Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

Grand Chain Halfway

Sometimes called "Half grand chain", Grand chain halfway is exactly half of the full Grand chain.

In a Square set, the Dancers Finish Opposite the Place in which they Started; in a Longwise, Active set of 4 Couples, the Dancers Finish Diagonally Opposite. Normally, 2 bars are allowed per Dancer Passed, i.e., 8 bars in all, though sometimes, especially in Strathspeys, only one per Dancer, i.e., 4 in all.

In all Scottish Country Dancing Strathspeys, and in any Quick tempo dance where 2 bars are allowed per Dancer Passed, Taking hands should be quite graceful; where only 1 bar is allowed as, for example, in bars 1-4, 17-20, 65-68 and 81-84 of Nottingham Lace, some elegance may have to be forgone in favour of accurate Phrasing.

In a Longwise, Active set of 4 Couples, usually the Couples in Top and Bottom Places Cross By the right and those in the 2nd and 3rd Places Cross on the sides By the right to Start as, for example, in bars 1-8 of Jack o' Carron. Exceptionally, in The Garry Strathspey, the Dancers in 1st and 2nd places (and also those in 3rd and 4th) Finish the previous Figure Facing On the sides and so it is more natural to Start by all Crossing on the sides By the right. The diagram shows an example from bars 21-24 of that dance where the Dancers Start the Figure in the order 1 4 3 2 on Opposite Sides and Finish in the order 2 3 4 1 on their Own sides. Perhaps because the final Places are not strongly intuitive, it is common practice, even at a Ball, to find the Dancers counting the four Passing movements in unison.

Diagram, Grand Chain Halfway - In 4 Couple Longwise Set

Grand Chain Halfway - In 4 Couple Longwise Set

Grand chain halfway in 4-couple longwise set, all Starting on Opposite sides, Facing Up and down, ready to Take right hands. 1st man's path is shown as a full line, 1st lady's as a broken line; both are emboldened and the arrow heads show their Finishing Places.

In a Circular set with 3 Couples or a Longwise, Active set with 3 Couples, this half Figure normally takes only 4 bars; the Phrasing is as for the first half of the full Grand chain in a Longwise, Active set with 3 Couples.
Here are examples of those Scottish Country Dances for which we have instructions on this site and in which the term, Grand chain halfway, 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:

An Gearasdan
Angus Reel
Bright And Breezy
Buchan Eightsome Reel
Cairnsmore Of Carsphairn
Elisabeth Hunter's Strathspey
Kendoon Strathspey
Lothian Lads
Round Reel Of Eight
Sloane Square

Links To Pages Related To 'Chains'


Additional search terms: ½ Grand Chain, Grand Chain ½ way.

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