As an alternative to this indexing, for a single page with links to every dance, see All Cribs Pages Site Map.
1. On the 'Dance Crib pages' the MINICRIB dance notes are available FREE but, in recognition of the authors (Charles Upton, of the Deeside Caledonian Society, and his successors) please leave the MINICRIB footnote that appears below each crib (only required once per programme).
2. On the 'Dance Crib pages' the MAXICRIB dance notes are available FREE but in return please leave the MAXICRIB footnote that appears below each crib (only required once per programme).
3. On the 'Crib Diagrams pages' the Keith Rose's Crib Diagrams are available FREE but, in recognition of the author (Keith Rose, of the Bedford Scottish Dance Group) you may wish to add a short note crediting him wherever you use his diagrams in public.
For further copyright details please see our © COPYRIGHT PAGE
While all descriptions of Scottish Country Dances are intended to tell the reader how the dance is to be performed, various different forms exist, depending upon their intended use.
At the most detailed and formal level, the description must define every detail of the dance unambiguously so that a teacher unfamiliar with the dance has enough information to teach dancing lessons to a class; the term, Dance Instructions, is usually reserved for this. The deviser (as the choreographer of a Scottish Country Dance is known) must write her/his original description of the dance in this form, often running to a whole A4 page; s/he often includes some descriptive information about the dance title or its origin and may also recommend, or even provide, a tune which should be used for at least one Repeat of the dance.
The RSCDS issues Standard terminology for use in the description of Scottish Country Dances, a document defining how the formal terms are to be used by any deviser offering her/his dance for inclusion in an RSCDS publication. Diagrams are required to be shown from the teacher's point of view, i.e., looking Down The set from the Top; note however that the Diagrams in this website are shown from the point of view of the dancer at the Bottom of The set, looking toward the teacher.
Dance cribs implies a less detailed format, adequate as an aide-mémoire for the dancer who has encountered the dance previously and requires only a reminder, usually at a Ball or other formal event; notably, these use many abbreviations and usually omit the finer details, such as the instruction, Step up, whenever an experienced dancer would automatically expect to do so. Over the years, many RSCDS branches and affiliated societies have prepared their own local formats of dance instructions suitable for distribution along with the ticket for their Balls and other open events. Typically, these reduce the size of the instructions by a factor of four or more, so that a whole programme can be printed on two A4 sheets.
One format, F.J. Pilling and successors Scottish Country Dances in diagrams, is sufficiently succinct that a booklet only 122mm x 95mm x 9mm, and which fits easily into a sporran or purse, contains well over 500 dances. While some dancers rate these the clearest to understand (including the author of this site who added over 100 newer dances to his early edition in the 1970s), many dancers find the combination of diagrams and specialized abbreviations too daunting. While this format was only available in hardcopy form, the usefulness of an edition inevitably diminished as new dances became popular.
Word processors and the Worldwide Web have made the production of Dance cribs much more straightforward. In his MiniCrib, Charles Upton (and now his successors) provide descriptions with a consistent format for over 4500 dances which are eminently suitable as an aide-mémoire for a dancer at a more formal event. Rarely does one encounter a dance that is not included; until his well-earned retirement in December 2013, he welcomed details for inclusion in his regular update of the complete database as now do his successors.
It is important to recognize the debt owed by the Scottish Country Dancing community to Charles Upton. Before his database became available, there was no consistent set of dance instructions for most of the dances regularly being performed. RSCDS publications were consistent in style but covered fewer than 1000 dances, many of which were of no more than historical interest. Availability of publications containing authoritative descriptions of even the most popular devisers' dances was haphazard in the extreme. The typical compiler of a dance programme usually had recourse only to dance cribs produced by other compilers for their own events; s/he then had either to reword these to be consistent in style or risk confusing the dancer with the inconsistencies. Unsurprisingly, errors could easily be promulgated.
Our own, far fewer, MaxiCribs, are a typical compiler's accumulated database, started in digital form some 30 years ago and updated as required. The criteria for inclusion are:
• the dance has appeared on one of our own society's programmes;
• it has been requested by one of our own society's members;
• it is referenced within this website as an example of the use of a Scottish Country Dancing term.
We try to give enough detail in MaxiCribs so that the average dancer who has not previously met the dance can readily understand it and perform it at a Ball. We have also added Dance Notes to some dances where a more detailed explanation might be helpful to the dancer or teacher. These will be equally applicable to MiniCrib except in the few cases where MaxiCrib differs from MiniCrib; for example, bars 27-32 of The Wind on Loch Fyne and those dances with the original format, 3 Couple repeat in a 4 Couple set for which a version suitable for a 3 Couple Set is sometimes provided.
Some devisers have supplied their original dance instructions direct to us; where there is also a MiniCrib for that dance, these instructions appear on the same page; where there is no MiniCrib for that dance, these instructions appear on a separate page.
Over many years, Keith Rose has been quietly creating Pilling-style diagrams in machine-readable form, now covering over 3000 dances; he also provides new and updated diagrams as these become available. His diagrams are incorporated into the appropriate dance instructions page, indexed through this page; these are also separately indexed through the similar Crib Diagrams page which also includes those dances for which crib diagrams are available but no written instructions.
Format of Dance Cribs
Cribs consist of two main parts:
heading material; and
the body containing a description of one Repeat of the dance.
The heading material contains:
the name of the dance and, usually, the deviser and/or publication source;
the Type of dance;
the Type of set and the number of dancers needed for the Full set;
the Repeat structure and the number of bars of music required; and
a note of any reorganization of the dancers, such as Crossing to the Opposite side on a second chord, or the use of a musical introduction rather than a chord at the start.
The body material is the detailed description of one Repeat of the dance; it is organized in blocks of bars of music, the length of each depending on the Timing for the Figures contained in that block. The terms used for the Figures and the associated Dancers, their Positions and the Directions in which they Face or Travel and Finish are as defined within this website. If a Figure is to be performed normally, it is simply named with only the participating Dancers identified; if some modification of the Figure is involved, usually at the end, the whole modified Figure may be described in detail.
The Steps required are usually understood implicitly from the Type of dance but, where necessary, the Step to be used is defined explicitly, for example, Set with Highland Schottische setting step.
Compilers vary in their usage of synonyms though most try to be self-consistent. For example:
MiniCrib uses the term Reflection reels whereas MaxiCrib uses Mirror reels;
MiniCrib uses the terms Third corner and Fourth corner whereas MaxiCrib uses Partner's first corner and Partner's second corner.
Abbreviations in Dance Cribs
Within the heading material, Jig, Reel, Hornpipe, Strathspey and Medley are often abbreviated to the initial letter. In some dance descriptions, notably MiniCrib, Hornpipes are not differentiated from Reels.
n x m, where n and m are numbers, means that the music for the dance consists of n Repeats, each of length m bars.
In MiniCrib, nC, where n is a number, means that the Repeat requires n Couples; (4C set) means that the 2 or 3 Couple Repeat is performed in a 4 Couple Set.
Within the body of the instructions, in both MiniCrib and MaxiCrib:
1s means 1st Couple (but note that some compilers use 1C instead while some others use 1C to represent First corners); and
2M means 2nd man, 3L means 3rd lady and so on.
When Dancers perform the same Figure in different parts of The set, for example, 1st and 3rd Couples in many 5 Couple set dances, MiniCrib uses the form 1s and 3s to indicate this whereas MaxiCrib uses 1s 3s;
when Dancers perform the same Figure together, for example, 1st and 2nd Couples Dance Double figures of eight across, MiniCrib uses the form 1s+2s, whereas MaxiCrib uses 1s2s.
In both MiniCrib and MaxiCrib, the order of the Dancers at the beginning or end of a Figure is shown starting from the Top of a Lengthwise Set working Downwards and clockwise in a Square, or Triangular Set, For example, in bars 9-12 of The Plantation Reel, "2s1s 4s3s half rights and lefts" in MaxiCrib ("2s+1s and 4s+3s . . ." in MiniCrib) means that 1st Couple are Below 2nd Couple and that 3rd Couple are Below 4th Couple; it also means that 4th Couple perform Half rights and lefts with 3rd Couple at the same time as 2nd Couple with 1st Couple.
MiniCrib also uses obvious abbreviations such as: RSh for right shoulder, LH for left hands, R&L for Rights and lefts, Adv+Ret for advance and retire, 213 for the finishing order 2nd Couple Above 1st Couple Above 3rd Couple and BtoB for back to back.
When a deviser has given specific information concerning the dance name, as for example in Jean Attwood's Lady Sophia Lindsay, this is included. If not, some information relating to the title is supplied. This information should be considered to be our best guess at the deviser's intentions and should not be taken as definitive or authoritative.
In either event, in a class or if the dance is to be used in a demonstration, the words can provide the basis of a light-hearted interlude between dances.
For Gaelic names, a translation and a guide to pronunciation is provided wherever possible; general detail on pronunciation is supplied in Gaelic Dance Names.
An Example Dance Page
Floozie In The Jacuzzi has examples of all of the forms of information available in these dance instruction pages (apart from the deviser's original instructions).
This includes MiniCrib, MaxiCrib, dance notes, Keith Rose's crib diagram, dance instruction videos, dance information, dance information videos, photographs, attributions (for dance information and images used to compile the page) and additional search terms sometimes used by visitors to find the page.
All of this is positioned on the pages in the order as listed above. Note that links to videos of the actual dances being performed come under the heading 'Dance Instruction Videos' and videos related to the dance subject are listed lower down, below the 'Dance Information' headline.
The attributions right at the bottom of all pages are clickable links which go to the source documents, handy for those who want easy access to more information on the dance subject.
Note that the italics used throughout the rest of this site (to denote pages of the same name) are not used on the dance instruction pages. This is to make it more easy for you to produce your own cribs (simply copy/paste), for use at lessons or dances.