Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

Reel(s) Of Six

This Reel is a rare Scottish Country Dancing Figure for 6 Dancers which is similar to the Reel of four but includes two extra loops in the Middle; the path may be considered as an oval folded four times. Since the Reel of six is for an even number of Dancers, it has similar characteristics to the Reel of four. The path followed by the Dancers has a clockwise loop at each End; a reverse form with anticlockwise loops at each End is possible. There are three passing points in the Middle, two By the left and one By the right.

See Reel for an exhaustive comparison of Reels for three or more Dancers. Note also that the Triangular reel of six is not a form of Reel of six; it is an alternative name for the One third schiehallion reel.

Once the Reel of six has become established, the Dancers should be evenly spaced around the path, thereby ensuring that there is no risk of collision and avoiding any unwarranted concern about Precedence. Unless the following Figure requires otherwise, all Finish where they started from.

The idealized form of the Reel of six is shown in the following diagram. It occurs in exactly this form in bars 3-14 of The Dark Island where it is danced by the 3 Couples on the Centre line of the Longwise set following the precursor Figure, Turn by the right, which has left the Dancers exactly evenly spaced around the track of the Reel.

Diagram, Reel of Six Idealized

Reel Of Six Idealized

The arrow heads show the 24 successive, equally spaced Positions, each requiring half a bar, which, together, make up the full, idealized Reel of six; the Dancers' symbols show their most likely Starting (and Finishing) Positions for this idealized form. Each Dancer should reach the Position vacated by the Dancer immediately ahead of her/him on the path after 2 bars; this movement, repeated six times, completes the full Figure in 12 bars.

The Reel of six also occurs in bars 5-16 of O'er the Forth to Fife where it is Danced by the Top 3 Couples on the Centre line of the Longwise set. In this example, the precursor Figure has not left the Dancers exactly evenly spaced ready for the Reel; they are actually in what for many is the more familiar Starting Position with all in line, Facing alternately Up and down. However, this does require 1st lady and 3rd man to adjust their initial movements to reach their correct Positions after half a bar, at which time, all will, in fact, have reached the Starting Positions of the upper diagram.

Diagram, Reel of Six Starting with Dancers in Line

Reel of Six, Starting with Dancers in Line

Arrow heads show the Positions of the equally spaced Dancers after each half bar. The Dancers' symbols show the idealized Starting (and Finishing) Positions in which they are most nearly in line; the shaded symbols for 1st lady and 3rd man show their Starting Positions when all are actually in line.

Note that a counterbalancing adjustment is required by 1st lady and 3rd man in the last half bar of the Figure if they are required to Finish in line, as in the example dance.

Here are examples of those Scottish Country Dances for which we have instructions on this site and in which the term, Reel of six, 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:

Elizabethan Strathspey
Findhorn Medley
Friends For Reel
O'er The Forth To Fife
Ruby Ribbon Reel
Six Belles Of Bon Accord

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