Scottish Country Dancing (SCD) is an excellent form of exercise for the body and the mind that can be pursued as a life-long sport carrying with it wonderful friendships. Originating in the 18th century, SCD is a modern form of the country dancing popular in Scotland and England. The dance, a combination of square dance and ballet, is done in groups of six to ten people (called a ‘set’) to tunes classified as reels, jigs and strathspeys. More than 7000 different SCD dances derived from traditional sources such as old manuscripts and printed dance collections and dances being written yet today are catalogued and available for clubs to enjoy.
One might wonder “How will I ever master 7000 dances?!” The trick will be mastering the formations or figures. Somewhat like learning to read requires learning the letters of the alphabet, learning to Scottish Country Dance requires learning the formations. A dance simply becomes a word or a sentence comprised of letters (i.e. formations) strung together. Practice with formations (which are standard sequences of moves) will transfer from one dance to the next.
There are approximately 40 to 50 different formations all varying in difficulty level click here
Here is a link to videos of many of the popular dances: http://www.scottish-country-dancing-dictionary.com/scottish-dancing-youtube-videos.html
You will not have to learn all the dances by heart— the programs for balls and social evenings are usually published well before the event, so everyone can check their crib sheets (instructions for the dance). Also, at the event itself, dances are often talked or even sometimes walked through slowly before the music starts (although local custom may vary).
A lovely video about the tradition: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01n7clb