If you are wondering what type of dancing to take on, how about trying the Scottish country dancing (SCD)? It is a type of traditional country dancing in Scotland and England. Here are basic information you need to know about SCD?

1. What is Scottish country dancing

Scottish country dancingIt will be very lengthy to explain what SCD is actually about but let’s imagine it simply this way: the dance involve sets of couples (a set normally has 4 couples) dancing in line to the sounds of music  (reels, jigs, accordion, flute..). Couples perform figures (choreographed movements) with the emphasis on steps; together with the figures of progression, a dancer gets to dance with everybody, not just with his or her partner.

You can tell that it is a social form of dancing.

2. Footwork

There are seven basic steps for a lot of Scottish Country Dances. Some of them are slip step, skip change, Pas-de-basque…Even though many people skip learning proper footwork and jump to Figures, it is recommended to start with practicing these steps well or else it will be difficult to fix in the long run.

Proper techniques in Timing and Figures are often valued over perfect footwork; however, good dancers will learn to master footwork so it is best to not cut corners.

3. Are prior dance training required to learn SCD?

Footwork

The dance sounds demanding but in fact anyone can learn to perform it. Even if you have never learnt dancing at all, do not worry. Of course, some prior experience in English folk
dance or ballet can be useful so that you can learn SCD quicker.

Depending on the dance you learn, you can get tired or unable to keep up at first with fast-paced dance. However, you can sit down and practice until you can join the dance. Old people in their 60s, 70s can still enjoy SCD no less than young leaners.

4. Is it necessary to bring a partner to the dance class?

You can do this if you want to but it is not required because in SCD, people are encouraged to interact with each other. You will end up dancing with everybody in a dance anyway and every dancer should be friendly towards other.

5. What are proper clothing and shoes required for SCD?

clothing and shoes for Scottish country dancingTraditionally, people wear Scottish dance shoes called ghillies (for both male and women). You can buy a pair when you are really into the dance later; however, in the beginning, female learners can wear ballet slippers and male learners can just use tennis shoes. The general requirements are that these shoes should be soft and flexible with no heels or very low heels.

In terms of clothing, you can just wear any comfortable, light clothing to the class. It does not have to be a skirt (for women) or a kilt (for men). Comfortable freedom of movements is desired for SCD. When it comes to actual performances or balls, you can dress up more with party dresses or attire.

6. What are standard etiquettes in SCD

There are standard etiquettes when you are in a SCD class but they are easy to understand because common senses apply here. For example: you do not come to class late and always should listen quietly to the teacher/MC’s instructions. Do not talk to other dancers while the instructors are talking. You can see it is quite the same for any dancing class in general.

For SCD, there are things to note as follows:

  • You can invite people to dance with you; it does not matter if they are men or women. Extend your hand for invitation and tell the partner of your intention in a clear and friendly way.
  • For each dance, a man (gentleman) will escort his female partner (his lady) to the floor and then accompany her to her seat. For everyone, thanks their partner s once the dance is over.
  • When you want to join a set, do so that the bottom of the line. Do not walk through the set because it can be impolite.
  • Since SCD is very social, do not try to line up partners for all the dances because you exchange partners and interact with each other.
  • When you learn SCD, do not try to be competitive; instead, you should be relaxed, friendly and have good spirits. This form of dancing promotes good manners.

7. Useful tips for beginners

  • Everyone starts out as a beginner, so if you have troubles in learning at first, do not worry or freak out every time you mess up. Just relax.
  • Do not cut corners: learn the basic footwork and figures properly first before you want to add your own touches,
  • Maintain eye contact in dancing: it is very important for social interaction (you can flirt with your eyes, you know!)
  • Ask to dance with experienced dancers and once you become better, it is your turn to help beginners.