Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

Precedence

Even though many Scottish Country Dancing Figures (including the Reel of three or more, The axum reel and Schiehallion Reel) have paths which Cross, there is no risk of conflict provided the Dancers' Timing is sufficiently accurate and so no Dancer has to give way to another. However, in a few Figures, such as Crossing Up or Crossing Down, the Dancers would be on a collision course at an even pace and so one Dancer has to take Precedence over the other by passing in front; this can be achieved by a slight distortion of the paths or by a slight variation of pace or, more commonly, a combination of these.

Unless otherwise specified, a Man should allow a Lady to go first. The intention to give way can be confirmed by Taking hands: if the Lady is on the Man's left, he Takes her right hand in his and guides her in front of himself towards his right; if the Lady is on the Man's right, he Takes her left hand in his and guides her in front of himself towards his left. Taking hands in this way is almost always appropriate in a Strathspey, where it adds elegance to the dance; in some Quick tempo Figures, such as Double figures of eight across, it may not be practical.

Precedence must be regarded as a pragmatic solution to a problem of Timing as it arises when an affected Figure occurs in a particular dance. There is no sense that any Dancer or Partner group always takes Precedence over others; even the natural rule of the previous paragraph is broken in a few dances, for example in bars 55-56 of Schiehallion.

Considerations of Precedence also arise with Arches; who should make the Arch and who should go under? See Arches in Figures.


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