Beginner Classes February 2022

Beginners classes are starting soon, commencing 1 February 2021, from 7.30pm to 9.00pm. They are especially for people who have never danced before, or who danced a long time ago and need a refresher. You don’t need to be Scottish or have a kilt to enjoy Scottish Country Dancing!
The cost for the four lessons is just $25. Vaccine passes are required. To register for classes, email as at, or come along a bit earlier on the night.

As dancing gets you moving, you will warm up quickly, so wear cool clothing. To start with you can wear soft soled shoes – the thinner the better.

A regular dance partner is not required for Scottish Country Dancing as it is customary to dance with a different partner for each dance, making it a very social form of dancing. Dances are usually danced in a set of eight people – 4 men and 4 women arranged either in two lines (men facing women) or in a square, and they work together to dance a sequence of formations.

There are several basic steps and about a dozen figures which will get you through quite a number of dances. There is also more emphasis on “steps” than in, say, ceilidh dancing, but the basic technique can be learned through a couple of months’ worth of practice evenings once a week at Club nights.

Club nights, schools, balls and social dances are held in places all over New Zealand and the world. Once you know the basics, you can join in anywhere in New Zealand or around the world.

Club Night Monday 17 May 2021

Tutor’s Notes
Good to see you all and to be back teaching.

The programme was based around reels of 3 and petronella turns, both of which Ann had been working on with you. Up until now, the reels of 3 have been on the side but we started looking at reels of 3 across the dance – both right shouldered and left shouldered. The theory is the same but the orientation is different.

We also had a few dances with hands across for 3 rather than the 4. Supporting couples take shake hand hold and dancing person rest their hand (lightly) on top.

We also talked about having a briefing only dance for the more experienced dancers. I will tell you what this is at club next week and include details in next week’s newsletter.

Dances we did were:
Good Hearted Glasgow J
Warm up dance with hands across for 3

The Brownie of Blednoch R
Right shoulder reels of 3 on the side
No video

Monymusk S
Petronella turn and right shoulder reels of 3 on the side. Slight variation with the lady going down and the man up. These are for 6 bars for all and the last 2 bars for the dancing couple to cross over. No curls at the end of the reels for those who might have got there a little early.

The Dancing Bees R
In tandem for the dancing couple right shoulder reels with the 2s and left shoulder reels of 3 with the 3s. Both reels across the dance. There was also a petronella turn as well. This is on our dance programme

Anna’s Wedding Cake S
For the more experienced dancers. Set and rotate formation

The Sailor R
Right shoulder reels of 3 across the dance. We were a bit rushed at the end so I will go over this dance again next week

Club Night Monday 10 May 2021

Tutor’s Notes
On Monday after perfecting our marching warm up, and the simple dance Allemande to Go, we continued to look at reels of three. I am very impressed with how well you are all picking these up.

There are basically only two kinds of reels of three:

  • right shoulder reels of three (when the facing people pass each other right shoulder and the third person moves to the right) or
  • left shoulder reels of three (when the facing people pass left shoulder and the third person moves to the left).

When basic reels are combined you get:

  • parallel reels (when men and ladies both do a right shoulder reel, for example), where you are moving in parallel with your partner (this is as in New Year Jig which we repeated from last week.
  • mirror reels (typically left shoulder on the ladies’ side and right shoulder on the mens’ side), where you will find you are mirroring your partner’s moves (as in Light on the Water, the strathspey we danced)

We practiced our strathspey travelling step, aiming for a smooth pull through from one step to another. If you watch this video you can see that while there is a slight hop as the foot is pulled through to start the next step but both feet stay very close to the floor throughout.

We also practiced travelling in pas de basque and focused on the fact that the back foot is brought through to close in third position in front each time.

We used pas de basque travelling to do petronella turns, remember for these you move to the right diagonally and pull back your right shoulder to turn to place. We danced Tappie Toorie, a 24 bar Reel. Tappie Toorie is old scots for anything which rises to a peak or pinnacle such as a turret, a top-knot of hair, a tassel or pompom on a cap.

Finally we danced The Birks of Invermay and then repeated The Black Swans of Narrabeen (J) – a five couple variation of Wild Geese which even on the second attempt continued to prove positionally challenging.

Club Night Monday 3 May 2021

Tutor’s Notes
It was great to see almost 3 full sets at club last night. We started off with another marching warm up. This needs a little perfecting (by the teacher) but hopefully added a little interest.

We then started the night with a dance to recap our ladies chain. The dance was Lonely Sunday devised by Gaye Collin. If you watch the video you will note how, in the ladies chain, the turns on the side are covered.

I then introduced reels of three. We looked at right shoulder reels of three (when the facing people pass each other right shoulder and the third person moves to the right). It is important to curve as in a figure of 8, and for the person in third place to give way to the person from 1st place who passes through the middle first. Here is a demonstration of right shoulder reels of 3 (in strathspey time).

We danced New Year Jig to practice the reels. This is devised by Maureen Robson. Notice how the reels are in parallel and covered.

After that, to relax our brains a little we danced the strathspey Seann Truibhas Willichan – this means William’s Old Trousers. It definitely sounds more interesting in the Gaelic! This video is dated 5 May 2020 and looks like a lock down entertainment.

I then moved up a gear in difficulty and the more experienced dancers looked at two dances from the Ngaio 50th programme. These were the Reverend John Macfarlane, devised by another Wellington dancer, Gary Morris (now retired to the Wairarapa), to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the founding in Wellington (Petone) of New Zealand’s first Scot’s Church, later know as St Andrews, and

Ngaio Gold devised by Melva Waite, current tutor at Ngaio. It wasn’t intentionally a night for Wellington devisors, but the above programme does demonstrate that we have some very clever devisers in the region. I hope you enjoyed the dances.

We will continue looking at reels next week recapping right shoulder reels and introducing mirror reels, which you could swat up on at
In mirror reels the men are dancing right shoulder reels and the ladies left shoulder reels, but it is easier to think of the 1st and 3rd couples dancing in and the 2nd couple out and up. People find mirror reels easier as you can help your partner more.