Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

Take Hands

In Scottish Country Dancing, Take (hands) is the formal expression for all hand contact. While there are subtle variations which are identified in the description of each Figure, the following general principles apply. There are two distinct forms:
  • Taking hands with relative movement covers those situations in which the Dancers Pass each other as, for example, in Cross, Rights and lefts, Ladies' chain and so on.
  • Taking hands with no relative movement covers those situations in which the Dancers do not move relative to each other, as in Set in line, Balance in line, Hands round and back, Hands across and so on, even though they may move as a group; the diagram shows a typical example, Balance in line.
Diagram, Hand Positions

Hand Positions

Taking hands: ready for Balance in line in Scottish Country Dancing.
The triangular symbol on the Ladies' faces represents the nose and so indicates that they are Facing the viewer; the Men are Facing away.

The experienced dancer can be most helpful to the Beginner, or to any dancer not fully conversant with the dance, by starting to move the hands from the resting Position during the last bar preceding the Figure in which hands are to be Taken.

Taking hands is sometimes regarded as optional (or even to be deprecated!) in Figures such as Mirror reels of three, perhaps in order to encourage more conscious care over Covering; teachers should take more account of Jean Milligan's recommendation in 99 More Scottish Country Dances:
"The hands are given in Scottish Country Dancing whenever possible by the natural dancer".

Links To Pages Related To 'Take Hands'

Hand Positions

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