Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

The Swirl

Originally for Strathspeys but now also in Quick tempo dances, The swirl is an elegant, 8 bar Figure, using the appropriate Travelling step throughout. The Figure is for two Couples, Starting with each Lady on her Partner's right as, for example, in bars 9-16 of The Dream Catcher where 1st and 3rd Couples Start the The swirl in their Original Places in the Square set and similarly for 2nd and 4th Couples in bars 65-72. In detail:

Bars 1-2
Both Men Turn Partners By the right into Allemande hold, Finishing with the Couples Facing each other;

Bars 3-4
Both Couples Advance Giving left shoulders to Exchange Positions, Finishing by releasing right hands;

Bars 5-8
Both Couples Left hands across once round, Finishing by releasing hands and Turning on the spot anticlockwise to Face whatever Direction is required for the next Figure.

It is important for each Dancer to be completely clear about his/her final Facing Direction since the Turning on the spot can be disorientating; for The Dream Catcher, it is the Dancer's Second corner who, conveniently, is Standing in his/her Original Place throughout and, ideally, helps by making Eye contact just as the Figure Finishes. It is also important to move quickly in bars 3-4 in order to reach the correct Starting position for the Hands across so that there is no problem in reaching the Finishing Position at the correct Time, ready to Turn on the spot.

Although for clarity the above description uses the term, Couples, these need not necessarily be Partners but they must be a Man and a Lady.

The swirl (devised by Alex Gray of South Wales Branch) is equally appropriate in a Longwise set for adjacent Couples Starting Facing each other either Across the set or Up and down; each Lady must be on the right of the Man who will be her "Partner" for the Figure.

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

Dream Catcher
Hot Cross Buns
Melville Castle (Gray)
New Approach
Snow In October

Dance Video Clip Which Demonstrates The Swirl

The Swirl Video Clip

Links To Pages Related To 'Swirl'

Complex Figures

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