Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

Rights And Lefts

The Figure, Rights and lefts is a Grand chain for 4 Dancers; most commonly these are Corners or adjacent Couples in a Longwise set who start by Crossing By the right, Across The set, unless otherwise specified.

The diagram shows the paths followed in bars 25-32 of many dances, including The White Cockade, The Sailor and Hooper's Jig.

Diagram, Rights And Lefts

Rights And Lefts

Rights and lefts in a Longwise set. 1st couple Start in 2nd place; the arrow heads show their Finishing Positions. 1st man and 2nd lady Finish normally, Facing In. 1st lady and 2nd man make a Polite turn; Finishing rotations shown for 1st couple only. 1st man and 2nd lady follow the path shown as a full line, their Partners follow the broken line.

This Figure takes 8 bars in all, 2 for each Crossing movement. There is ample Time and so no excuse not to follow, as closely as possible, the rectangular shape formed by the Places in which the Dancers started the Figure, with sharp rotations at each corner. Phrasing within the Figure is important; when, as most commonly, the Dancers start in adjacent Places in The set, they must Travel quickly Across The set and at only half that speed between the Side Places.

Unless a following Figure requires otherwise, this Figure should be completed with a Polite turn; in the diagram, 1st Lady and 2nd Man are on the Inside of The set on the final Cross By the left and so they should continue their natural rotation anticlockwise to Finish Facing Inwards. The Polite turn movement is shown for 1st Lady as also is the more normal Finishing rotation for 1st Man; the Finishing rotation is not shown for 2nd Man or for 2nd Lady.

In a 4 couple square set, the 2nd and 4th Place Dancers usually start Across The set in the same way as in a Longwise set though the distance to be Travelled Across The set is slightly greater and so they must move more quickly; the 1st and 3rd Place Dancers usually start Up and down though this is logically the same as for the 2nd and 4th Place Dancers but rotated through 90°. The Barmkin has examples in bars 41-48 and 57-64.

The path may still be a rectangle in a 4 couple square set but rotated by 45° so that the Dancers Cross diagonally both Across The set and on the Sides as, for example, in bars 41-48 and 49-56 of The Dream Catcher. 4 Dancers are involved and they Finish in the Places in which they started.

There are many derivative forms: Half rights and lefts is quite common; Diagonal rights and lefts has the rectangular path transformed into a parallelogram; in Rights and lefts in a triangular set, the rectangular shape of the basic Figure is much more distorted; Rights and lefts for 3 couples (or more) have more complicated, overlapping paths though the basic Chain principle of alternating Hands is maintained.

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

Argyll Square
Bridge Of Sighs
Celtic Crossing
King's Causeway
Machine Without Horses
Palace Of Atholl
Phantom Piper
Wandering Piper
Westminster Reel

Dance Video Clip Which Demonstrates Rights And Lefts

Rights And Lefts Video Clip

Links To Pages Related To 'Chains'


Additional search terms: R&L, used in MiniCribs.

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