Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

Circular Sets

It is convenient in Scottish Country Dancing to classify, as Circular sets, all forms of Square set and Triangular set (including those with extra Dancers inside The set), the Celtic brooch set and those in which the Partner groups are explicitly disposed on the sides of a pentagon or hexagon and so on. All have a fixed number of Partner groups. Most of the pages in this section are concerned with Circular sets for Couples, which are by far the most numerous.

Note that Large circular sets, which are for variable numbers of Couples, are classified as Round the room sets.

Almost all Circular sets for Couples are formed by the Dancers being evenly spaced in a circle with the Men Standing on the left of their Partners. The Top couple of The set is nearest to The music. Couples are numbered clockwise starting from the Top and followed by any Couples inside The set. A few Circular set Scottish Country Dances, most notably those with one or more extra Couples Inside The set, involve Progression; if so, the Progression leaves a new Couple or Couples Inside The set to lead the Repeat. More commonly, Circular set dances are performed once through only; however, these may have a Chorus at the beginning and the end with a Dancer or a Couple or more than one Couple leading repeated sequences in between, usually without Progression, as for example in The Eightsome Reel.

Aside from the rare Progressive sets (in which The set breaks up into its individual Partner groups which combine with other Partner groups to form The set ready for the next Repeat), Circular sets are completely independent of each other and so could, in principle, be disposed randomly throughout the ballroom; however, they are normally arranged in lines Up and down the ballroom, much as are Longwise sets.

At a Ball, the Top man in each Set should check that his Set has sufficient Couples (or whichever other Partner group is appropriate); if not, he should indicate how many more are required to complete his Set. He should establish the size and correct shape of The set if necessary, preferably by all Taking hands in a circle; if the ballroom is crowded, he should adjust the diameter of his Set and the space between his and the adjacent Sets to a fair share of the amount available, moving his Set as necessary. When performing a Square set dance which involves Dancers Leading Out of the Top and Bottom or Out of the Sides, it may be advantageous in a crowded ballroom to rotate The set through 90o, so that the Top couple is in what would normally be 2nd Place; this avoids competition for space when Leading Out. Ideally, the decision should be made by the MC but the Top man in one Set can safely do it if no other adjacent Set has changed.

A few Square sets are for Partner groups other than Couples or for multiple Couples on each side; these are covered on the main Square set page.

One format for 3 Couples, the Celtic brooch set, is more genuinely triangular than the Triangular set though the Dancers are not all in one circle; the Ladies are equally spaced around a large circle, Facing In towards their Partners in a smaller circle Facing Out.

Links To Pages Related To 'Circular Sets'

Types Of Sets

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