The dances are mainly based on English folk dances and are danced as couples in lines, circles or squares. Lots of people come without partners and many of the dances are progressive, where people change partners.
There are links below to sites that provide in depth information about ceilidh dances but most of our dances are fairly simple and can be done with the movements described here. All the dances are called and start with a walk through to make sure that everyone understands the movements.
- The man usually has the lady on his right. The top of the set is the end nearest the band.
- Longways sets face towards the band and may have 3 or more couples - the men stand in one row and the ladies in a row on the men's right
- Square sets have 4 couples standing in a square and facing inwards - the couples facing the band and with their back to the band are head couples - the others are side couples
|Back to Back or Do si do||Take 2 or 3 steps forward so that your right shoulder passes your partner’s right shoulder, take 2 steps to your right then 2 or 3 steps back so your left shoulder passes your partner’s left shoulder, back to your place|
|Balance||Stand/hop on left leg and kick the right leg across your body – repeat on right leg|
|Cast||The first person in the line turns away from their partner and walks towards the bottom of the set|
|Corner||In a square set this is the person on the lady's right and man's left|
|Dip and Dive||Holding your partner’s nearest hand, walk forward together going under the arch made by the first couple you come to and form an arch for the next couple to walk through|
|Grand Chain||Standing in a circle, face your partner and give them your right hand. Walk past them and give your left hand to the next person. Walk past them and give your right hand to the next person. Continue till you get back to your place.|
|Ladies Chain||The lady takes right hands with the opposite lady, moves forward past her and gives left hand to the man opposite. He will put his right arm behind the lady and rotate on the spot as she walks round him. The lady repeats the process with her own partner in order to return to her place|
|Reel of 3|
|Reel of 4||People 1 and 3 face down the set. 2 and 4 face them, then like Reel of 3|
|Right and Left through||Give your right hand to your partner and change places with them. Turn to your right and give your left hand to the person next to you and change places with them. Turn to your right and give your right hand to your partner. Turn to your right and give your left hand to the person next to you and change places with them so you are back in your place|
|Star||Place your right or left arm as directed at shoulder height into the middle of the circle. Join hands with the others and walk round in a circle usually back to your place|
|Strip the Willow||Take your partner’s right hand and turn them round until the lady faces the men’s line and the man faces the ladies line. Hold out your left hand to the first person in the line and turn them round .Meet your partner in the middle of the set, give them your right hand and turn them round. Give your left hand to the second person in the set and turn them round until you reach the bottom of the set or group|
|Swing||Take both your partner’s hands and turn round together|
|Turn||Give your partner your left, right or both hands as directed and turn them round|
- Webfeet's Annotated Ceilidh
- Elements of English Country Dance - lots of them!
- The Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary is useful because it includes videos of the dances. Dances on the site that we do (not in kilts) include -
- Gay Gordons
- Cumberland Square
- TAG - this is worth watching because it is a notoriosly hard dance to call but actually quite easy to dance, once you have seen it done!
- Strip the Willow