This file provides brief descriptions of the figures used in Scottish Country Dancing. As with all the pages in this section, it is intended as an aide-memoire or a quick reference for someone needing to get instruction in a hurry. It is not intended to replace personal tuition in a class, and nor should it be taken as authoritative. I am just speaking from personal experience, and do not (and cannot) speak for the RSCDS.
The figures fall into the following categories:
You will encounter these figures with these names all around the world - the names in this section are those used by the RSCDS. For a more authoritative/detailed description, please consult the RSCDS manual, or ask your class teacher.
Er, well I will get round to this at some point... Here's a quick list, in no particular order (and no guarantee of completeness):
These figure names are not standard, and have not been blessed the RSCDS. They are collated from names I hear used all the time, and from a discussion on the Strathspey mailing list (hence from suggestions of dancers around the world).
Or, as Ron Macnaughton put it in his original mail:
I've been to classes where a teacher gave a particular figure a colourful name like "corner, partner, corner, partner" or "teapots", but then said he wasn't supposed to use that term because it was not RSCDS approved.
Pity. Terms like that drastically simplify the learning process. I think many common figures should get special names.
I find Ian McHaffie one of the best briefers and explainers because he breaks the dance into 8 bar phrases which can be chunked, so for any given dance I only have to remember 4 things. This is easier than remembering 16 two bar phrases.
I wonder how many give up Scottish Dancing because they have trouble remembering dances. Would memorable terms for more figures simplify the learning process, and perhaps keep more people dancing?
I have tried to stick to figures which are in general circulation but not RSCDS-sanctified (as codified by the manual); many of these have come from the postings in the discussion. Please comment and suggest additions, and I'll add it to Grand Chain in due course.Note that quite often I describe a figure using a particular example of people. While this is representative, the figure will still be the same if the people actually in the positions specified are not the people given in the figure. For instance, I may assume second couple in first place, first couple in the middle in second place facing their first corners, and third couple in third place. If instead it turns out that third couple are in first place, second couple in second place facing first corners and first couple in third place, that doesn't change the figure. Just substitute the actual couple for those I use in the description (so in the example, where I say 1C, read 2C, when I say 3C read 1C, etc).
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Site last modified 8-10-02