Scotland has a culture, and a deep-rooted tradition of music, song and dance. This can be asserted by discussing the Ceilidh, which is an evening full of dance, songs and no doubt drinking good whisky. In the Ceilidh, the Scottish country dance is performed, which can be enjoyed by people in any way what so ever, whether formal or informal. Country dances are extremely genial and enjoyable. Because of this very feature which makes them attractive to people belonging to all the parts of the world and perhaps the only reason why it is extremely easy for a person to find Scottish country dance groups in any part of the world. Scottish country dancing, which is also known as SCD and even called “reeling” is a kind of dance for social purposes.
The dance is basically a modern form of the country dance that was previously very famous in the eighteenth century across England and Scotland. (Brinson 33) Scottish Country Dance is the customary communal dance of Scotland. The dances are poised of accurate footwork and arrangements that are set in a dissimilar series for each dance.
The music varies from vigorous reels and jigs to the strathspey, which is a kind of music that is found nowhere in the world except Scotland. (Hood 94)All of the Scottish dances; the Scottish country dance in particular is done in well-organized formations that are generally known as “sets”. These sets are usually made up of around three or four couples, even though certain dances require far more people which comes to around six or more couples. The couple formations are more often than usual mixed, even though men dance with men and women dance with women, though this depends on the gathering. The most common shape is the longwise shape, where the couples stand side by side in the formation of all the men on one side, facing all the women on the other side, with his man facing his partner. The man on the far left side and his partner are known as either the first or the top couple and the formation is such that the first couple is nearest to the band or what ever source of music is being used. Longer lines are formed when the hall is big. (Flett and Flett 56) Other types of sets are also there, but those are very rare and include the triangular sets, square sets as well as the “round-the-room” dances.
Scottish country dances are divided into various categorie such as reels, jigs, strathspeys and are categorised on the basis of the kind of music on which they are performed. The first two names of dances that are mentioned are generally called quick-time dances, because of the fact that they have tempos along with very fast movements and a very lively beat. The third dance that has been mentioned features a very slow tempo along with formal, stately feel. The Scottish country dances, are pretty much unlike the usual English country dances which involve walking steps; Scottish country dances on the other hand include special attention to be paid on the footwork which depends on the choreography of the dance.
While performing a Scottish country dace, much attention as mentioned previously is paid to the foot work and the position of the feet while performing certain steps is taken into consideration. Steps that are performed extremely well at times impress everyone for their complexity, but in real it is the time, dedication and the fitness of the person that actually make it very easy to perform. As the country dance has become a kind of pastime for the Scottish people, the dance community and the people have stopped paying much attention to such matters and now anyone who can not perform well during the dance is not discriminated against as compared to those who have mastered the steps. It is such a pastime, that at times the soul purpose of dancing is to just have fun and only a minimum amount of people pay much attention to details and the perfection of the dance, while the others just wish to have fun.Another important factor which is considered after the footwork is the time and space location. This means that one has to ensure that he/she is standing at the right location at the right time. It is imperative to note that one should not be standing in the way of the other dancers and should be in place at the right time to perform steps that include other dancers as well.
The term “phrasing”, is used to define the performance of a figure which is perfectly timed with the music, where as the term “covering” refers to the movement of an umber of dancers in unison. It is said that, when country dancing was introduced in Scotland in the eighteenth century, it gained immense popularity in places such as Edinburgh, and then continued to move through various parts of Scotland even though other kinds of dances such as Waltz, One-step etc were gaining popularity in the nineteenth and twentieth century. The Scottish coutry dancing has been extremely influenced by other traditional Scottish dances such as the Highland reels and because of this they still tend to have a very Scottish look to them. HistoryScottish country dancing gained immense popularity during the eighteenth century, when it was popular and performed mostly in the top-class areas of England, though back then it was not known as “Scottish” and was plain called “Country Dancing”. This form of dancing was introduced in Scotland by the most powerful members of the society along with the well-to-do people, who wished to keep on doing the things that they liked and the things that were introduced to them in well-to-do places. (McConachie, p. 24) This was the time when dance publishers, like PlayFord were in high demand and were publishing dance manuals which provided people with the information about the most popular dances as well as the introduction of new dances so as to put up with the ever increasing demand for country dancing. Back in those days, a number of publications were brought around, even if they were not original although most of them were famous for their own merits.
By the nineteenth century, country dancing became extremely well-known and famous in Scotland and reached it though Lowlands, even though modern forms of dances were taking over as well such as the qudrilles and other couple dances such as the waltz in England.Back in the eighteenth century, nothing by the name of “Scottish” dancing exisred. Books which held information about Scottish dancing, but they only covered topics about dances that were could be choreographed to a Scottish tune and that was what was called a Scottish dancprevious Scottish social dances such as the Highland reel. Here it is necessary to note that country dances that had the rell-style formations had been very popular by the end of the eighteenth century. In the beginning of the twentieth century, Scottish country dance played a major role in the social entertainment, in the rural parts of Scotland in particular, though, considering the fact that the number of dances that were taught to students had gone down a considerable amount and only a few were taught. Here, it is necessary to note that country dance faced a lot of danger because of this condition. In the year 1923, a “society” which came to be known as the Scottish Country Dance Society (SCDS) came into being in Glasgow so as to serve the purpose of preserving country dances the way that they were danced in Scotland.The SCDS started to collect and print the dances that were previously shunned aside and the society also began reinterpreting the dances from older sources that were no longer being paid any attention to.
While carrying out this task, the society made a mistake by standardizing the dances, which somehow differ from each other because of the place where it was collected in Scotland and this was done so in order to preseve it. This as mentioned was a mistake, but somehow it played an effective role in setting the grounds for universal compatibility between dancers belonging to different countries across the world. The steps taken by SCDS brought about much fame to it and it influenced the way dances were taught at school and because of the society it was made necessary to taught at least a minimum of Scottish country dance while they are at school. This scoeity, after achieving Royal patronage in the year 1947, came to be known as the Royal Scottish Country Dance Soceity or RSCDS.After the SCDS came into being, a number of people started coming up with dances of their own, which had hints of the previous dances in them with a blend of new steps.
After so many years now, there are nearly eleven thousand dances, out of which ten thousand are modern dances. People can come up with their own dances in whatever way they want. Here it is necessary to note that even though the history of Scottish country dance goes back nearly three centuries, it is still a present concern. Contemporary Scottish country dance has come around since the beginning of the 1700s and it has not at all been modernised, and some even say that with this invention of new dances and concepts, which appear all the time, the traditional dances somehow find their way into the new ones and, “the ongoing evolution has also given Scottish country dancing a lot of “life” and people feel much less guilt or hesitation about altering a dance for the purposes of demonstrations, and also borrowing ideas for their own dances.” (Clowes and Donald 82) In the current times, Scottish country dance is not limited to Scotland only, but has found its way in nearly all the parts of the world including Britain, Europe, Canada, United States of America, Australia, New Zealand etc. The dance is at times even found in countries like Russia, Russia, South Africa, Argentina, Hong Kong and so on and it can easily be said that Scottish country dance does not face any danger what so ever of being extinct now.PurposeThe people of Scotland, because of their inherent love of music and joviality, have always enjoyed and have also loved to dance. Country Dance was in all probability first danced in Scotland right in the beginning of the eighteenth century.
Using individual characteristics from Scotland’s conventional Highland music and dance, Scottish country dance developed into Scotland’s own in the course of an evolutionary progression that covered nearly three hundred years. If truth be told, a person can go through the tapestry of Scottish history and tradition by means of her country dances and the music and proceedings that have enthused them.All forms of Scottish country dance are performed for purely social basis. (Flett and Flett 29) As it is said that while have social traditions, the Scottish country dance which has its roots going back to several centuries. Performers or the participants of the dance are arranged into groups of three, four or max five and that too in two lines with the men facing the women or in a square and both of these lines work with each other so as to perform a number of steps and formations.
The formations are performed in such a way that eventually, the performers would return to their original places. A vast number of groups perform the dances for competition at times. Even though some of the most basic steps of Scottish country dancing are easy to pick up, but the technique is now sharpened to such a level that is has now turned into a very athletic, ballet type of dance even though a number of dancers do not perceive it as such.A vast number of Scottish country dances are what is called “progressive”, which means that every single couple is given the chance to perform as the top couple or the active couple with the most attention. This is done so in a way in which after the first repitition of the steps the couples move in a way by which they end up in a completely different place in their set.
The number of repititions, in order to carry out the mentioned “progressive” step are adjusted to fit to the number of dancers in the group. The figures and setup of modern Scottish country dances, have although been taken from a history of nearly three hundred years, which makes it extremely difficult to generalize it because of the fact that a number of dance include ideas out the traditional thinking such as the change of the partner at every new turn of the dance, “the palindromic structure (the sequence of figures is similar seen from the end to the beginning as it is seen from the beginning to the end), fugues (the sequence of figures for each couple is intricately intertwined to resemble the structure of a musical fugue) and others” (McConachie 42). The constant traidition of dance styles being played with is extraordinary, even though the results at times are not what a person expects them to be.
ClassificationThe Scottish country dancing can be classified as a social dance, as has been mentioned previously. It is said that, “SCD is social dancing. Hence interaction with one’s partner and the other dancers, such as smiling and giving hands, is an essential part of SCD, and for those who want to there are usually lots of opportunity for relaxed “flirting””(Brinson 108). Scottish country dances are a combined effort of the entire team and attempts made so as to glorify ones self by using beautification and adornments are usually looked down upon by the people. They believe that extra people are perfectly well, but only when the time and the plaace are right and extras should stay aside when less experienced dancers are performing so as to avoid confusion on their part. The dance are extremely social and provide people with a chance to dance with a variety of people through out the night. It is customary to keep on changing partners, and partners are changed on every new dance, which is an example of just how social these dances are.
This helps the people in making new friends, getting to know more people and that too in a very friendly environment. All the partners, even if they are strangers to each other must maintain eye contact and a smile. On average, a set consists of nearly six to ten people, which shows that a person dances with at least five different people in a single night. (Clowes and Donald 104)Miscellaneous InformationIn current times, the term Scottish country dance clinches the societal, characteristically progressive, dances of Scotland that have developed from many customs and are danced all the way through the world with much satisfaction by people of Scotland and even those who do not belong to Scotland. For their costumes, while dancing, women wear white dresses along with a tartan scarf that is pinned on to their left shoulder.
Men dress in a white shirt along with a tie, kilt, sporan, buckle and long socks. The socks usually have a colored mark showing which is attached to the enclosed garter. The sporan is big and is ornamented with a purse lynching from the strap over the navel. The kilt is usually made of tartan cloth, which is soft in front and comprehensively pleated at the back. The men have to pin their kilts on the right hand side.
If a lady wishes to wear a kilt, she has to pin it on the left hand. This handedness is taken into consideration because of the reverse buttoning of shirts and coats by the women and the men belonging to the Western culture. (Hood 124)Special laced dancing pumps are worn by both men and women. The usage of these is a controversial topic of history. When one takes up history, we find that around the year 1914, men used to wear obvious leather dancing shoes, and the women used to put on slippers that had an ankle strap that too with a one inch.
History shows that the light pumps that are worn today for dancing were started to be used in the nineteenth century and that too by exhibition Highland Dancers. Anyone and everyone who wishes to dance can join in and enjoy the festivities. The people who have past experience in dancing are the one who are expected o dance no matter what the occasion is, but the less-experienced dancers are also encouraged to attempt and no discrimination is made against those who cannot perform the steps perfectly. (Emmerson 48) Make up and other body-ornaments are not considered as very important and are never used by people as they only concentrate on the dresses. But, now-a-days it is necessary to note, that this concentration on the dresses while dancing is fading away.
Most of the men and women, who dance today, usually just wear semi-formal dresses and can be seen dancing in a suit while the women wear a dress, which is pretty much unlike the kilts and plaid dresses.ConclusionIn the light of the above discussion we can hereby culminate that Scottish country dancing is a contemporary form of the previous country dancing that was well-liked in England and it came to Scotland in the eighteenth century. The dance is such that it is comprised of various groups of people (nearly six to ten), usually of opposite and this is what is referred to as a set. The set dances to different tunes and strains of reels, jigs and strathspey, which are played on the fiddle, accordion, flute, keyboard, drums, etc. They have certain costumes that are to be worn by the men and women while dancing.
Much attention in the Scottish country dance is paid to the footwork. Some people are very critical and strict about perfect footwork, but some have started ignoring the footwork and people who do not have much experience of the dance are not discriminated against anymore. The dance is a social activity which enables the people to get to know more and more people. Everyone can dance and the less-experienced dancers are usually encouraged to perform so as to hone their skills. One does not remain with a single partner while dancing, as the people are encouraged to change their partners with every new step, which enhances the social feature of the dance.
The Scottish Country Dance Society, known as SCDS came into being so as to preserve Scottish country dancing when it was near to being extinct as many modern forms of dances were taking over and most the Scottish dances were fading away.;