Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary


The Scottish Dance Term Pas-de-basque is usually pronounced in the anglicized form, "pah-d'-bah". In Quick tempo Scottish Country Dances, it is mostly used for Dancing On the spot (Setting) but occasionally for Travelling.

The diagrams show the basic step, starting with the right foot from a stationary Position and taking two bars, one for each foot. The first step is almost always with the right foot; if specified otherwise, Start at the beginning of bar 2 but Standing with both feet in first Position.

For clarity, each separate movement in the step is shown on a separate line, starting from the bottom of each diagram. Since the left foot step would naturally follow the right foot step, the diagram for it is placed above the right foot step diagram.

Diagram, Pas-de-basque Bar 2

Pas-de-basque - Bar 2

Second bar of Pas-de-basque, continuing on the left foot: each beat shown separately. When Starting on the left foot from Standing, the left foot will already be in ballet first position.

Diagram, Pas-de-basque Bar 1

Pas-de-basque - Bar 1

First bar of Pas-de-basque, Starting on the right foot: each beat shown separately.

At the end of the last beat of each bar, one foot is extended diagonally forward (in the jeté movement in ballet terminology); this is the left foot in the lower diagram. If the step is to continue and no Travelling is involved, as in the upper diagram, on the first beat this foot must be moved back to the original stationary Position (ballet first Position) for the spring.

If the step is not to be repeated, move the extended foot to the normal Standing Position without springing onto it; if Skip change or some other step should follow, move the extended foot directly to the first Position of the new step.

See Fitting The Steps To The Music for those details covering this and the other six basic steps of Scottish Country Dancing.
It is important not to make any movement to the side on the first beat of each bar unless the Figure in which the step is used specifically requires the limited Travelling movement which can be achieved as, for example, in the first bar of Petronella turn. With Pas-de-basque, the Travelling can only be on the first beat of the bar and, if sideways or diagonally, should preferably not be to the left on the step starting with the right foot or vice versa. Perhaps because many dancers were still using Pas-de-basque for all Travelling in Quick tempo dances when the Scottish Country Dance Society was first formed, the RSCDS has never banned this awkward movement; indeed, the 2005 edition of "The Manual of Scottish Country Dancing" retains it in Crown triangles though most dancers would normally perform the Figure as described in Figures.

When sufficient Time is allocated, rotation should also only take place on the first beat of the bar, as in the second bar of Petronella turn; when it is not, rotation may take place on the later beats of a bar following the Travelling which has occurred on the first beat, as in the left foot steps of Hello goodbye setting.

Under the RSCDS protocol for teaching the basic step of Pas-de-basque, students are first taught to spring to the side at the beginning of each bar, the theory being that they will acquire a greater understanding of what is being learnt and will not be prejudiced in finally achieving the correct form with no sideways movement. Sadly, too many social dancers fail to unlearn the initial part of this teaching. At the risk of boring those who have achieved the correct form, class teachers should stress the importance of avoiding sideways movement on the first beat of Pas-de-basque whenever the opportunity arises. Any occurrence of Balance-in-line is particularly suitable; the teacher can emphasize the point by reminding the class that this Figure cannot be performed in Strathspeys.
Here are examples of those Scottish Country Dances for which we have instructions on this site and in which the term, Pas-de-basque, 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:

Brechin Lassies
Earl Of Errol's Reel
Flying Spur
Johnnie's Welcome Hame
Lost In Edinburgh

Dance Video Clip Which Demonstrates Pas-de-basque

Pas-de-basque Video Clip

Links To Pages Related To 'Steps for Jigs, Reels and Hornpipes'


Additional search terms: Pas de basque, Pah de bah, Pah d bah, Pah da bah.

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