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Scottish Country Dancing faced an uncertain future following the years preceding the first World War. The new syncopated rhythms of ragtime threatened to oust it from the ballroom. It was through the efforts of the newly formed Scottish Country Dance Society that it was restored to national and international esteem.

Although the origins of country dances is uncertain, it goes back several centuries in the past following traditions that blended.....rituals from the earlier Pict and Irish-Celtic tribes, and later on from Roman Christianity as well. The dances evolved in the first millennium A.D. and latter Middle Ages under the European sphere of influence.

During the eighteenth century the Country Dances danced in Scotland, developed their own distinctive Scottish characteristics following a tradition of more than two centuries of country dancing in England.

Scottish Country Dances were identified by the accompanying tunes from which the name of the dances was given. However, it isn't known what was the beginning, nor how the dances developed as a ballroom dance that belonged to every class of the society with the attracting of non-Scottish ancestry, as well. This social nature of Scottish Country Dance encourages the dancer to dance with, and to meet, many dancers during the course of a dance.

Scottish Country Dance is danced in groups or sets of four couples positioned in parallel lines, the men facing the women and the dance is progressive. That is, at the conclusion of each turn of the dance, the couple who begins the dancing, finish one place down the set, eventually arriving at the bottom of the set. Then each of the other couples, after reaching the top successively take their turn to the bottom.

The leading exponents of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries French ballet and dance, introduced terms that were quickly adopted by Scottish Country Dancing and have survived until present day; Poussette, Pas de Basque (pronounced Pa de bah), and Allemande. The foot position to define the structure of the stops and ballroom etiquette also share the same influence along with Highland dancing and Ladies' Step Dancing, that have a renewed interest in recent years with the encouragement of the RSCDS.

Square set dances, circles round the room with couples facing alternatively clockwise and counter-clockwise, and waltz Country Dances show the strong influence of popular nineteenth century dances of Europe in Scottish Country  dances.

The RSCDS became a world wide organization with membership in 1991 of 28,000, belonging to branches of the Society. Soon after, other places of Scotland and the UK followed, forming branches. After World War II the former British Empire Colonies followed the USA, and other countries conformed their own branches. Wherever the Scots colonized in number, their descendants turn out to dance.

                                                      Written by Mario Ruiz


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