip

Links To Pages Related To 'Holds'

Hand Positions

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