Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

The Birling Dervishes

Scottish Country Dance Instruction

The Birling Dervishes (R8x32) A 32 bar reel for three couples in a four couple longwise set. Murrough Landon.

1-4 1st couple dance down below 3rd couple and cast up to 2nd place as 2nd couple step up.
5-8 1st couple, giving left hands, turn (or birl) to end facing their 1st corners.
9-16 1st couple dance half a diagonal reel of four with 1st corners, passing them right shoulder. 1st couple pass each other left shoulder to dance another half diagonal reel of four with 2nd corners and finish passing left shoulder again to face their 3rd corner position.
1st couple are encouraged to pass left shoulder between the reels as the rest of the dance is all round to the right. But doubtless some people will pass right anyway!
17-20 1st couple dance "Corners Pass and Back to Back" with 3rd corners (occupied by their 1st corner people): 1st couple dance as normal for Corners Pass and Turn, but the corners dance Back to Back. 1st couple, holding back slightly to let the corners retire, end passing right shoulders to face their 4th corner position.
21-24 1st couple dance "Corners Pass and Back to Back" with 4th corners and end facing each other in the centre in 2nd place.
25-28 1st couple, giving right hands, turn one and a half times (or birl) to end in 2nd place opposite sides facing out while 3rd and 2nd couples chase clockwise half way around the set to their own sides.
29-32 1st couple chase half way around the set clockwise to 2nd place own sides while 2nd and 3rd couples advance and retire on the diagonal. End in the order 2,1,3.

After their second turn, the former 1st couple should stay in 3rd place for 4 bars and step down on bars 5-6 of the next repeat while the new 1st couple are turning.

(Dance Crib compiled by the deviser, Murrough Landon CC BY-SA January 2017)


Dance Instruction Videos

The Birling Dervishes - Scottish Country Dancing Instruction Video

Dance Information

The Corners Pass and Back to Back figure comes from Florida Crackers by Livia Kohn.

Recommended Music:
Tune: Evondale (Ian Thow).
Recording: Findlater Castle (Colin Dewar: A' the Best from Banffshire).

(Dance Information compiled by the deviser, Murrough Landon CC BY-SA January 2017)



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