Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

The Saltire

This is an undeservedly rare Complex figure in Scottish Country Dancing which, like Double triangles, is closely associated with the St Andrew's Cross, whose X-shape is the distinctive feature of the national flag of Scotland. Although the term is often used unqualified, it is useful to identify the basic, 2-bar Phrase which is repeated three or more times to make up different forms. Six repetitions of this elementary Figure makes what can be called the Full Saltire which leaves all Dancers back in their Starting positions; three repetitions makes what can be called the Half Saltire which leaves the Dancing couple having Exchanged positions with each other, as also have First and Second corners; three repetitions followed by a modified fourth is often used to make an 8-bar Phrase.

The Saltire Figure uses the Travelling step, exclusively; it occurs in a few Strathspeys though it would not be unsuitable for a Quick tempo dance.

The Figure is normally performed in a Longwise, 3 Couple, Active set by 1st, 2nd and 3rd Couples after a Progression which has Finished with 2nd Couple in 1st Place and 1st Couple (the Dancing couple) in the Centre of The set, left shoulder to left shoulder, Facing their First corners; the First corners Face Across the set and the Second corners Face each other. Then:

Bars 1-2
Second corners Advance on the Second corners' Diagonal and Turn each other three quarters round By the left to Finish in the Centre of The set, left shoulder to left shoulder, Facing the First corner position next clockwise from their Starting position While 1st Couple Dance Out to their First corners' positions and Finish Facing Across the set While the First corners Cross The set, Finishing Facing each other on the Second corners' Diagonal.

Two features become clear:
all have now Travelled to the Position of the nearest Dancer in the Direction Faced and have Finished Facing as s/he was, i.e., each is following that Dancer, 2 bars behind;
the Second corners have replaced the Dancing couple, the Dancing couple have replaced the First corners and the First corners have replaced the Second corners.

At this stage, all are now ready to repeat the 2-bar Figure from their new Positions. For the Full Saltire, this 2-bar Phrase is repeated five more times from the new Positions, i.e., 12 bars in all, and the Dancers all Finish exactly as they Started; for the Half Saltire, this 2-bar Phrase is repeated twice more (6 bars in all) and the Dancers all Finish Diagonally Opposite their Starting Posisions, i.e., the First corners are interchanged, the Second corners are interchanged and the Dancing man and lady are interchanged.

The Full Saltire occurs in bars 5-16 of The Unsullied Saltire, where the precursor Figure leaves the Dancers in exactly the correct Positions required for the first 2-bar Saltire Figure and the succeeding Figure requires the Dancers to be in the Positions at the Finish of the final 2-bar Saltire Figure.

The Half Saltire occurs in bars 9-14 of Norwich Assembly and in bars 17-22 of St Andrew Forever, in each case followed by a modified version of the 2-bar Saltire Figure which brings the Dancers in the Second corners' positions to 2nd place On the sides.

Links To Pages Related To 'The Saltire'

Complex Figures

Additional search terms: Dance to Each Corner and Set (MiniCrib).

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