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We are very fortunate to have two Subject Advisers for Scottish Country Dancing

Contact the adviser - Sue Petyt                                                                          Contact the adviser - Mervyn Short

Dance your way to a longer life

Research by the University of Cumbria reveals Scottish country dancing is beneficial to the health of older women and can help to delay the ageing process.

For many it's an activity just done at weddings or Burn's Night but when you see this report you might want to take it up as a regular form of exercise. Now there's evidence Scottish country dancing can help delay the ageing process.

Researchers from the University of Cumbria and University of Strathclyde found older women who dance are fitter than those who don't, even if they do the same amount of exercise every week.

Hannah McNulty has been getting reaction at a session in Duns in the Borders. (video on Border TV website http://www.itv.com/news/border/story/2014-02-03/scottish-country-dancing-key-to-eternal-youth/)

But what are the health benefits are there in this type of dance?

Scottish country dancing can:

  • burn between 390-425 calories in a typical dance session - the same as you would burn playing badminton or golfing while carrying your bag
  • help to prevent diseases like diabetes, heart disease and arthritis - regularly taking part in any form moderate exercise can also help to reduce your chances of getting these
  • help to prevent degenerative diseases like Alzheimer's - the need to be co-ordinated and keep up with timings keeps your brain engaged
  • build bone density, core strength and agility
  • reduce stress and improve your mood

So what are you Waiting For?

Starting a Group from Scratch

This can be a daunting prospect, a room full of eager, willing participants who have never danced before can be difficult, but if you get in touch, I have a schedule of teaching, with appropriate dances to get you over those first few weeks, teaching the 5 basic steps and the basic figures, enough to build class confidence and stamina (and have a good laugh) before embarking on the more complex figures and dances.

It is best to start each session with a ‘walking’ dance just to warm up the leg muscles, help prevent strains and get people starting to think about their feet, legs and hands. I use a Gay Gordons, a Circassion Circle, a Britannia Two Step or similar ‘Round the Room’ dance. It is nice to use something where people change partners as this helps the sociability of the class, I often make up little walking dances which do this, and practice some of the figures at the same time, I’m happy to send those out to anyone who wants them.

Sociability is really important.  A lot of people who come to the class will have come alone. Those who have come with a friend or as a couple need to mix, so I always announce a new dance by saying ‘ find a partner, someone you haven’t danced with today, and make up sets’.  This is usually sufficient but I did once have to quietly speak to a couple who always danced together and say ‘we don’t stay with the same partner in country dancing’, they then danced with other people and told me afterwards they had enjoyed it a lot more!

If you need some help, or just want to chat, please get in touch either email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Tel: 01723 864111

Hello, my name is Mervyn Short. I live in SE England and am a member of Royal Scottish Country Dance Society (RSCDS) Berkshire/Hampshire and Surrey (BHS) Branch where I am currently vice-chairman.

I have been doing Scottish country dance for over forty years. I am an RSCDS qualified teacher, adjudicator, medal test assessor and examiner. I regularly teach at RSCDS Summer and Winter Schools and in 2016/17 I was Deputy Director for Summer School and in 2018 Coordinator of Winter School. Teaching has taken me to Australia, Canada, Japan, North America, Russia and South Africa. Nearer to home I have taught in many countries on the continent and all over the UK.

I teach a weekly “General” Class for BHS Border Branch as well as monthly classes. I don’t teach a regular U3A class but I attend a local U3A Scottish country dance class and have taught it when the present teacher has been ill.

I’m a great believer that one can never stop learning and to this end I attend Teachers’ Workshops as well as Day and Weekend Schools.

How I can help leaders and teachers of U3A Scottish country dance classes.

  • • Contactable by email above
    • Starting a class.
    • What to teach in a class.
    • Preparing a dance programme.
    • Coping with problems in a class


Royal Scottish Country Dance Society www.rscds.org

South East Region Teachers’ Association (SERTA) www.serta.org.uk 

Teachers’ Association of Scotland (TAS) www.countrydanceteachersofscotland.org.uk 

Strathspey Server www.strathspey.org

Scottish dance shoes www.jamessenior.co.uk  www.bobbymunrodanceshoes.com

Latest News

Book 52 with accompanying CD, recorded by Jim Lindsay, is now available from RSCDS. This is a book of 12 new dances, ranging from straightforward to more difficult dances which should become very popular.