Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

Touch Hands

This is a form of Taking hands which is especially brief; the Dancers Take hands in the elegant way appropriate to their movement but the emphasis is on releasing the joined hands in good time so that the Phrasing of the next movement is not compromised. It adds grace to Strathspeys and can make the Flow of the dance more satisfying in all tempi.

Touch hands occurs naturally in Mirror reels of three or more and in mirror Figures of eight on the sides; it can also be helpful in Figures of eight across as an aid to giving the Lady Precedence in the Crossing.

Touch hands briefly is specified by the deviser in bars 1-2 of John McAlpin While the Dancing couple Advance and retire. This is generally appropriate when, as in this example, only two Dancers are involved; it is clearly not practical when more than two Dancers Advance and retire because those who are side by side are already Taking (Nearer) hands.

A more exuberant form is often employed by the Advancing and retiring Corners in bars 9-12 and 17-20 of Rest and Be Thankful where the Corners clap each other's hands. Phrasing this is not intuitive; if fitted to the beginning of bar 1 of the Retire it risks delay which would impede the Dancing couple. For the most effective form, each Corner should clap own hands at the beginning of the second bar of the Advance and the other Corner's in the second half of that bar; this ensures that the Corners have two full bars for the Retire.

High 5

This rambunctious form of Touch hands briefly is occasionally used as an alternative to the normal Hold for Crossing in order to provide an effect relevant to the dance title or dedication, as in bars 5-6 of Terrace Loggers' Jig; however, it is inelegant and inappropriate in any Scottish Country Dance where it has not been explicitly specified by the deviser.

Dance Video Clip Which Demonstrates Touch Hands

Touch Hands Video Clip

Links To Pages Related To 'Take Hands'

Hand Positions