These dances may be freely danced, performed, put on dance programmes, so long as the source is acknowledged (Ian Brockbank, unless otherwise specified). If you try any of these dances, please let me know how you get on and what you think of them.
At the moment I am willing to admit to the following dances. I have roughly graded them by difficulty, as follows:
Easy dances, suitable for ceilidhs as well as SCD.
Devised for Sophia Marriage and Jonathan Pryce in honour of their wedding in St Martin of Tours Episcopal Church in Edinburgh on the 6th of July, 2002 and performed at the ensuing celebrations in The Hub. With much love and best wishes for the future.
Sophi and Jonathan both lived in Bruntsfield throughout their courtship, and bought a house together in Bruntsfield as their first marital home.
This dance was devised for Hazel Easey and James Williams and presented to them on the occasion of their wedding in Canonbie, Dumfriesshire on August 24th, 1996.
With Caroline Bradshaw, May 1996
Written for the Edinburgh Branch beginners class in the Eric Liddell centre in Autumn 2012. I wanted a dance which gave plenty of setting practice, didn’t rely on a new figures we hadn’t encountered yet, and contrasted with the other dance planned for the class.
Written at the request of Lindsay Weir, to accompany a set of jigs on her CD "Celtic Steps", released in 2005.
In April 2007 I was asked to devise a dance to perform at the Festival Interceltique in Lorient in August 2007 (Scotiland were the invited guest nation). I came up with “A Trip to Lorient” which was designed for performance by fit expert dancers. A Trip to Lorient is not for the faint-hearted or for beginners, so this dance is a dance to share with everyone attending the festival. I originally came up with a waltz, but then Jim said he wanted a reel which would look good in a 10-second snippet on the 10 o’clock news, so this was the result.
This dance was published by the RSCDS in “Four Dances 2008” along with the Spring 2008 issue of their magazine “Scottish Country Dancer”. In that publication, couples were arranged in one large circle around the room as in “Lucky Seven” or the ceilidh version of “Circassian Circle”.
Written for the Edinburgh Branch beginners class in the Eric Liddell centre in Spring 2013. They were good at set and turn corners+reels of three, but struggled with finding their corners in the first place, so this dance was written to help them to find their 1st corners easily.
In April 2007 I was asked to devise a dance to perform at the Festival Interceltique in Lorient in August 2007 (Scotiland being the invited guest nation). I came up with “A Trip to Lorient” which was designed for performance by fit expert dancers. A Trip to Lorient is not for the faint-hearted or for beginners, so this dance is a dance to share with everyone attending the festival, on behalf of Scotland, the invited guests. But then Jim said he wanted a reel which would look good in a 10-second snippet on the 10 o’clock news, so I started work on “Festival Interceltique” instead.
Devised for Samantha Lyall and Craig Townsend on the occasion of their Wedding in Edinburgh on April 21st, 2001.
The name comes about as follows: the original tune is "The Black Bear", Craig's favourite tune, and Craig and Samantha live in Portobello. Paddington was also a bear, who frequently visited Portobello Road. Paddington was fond of marmalade sandwiches. Two common brands of marmalade are Golden Shred and Silver Shred - things Samantha often sees in her work as a jeweller.
Written for the wedding of Lindsay Weir and Colin Garvin on 2nd September, 2006, and written in their wedding book at the reception near Inverness.
Lindsay and Colin are both accordionists. Lindsay plays a Hohner Gola and Colin plays that workhorse of the Scottish band scene, the Morino V. Morino V + II = Morino VII – the number of hands in the grand chain.
When my son Stuart was first born, his sister Lorna called him "Oot". This then progressed to "'Ua't" and then "S'ua't". This dance was written just before Stuart’s first birthday, and is dedicated to him.
Devised for Cath Millar and Gareth Mathieson for the occasion of their Wedding in Bristol, Sep. 5th 1998. "The Packhorses" played for the evening ceilidh.
This dance was written when I worked for IndigoVision plc, and was first danced at a company ceilidh in Prestonfield House, Edinburgh, on Saturday 5th May, 2001. This was originally called "Seeing Purple", but I was never happy with that name.
This dance was devised for Michael Grimes and Vanessa Williams and presented to them during the barn dance to celebrate their wedding on the 5th of June 2004. They were married in Bourneville Quaker Meeting House, and had the barn dance in Tardebigge.
This dance is a more complex variant of “A Quaker Meeting” which involves partner-swapping as well as mixing of couples.
Written for the wedding of Geraldine McIvor and Gordon “Snod” Simpson in Edinburgh on 16th September, 2006. With much love and best wishes for the future together, and first danced at their wedding ceilidh that evening. Snod’s Edge is a village in the North East of England. Gordon is not a particularly experienced dancer, so I was trying to write a dance that wouldn’t be beyond him. I hope I’ve judged the edge of his abilities correctly.
Written for my brother, Stephen, for his 21st birthday on the 22nd of June, 2000, and first danced at the ceilidh on the 17th celebrating his birthday. Stephen was born in Botswana, and given the name "Mpho" (meaning "gift") by the local people of the village; he was known by this name for the first few years of his life.
In writing this dance, I tried to come up with something which would be suitable for competent ceilidh dancers as well as enthusiastic SCD dancers.
Easy dances, but due to the style probably more suited to SCD programmes than ceilidhs.
This dance was written for a New Scotland social following a lesson on double triangles.
This dance was written for the Edinburgh Council Beginners class, which meets in Bruntsfield Primary School on Monday evenings. I needed a simple dance to teach reels of four, and numbers were low so it couldn’t be a 4-couple dance. This was the result.
Devised by Caroline Bradshaw (now Brockbank).
Any resemblance to "The Happy Meeting" (RSCDS book 29) is completely intentional.
28th June 1998
This dance was written for Sophia Marriage, then president of New Scotland, when she complained that all dances containing reels of four contained other figures which were too complex for beginners.
This dance was devised for Diana Fair and Sandy Small and presented to them on the occasion of their Wedding in Birmingham, Oct. 24th 1998. Diana and Sandy met when Diana lived in the flat immediately above Sandy's in a Marchmont tenement.
Dances which shouldn't prove too challenging for a moderately experienced dancer.
This is a dance which was inspired by hearing Iain MacPhail play his "Deil's Conundrum" medley on Take the Floor, recorded in Princes Street Gardens in August 1996 and broadcast in October that year.
Brian Peutherer and Marion Garrett were married in May 1998, and had a super dance in the evening. However, no-one wrote a dance to celebrate. I was shocked. So I wrote this dance for their first anniversary - Brian And Marion's First Anniversary Dance, or the BAMFAD.
Written for Joy Bradshaw, Christmas 1998. In 1998 Mrs Bradshaw was awarded The Broderer's Prize for her services to The Embroiderers' Guild.
Written at the request of Lindsay Weir, to accompany the title track on her CD of the same name, released in 2005. The name tune is a finishing tune, so Lindsay asked for the final time through to be different to the others.
This is the first dance I wrote. The movements reminded me of the cherry blossom which swirls in the streets in Edinburgh in late spring.
Written at 5am while sitting with my 3 week-old daughter Lorna trying to get her off to sleep. We were listening to George Meikle on Highlander Music CD 10, (because dancing music lulled her) and the tune Donald Iain Rankin came up in the set for Spiffin’, and I started thinking about how it makes my wife think of dustbins dancing around, and of the song she has put to it:
What will I do with the fuss and the bother And what will I do when the budgie escapes?
The first 16 bars are a fugue for the first three couples.
In April 2005 I wrote "The Inside Oot Fish Eater" for Lindsay Weir. After trying it at Dunedin (with Lindsay playing) I posted it to the Strathspey mailing list. Alan Paterson replied, saying I had posted a dance of the same name a while earlier, and sent me the instructions I had sent. It looks a nice dance, but I had completely forgotton I had written it.
This dance was written for Sophia Marriage and presented to her on the occasion of her 30th birthday. "The Gloomy Winter" (see below) was okay, but bars 9-16 just don't really work, so this is a variant which replaces those with something easy and which works better. I think this is a better dance, and more likely to catch on.
Edinburgh Branch’s annual show of dancing in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe changed producer and venue in 2002, moving to Edinburgh Academy in Hender- son Row, Edinburgh, with Peter Edwards as producer. One of Peter’s key new concepts was to have the show “in the round” with the audience on all sides, and the new venue is well suited to this, having the stage in the centre with the audience all the way round, and also having a balcony.
When the rehearsals for the 2003 show were starting, I was thinking about the previous year and the potential offered by the venue, and this dance took shape.
This dance is dedicated to the dancers and musicians who have performed in the show, and to those whose support has kept everything running smoothly.
Peter Wood wrote the tune “The Inside Oot Fish Eater” for Lindsay Weir. It’s a cracking tune which has really caught on with Scottish dance musicians. I thought it was about time it had a dance to go with it. Lindsay plays for Dunedin Dancers’ Wednesday social night once a month, and this was first danced at Dunedin on the 13th of April, 2005 with Lindsay playing.
The basic concept of the dance was proposed by Caroline, and I fleshed out the details, so this is a combined effort.
Pete Clark auctioned a tune at a charity ceilidh in aid of the Kisoro School for the Blind in May 2001, and I was fortunate enough to be the highest bidder. The tune he wrote was a lively reel, which I named for our cat Maple. The back of a fiddle is made of maple wood, and the bow dances across it during the tune, so there is a pleasing musical tie-in.
This is my second attempt at a dance to go with the tune – the first dance was unexceptional and had some awkward sections, so I thought I’d try again. Like the first attempt, this is a two-couple dance.
Devised for Katy Thompson and Andrew Gray in honour of their wedding in Barclay Church in Edinburgh on the 21st of August, 2004 and performed at the ensuing celebrations in Merchiston Castle School. Alastair Wood wrote a tune to go with the dance.
For Brian and Clare East, our role models. Brian suggested the title to me at the New Scotland Annual Ball at the end of January, 1999, and the tune Tam Lin fitted the name, but it took me more than a year to find the steps to go with them.
Not for the faint-hearted - you get 16 bars rest in the whole dance (8 bars every 2nd repeat).
5th March 2005
Devised for Jane Purves for her thirtieth birthday ceilidh, at which Alastair Wood was playing. The ceilidh was held in the Orwell Lodge Hotel, Polwarth, Edinburgh. Alastair wrote a tune to go with the dance.
Written for the first SCD Kaleidoscope dance in Geneva, Switzerland, 3rd-5th July 2009. In this dance, I tried to capture the feel of shapes merging and twirling when viewed through a kaleidoscope. It should make a good mixer - probably about 4 times through.
This dance was inspired by Moira Reekie’s rendition of the tune "The Sixth of November", which she played during our dancing class. It is dedicated to a fellow class member.
The tune was originally written for for West Lothian band leader Jack Stalker’s birthday.
7th February 2008
Dedicated to Leslie (née Henderson) and Peter Hastings. Peter and Leslie got married in 2001 in the company of members of the Skagit SCD group in Annacortes, WA, and held a ball in celebration in July, 2002, in Cluny Church Hall, Edinburgh. At the time of the celebration they were living in Stockbridge in Edinburgh. Skagit is pronounced /skajit/ i.e. with a soft ‘g’.
Iain MacPhail played the Alastair Fraser tune "Skye Barbecue" in one of the sets he played for the RSCDS Edinburgh Branch show "Strictly Scottish" in August 2001. I was one of the dancers in the show, and was so taken by the tune that I felt it deserved its own dance. This is the result. It's a lively, showy tune, so it's a lively, showy dance.
August 2001, revised March 2003 and March 2006
For Diane Breslin on the occasion of her marriage to Avi Chatterjee in Edinburgh in June 2008. Sandy Nixon played for the evening dance which formed part of the reception at Oxenfoord Castle, and he wrote a tune to accompany the dance.
For Clare Lyddon and Peter Edwards on the occasion of their wedding in March 2002.
Dances which will take a bit of thought or practice, or possibly careful phrasing.
This dance was written after a holiday in Torridon, on the West Coast of Scotland, where we managed to lock ourselves out of our car and would have been lost if Dougie, the Fireman of Gairloch had not broken into our car for us.
This dance would probably only appeal to those wanting a challenge... One figure from it was the inspiration for Merchiston Castle Jig.
This dance and 'The Mill of Towie' came out of the concept of the alternating wheels, with 1st couple throwing the others into a muddle in the middle and drifting safely round the outside before taking pity and bringing them back out to place.
I heard the tune on a 'Boys of the Lough' recording, and it seemed to fit the dance, conjuring up images of strings of geese meandering aimlessly yet purposefully, all the time lost. Of course, it helps that it's a good tune.
This dance was written for Sophia Marriage and presented to her on the occasion of her 25th birthday.
A variant, "Gloomy Winter's Noo Awa'" was written for her 30th birthday, which replaces bars 9-16 with a simpler figure. This was because dancers in Edinburgh found these bars too complicated. However, dancers in San Gabriel Valley, after trying both both dances, decided they preferred this version. Try them both and see what you think.
This dance was written to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of New Scotland, and was first performed as part of a medley of dances at the Inter-Varsity Folk Dance Festival in Cambridge in 1997. Its public debut was at the "50th Anniversary" Ball in The Assembly Rooms on the 3rd of May, 1997.
Note: for copyright reasons, instructions for this dance are not available here.
The Mill of Towie is a 19th century oatmeal mill (still in operation as a museum) beside the River Isla in Banffshire.
This dance was written with the intention of submitting it for publication in the New Scotland 50th Anniversary Book, but in the end I decided I had already submitted too many dances, so didn't put it forward.
The first 16 bars show the partner swapping for which New Scotland is noted. Then the reel symbolises a trip, wandering all over the continent and eventually returning back to where it started, and the three–couple poussette is an amendment to second times through the dance “Muirland Willie” (to get 1st couple to the bottom and out of the way) which is popular in New Scotland.
This dance is still under development and (as far as I’m aware) has never been danced.
This dance was based on an idea by Caroline Bradshaw. The 'One O'Clock Gun' can be heard daily at 1pm in Edinburgh, when a gun is fired from the castle. The music 'The One O'Clock Cannon' written by Ian Brockbank in 1994, was written for the cannon (and is published here as well), the dance is a canon.
In April 2007 I was approached by Jim Healy on behalf of Membership Services committee and asked if I could produce a medley of Jig, Strathspey and Reel for the Festival Interceltique 2007 in Lorient, France. It was Scottish year at the Festival, and the RSCDS had been approached by VisitScotland to ask whether they could produce something appropriate.
I proposed a medley of two hitherto unpublished dances: In Scottish Spirit, plus a 64S+64R medley in the style of Schiehallion, which I would come up with subsequently. This is the medley. I have tried to capture traditional references and figures (an exercise for the reader and dancer…) while still providing something spectacular for non-dancing audiences. In the end, the committee decided to just go with A Trip to Lorient and forget 'In Scottish Spirit'.
This dance was published by the RSCDS in "Four Dances 2008" along with the Spring 2008 issue of their magazine "Scottish Country Dancer". In that publication, the advance and retire in the strathspey section was only a single advance and retire in the four bars.
Dances which are challenging and probably not suited for social dancing, but might prove an interesting challenge for a group of experienced dancers with an hour or two to fill.
This dance was devised as part of a demonstration containing dances which are roughly palindromic (the same backwards as forwards). I decided to see whether I could write a dance which was completely palindromic, and this was the result.
Xakanaxa (pronounced Kakanaka unless you can do the Bushman clicks repesented by the 'x's) is a camp in the Moremi game reserve in the Okovango delta in Botswana. I had trouble sleeping on the plane on the way out to Botswana, so I devised this dance to pass the time. I had some sleepless nights in Xakanaxa camp as well, but I was too busy watching the elephants and hyaenas which woke us up to write any more dances.
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