Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

Warm Up In Scottish Country Dancing

For safe and successful performance of the more extreme sports, Warming up is an essential precaution to diminish the risk of sports injury. While Scottish Country Dancing could hardly be regarded as an extreme sport in any absolute sense, it will be relatively so for those with an otherwise sedentary lifestyle who engage in it.

Warming up is a "Marmite" feature for Scottish Country Dancers: some swear by it and insist on following their own procedure if none is provided before a class or an event; others swear about it and may even delay their arrival to avoid having to participate. Historically, cold halls, cold public transport and unheated cars may have made some form of loosening the muscles desirable though those who walked or cycled would not have needed it. Nowadays, Warming up is elective for those so minded: it is probably essential for those aspiring to the most perfectly balletic performance; many older, social dancers may prefer to conserve their failing resources for the dancing. As a note of warning, it does not guarantee freedom from sports injury; we are aware of one dancer suffering a ruptured Achilles' tendon while Warming up for a class!

Although there is no real agreement on doing it or not, there is some common ground:

  • Simply walking around the room is effective.
  • Skip change around the room to relatively sedate music is suitable for a Warm up and has the benefit that the dancer can use the opportunity to improve his/her performance of the Step.
  • Albeit counter-intuitive, Strathspey Steps are not very suitable because correct performance requires extreme control of the movements.
  • Slip Step is not very suitable, especially in Hands round and back.
  • Pas-de-basque is not suitable.

Warm up sessions for classes often start with physiotherapy exercises, especially those for feet, ankle and leg joints; these are a subset of the exercises used by ballet dancers. John Fletcher, a teacher in the RSCDS Berks, Hants and Surrey Borders' Branch, has devised the following dances especially for use in Warming up at the beginning of a class:
Warm Up;
Warm Up 2;
Warm Up Jig.

Various takes on Warming up are shown in Warm Up Video Clips.

For the benefit of all dancers, especially those who do not follow a Warm up protocol, the first dance at an event should not include Pas-de-basque unless, as on a highly formal occasion, it is preceded by a Grand march. The following dances are popular, cover a wide range of complexity and are particularly suitable to start a programme:
Anderson's Rant
Auld Grey Cat (Boyd)
Blackford Jig
Bratach Bàna
Broadford Bay
Cramond Bridge
Cutty Sark
Hazel Tree
Hedwig's Reel
Hooper's Jig
Jim's Haberdashery
Kiss Me Quick My Mither's Coming
Liquid Assets
Lochalsh Reel
Maids Of Currie
Maxwell's Rant
New Year Jig
Pulling Bracken
Snake Pass
Swiss Lassie
Waggle O' The Kilt

Note that some dances, such as
Irish Rover
Royal Deeside Railway
are not included since, although they do not involve Pas-de-basque, 1st couple must move exceptionally quickly in bars 1-4.

Blame culture is a sad fact of modern life with responsibility for one's own well-being often off-loaded to the organizers of modest events like a Scottish Country Dancing class or a public dance. Ambulance-chasing lawyers with their "No-win, no-fee" offers encourage this and profit from it. That, in turn, means that organizers need to acquire insurance to cover the more extreme risks (such as a disabling sports injury) which, in many jurisdictions, might otherwise result in bankrupting them as individuals; those who volunteer their services to a group deserve peace of mind on this matter. It is wise to include some form of optional Warm up before each event so that the insurer will not have an easy excuse to void the insurance on the grounds that the insured did not take reasonable care.

The RSCDS has an insurance scheme which is available to its Branches and to Affiliated Societies. The following paragraph is an extract from the RSCDS Guide to Branch Administration:

"Public Liability Insurance
Branches are responsible for arranging their own Public Liability Insurance, and any other insurances that they may require. A Public Liability policy, limit of liability £1,000,000, is available to UK Branches [and to UK Affiliated Societies] at a favourable rate negotiated with Edinburgh Risk Management Group General Limited (ERMG Ltd.), the cost being dependent on the number of members in the Branch[/Affiliated Society]. For further details please contact them at 68a Dean Path, Edinburgh, EH14 3AT, tel. 0131 311 4700."

There are two benefits from using this umbrella scheme:
the insurance is tailored to the activities of a group engaging in Scottish Country Dancing; and
the premium is much more reasonable than a group could expect to obtain on an individual basis.
There is, of course, a separate fee for Affiliation but this does provide its own benefits, especially to those groups with no individual RSCDS member.

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