Royal Scottish Dance Society

You Don’t Have to Be Scottish! Scottish Country Dance Mini-Course

Dates: 4 Monday nights, Feb 1-22, 7:30 pm
Cost: $12 ($10 for Tapestry members). Fees can be paid on the first night.

The Royal Scottish Country Dance Society (RSCDS) Twin Cities Branch is offering a 4-week introductory mini-course on Scottish country dancing. Scottish country dancing is the traditional ballroom dancing of Scotland, usually in sets of three to four couples. Dances are done with a partner, but partners are changed for each dance.

You will be introduced to the basic steps and formations used in Scottish country dancing and learn a number of easy and “classic” dances. No prior dance experience is needed. You do not need to bring a partner. Attendance at all four weeks is strongly recommended.

Wear comfortable clothing and clean, soft-soled shoes (no heels). Ballet-type slippers or “jazz shoes” are ideal of you have them, but even sneakers will work. To protect the wood dance floors, please do not wear the shoes you wore outdoors.

The course will be taught by Chandi McCracken, who began Scottish Country Dancing in 2006. She became a certified teacher with the RSCDS in 2011

Scottish Country Dancing — What’s it All About?

Royal Scottish Country Dance Society (RSCDS) Twin Cities Branch holds classes at 7:30 pm on Monday nights from September through May. Newcomers are always welcome.

Scottish country dancing (SCD) is social group dancing, unlike Highland dancing, which is a performance-oriented and often competitive dance form. First popularized in Scotland during the 18th century, SCD was revived and standardized by the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society (RSCDS) during the 1920s, and has been going strong ever since.

Often called the “traditional ballroom dancing of Scotland,” it doesn’t resemble modern ballroom dancing. You’ll notice a lot more similarities with Contra dance, square dance, and English country dancing. Like those dance forms, SCD is done with partners in sets of couples, and uses many of the same formations or figures, though they might have different names. Most Scottish country dances are done in “longwise” sets (like Contra dances) of four couples. A few are done in square sets.

The music of SCD, featuring lively jigs and reels, stately Strathspeys, and elegant airs, is what first attracts many people, and much of it may be familiar to those who do other forms of folk and country dancing. Many traditional Contra dances, for example, are done to Scottish tunes.

However, SCD has its own characteristic styling that sets it apart, with footwork/steps being one of the most obvious differences. The Scots were friendly with the French, and Scottish country dancing was heavily influenced by ballet, evidence of which can be seen in the steps and even in some of the names of the figures.

RSCDS Twin Cities Branch is not a Tapestry program, but our relationship with Tapestry goes back many years. RSCDS has shared space with Tapestry since the mid-1990s and has always shared the goal of creating opportunities for sharing the joy of dance and music. Our main activity is weekly classes, held Monday nights at Tapestry from September through June. For most of us, however, the informal social dance evenings, usually with live music, and two formal balls, are the real highlights of each year. We also do quite a bit of performing at various venues around the Twin Cities.

Who Does Scottish Country Dancing?

SCD is popular around the world! Despite the origins and continued connection with Scotland, most Scottish country dancers aren’t actually Scottish. There are groups across Europe, North America, Australia, and New Zealand, and places as far flung as Japan and South Africa. Here in the Twin Cities, the RSCDS community includes about 80 members, ranging in age from teens to seniors and with previous dance experience ranging from zero to extensive. Fer Horn, Ed Stern, and Jamie Berg are among familiar Tapestry international folk and Contra dancers you might see on Monday evenings.

Want to Give SCD a Try?

New dancers are welcome any time but are encouraged to start in late-September or mid-February, which are the times of the year when we have classes that specifically focus on the basics. Dancers who are experienced in Contra or English country dancing will have little trouble picking up the basic formations (though there are some definite styling differences), but the footwork can take some time to learn.

Learn more about the group at their website and their Facebook page.

By Lara Friedman-Shedlov, a teacher and past chair of the RSCDS Twin Cities Branch.


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