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Resources for 8 week beginners' course in Euston

Check out this link on the RSCDS website for videos and information about basic steps and formations.

For information about where to buy dance shoes - check the bottom of this page, below the week by week class summaries.
 

Week 1: 11 October 2023

Dances covered: click on the links below to see videos and instructions for the dances covered in this session.

We used the following Steps:

  • Skip change

  • Pas de basque

  • Slip step

and learned the following figures and formations:

  • Hands across and back (RHA/LHA)

  • Lead down and back

  • Cast

  • Step up

  • Turn right hand/left hand (RH/LH)

  • Set and hands across halfway

  • Allemande for two couples

  • Circle

Week 2: 18 October 2023

We reminded ourselves of slip step, pas de basque and skip change of step, then introduced:

  • corners

  • reels of three

  • rights and lefts

 

These are basic elements in the dance and we will repeat and get more familiar with them in the following weeks.

 

We practiced them in the following dances:  

  • The Moray Reel (Jig); Graded Book 1-11

    • Cross RH 4 bars

    • Lead down and back and cast

    • Progress / step up

    • Turn corners and partner

  • The Highland Fair (Jig); Graded Book 1-6

    • Cast off and back

    • Turn RH/LH

    • IC and 2C lead down and back to progress

    • Rights and lefts

Week 3: 1 November 2023

This week we consolidated some of what we have learned so far including:

  • Rights and Lefts

  • Turn corners and partner

  • Cross, cast 2 and lead up

We also practiced reels of three and pas de basque setting step.

Dances included:

Week 4: 8 November 2023

We began this week by revising the Provost Wynd with its reels of three and then moved on to Mrs Stewart Sinton's Reel and Sleepy Maggie. ​

We practised pas de basque (setting step) on the spot and moving round. RSCDS has some helpful videos of basic steps and formations - here is one for pas de basque. The full page of steps and formations, including links to videos and written instructions can be found here.

  • The Provost Wynd

  • Mrs Stewart Sinton's Reel

    • Double setting

    • Cross to other side

    • Lead down and back and finish in centre

    • Allemande for two couples

  • Sleepy Maggie

    • Circle left

    • Set & cast, step up/progress

    • Hands across and back to face 1Crnrs

    • set to and turn corners

    • 6-bar LS reels of three on opp sides, cross right.

We finished by dancing a version of  The Flying Scotsman and finally some gentle stretches.

Week 5: 15 November 2023

Jenny Kendrick returned for this week's class, accompanied by Heather Jeffrey. 

We warmed up with The Bramble Circle, which included some practice of advance and retire.

 

We then revisited Sleepy Maggie, which we had danced the previous week. There was a lot to remember as well as getting the timing right to fit in all the different parts of the dance. This was were the teamwork part of Scottish country dance came into play as everyone helped each other to get into the right place at the right time.

  • Circle left

  • Set & cast, step up/progress

  • Hands across and back to face 1Crnrs

  • Set to and turn corners

  • 6-bar LS reels of three on opp sides, cross right.

In our next dance, The De'il Amang the Tailors, the class demonstrated excellent memory in a confident allemande and enjoyed leading down the middle and back.

We finished with Jig to the Music , first practicing the slip down the middle, then back and & casting 2 places. 

Week 6: 22 November 2023

It's time to reflect on how much the class has covered to date. See list below - pretty good going for 5 weeks of dancing!

  • Right Hands Across/Left Hands Across

  • Lead down and back

  • Cast

  • Turn RH/LH

  • Step up / down

  • Corner Partner Corner Partner

  • Set and hands across half way and back

  • Allemande for two couples

  • Circle

  • Reels of three

  • Cross cast off two cross and cast up one

  • Cast off and back

  • IC+2C lead down and back to progress

  • Rights and Lefts

  • Double setting and cross with arches

  • Set to and turn corners

  • Six bar reels of three on opposite sides

  • Advance and retire

  • Dance back to back

  • Slip down and back

  • Step up together

 

Dave Hall took this week's class, accompanied by Adam Brady. He began by consolidating Sleepy Maggie which the class danced with greatly increased confidence.  He then moved onto new formations, the grand chain and the ladies chain. These were combined in a challenging dance Mrs Stewart’s Jig,  and, again, the dancers demonstrated how far they had come since October by the speed with which they picked up the new movements. The class ended with an introduction to strathspey steps - of which, more to come next week! 

Week 7: 29 November 2023

James Fairbairn took this week's class, accompanied by Heather Jeffrey.  he began by consolidating last week's work on Mrs Stewart’s Jig  with its important formations.

  • Set and cast with chase

  • Step up/progress

  • Grand Chain for three couples

  • Ladies Chain

  • Adv & ret, 1.1/2 turn RH

 

We then moved onto our first Strathspey dance, Seann Triubhas Willichan (apparently also known in Hong Kong as Willie Chan’s Old Trousers). In addition to the new strathspey steps, this dance introduced the concept of 'meanwhile' - where dancers are doing different things at the same time (In this instance, 1W+2M set and changed places RH whilst the  1M+2W changed places RH and set)

  • Cast  for four and back

  • Set and cross RH

  • Lead down, turn RH lead up and cast

  • Step up/progress

  • Set and turn 2H

  • Circle left

This was a great start to strathspey. James noted that strathspey steps could be challenging to pick up initially and encouraged the class to simply try to be with the beat of the music. A video demonstrating strathspey steps can be found here.

  

Finally, we looked at another new formation 'double triangles' in the dance Mary Erskine and ended the class by dancing it all the way through in a 5 couple set

(NB: Mary Erskine (1629–1708), born and raised in Edinburgh, was a Scottish entrepreneur and philanthropist (after being twice widowed) who founded a school for girls which was eventually renamed for her as benefactress and still exists as the Mary Erskine School in the Ravelston area of Edinburgh.

 

Week 8: 6 December 2023

This week will be the final class of the Beginners' course. James is planning to begin by revising the dances from last week before moving onto learning the quick time poussette (video here) which features in The Linton Ploughman.

If time permits we will then look at the The Birks of Invermay or dance another of the dances covered during the 8 week course.

About Shoes

Women wear Scottish country dance pumps. These look like plain black ballet shoes- but a bit more robust.

Men wear laced up ghillies – women sometimes wear these too as they prefer the laced up shoes

 

If you’re buying online, be sure to buy Scottish country dance shoes, not Highland dance shoes as they are different!

  1. For standard Scottish country dance shoes you can try Antonio Pacelli.

  2. Other online options are Thistle Shoes and James Senior Shoes – very helpful on the phone if you have specific queries.

  3. Split sole dance sneakers: some dancers prefer this type of shoe as it gives more support. I have heard good things about the Criss Cross shoe, which is made by Bloch, and Rumpf split sole sneakers have also been recommended. I understand that the sneakers can come up a little smaller than standard street shoes so worth considering sizing up.

  4. Specialist dance shops in London are Capezzio, Bloch and Dancia, all in Covent Garden. Mainly ballet – don’t have Scottish Dance on websites but might be worth popping in for a chat.

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