Birl and Twirl
Scottish Dancing covers a range of entirely different, or slightly different things, depending on who you believe. There are two main areas:
This is what we go in for, really (though no one is averse to a spot of high-kicking on occasion). It's easier to learn than Highland, and it's much more social. It includes most of the party dances that many of you may have enjoyed at weddings and parties, at St. Andrews or Burns' Night Suppers, or indeed at any other event where Scots gather together. Most of the time, though, we learn what might be termed line dances (note: these are not line dances as in line-dancing), more properly set dances. You stand opposite your partner, in lines of four couples, say, and perform a set of figures in the order relevant to the particular dance.
Basically, most dances are based around a set of standard moves. There's dance up and down, turn by the right, right hands across, cast off, cast up, poussette, allemande, promenade, arches, diamond poussette, double triangles, Crown triangles, back to back, setting. And then you can do them all the other way round. And then there're reels. Normal reels, diagonal reels, mirror reels, crossing reels, double crossing reels, Inveran reels, Schiehallion reels. Oh yes, and you can do those with three, four or any number of similarly inclined people. You can do most things that way, though.
Although this sounds daunting at first, you quickly pick up most of the figures necessary to the dances. And it's easy to have a good time. Most people love it from the beginning. There are always experienced dancers around willing to help you learn new figures. It is the real variety of figures that makes Scottish dancing so enjoyable.
One myth is that Scottish dancing is just for the Scots. In fact, very few of the group are real, live authentic Scots, though many claim Scots forebearers. This is, of course, just an excuse to wear the tartan. It is a well established fact that far more Scottish Dancing goes on outside Scotland than in it!
Highland dancing is the traditional dance form of Scotland, dating back well before tartan, the kilt and many other things Scottish. It was formalised after the war with the formation of the SOBHD, who laid down exactly what was, and what was not, Highland Dancing.
This includes all the flash stuff that involves swords, high-kicking steps, leaping and so on. It's fun, but it's HARD. Most of our dancers moved onto this after they learnt country; It's generally an individual thing so you miss out on the social side a bit (excluding the wild parties which are an integral part of OUSDS life). It's as good a workout as aerobics, and a lot more fun.
The aim of Highland is absolute precision of steps; it's reasonably easy to waggle your legs in roughly the right place, and a whole lot harder to do it so that it looks good. But it's worth it for the satisfaction of getting it right, and the impression you create when you give a display.
If this sounds up your street, why not come along and try it out? The first dance we learn is the infamous Highland Fling; If nothing else you'll learn a few flashy steps to put in your Eightsome!
We do not discriminate between men and ladies (though Highland was traditionally performed by men); all are welcome to come and give it a go. Classes are currently Thursdays of odd weeks during term (1st, 3rd, etc) at 8:30 in Trinity College. Email us to confirm when they are. Please bring along a pair of soft shoes if possible, as the floor we use is rough in places.