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Further Reading

Donald Richard Mackenzie: Illustrated Guide to the National Dances of Scotland

The Collection's Dance Entries · Changing fashions · Francis Peacock
The Ball-Room Guide · ‘A Guide to Fashionable Dancing’
‘The People’s Ball Room Guide’ · Illustrated Guide to the National Dances of Scotland
‘Highland Dancing in the Olden Times’ · Dance Video Clips


Illustration of the chain figure of the Scotch Reel (JSS0363)D R Mackenzie (1847-1931) was a dancing-master teaching in Stirling between the 1860s and 1910.

Unlike the other manuals, Mackenzie’s ‘Guide’ deals with Highland, rather than Ballroom dance. He points out that its purpose was to describe and illustrate

Like Peacock’s ‘Sketches’ this guide was intended for all classes of dancer and for teachers in particular.

Particularly useful aspects include:

  • illustrations to show the dancer where to place the feet
  • an ‘Alphabet of Footstep Positions’ (JSS0360)
  • precise metronome markings to give the speed of the music. This shows how much faster these dances were performed a century ago.
    You can watch The Sword Dance, as well as some ladies’ Strathspey and Reel of Tulloch setting steps on video clips.

Although it is not always easy to interpret the steps, The ‘Guide’ is a fascinating record of Highland Dance as it was taught and danced at the end of the nineteenth century.

Pat Ballantyne


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