RSCDS Melbourne&District Branch Dance Group
Scottish country dancing has its roots in the Highland Reels of Scotland and the 17th century dances of Europe. Together with its English counterpart, Scottish country dance has helped to spawn ceilidh dancing, contra and square dancing.
Quick-time jigs and reels will be familiar to many people. These dances involve a light skipping step, where the dancers move through a series of “figures” – Crossing, circling, reeling and turning in a pattern variously involving the “dancing couple” or their set. Unique to Scottish dance is the Strathspey – a slow reel which uses an elegant style of step. Scottish country dancing can vary from the energetic to the flirtatious.
Scottish country dance is more than “country” dancing. It is a dance for the ballroom, dance hall, village square or local inn. It has been popular amongst gentry, royalty and the common folk for well over 200 years.
The Royal Scottish Country Dancing Society was formed in UK in 1923 by Jean Milligan and Ysobel Stewart. Ysobel Stewart began collecting dances with a view to publishing them. With the help of Paterson’s Publications, they formed the Scottish Country Dance Society. Jean Milligan began to teach the dances collected by Mrs Stewart.
During the course of the next few years the Society collected more dances and teachers were trained. Dances were taken from books, music, old programs and the memories of anybody who could contribute. By the end of 1930 there were more than a dozen branches in the UK.
There are about 26 Scottish Country Dance Groups who belong to the Melbourne Branch of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society, but there are many others who dance such as U3A groups and Caledonian Societies.
The Melbourne Branch is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2019