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Wee History of Scottish Dance

Wee History of Scottish Dance

The “dancies”, travelling dance teachers, brought the latest dances from the ballrooms of Edinburgh and Paris, to teach farming communities “Reel Dancing”.  The Scots loved “Reel” dancing.

The Reel is indigenous to Scotland. The earliest reference was in a witchcraft trial of 1590, where the accused was reported to have “daunced this reill or short dance.”   However, the form may go back to the Middle Ages.

Foursome Reel – Dancing along a looping track in a figure 8 with extra loop. This dance is usually set aside for Highland dance competitions.

Around the turn of the century, a new set of dances became popular. These dances, such as the Pride of Erin Waltz / Britannia Twostep, were done in twos and threes around the room (probably showing the influence of ballroom dancing).

In 1911, Cecil Shapre formed the English Folk Song and Dance Society to preserve the folk dances of England. Mrs Ysobel Stewart, Guide Commissioner for Argyll decided it would be more appropriate for Scottish guides to learn the Scottish Country Dances. She wrote down some of the dances she remembered, and contacted a Glasgow publisher, who put her in touch with Miss Jean Milligan, a PE lecturer at Jordanhill College in Glasgow, for verification. The collaboration between the two led to the formation in 1923, of the Scottish Country Dance society, to practice and preserve Country Dances as danced in Scotland.

In 1951, King George V conferred the title “Royal” on the Society. Scottish Country Dancing as promoted and taught by the RSCDS (Royal Scottish Country Dance Society), has evolved from these beginnings, becoming more elegant, athletic and balletic, spreading all the way round the world, and inspiring many new dances to be written.

These dances joined some of the old reels in the ceilidh dance (pronounced K-Lee) explosion which started in the 1970s and continues to this day. The dances are taught in Scottish schools and danced at parties, weddings and Burns suppers.

The fancy steps used in the Reels developed into competition show dances, the Highland dances. These include the world-renowned Highland Fling, the Foursome Reel, the Sword Dance, the Flora, the Sailor’s Horn Pipe, and the Seann Truibhas.

Article Credit: Sarah Warman – https://www.scottishdance.net/History.html

Photo Credit – spasstower.ru

Photo Credit – RSCDS Twin Cities

Photo Credit – maxresdefault – youtube

Photo Credit – www.londonreels.co.uk

Photo Credit – Vocal Media

Photo Credit – Royal Scottish Dance Society

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