Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary


The great majority of Scottish Country Dances have the simple Repeat structure in which the Couples, or other Partner groups, perform sufficient Repeats that every Partner group has the opportunity to play every part. The process by which this happens in those dances is called the Progression.

Formally, the Progression is the numerical order of the Partner groups at the end of the Repeat, having started in order 1 2 . . . , and so is the starting order for the next Repeat; the whole dance consists of sufficient Repeats that the Partner groups all Finish the dance in the order in which they started. When the Active set and the Full set are identical, the only suitable Progression with two Partner groups is 2 1; with three, only 2 3 1 and 3 1 2 are suitable; with four, 2 3 4 1, 4 1 2 3, 2 4 1 3 and 3 1 4 2 are suitable; and, with five or more, there are many suitable Progressions. Dance cribs usually identify the Progression in the final line of instructions.

For each individual format of The set, this simple Progression is covered in more detail on the page appropriate to that format.

See Progressive Set for all other forms, including those which are not Progressive.

For almost all forms of The set, the Progression arises completely automatically from some part of the sequence of Figures which make up the dance Repeat. In the most common sequence in Longwise sets, 2nd Couple Step up While the 1st Couple Cast or Cross down though many other sequences may be used. Usually, especially in the older dances, the Progression takes place near the beginning of the Repeat though it may occur anywhere; in Kenora Reel, it occurs on the last two bars of the Repeat.

In the exceptional, but very common, Longwise set format with an Active set of 3 Couples in a Full set of 4 Couples (see the section, 3 Couple repeat in 4 couple set), the Progression is 2 1 3. This appears to break the obvious rule that a Partner group, 3rd Couple in this case, will not Progress if their Finishing Place is the same as their Starting Place; however, the second Repeat Starts with 1st Couple in 2nd place of the Full set and so, at the end of that Repeat, the order in the Full set is 2 3 1 4. While this has solved the problem for 3rd Couple of the Full set, 4th Couple are still in the wrong Place. By some means which does not affect the other Dancers, 1st Couple of the evenly-numbered Repeat just Finishing must Exchange places with the Couple Below them in order to reach 4th place of the Full set. No Time is allocated and, curiously, explicit instructions are not normally given by dance devisers and so the Dancers need to choose an appropriate sequence.

Where the 3rd Couple (of the Active set) are to be Standing at both the end of an even-numbered Repeat and the beginning of the next, they can effect the changeover quite simply by Stepping up on the last two bars of the old Repeat While the 1st Couple modify their final Figure so as to Finish one Place Lower; if this is unpractical, they can Step up on the first two bars of the new Repeat While the former 1st Couple either Cast or Dance Down to 4th place.

However, there are many dances, such as Mrs MacPherson Of Inveran, in which the 3rd Couple of the Active set are involved on bar 1 of the Repeat and so the dance can become very untidy at this point. A good teacher should recommend a suitable sequence, or modification of the final Figures, which will make the changeover neat.

Problems arising with this Type of Set are covered in more detail in Flow between figures under Flow of the dance.

Certain Figures, notably the older Allemande for 2 couples, Poussette and the Strathspey half poussette, interchange the Positions of adjacent Couples in a Longwise set; in earlier times, the RSCDS used the term Progressions for Figures of this type but now uses Formations for all Figures.

Links To Pages Related To 'The Set'

Types Of Sets

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