Scottish Country Dances by Peter Foster

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Last modified 9 April 2015

Here are some of my Scottish Country dances. Feel free to try them out. Comments are welcome - email pfoster@pcug.org.au.

The figures are described according to their bar counts, which is the usual notation for Scottish Country dances.


Easy SCD

by Peter Foster
3 couple dance (4 couple longways set)
Music: 8x32 bar jig or reel
 
Bars Description
 
1-2 First couple set to partner
3-4 First couple cast to second place while the second couple step up to first place
5-8 Couples 2, 1 and 3 take hands on the sides and advance and retire
 
9-16 Lead couple (now in second place) do a right hand star and left hand star with the second couple, who are now at the top
 
17-24 Lead couple do a right hand star and left hand star with the third couple
 
25-32 Couples 2, 1 and 3 circle left and right

A very straighforward 3 couple dance


The Mixmaster

Peter Foster (version July 2006)
3 couple dance (4 couple longways set)
Music: 8x32 bar reel
 
Bars Description
 
1-4 First couple cross and cast, second couple move up on bars 3-4. First couple face down, third couple face up, second couple face across
5-8 Left hand turn about 1+1/4, finish with the men in the centre in a right hand star, women on the outside facing anticlockwise
 
9-16 Men right hand star twice around while the women go anticlockwise around the outside
 
17-24 Women left hand star twice around while the men go clockwise around the outside. Finish with first couple in the centre facing down, woman on the right, nearer hands joined
 
25-28 First couple lead down between third couple and cast up, meet in the middle facing up
29-32 First couple lead up between second couple, cross and cast

The transition between inside and outside in bars 16/17 is what makes or breaks the dance. To make it work, the dancers need to keep a a lookout for the person they did the left hand turn with. In the transition, they need to pass this person by the right shoulder (more or less sliding past face to face).

 

Original version (Jan 1990)

1-4 First couple cross right hand, cast one place, second couple move up on bars 3-4
5-8 First couple half figure 8 through the second couple, end facing down
 
9-16 Couples 2, 1, 3 grand chain
 
17-24 First man, women 2 and 3 right hand star twice around, while the others chase anticlockwise around the outside
 
25-32 First woman, men 2 and 3 left hand star twice around, while the others chase clockwise around the outside

This version, with a mixture of men and women in the stars, allows everyone to experience the transition both ways (inside to outside and outside to inside). It also finishes with the principal figure, rather than finishing with a solo. However, having separate men's and women's stars makes the dance easier to teach and easier to do. It also looks better as a display dance.


Lot's Wife

Peter Foster 1989
4 couple longways set. Couples 1 and 4 are the working couples
Music: 4x32 bar reel
 
This dance was intended to be a four couple version of "Polharrow Burn".
 
Bars Description
 
1-4 Working couples cross right hand and cast one place, centre couples step up or down on bars 3-4
5-8 Working couples left hand star seven eighths of the way around (this puts man 1 and lady 4 in the middle of the sidelines). Man 4 and lady 1 face "first corners" (ie man 4 face lady 3, lady 1 face man 2)
 
  Next are 3 half reels of 3 with corners, similar to Polharrow Burn:
 
9-12 Half reel of three on the diagonal (right shoulder start), finish facing "second corners", then...
13-16 Half reel of three on this diagonal, then...
17-20 Half reel of three on the next diagonal
21-24 Working couples left hand star in the centre one and one eighth of the way around (this puts the working couples in the middle of the sides, opposite side of the dance to which they started) Man 4 and lady 1 finish facing out
 
25-28 End couples stand still, working couples dance half way around the person on their right (by right shoulder), then chase around the end couple to get to their own sides
29-32 Right hands stars top and bottom to finish

Finish in the order 3142

This dance was first performed at David Wanless' birthday party in October 1990. During the walk through, people kept turning around after each figure, which made the flow of the dance a bit difficult. David named the dance when I kept screaming to the dancers "Don't turn around! Whatever you do, don't turn around!".


The Scottish Laddies

Peter Foster July 2006
3 couple dance (4 couple longways set)
Music: 8x32 bar reel
 
Variation of The Australian Ladies (last 16 bars unchanged)
 
Bars Description
 
1-4 First couple cross right hand and cast one place (second couple step up on bars 3-4)
5-8 Man up, woman down, make right hand stars with right hand couple (man with second couple, woman with third couple)
 
9-10 First couple half left hand turn
11-16 Reels of three across the set, man with third couple, woman with second couple, start with left shoulder to first corner, finish on own side
 
17-32 Australian Ladies figure

The Australian Ladies is a great dance, but I've never been all that happy with the first half: it's a bit "choppy" and it doesn't flow very well into the Australian Ladies figure (particularly for the first woman). So I've come up with a different first half, to fix these problems (at least, they are problems in my mind).

This dance was originally called "The Sheilas" (sheila is Australian slang for an attractive young woman, although the term is generally only used by young men).