Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

The Targe

In Scottish Country Dancing, The targe is named by association with the eponymous, circular, Scottish shield with its celtic decoration. The RSCDS's "The Manual of Scottish Country Dancing" (2005 edition) implies that this Figure is suitable only in Quick tempo dances but it does appear in several Strathspeys.

In the standard form, The targe is a Figure for 2 couples who start in line Across a Longwise set, the Ladies Taking right hands in the Middle and each Man Taking left hands with the adjacent Lady (who is not his partner). No Time is allocated within the Figure to reach this Position and so the preceding Figure must leave the dancers in this line. Although the four dancers start in a Position as though for Balance in line, and are again in a similar Position at the end of bars 2, 4 and 6, it is crucially important that they do not attempt to Set at any stage; this 8-bar Figure is performed using Travelling steps only and leaves no Time for indecision.

When danced by 1st and 2nd couples, as in bars 17-24 of The Clansman, 1st man, 2nd lady, 1st lady and 2nd man start in a line Across the set halfway between 1st and 2nd couples' Places, 1st couple Facing Down 2nd couple Up, the Ladies with Right hands joined, 1st man on his Own side, 2nd man on the Ladies' side. Then:

Bars 1-2
Ladies Turn by the right three quarters While Men Chase anticlockwise one quarter around The set, all Finishing on the Centre line in the same order as at the start, 2nd man at the Top;

Bars 3-4
2nd man and 1st lady Turn by the left all round While 2nd lady and 1st man Turn by the left all round;

Bars 5-6
Ladies Turn by the right three quarters While Men Chase anticlockwise one quarter around The set, Finishing in a line Across the set in the same order as at the start but now on Opposite sides (2nd man on his Own side);

Bars 7-8
2nd man and 1st lady Turn by the left three quarters While 2nd lady and 1st man Turn by the left three quarters, Finishing with 2nd couple in 1st place on their Own sides and 1st couple in 2nd place on Opposite sides.

Bars 5-6 are identical to bars 1-2 except that the starting line is rotated one quarter anticlockwise.

In other dances, bars 7-8 may be modified so that the dancers Finish to suit the succeeding Figure.

Derivative forms exist in which the dancers start on Diagonal lines in a Longwise set, the four dancers progressing anticlockwise to the next Corners' Diagonal, and also in Square and Triangular sets; however, the differences from the formal Targe format are sufficiently great that it is always necessary to define this usage in terms of the elementary Figures and Dancers involved.

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

Enid's Welcome
Flowers Of The West
Glengarry Homestead
Miss Sarah Smiles
Reflections On Woodhall Loch
Targaid Danns
Tempest In A Teacup
Waternish Tangle
World's End Close

Dance Video Clip Which Demonstrates The Targe

Targe Video Clip

Links To Pages Related To 'Targe'

Complex Figures

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