Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Dance nation and the world

Scottish Country Dancing :
Scottish Country Dancing is Scotland’s version of social partner dancing. It’s always danced in groups, in much the same way as courtly dancing or square dancing.
Many Scots will know enough to get up and join in one or two dances. They're often danced at social events (even at the pub!), whereas only trained dancers would attempt Highland Dancing.
Scottish Country Dancing is an ideal hobby, because it’s good exercise as well as being very social. You don't need a partner because you're dancing in a group and will be paired up for each dance. Even if you do have a partner, you have to cooperate with other couples in the dance, which is a great ice-breaker.
 Scottish Country Dancing keeps you on your toes!
Danced properly, Scottish Country Dancing is energetic - while in motion, the dancers are up on their toes at all times, skipping and hopping in a variety of bouncy steps. It's definitely cardiovascular exercise!
Fortunately, there are plenty of chances to take a breather because usually, only one or two couples are dancing at any one time


A Typical Scottish Country Dance
Most dances follow a similar pattern.  The dancers form into lines (or for a reel, a circle), each dancer facing his or her partner. The top one or two couples dance with each other for a few bars, then move to the bottom of the group so the next one or two couples can have their turn. 
Within that simple pattern there is scope for a huge number of variations: for instance, the top couple can peel off and dance down the outside of the group, or weave in and out of the other dancers, or dance down the middle. Sometimes the other couples simply take a couple of steps to move up the line, and sometimes the whole group breaks into dance, crossing over or changing places multiple times until they settle down into a new order.
Highland Dancing
Highland Dance is a performance art, not a social dance. If you're a Highland Dancer, you’ll probably attend classes, take exams and perhaps compete at Highland Games. 
It's usually danced solo: if you see a line of Highland dancers, they’re more likely to be competing against each other than dancing together! Sometimes you’ll see Highland dancers performing en masse at events like the Edinburgh Tattoo. There are also a few specific dances (like the sword dance) that are performed by a group of two, three or four dancers. 
Highland dancers wear a lighter version of full Highland dress. 
Outside Scotland, you'll see other costumes being worn - but to the purist, all dances except one (the Seann Triubhas, meaning "old trousers") should be danced in a kilt. Women are allowed to wear a tartan skirt instead, but few do. Other costumes are allowed in the National Dances, which were invented in the 19th century for women (who weren't allowed to take part in Highland Dancing at the time). When I lived in Scotland, these 'artificial' dances were completely out of favor - I see them more often abroad than in their land of origin!
Highland Dancing technique is similar to ballet, including a turnout (though not as extreme as ballet), pointed toes, and curved arms. Highland dancers become very fit and toned, because the dances are energetic and are danced on the toes almost throughout. The downside is that the calves can become large and over-developed, which girls can find embarrassing (I've never met a female Highland dancer who can wear knee-high zip boots!). 
Scottish dancing has spread throughout the world with Scottish migration. Like other national dances, it's now danced by many people who have little or no connection with its country of origin, simply because it's enjoyable and challenging.

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