Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

Progressive (Set)

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; it is covered in general terms on that page and in more detail on the page for The set format which is appropriate.

This page covers all other forms of Progressive set, including those which are not Progressive.

Sets which are not Progressive

Dances with this characteristic mostly have no need of Progression because the Active set either contains only one Partner group or has no differentiation between the principal and the support Partner groups.

The first includes those Round the room dances for a single Couple such as The Gay Gordons and The Schottische, which, being for a single Couple, have no need to be Progressive. However, these do have the typical Repeat format of an Old Tyme and Sequence Dance; this allows Couples to leave the floor early or, more usefully, watch a competent Couple before joining after the start.

The Longwise set dance for a single Threesome, Shepherd's Crook (MacNab) is an example with no Repeat structure.

For many Circular set dances, mostly in Square sets as, for example, Ian Powrie's Farewell to Auchterarder, The Eightsome Reel and The Bonnie Lass o' Bon Accord, the whole dance is made up of chorus elements (all Partner groups dancing the same Figures) along with embedded sequences in which the roles of the principal and support Partner groups alternate. Again, these have no need to be Progressive.

Bonnie Anne is an example of those very few dances which do have some differentiation between the principal and the support Partner groups but are not Progressive.

Sets Progressive by Partner Group

In this format, the current Active set breaks up into its component Partner groups which then combine with one or more others to form the new Active set ready for the new Repeat.

All Round the room dances for 2 Partner groups (one Facing clockwise, the other anticlockwise) such as A Highland Welcome (Forbes) and The Dashing White Sergeant, fall into this category. At some time in the Repeat, usually near the end, the Partner groups in the Active set who were initially Facing each other are now back-to-back, each Facing a new Partner group; almost always, as in these examples, they will have Exchanged places but, in The Rigg, each Passes 3 approaching Partner groups.

There are a few Circular sets which are Progressive by Partner group; most, for example, The Borrowdale Exchange and Scotch Mixer, are also Progressive by Partner but Band of Friends is not.

Sets Progressive by Partner

In this format, Dancers Finish the Repeat in a different Partner group from that at the Start.

In Longwise and Circular sets, where Progressive sets of this type are rare, the Progression normally brings the original Partners together at the end of the final Repeat. Caddam Wood and The Swelkie are typical examples.

Large circular set dances and Round the room dances for single Couples are almost always Progressive in this form. In these formats, the original Partner groups rarely re-form; to do so requires a fortuitous combination in the integer arithmetic calculation.

Links To Pages Related To 'The Set'

Types Of Sets

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