Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary


The Poussette in Scottish Country Dancing is a traditional, formally prescribed, Figure which, like Allemande, is used as an elegant means of Progression, i.e., interchanging the Places of two adjacent Couples.

When not otherwise qualified (see Strathspey poussette), this Figure can only appear in Quick tempo dances; the whole Figure requires 8 bars, i.e., four complete Pas-de-basque steps.

Much as with Allemande, derivative forms do exist for more than two Couples, or with the elegant movements squeezed into fewer bars, though, blessedly, dances including these rarely appear.

When danced by the 1st and 2nd Couples from their Original Places, Diagram 64 shows the movements in bar 1, Diagram 65 in bar 2 and so on, with bars 7-8 shown in Diagram 70 and the Finishing Places at the end of bar 8 in Diagram 71.

To dance the Poussette, at the beginning of the 8-bar phrase, the two Couples start on the Centre line, Facing Partners Across The set, and Take Both hands, retaining this Hold for the first 6 bars. As with Allemande, there is no Time at the beginning of the Figure to reach the Centre line from the Side lines: if stationary, a Couple must Dance in to the Centre line on the last bar of the preceding Figure, using the left foot step of Skip change (see Diagram 4) unless the first Pas-de-basque step is to be performed with the left foot in which case use the right foot step of Skip change (see Diagram 3); if performing a previous Figure, the ending must be adapted so as to Finish on the Centre line.

Assuming that 1st and 2nd Couples are performing the Figure after having moved to the Centre line from their Original Places:

Bar 1
Taking Both hands, 1st Couple Dance towards the Men's Side While 2nd Couple Dance towards the Ladies' Side, i.e., 1st Man and 2nd Lady Dance backwards to Finish in their Own side lines While their Partners Dance forwards;

Bar 2
both Couples rotate one quarter, clockwise, 1st Man and 2nd Lady Dancing On the spot While their Partners step to their left, 1st Couple Finishing in the Men's Side line, 2nd Couple in the Ladies' Side line;

Bar 3
1st Couple Dance Down the Men's Side While 2nd Couple Dance Up the Ladies' Side, Finishing with 1st Lady in 2nd Man's Place and 2nd Man in 1st Lady's;

Bar 4
both Couples rotate one quarter, clockwise, 2nd Man and 1st Lady Dancing On the spot While their Partners step to their left, Finishing Facing Own Sides;

Bar 5
both Couples Dance into the centre, i.e., 1st Man and 2nd Lady Dance backwards While their Partners Dance forwards;

Bar 6
both Couples Turn halfway, clockwise, to their Own sides;

Bar 7
all release hands and Retire towards their Side lines;

Bar 8
all Retire to their Side lines, 1st Couple now in 2nd Place, 2nd Couple in 1st Place.

According to conventional RSCDS teaching, the Men should start the first bar of the Poussette by using the left foot step of Pas-de-basque, i.e., as in Diagram 6 whereas their Partners should start normally, using the right foot, i.e., as in Diagram 5. When Pas-de-basque is performed in this way, 2nd Man (on bar 2), 1st Man (on bar 4) and both (on bar 6) must Travel to the left on a right foot step and, in bars 1-6, all must be careful not to kick Partner in the jeté. These feats are possible for a highly expert dancer but counter-intuitive and unnecessarily difficult for the less experienced.

This convention is difficult to justify, unless it was intended to accommodate the Pas-de-basque step being performed with an incorrectly large movement to the side on the first beat. It may have arisen by false analogy with the differentiation which is essential in the Strathspey poussette though, in that case, it is 1st Lady and 2nd Man who start on the left foot and their Partners normally. In any event, precision in the formally rectilinear movement is much more important (and much easier to achieve if the Men start on the right foot); so long as that is correct, only the most pedantic, and observant, Lady Partner would be concerned about which foot her Man starts on.

For example, here are some Scottish Country Dances in which the term, Poussette, is used in either the MiniCrib or the MaxiCrib Dance instructions or both -
Dancing In The Street
Dyke On The 49th
Flowers Of Edinburgh
Ladies' Fancy
Muirland Willie
Reverend John MacFarlane
Scottish Reform
Tickle My Fancy

Dance Video Clip Which Demonstrates Poussette

Poussette Video Clip

Links To Pages Related To 'Poussette Movements'

Complex Figures

Additional search terms: Pouset, Pousette, Poussete.

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