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Scottish Dancing Illustration

You don't have to be a Scot to find your foot tapping to the irresistible rhythms of the stirring reels and haunting strathspeys. Scottish Country Dancing flows from the soul. Its steps and movements perfectly reflect the power of ancient rhythms, striking a chord in the hearts of young and old alike. It is mainly danced socially, for pure pleasure and enjoyment.

Scottish Country Dancing (SCD) is a sociable dance form with roots stretching back for centuries. Participants are grouped into sets, typically of 3, 4, or 5 couples arranged either in two lines (men facing ladies) or in a square, and work together to dance a sequence of formations. The formations are put together in various combinations to form a “dance.” 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 at each position in turn. After one learns the basic formations, it will be possible to do hundreds of dances. There are over 6,000 registered dances, some dating from the 1600’s, and enthusiasts are continually creating new dances.

There's no dancing without music, and SCD 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, snappy strathspeys or lilting slow airs.

SCD is very sociable - it is standard practice to dance with a range of different partners during a night of dancing. SCD is not the competitive “up on the toes” Highland Dancing often seen in the movies and at the Highland Games. SCD is one of the dance tradition parents of square dancing, contra dancing, and clogging.

--Susan Saul