A typical "dance" consists of a group of "formations" that are put together in an interesting way. Four couples usually form "longwise sets". The first couple usually has more to do than the other supporting couples; however, couples "progress" in a manner that enables all couples eventually to become the first couple.
The music for a dance usually consists of 8 repetitions of 32 bars. Each 32-bar sequence of the dance is usually divided into four formations; each formation flows into the next. The dance is taught by walking through the formations to fix the pattern in the minds of the dancers. After a final briefing, the dancers are able to dance it without any further reminders; this helps to develop one's memory skills.
Typical "formations" the dancer will learn are called: turn, cast, 4 hands across, 6 hands around & back, rights & lefts, advance & retire, back-to-back, pousette, figure 8, reel of 3, reel of 4, lead down the middle & up, grand chain, ladies chain. These formations are performed with the basic "skip change" and "slip" traveling steps and the "pas de basque" setting step. Most dances use one of the three principal rhythms: reel, jig, strathspey.
The formations are put together in various combinations to form a "dance". After one learns the basic formations, it will be possible to do hundreds of dances. There are over 6000 registered dances, some dating from the 1600's, and enthusiasts are continually creating new dances.
It is exhilarating to dance with a partner, to listen to the Scottish music, and to be part of a team of couples who are supporting one another throughout the dance. So if you are looking to expand your horizons and try something new, then please join us in class and give it a try!