Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

The Tourbillon

The Figure, The tourbillon interchanges the Places of two adjacent Couples in a Longwise set and so can be used as a Progression.

In the 2005 edition of "The Manual of Scottish Country Dancing", the RSCDS describes it for Strathspeys, only. However, MiniCrib also defines a slightly different form for Quick tempo dances, using Turn by the right rather than Turn both hands; this Figure is prescribed in the Jig, Langleys Road.

The tourbillon requires 8 bars, using the appropriate Travelling step in bars 1-2 and 5-8 and Setting step in bars 3-4. When danced by the first two Couples from their Original Places:

Bar 1
1st Lady and 2nd Man Take Both hands with Partners, Turn halfway and release Partners' left Hands, Finishing Facing Up and Down;

Bar 2
retaining Nearer hands Hold, all Travel clockwise around the rectangle formed by their Starting Places to Finish On the sides Facing Inwards, 1st Lady and 2nd Man in their Starting Places;

Bars 3-4
1st Couple, on the Ladies' Side, Set Facing 2nd Couple, on the Men's Side;

Bar 5
1st Man and 2nd Lady Take Both hands with Partners, Turn halfway and release Partners' left Hands, Finishing Facing Up and Down;

Bar 6
retaining Nearer hands Hold, all Travel clockwise around the rectangle formed by their Starting Places to Finish On the sides Facing Inwards, all on Opposite sides, 2nd Couple now in 1st Place;

Bars 7-8
all Cross By the right to Finish on Own sides.

The above formal description of bars 1-2 makes accurate Timing difficult; it is important that 1st Lady and 2nd Man almost Turn On the spot in their Starting Places, thus facilitating their Partner's very long movement halfway around the rectangle formed by 1st and 2nd Couples' Starting Places. Similarly, in bars 5-6, 1st Man and 2nd Lady should deviate only minimally from their Starting Positions.

Tourbillon, one of the many French terms used in Scottish Country Dancing, translates to "Whirlwind" in English and so quite appropriately recognizes the dramatic Turns in bars 1-2 and 5-6.


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

Burn Of Sorrow
By Dundonald
Dark Mile
La Famiglia Graziani
MacFarlane's Lantern
Sands Of Morar
Singing Sands
Spirit Of The Dance
Turbulence
Ysobel Stewart Of Fish Hoek


Dance Video Clip Which Demonstrates The Tourbillon

The Tourbillon Video Clip

Links To Pages Related To 'Tourbillon'

Complex Figures

Additional search terms: Tourbilon, Turbillon.

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