Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

Birl Hold

The Birl hold is an informal, two-handed Hold used as a more controlled version of the Turn with Elbow grip to make a Quick turn (Birl) in Quick tempo dances; it is commonly used when the Scottish Country Dancers wish to adopt a more informal style by adding an extra Turn where only one Slow turn is prescribed as, for example, in bars 37-40 of The White Heather Jig.

When Turning By the right, the right hand should be cupped round the other dancer's elbow, as in Elbow grip, with the left hands held securely at chest height Above the right forearms. Note that this hand Position is the opposite of that in the Promenade hold, where the right hands are Above the lefts to facilitate the transition to Allemande hold.

When Turning By the left, these Hand positions should be reversed.

Here are examples of those Scottish Country Dances for which we have instructions on this site and in which the term, Birl hold, either appears explicitly or is implied; note that for a common term these will be a small selection; for a rare term, these may be all that exist:

Birlin' Awa
Circassian (Big) Circle
Wavre Adieu À La Saltarelle
White Heather Jig

Dance Video Clip Which Demonstrates Birl

Birl Video Clip

Links To Pages Related To 'Holds'

Hand Positions

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