What is Scottish country dancing?
Scottish country dancing (SCD) is a sociable dance form with roots stretching back for centuries (see History). Participants are grouped into sets, typically of 3, 4 or 5 couples arranged either in two lines (men facing women) or in a square, and work together to dance a sequence of formations. This will leave them in a new order, and the dance is repeated enough times to bring them back to their starting positions, with everyone dancing each position in turn.
SCD is mainly danced socially, for pleasure and enjoyment, but many groups also perform; there are even occasional competitions. Although the basic steps and formations are easy to pick up, the technique is being honed continuously so that at its highest levels it can now be an extremely athletic, balletic dance form (not that the majority of social dancers take it as seriously as that).
There can be no dancing without music, and Scottish country dancing has attracted some of the most talented musicians to play for it. From the first chord to the final bow or curtsey, dancers are inspired by the driving reels, jaunty jigs, smooth strathspeys or lilting slow airs – leading to the popular expression “the music will tell you” (now also immortalised in the name of a dance). If you can’t afford a live musician or band, there are numerous inspirational recordings – see the shop for more details of those stocked by RSCDS.
New dances are being written all the time , and dances vary considerably in complexity and ease of dancing – thus careful selection of dances for a programme can cater for beginners with a couple of months’ experience, or challenge and interest the most experienced dancers, or, as more usually happens, provide a range over the evening to suit most tastes.
SCD is very sociable – it is common practice to dance with different partners during a night of dancing – and thanks to the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society is sufficiently popular and uniform that any SCD dancer can pack their dance shoes and be welcomed by a local group almost anywhere in the world.