Thanks to the efforts of the RSCDS, Scottish Country Dancing is probably more popular today than it has ever been. However, to the uninitiated there are probably a number of misconceptions about Scottish Dancing, which would cause purists and experts to shudder.
Firstly the word “country” does not imply rustic. Originally in the 18th and 19th centuries, Scottish Country Dancing was the ballroom dancing of Scotland . These dances were adopted across the channel in France where a more balletic type of footwork was introduced for court dancing, thus developing the style further.
Another mistaken impression is the fact that many of us associate the bagpipes with Scottish Dancing. In fact the reels, jigs and Strathspeys of Scottish Country Dancing are usually accompanied by accordion, fiddle, flute, piano and drums, whilst the bagpipes are reserved for the ceremonial Highland Dancing.
This is a word which we often associate with a lively knees-up, and this is fairly close to the mark. As Scottish Country Dancing began to spread in popularity in the late 18th Century it was encouraged by clan chieftans as entertainment for house guests. Its popularity spread throughout Scotland and a more informal version was enjoyed in villages where the whole neighbourhood would turn out to join in the fun. There were no boundaries for age or class.
These days ceilidh dancing is particularly popular with the younger generation. It is fiercely energetic and great fun for social gatherings, although it lacks the grace of the more traditional occasions.
Royal Scottish Country Dance Society
As the waltz and other ballroom and sequence dancing became popular in the latter part of the 19th and early 20th centuries, Scottish Country Dancing temporarily fell from favour. In 1923 rescue was at hand from Dr Jean Milligan and Mrs Ysobel Stewart, founder members of what was to eventually become the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society. Their enthusiasm and commitment developed and invigorated what might otherwise have become a dance form frozen in time.
Over 11,000 Dances
You may be surprised to learn that there are over 11,000 Scottish Country Dances. Fortunately at most social occasions these are restricted to a catalogue of favourites like the Gay Gordons, The Dashing White Sergeant and the Eightsome and Foursome Reels which some of us may recall learning in school.
How You Can Get Involved
There are many local branches of the RSDCS across the country, training teachers and publishing new dances. Alongside these are many other clubs and societies located across the country and you can search for branches in your local area online.
Scottish Country Dancing at TLH Leisure Resort
Teacher Wendy Mumford was smitten with Scottish Country Dancing from a very young age, not least, according to her, because the boys were more interesting than those in the Irish Dancing group at her teacher training college.
Based in Hampshire she teaches classes on a regular basis, and a couple of times a year, in February and June, she hosts a holiday at the TLH Toorak Hotel in Torquay.
You can find out more about these breaks on the TLH Leisure Resort dance website.
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