Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

The Bourrel (for 2 Couples)

In Scottish Country Dancing, The bourrel (for 2 couples) is an 8-bar Figure used as a Progression to interchange adjacent Couples in a Longwise set; while most implementations are in Strathspeys (using the Strathspey travelling step and the Strathspey setting step) it also occurs in a few Jigs and Reels (using Skip change and Pas-de-basque).

When performed by 1st and 2nd Couples, from their Original places, it consists of:

Bars 1-2
1st man and 2nd lady Set advancing While their Partners Chase anticlockwise approximately 13 around the rectangle formed by 1st and 2nd couple's Places;

Bars 3-4
1st man and 2nd lady Turn approximately 23 with Both hands, release their Hold and Turn halfway clockwise On the spot to Finish back to back on the Centre line, 2nd lady Facing Up, 1st man Facing Down, While 1st lady and 2nd man continue to Chase anticlockwise to Finish on the Centre line Facing their Partners;

Bars 5-6
both Couples Set Facing their Partners;

Bars 7-8
both Couples Turn their Partners ¾ with Both hands, Finishing with 2nd couple in 1st place and 1st couple in 2nd place.

While it is not authentic, and so only acceptable by agreement with one's temporary "Partner", it is more elegant in a Strathspey on bar 4 to release the hands on the Ladies' Side of The set (1st man's right hand, 2nd lady's left) and then to push the joined hands toward the Ladies' Side before releasing hands to Finish neatly Back-to-back.

Note that, in a Quick tempo implementation, it is advisable to Start the Turn both hands (Pas-de-basque) early so that it is completed by the end of bar 3, leaving the whole of bar 4 (left foot step) for the clockwise Turning on the spot.

The last two bars are sometimes modified: where The bourrel occurs in bars 17-24 of A Summer Meeting (Townshend), the final Turn with Both hands is replaced by Petronella turn; in My Friend Joe, it is replaced by Turn by the right to Finish ready for Allemande.
Here are examples of those Scottish Country Dances for which we have instructions on this site and in which the term, The bourrel, 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:

Barbara's Strathspey
Campsie Glen
Cherry Blossoms (Boyd)
Expert Dancer
Frae A' The Airts
Grey Wanderer
Jean Martin Of Aberdeen
Lake Geneva
Northern Lights
Trip To Austin

Note that The bourrel for 3 couples and The bourrel for 4 couples are derivative forms but are not Progressions since Dancers Starting Opposite their Partners do not Finish Opposite them.

Dance Video Clip Which Demonstrates The Bourrel

The Bourrel Video Clip

Links To Pages Related To 'The Bourrel'

Complex Figures

Additional search terms: Bourelle, Bourel, Bourell.

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