Dances I’ve Created

I think of myself as more of a choreographic dabbler than a dance composer. My usual modus operandi is to take an existing dance I like and modify it for some purpose or other (such as emphasizing a favorite moment, or adapting it for a particular group of dancers).

I do my best to give credit to authors of any of the material I so shamelessly pirate for my own use. If I’ve made mincemeat out of your good ideas, I apologize! And, I offer back all these dances to the folk process, confident that the few that have the most merit may further evolve in the hands of a more imaginative choreographer.

Please contact me with any questions or comments about the dances below.

-David Smukler

Duple improper contras

Duple proper contras

Becket formation contras

Triple minor contras

English country dances

Squares

Triplets

A four-face-four dance

Dances in “Tempest” formation

About the Tempest formation

And tunes


 

Bingham’s Pie
a duple improper contra dance

 A1 Long lines forward and back
Circle left once around
 A2 Gents gate the (neighbor) ladies once around
Ladies allemande left 1-1/2
 B1 Half hey-for-4 (partners start by passing right shoulders)
Partner swing
 B2 Gents allemande left 1-1/2
Neighbor swing

The unusual gate is borrowed from Susan Kevra’s dance, Circle of Love. Even though this gate does not have a mirror effect, the ladies may enjoy catching one another’s eye as they sweep through the center. This dance was originally composed on my birthday, September 16, 2012, which I was celebrating with a delicious slice of apple caramel pie purchase from a favorite roadside eatery on my way home from a fun weekend of dance and visiting. It was revised to its current form on December 1, 2012.

 


 

The Bride’s a Bonny Thing
a duple improper contra dance

 A1 Balance and swing your neighbor, ending progressed
 A2 Long lines forward and back
Actives only swing in the center, ending the swing facing the music
 B1 Actives up the hall, turn as a couple
Return down the hall and do a full cast around with your same neighbor
 B2 Down the hall 4-in-line, do not turn
Active couple make an arch and back up, second couple pass through the
arch

Nearly identical to Dillon Bustin’s dance, Anne’s a BrideTonight. I changed A2, which originally consisted of stars by the RH and LH, and as a consequence of that change the actives must turn as a couple in B1 instead of turning as individuals. My version has slightly more flowing connections and an opportunity to swing your partner – not a bad thing for a wedding dance.

This dance was created for the “hand-fasting” of Morris dance friends, Susan Galbraith and Dan Clark.

 


 

Country Dance Romance
a duple improper contra dance

 A1 All dance around your neighbor with a “Mad Robin” chase (ladies moving forward first) [see note]
Take 2 hands with partner and clockwise poussette 3/4 (again ladies move forward first), until the gents stand back to back in the center
 A2 Hey-for-4 (start by passing partner’s right shoulder)
 B1 Walk around partner by the right shoulder, and swing
 B2 Two gents allemande left 1-1/2
Gents scoop up your neighbor around the waist and star promenade ALL the way around back to this spot (no time for a “butterfly whirl”)

To do the “Mad Robin” chase, walk the same path as a neighbor do-si-do, but face your partner across the set throughout. The figure is borrowed from the English country dance, Mad Robin, except that — as in several contra dances that appropriate this figure — both couples are moving at once. In Country Dance Romance, if the action confuses the dancers, it can be replaced with an ordinary neighbor do-si-do with little damage to the choreography.

This is my variation on Don Armstrong’s dance, Calvin Crest. The gentle and sweet English poussette into the hey is entirely Don’s idea, and the heart of this dance.

The title is meant to include an obscure reference to my friends in Rochester, NY, whose dance organization is named CDR, for Country Dancers of Rochester. Have you heard the term TLA, for three-letter acronym? I learned about a silly TLA: TFZ, which stands for TLA-free zone….

 


 

A Delicate Balance
a duple improper contra dance

 A1 Couple 1 acting as a unit, hey-for-3 across the set (start by passing gent 2 by right shoulders)
 A2 Down the hall, 4-in-line (1’s in the center), turn alone
Return, face your neighbor
 B1 Balance and swing neighbor
 B2 Long lines forward and back
Couple one swing

A Delicate Balance was created May 2, 2004 and first danced one week later.

 


 

Driving to Olean
a duple improper contra dance

 A1 Couple 1 lead through the couple below, separate and come back to place
Do-si-do partner once around, and join hands with couple 2
 A2 Circle to the left, four hands round
And back to the right
 B1 Balance the ring and swing neighbor
End the swing facing down the hall
 B2 Down the hall 4-in-line, turn alone
Return; as the phrase ends couple 2 make an arch and couple 1 dive through

I put this together on March 10, 2007 and tried it out for the first time the same evening with a crowd that included many newcomers. I had been driving to Olean, NY quite regularly for my day job, but on that day I was headed there to a dance. The do-si-do in A1 was originally a two-hand turn. I think the do-si-do times out better. Most dancers don’t need eight counts for a two-hand turn. Driving to Olean uses a sequence I really like that I stole shamelessly from the second half of Bob Dalsemer’s Jefferson Revisited. I used the same sequence in Forsythia. Since the dance ends with the ones ducking under an arch formed by the twos, the first lead through quickly becomes ducking under a second arch.

 


 

Fairfield Connection
a duple improper contra dance

 A1 Do-si-do neighbor
And swing
 A2 Circle to the left, four hands round
And back to the right, ones let go to form a line-of-4 facing down
 B1 Down the hall 4-in-line, turn alone
Return; as the phrase ends couple 2 make an arch and couple 1 dive through
 B2 With new neighbors, ladies chain up and down the hall
And back

Assembled May 18, 2007 by combining Dick Forscher’s Fairfield Fancy with a sequence that I borrowed from the second half of Bob Dalsemer’s Jefferson Revisited. I used the same sequence in Forsythia and Driving to Olean.

 


 

Fall Back
a double progression duple improper contra dance

 A1 Down the center 4-in-line (4) turning toward your neighbor as you take the fourth step so that all are facing up, and fall back (4) to continue down the hall
Come forward (4), turning again on the fourth step to face down, and finally fall back (4) to finish returning to place, bending the line on the last 2 counts to form a ring
 A2 Circle right 1x (8)
“Ladies lead left hands across”: Ladies turn by the left hand just halfway (2), gents join in behind their neighbors and all star left 3/4 with a hands across star (6) (All have now progressed once and are facing new neighbors)
 B1 Do-si-do the next neighbor and swing
 B2 Long lines forward and back
Actives only swing in the middle

Fall Back was originally composed in January of 2002. It used to be called, “Never Mind.” Eventually, I decided the title was a liability. When I wrote another dance called Spring Forward that used a mirror image of the progression sequence in A2, a better title for this dance became obvious! The dance was revised into its current form on November 29, 2007.

A1 is a modified version of a figure from the English Country dance, Dublin Bay. There are a few other nice contra dances that use it as well. One is by Paul Balliet and another by Sue Rosen.

I believe it was Larry Jennings who used to say, “Happiness is a double progression dance with an odd number of couples.”

 


 

Fishing for Compliments
a duple improper contra dance

 A1 Long lines forward and back
Gents allemande left 1-1/2
 A2 Partners walk around by the right shoulder, and swing
 B1 Balance in a ring, spin to the right (as in Petronella)
Balance, spin to the right again
 B2 Balance and spin to the right once more, into…
a neighbor swing, end facing across

This is my adaptation of Steve Zakon-Anderson’s dance, Salmonella Evening, which combines his Salmon Chanted Evening and Petronella. I inserted a neighbor swing and adjusted some transitions accordingly. Fishing for Compliments was created in the spring of 2015.

 


 

Forsythia
a duple improper contra dance

 A1 Circle left all the way round
Allemande right this neighbor 1-1/2
 A2 Allemande left the next neighbor, make it twice
With original neighbor do-si-do
 B1 Balance and swing this neighbor, end facing down
 B2 Down the hall 4-in-line, turn alone
Return, couple 2 make an arch and couple 1 dive through

Written sometime in 2004. The second half is borrowed from Bob Dalsemer’s dance, Jefferson Revisited. The title (which arrived in the spring of 2006) was not chosen to refer to anything in particular. I just love seeing all that cheerful yellow in the spring.

 


 

Frog in the Well
a duple improper contra dance

 A1 Take hands 4 and balance the ring (4); circle left (8);California twirl to face old neighbor (4)
 A2 With this neighbor balance and swing
 B1 Two gents allemande left just 1/2-way
Swing partner
 B2 Balance the ring (4); twirl to the right (as in Petronella) just once! (4)
Immediately, dip and dive 2 places (1’s start by going under)

A dance about looking back and moving forward. This dance used to be called Rites of Passage. Its current form was created in June of 2000.

 


 

Handyman’s Special
a duple improper contra dance

 A1 Neighbors allemande with a handy hand (1s splitting 2s) and 1s swing
 A2 Circle left and circle right
 B1 Neighbors balance and swing
 B2 Down the hall 4-in-line, turn alone
Return, as you get back to place, the 2s arch and the 1s turn in and dive through

The B-parts are from Bob Dalsemer’s dance Jefferson Revisited. I really like his progression, which recreated the progression in the old dance Jefferson’s Reel in a way that seems particularly friendly for beginners. I have used Bob’s idea in a few other dances. I created this dance (September 13, 2015) with the idea of carrying the symmetry of his progression into A1.

 


 

Hello Rose
a duple improper contra dance

 A1 With neighbor, balance, box the gnat
And swing
 A2 Circle left 3/4
Do-si-do partner
 B1 With partner, balance, box the gnat
And swing
 B2 Ladies chain across
Left-hand star

This dance is really just the same as The Baby Rose by David Kaynor. The only change is the addition of the “box the gnat” figure, which is borrowed in this context from Tony Parkes’ dance Ashokan Hello. I made the change because I think of The Baby Rose as an excellent dance for newcomers, except for the fact that many newcomers fatigue easily in a dance with two 12-count swings. My variation makes it feel fancier without adding any real difficulty, meanwhile shortening the swings to 8 counts each.

 


 

Just Born, More Later
a duple improper contra dance

 A1 Circle left halfway and swing neighbor
 A2 Long lines forward and back: as you back up, ladies roll the neighbor gent away
Couple one allemande left 1-1/2 and give right hands to the next to form a long wavy line of ones in the center (see note)
 B1 Balance; spin to the right one place (as in Rory O’More) — but spin just 3/4 to face up or down — and take hands four in a diamond with the nearest twos
All four balance in this diamond; spin to the right one place (as in Petronella) and take hands four again
 B2 Balance; spin to right, the ones keep spinning (a total of 1-1/4) into…
Couple one swing in the center, end facing down

The allemande left in A2 may feel a bit more natural for the lady than the gent, who has to free up his left hand and angle his body appropriately. With a little anticipation, however, it should flow well for all.

The title of this dance is an exact transcription of a text message that I received shortly after the birth of my first grandson, Isaac Benedick Smukler Barton. (See also Master Barton’s Arrival.) The dance combines elements of Ted Sannella’s Fiddleheads and a dance called Goody Two Shoes that was created by Isaac’s father, Micah Smukler.

There are end effects in this dance similar to those in Fiddleheads. The first time through, in B1, the #1 lady at the top will not have someone in her right hand for the Rory O’More spin. She should face down to form the diamond with neighbors and a ghost (a 3-person “diamond”). The second, and every other time through, when a couple waits out at the top, there is no need to cross over. In A2, this couple can start being active: they allemande left and join the wavy line. That lady will have no one to form a diamond with, but simply waits at the top for her partner to return for the swing. Similar things happen to #1 gents at the bottom.

 


 

Kathy’s Smile
a double progression duple improper contra dance

 A1 Circle left
As couples, weave the set, zig-zagging first to the left and right past neighbor couple #1, and then to the right and left past neighbor couple #2
 A2 Circle left with neighbor couple #3
Same four left-hand star
 B1 With neighbor #2, balance and swing
 B2 Long lines forward and back
Couple 1 swing, end facing down

Kathy’s Smile was composed on December 28, 2005 while I was trying to create yet another version of my Voyager dance. When I realized that what I had come up with was so similar to Kathy Anderson’s wonderful dance, Weave the Line, I decided to name the result for her.

 


 

Loose Change
a duple improper contra dance (perhaps “indecent”)

 A1 Neighbor balance and swing
 A2 Circle left 3/4 and partner swing
 B1 “Bucksaw” progression as follows:
Those who can (almost everyone) right and left through on the left diagonal
Right and left through straight across
 B2 These four balance in a ring, spin to the right one place (as in Petronella)
Left-hand star (out of the star, the ones look up and the twos look down to find new neighbors)

IMPORTANT! This dance has end effects that are fatal if not well understood.

  1. As you are coming to one end or the other of the set, you will at some point do the diagonal R&L at the beginning of B1 and then find no one across from you. This is your “waiting out #1.” The lady should stay put, and the gent should cross the set. Then face down or up toward the rest of the dancers with the lady on the left (yes), and the gent on the right. You will then have one more time through the dance before changing your number.
  2. In B1 if there is no one on the left diagonal (as in many Becket dances), just stay in place for the first R&L through. Then go ahead and R&L straight across, and fiinish the sequence. You will wait out (your “waiting out #2”) next time through the dance for half the dance only.
  3. While waiting out this second time, stand next to your partner on the side of the dance that makes you ready to do the R&L through on the left diagonal. You will come in on B1. If you were a 1, you’re now a 2, and vice versa. All will be well.

Another version (“Loose Change Two”) avoids the end effects: In B2 replace the LH star with a neighbor do-si-do. This is the neighbor in the ring of 4 you are currently dancing in. Start the dance with that same neighbor. This version is double progression. It is more suitable if dancers are not savvy enough to understand and deal with the end effects listed above.

Composed on May 19, 2017. The progression in B1 is from the very first Becket formation dance, Becket Reel (or the “Bucksaw Contra”), by Herbie Gaudreau, and the idea of using it in a duple improper dance is borrowed from Becky Hill’s dance, Kopp’s on the Loose.

 


 

Meadowbrook Contra
a duple improper contra dance

 A1 Balance and swing neighbor
 A2 Give-and-take (men drawing women back to their side) and swing partner
 B1 Circle left 3/4, pass neighbor by right shoulder
Continue to promenade single file along the set, turn alone
 B2 Return to the same neighbor
Allemande left that neighbor, “make it twice” (end facing original direction)

This dance was named for a little stream near my house. I know there are fractious fractions people who will argue with the “make it twice” in B2. Assuming you meet that neighbor side by side (such that you could take hands in a wavy line-of-4), the allemande turn is actually 1-3/4. The goal of the turn is to launch you toward a new neighbor just in time for the balance. If dancers know whether they are heading up or down to find the next (always the opposite direction from which they enter this allemande), no counting need interfere with their dancing pleasure.

In an effort to create a dance modeled on Tony Parkes’ Middlesex March, I ended up with two very different results. This is the first, and more closely resembles the model. The other is Le Voyageur, which I have subsequently varied to create at least two other dances.

 


 

More or Less
a duple improper contra dance

 A1 Do-si-do neighbor
Allemande right the same 1-1/2 to form long wavy lines at the sides (men facing in and women out)
 A2 Balance (to the right first), slide or spin to the right as in Rory O’More
Balance the new wave (to the left this time), slide or spin to the left
 B1 Allemande right once around, gents walk straight across the set
Swing partner
 B2 Circle left just 3/4
Balance the ring, California twirl to face new neighbors

Alternately, B2 can be a 1/2 right and left and a ladies chain. Each version has its advantages; neither is “more or less” perfect.

There are lots of other dances out there like this one and it would not surprise me to find out it was a dance that someone else came up with first. I was thinking about Lisa Greenleaf’s Stripes and Solids, but I wanted Rory O’More spins that visit new neighbors each time (not a “stuck in the shadows” dance – although I realize that Rory O’More, one of my favorite dances, could be characterized that way).

 


 

Newfangled Contraption 2
a duple improper contra dance

 A1 Right-hand star with your current neighbors
Left-hand star with your former neighbors
 A2 Right hand to original neighbor and grand right and left along the line
Allemande left neighbor 4 to face back the way you came, and reverse grand right and left past neighbor 3 and neighbor 2
 B1 Balance and swing your original neighbor
 B2 Long lines forward and back
Actives only swing in the middle

This is a 2002 revision of one of the first dances I cobbled together in 1980. The earlier version was much more confusing, and I hadn’t used it for years. The revision may make it worth looking at again.

 


 

Nova Nova Scotian
a duple improper contra dance

 A1 Do-si-do neighbor
Actives do-si-do
 A2 Down the hall 3-in-line, active gent between 2 ladies (6)
“RH’s high and LH’s low” to reverse direction (4); return (6)
 B1 All balance and swing partners
 B2 Ladies chain across
Left-hand star

One of my first dance compositions. I used the 3-in-line idea from the Nova Scotian by Maurice Hennigar, but varied the dance out of all recognition. Avoid starting the RH’s high too soon in A2. Otherwise dancers get home early, before the balance in B1.

Here’s another variant, the “Supernova Scotian.” I sometimes medley these two dances. This version is in print in the ninth edition of Dance a While.

Supernova Scotian
a duple improper contra dance

 A1 (same as above)
 A2 Down the hall 3-in-line, active lady between 2 gents;
“RH’s high and LH’s low” to reverse direction; return
 B1 (same as above)
 B2 Right and left through
Circle L 3/4, pass through along the set

 


 

The Other Door
a duple improper contra dance

 A1 Down the hall 4-in-line (ones in the center), “fold the line”: stay connected with your neighbor and wheel halfway to face up (ones moving forward, twos backing up)
Return, bend the line
 A2 Circle left once around
Neighbors swing
 B1 Circle left halfway and the twos swing, end facing up (all are proper)
 B2 Same sex neighbors allemande 1-1/2 with a handy hand (gents left, ladies right)
Ones swing, end facing down

Created in the early morning, Friday 13th of May, 2016. The title is a reference to recent controversy about who gets to use which bathroom.

 


 

Pining for You
a duple improper contra dance

 A1 Walk around neighbor by the right shoulder, and swing
 A2 Long lines forward and back
Gents allemande left 1-1/2
 B1 Balance and swing partners
 B2 Circle left 3/4; with neighbors roll away with a 1/2 sashay; cross trail through across the set

This is my adaptation of Pinewoods Crossing, a dance written by a committee of all-stars. I find the sequence at the end of that dance very pleasing. I wanted a dance that preserved that feature, but was a bit simpler in other regards.

 


 

Pleasantly Surprised
a duple improper contra dance

 A1 Neighbors do-si-do
Same 4 left-hand star 1/2-way, right-hand star 1/2-way with next neighbors
 A2 These 4 right and left through across the set
Right and left back with those on the other side of you (original neighbors — note that the lady is on the left and gent on the right for this right and left through)
 B1 Active couples down the center, turn alone
Return and cast off
 B2 Actives balance and swing in the center, end facing down

I composed Pleasantly Surprised in honor of the engagement of my sister Freya Kamel to Mike Lamvik, the news of which was an even more pleasant surprise than when they announced they could come to my fiftieth birthday celebratory contra dance! The surprise in the dance comes with the 2nd R&L, which starts from unexpected positions, but ends up just fine with everyone in original positions.

This dance is a variation of a traditional dance called Elegance and Simplicity, which allowed a generous eight counts to turn each star just 1/2-way. You can see one way to do that on this video from Cracking Chestnuts.

The traditional dance may well be “elegant,” but it is anything but simple. Not only is the timing hard to make work on the stars, but the right and left through figures that return the actives to place are quirky. If you use the version given below, the first R&L ends with a same sex turn, and the second one ends with the lady on the left and gent on the right for the turn. The proper version reverses this, but both include that mixed gender turn with the neighbor on the unanticipated side, as does Pleasantly Surprised.

My variation also includes some significant challenges. I hope that it retains some of the feel and character of the older dance, and can appeal to 21st century dancers.

For comparison’s sake, here are the figures for the traditional dance:

Elegance and Simplicity, traditional
a triple minor contra dance, couple one is improper

 A1 Right-hand star 1/2-way with couple below
Left-hand star 1/2-way with next couple below
 A2 1/2 right and left through with couple above
1/2 right and left through with next above
 B1 Active couples down the center, turn alone
Return and cast off
 B2 Ladies 1 and 2, chain over and back

Another version of Elegance and Simplicity is proper, and ends with a right and left four instead of the ladies chain.

 


 

Ringtones
a duple improper contra dance

 A1 Circle left all the way round
And swing neighbor
 A2 Ladies chain across, form a ring-of-4
Balance the ring, rollaway with your neighbor across the set and re-form the ring
 B1 Balance the ring and swing your partner on the side
 B2 Circle left 3/4
Balance the ring, California twirl

This is based on a dance by David Kaynor with no name. I like David’s dance a lot, and once asked him what he called it. He said that he had not decided. As this was after I’d heard him call the dance several times, I started referring to it (his dance) as “Not Ready to Commit.” David’s dance is a Becket formation contra. The part I liked and stole for Ringtones is the sequence starting with the chain and ending with the partner swing, half the dance! The final version (and title) arrived on December 11, 2007.

I have seen a folk-processed version of the dance that omits the balance at the top of B1. It’s fun to rollaway directly into the swing, but I’m not usually a fan of 16-count swings, and my preferred version maintains all three opportunities to “balance the ring” (hence the title).

 


 

Riverbend
a double progression duple improper contra dance

 A1 Down the hall, actives in the middle of a line-of-4, turn alone
Return and face across
 A2 Right and left through across the set
1/2 hey-for-4 (women begin by passing right shoulders)
 B1 With next neighbor, balance and swing
 B2 Circle left all the way round
Actives swing in the middle

Riverbend is a slightly rearranged double progression version of an earlier dance The Price of Gas, that was retired as unusable. It is named for a wonderful band from western New York State. It is much more forgiving than its predecessor, which had beastly end effects. The idea came to me on April 18, 2006, while planning for a dance I was scheduled to call with the band, Riverbend, later in the month.

 


 

Road to Fayetteville
a duple improper contra dance

 A1 Left-hand star
Couple one down the center, pass two standing couples, cross trail
 A2 Up the outside to place
Actives swing in the middle
 B1 All four circle left once around
Neighbor swing
 B2 Long lines forward and back
Right-hand star

Discovered in my notes, with no date. I do not remember creating this or why I called it Road to Fayetteville, except, of course, that Fayetteville, NY is the home of my local dance. My best guess is that I wrote the dance in spring of 2013, during a period when I was so busy at work that I might easily have forgotten composing a dance. Revised September 17, 2014 and road tested shortly after.

The “cross trail” in A1 means that the actives trade places with their partner before separating and coming up the outside, lady crossing in front of her partner. This sends the actives up the outside proper. Their swing returns them to the improper side of the set. I like the feel and timing of this, but the cross trail can be omitted. The actives would simply separate and come up the outside to home on their improper side.

 


 

Role Away
a duple improper contra dance

 A1 Actives in the center, go down the hall in a line-of-4, turn alone
Return and form a ring
 A2 Balance the ring, neighbors rollaway with a half sashay
Chain the gents across to partner (see note)
 B1 Gents do-si-do 1-1/2
Swing your neighbor
 B2 Long lines forward and back
Actives swing in the center

Composed with helpful advice from my son, Micah during a dance trip on 1/19/02. In A2, either way works, but I prefer having it be the gents that roll. To “chain the gents,” do not do a normal gents chain (if there is such a thing…), but chain them as if they were ladies and the ladies were gents. So: two gents give each other right hands, pull by, left to their partners, and she wheels him around with a courtesy turn and sends him back to the center for a do-si-do. Ladies seem to enjoy the gents’ shenanigans in this dance.

It was not for at least a year after I first used Role Away that I noticed its marked similarity to Ted Sannella’s classic Scout House Reel. The two make a nice medley, the message being that turnabout is fair play. (Thanks to Judy Greenhill for pointing this out.)

 


 

Ross’s Reel
a duple improper contra dance

 A1 Circle left once around
Swing your neighbor
 A2 As in Hull’s Victory, actives allemande right half, give left to (same sex) neighbor to form a wave, and balance the wave
Balance again, allemande left once
 B1 Actives turn contra corners (the active lady’s first contra corner is the gent she swung in A1)
 B2 Actives balance and swing

This started as an attempt to write an “alternating” contra corners dance of the sort invented by Jim Kitch. I eventually decided it was better off as an unequal dance, although you are welcome to dance it with 1’s and 2’s alternately taking the active role if you wish. If you do, every other time the word “actives” in A2, B1 and B2 refers to the 2nd couple instead of the 1st. The dance is named for Ross’s Reel #4, one of my favorite tunes, and one which I think fits the dance well.

 


 

Sam’s March
a duple improper contra dance

 A1 Right-hand star
Promenade neighbor along own line (the entire set moving in a clockwise oval)
 A2 Turn as a couple and promenade back
Ladies chain across to partner
 B1 Pass through across and swing partner
 B2 Gents allemande left 1-1/2
Ladies join in (following partner) for a left-hand star; look for the next

Named for my son Sam and written on his 4th birthday: November 6, 1994. The B-parts were revised November 6, 2007, Sam’s 17th birthday. In the star in A1, the lady is in front of her neighbor; he accelerates slightly (moving a bit to the left) to step up and join her for the promenade.

 


 

Skaneateles
a duple improper contra dance

 A1 Circle left
And back to the right
 A2 Balance the ring and swing neighbor
 B1 Promenade across the set
Half right and left back home
 B2 Long lines forward and back
Active couple swing, end facing the next

Named after a finger lakes dance community, home of the “Cabin Fever” dance series. Skaneateles was composed in 2003.

 


 

Spring Forward
a duple improper contra dance

 A1 Balance and swing neighbor
 A2 Gents allemande left 1-1/2
Swing partner
 B1 Right and left through
Balance the ring, spin one place to the right as in Petronella
 B2 “Gents lead into right hands across”: gents turn halfway by right hand (2), ladies join in behind neighbor and all star right 3/4 with a hands across star (6)
Next neighbors do-si-do (8)

The progression in B2 went through several stages of evolution. Originally it was intended to be an adaptation of Rod Linnell’s “star cast off,” which some dancers may remember from the 1960s or 70s. The figure was briefly popular with dance authors. Unfortunately, I think it was not so much fun for the dancers, and it never did catch on. I hoped my modification would be a great improvement. However, after pestering patient dance crowds with it several times, a dancer friend offered me some gentle feedback that convinced me to give up on the sequence. And now having further altered the progression to its present state, I realize that it is no longer recognizably related to the original Rod Linnell figure. Be that as it may, you can find the mirror image of the “spring forward” progression in my companion dance, Fall Back.

Spring Forward borrows heavily from the choreography of Tony Parkes, being modeled on great dances like Gene’s Genius and Spring Fever. It was originally composed on March 29, 2006, and I chose the title to acknowledge my debt to Spring Fever as well as in anticipation of the time change that was to come on April 2nd of that year. It was revised to its current state on November 29, 2007.

 


 

Stopping By Woods
a duple improper contra dance

 A1 Balance and swing neighbor, end facing down
 A2 Down the hall 4-in-line, turn as couples
Return, bend the line
 B1 Circle left
Ladies chain across
 B2 Chain back
Left-hand star

Stopping By Woods is really just a slight reorganization of Tony Parkes’ Woods Hole Jig. It was created late in 2002. Like Lady Walpole’s Reel, the traditional first dance in some quarters, these dances have no partner swing. I sometimes use such dances as the first dance of an evening, so that newcomers who are dancing together will avoid learning lackluster swing habits from one another.

 


 

Syracuse Special
a duple improper contra dance

 A1 Long lines forward and back
Actives swing
 A2 Down the hall, the actives in the center of a line-of-4
Swing your neighbor before you return
 B1 Return, the actives still in the center, and bend the line
Circle left all the way round
 B2 Ladies chain, over and back

A fairly easy dance based on Whynot’s Special, by Roger Whynot. Alternatively you could begin on A2 and end with the partner swing. The neighbor swing is a bit unexpected but dancers seem to find it pleasing. Callers, be careful not to go on autopilot and say, “Turn alone and come on back,” instead of prompting the neighbor swing. I have both made this mistake myself and seen others do it.

 


 

Syracuse Weathervane
a duple improper contra dance

 A1 Do-si-do neighbor
And swing
 A2 Two gents allemande left 1-1/2
Pick up partner, star promenade 1/2 and butterfly whirl, ladies hook right elbows
 B1 Turn this “weathervane” all the way (12)
Cast 3/4, a courtesy turn (4)
 B2 Ladies chain
Left-hand star

My variation on Yucaipa Weathervane by Ed Gilmore.

 


 

Theory of Mind
a duple improper contra dance

Begin in a wavy line-of-4 across the hall. Neighbors have right hands joined, and the two ladies have left hands joined.

 A1 Balance the wave, slide to the right (as in Rory O’More)
Balance again (starting to the left), slide to the left
 A2 Balance and swing neighbor
 B1 Circle left 3/4 and swing partner
 B2 Ladies chain across
Left hand star into a wavy line-of-4 with next neighbors (take RH’s with neighbor and ladies take LH’s)

The rather opaque title refers to research I do when I’m not contradancing. Sometimes it’s hard to come up with a title….

It turns out that Theory of Mind is almost identical to a dance called United We Dance that Bob Isaacs wrote as a response to the World Trade Center Bombing in September of 2001. A few months later (May 19, 2002), Gary Shapiro came up with the same sequence as Bob. He called it Amy’s Parallel Universe. Sometime after I first posted Theory of Mind, Gary wrote to tell me about his dance:

This is Bill Olson’s dance, “Dancing With Amy,” but from a parallel universe. I took Bill’s dance, changed the starting point to halfway through the dance, changed every occurrence of Partner to Neighbor and vice versa, and changed the diagonal chain to straight across. That was it, and to my amazement, it works.

Later I learned that Bob Issacs has an even earlier claim to the sequence.

The only difference between my dance and the others is that in Bob (or Gary’s) dance A1 begins with long wavy lines, with the current neighbor in your right hand and the former neighbor in your left. I’m pretty sure that all three of us came up with the idea independently and starting from different places. As usual mine came in last, on June 2, 2004.

 


 

There There
a duple improper contra dance

 A1 Circle left just halfway and couple two swing, end facing up
 A2 Full double figure eight
(twos cast down and ones cross up the center to start)
 B1 Ones turn contra corners
 B2 Ones balance and swing, end facing down

Based on a dance called Fair Share by Katy Heine. There There was created on June 19, 2014 while planning for a dance with the Hands Four Dancers of Ithaca.

 


 

Through the Looking Glass
a duple improper contra dance
NOTE: Ones and twos alternate being the active dancers

 A1 Neighbors allemande with the handy hand 1-1/2 (1st time 1s split 2s)
With next neighbor mirror do-si-do (2s splitting 1s)
 A2 Same neighbors (neighbor 2) balance and swing
 B1 Circle left once around
Twos down the center and cast off with original neighbors, ending in progressed place
 B2 Long lines forward and back
Actives (twos) swing, end facing up toward your new neighbor (the one you swung)
then…
 A1 These neighbors allemande with a handy hand 1-1/2 (this time 2s split 1s)
With next neighbor mirror do-si-do (1s splitting 2s)
 A2 And these neighbors balance and swing
 B1 Circle left once around
Ones up the center and cast off with neighbor 1 (the one you started with this time through)
 B2 Long lines forward and back
Actives (ones) swing, end facing down toward new neighbors

After the circle in B1, whether ones or twos are active, they pass the one they swung, and cast off with the next neighbor they meet — the same person they turned with a handy hand.

Based on a dance by Bill Chapp called Planxty Mary Harris with hints of a chestnut called Calais Sally. Expect end effects, but don’t rush to repair them if you feel you are in the wrong place. Things might be just fine.

I created this alternating actives dance on September 15, 2015.

 


 

Voyager II
a duple improper contra dance

 A1 Circle left all the way round
As couples weave the set, zigging left around 1st neighbor couple and right
around 2nd neighbor couple
 A2 With 3rd neighbor couple circle left once around with determination, and then trade hands with your partner to face 2nd neighbor couple and form a
ring with them
Balance this ring, 1’s are facing up and 2’s down: pass through to original neighbors
 B1 With original neighbor, balance, box the gnat
And swing
 B2 Long lines forward and back
Actives swing

Variations upon variations. This dance is a variation of Le Voyageur below, although I like a notier tune with it. In the beginning of A2, there really is time in 8 counts to circle once and turn around if you anticipate. The circle left is, after all, jump started by the weaving action that precedes it. If you prefer, B1 can be simply be a balance and swing, but with the right, bouncy tune I like the twirl.

And oh, those end effects! I generally try to avoid dances like this one where the end effects are confusing, but I think this one may be worth it, especially if the line is long and so that the percentage of people dealing with end effects is smaller. Here’s the deal. For the most part if you come to the end of the set you should simply turn as a couple to face back into the set with your partner on the expected side (man on L, woman on R), and be ready for whoever comes toward you. The one exception is if you get to the end just at the beginning of A2 when the caller is saying “Circle left.” In that situation, turn as individuals to face back into the set with your partner on the unexpected side of you. Good luck!

 


 

Le Voyageur
a duple improper contra dance

 A1 Circle left all the way round
Do-si-do neighbor
 A2 Weave along your line and back as follows: pass neighbor 1 by right shoulder and neighbor 2 by left shoulder, walk around neighbor 3 by the right shoulder, face the way you came and pass neighbor 2 by left shoulder again
 B1 Balance and swing original neighbor
 B2 Long lines forward and back
Actives swing

The action in A2 is leisurely. Don’t arrive too soon!

I was trying to create a dance modeled on Tony Parkes’ Middlesex March, and ended up going in two different directions. The first dance, which more closely resembles the model, was the Meadowbrook Contra. This effort bears much less resemblance to Tony’s dance. It’s named for the tune Ronde de Voyageur.

 


 

Yearning for Peace
a duple improper contra dance

 A1 Right hand balance your neighbor, box the gnat
Right-hand star just halfway, turn single (loop) over your left shoulder and reach across the set to your partner with your left hand
 A2 Left hand balance your partner, “swat the flea”
Left-hand star just halfway, loop over your right shoulder
 B1 Single file promenade (clockwise) within your group of 4, 3/4 of the way round
Gents turn back and swing partners
 B2 Long lines forward and back
Circle left 3/4, pass through up and down the set, and give right hand to next

(Yearning for Peace: Alternate A-parts)

 A1 Allemande right your neighbor 1-1/2
All four right-hand star just halfway, loop left and reach across the set to your partner with your left hand
 A2 Allemande left your partner 1-1/2
Left-hand star just halfway and loop right

The day I composed this (April 21, 2007) I was deeply discouraged by what seemed like a relentless stream of tragic stories on the daily news. I wanted with all my heart to call a dance that night that somehow suggested the theme of peace. First, I considered Erik Hoffman’s wonderful dance, “There is No Way to Peace; Peace is the Way,” but Erik’s dance needs more space up and down the set than I was likely to have that night. Then I looked at a dance popular with English country dancers called Peace Be With You, written by Fried de Metz Herman. I started tinkering with it to try make it into a sequence that contra dancers would easily understand and enjoy, and this was the result. I did not call it that evening, but did on the next day. My first impulse was to give the dance the title “Sholom Aleichem,” which is Yiddish for “Peace Be With You,” but eventually settled on this title instead to try to convey a little of the sense of longing I felt as I worked on the dance.

The “swat the flea” figure is just a left handed “box the gnat.” It may feel awkward at first, only because we do not frequently do this. One dancer has suggested to me that it may work better if the gent is turned under instead of the lady. Actually, as long as left hands are joined and you change places with your partner, it does not matter how the change is accomplished. You can turn the lady under, the gent under, or simply do a tight but slow little hand turn halfway in four counts. You will still be oriented the same way and when you put your left hands together with your neighbors’ the star will form in similar fashion. Since the left hand balance is with your partner, I suggest partners work out between them what feels best. Or, if you wish, simply go with the smoother alternative A-parts above. Peace be unto you.

 


 

Zero Sum Game
a duple improper contra dance

 A1 Balance and swing neighbor
 A2 Gents allemande left 1-1/2
Partner swing
 B1 Circle left all the way round
Right and left through across the set
 B2 Ladies chain back
Left-hand star

I often think of the first dance I call during an evening as my “diagnostic” dance: a chance to see how the dancers handle various basic moves so that I can plan on what to call next. Based on Tony Parkes’s Spring Fever, Zero Sum Game is a glossary dance that was composed (on July 5, 2006) to be the first dance of a particular dance weekend. Just after I wrote the dance I learned that I would not be calling the first dance of that weekend but starting later. The title refers to a belief I have about how dances and dance styles change, namely that each time we add something we lose something else. This doesn’t mean we should avoid change, but it’s helpful if we increase our awareness about what our choices mean. As an example of this, here’s an alternative for B1: After the circle, replace the right and left with: twos arch and ones dive through (both couples crossing the set), then all California twirl.

 


 

Christmas Hornpipe
a duple proper contra dance

 A1 Gent 1 down the center and take hands in a 3-person ring with lady 2 and lady 1 from the next group of 4 (a shadow) (4); balance the ring (4)
Circle left one time (6) and gent 1 fall back to place (2)
 A2 Lady 1 down the center and take hands with gent 2 and the next gent 1 (a shadow, who has just returned to place and remembered to face up) (4);
these three balance in a ring (4)
Circle left one time (6) and lady 1 fall back to place (2)
 B1 Couple 1 down the center; the same way back, and cast off
 B2 Right and left through, over and back (two ladies remain connected for the
next A1)

This variant on the classic dance, Christmas Hornpipe (also known as Vinton’s Hornpipe) occurred to me in April, 2005 while I was working on a “Cracking Chestnuts” column about the “real” Christmas Hornpipe for the CDSS News. There is a British version similar to this one, which I have only called once. It creates a fair amount of confusion, and I guess that’s supposed to be part of the fun. Anyway, I tried to clarify the timing and build in a few safeguards against chaos. Even so, dancers should remain alert to make this work.

 


 

Green Mountain Petronella
a duple proper contra dance

 A1 Actives only, round to the right and balance (as in Petronella)
Repeat, leaving actives improper
 A2 Allemande left neighbor 1-1/2
Ladies chain across
 B1 All down center 2-by-2, #2’s in the lead; turn as couples
Return; 1’s cast around 2’s, unassisted
 B2 Same 4, left-hand star
Right-hand star

This dance needs a little extra space at the bottom of the set.

 


 

Hurdle Help
a duple proper contra dance

 A1 Couple one dance a full figure eight down through the twos
(Optional: the twos may participate to make it a full double figure eight)
 A2 Couple one swing in the center
All swing neighbor
 B1 Circle left once around
Ladies chain across
 B2 Ladies chain back
Couple one half figure eight through the couple above

Composed on April 30, 2007.

 


 

New Countryman’s Reel
a duple proper contra dance

 A1 Gent one and lady two (“first corners”) down the center, turn alone
Return and the gents cast off
 A2 Lady one and gent two (“second corners”) down the center, turn alone
Return and the ladies cast off
 B1 Couple one half figure eight up through the twos above
Ones swing, end facing up
 B2 Same four circle left once around
Twos swing, end facing up

The A-parts are based on “Old Countryman’s Reel,” a dance from Howe, a popular 19th century collection of dances (though I reversed A1 and A2). The original B-parts were “balance and 1/2 R&L” for B1 and the same to return in B2. I would interpret this “balance” as a “forward and back” for modern dancers, since it would require 8 counts, though back in the day dancers probably did some fancy stepping. There is a nice traditional tune called the Countryman’s Reel that is good for stepping! It is popular in Missouri I’m told. New Countryman’s Reel was composed on December 1, 2012. I was correcting a mistake in how I’d written the classic dance in my dance notes, and started thinking more about the figures.

 


 

Thinking About Gene
a duple proper contra dance

 A1 Long lines forward and back
Actives turn by the left hand 1-1/2
 A2 Balance and swing neighbor
 B1 Ladies roll back over right shoulder, loop around neighbor and across the set (6); all circle left 3/4 (until ones are above) (6); couple one arch, the twos dive through and separate out to the ends of a line-of-4 (4)
 B2 Down the hall, couple one turn as a couple (others turn alone)
Return, hand cast

Composed March 13, 2006. Gene Hubert’s choreography has been so influential. The week after he died, like many others, I included several of his dances in the program I called. Thinking about the range of his dances, this sequence occurred to me. The timing indicated in B1 is approximate. What is important is to get moving (ladies) and keep moving (all); there is no time to waste.

 


 

Three Steps Down
a duple proper contra dance

 A1 Actives allemande right 1-1/2 and face neighbor along the line
Do-si-do neighbor
 A2 Right-hand star
Left-hand back
 B1 Down the hall, 4-in-line (actives in the center) just 3 steps, allemande left neighbor
Actives swing
 B2 Come up the hall, 4-in-line, hand cast
Long lines forward and back

If the dancers can absorb this detail, I like to make the do-si-do in A1 symmetrical with 2’s splitting 1’s. This is opposite of dances like Symmetrical Force, so one might call it as: “down-the-outside do-si-do” for the actives (who are on the move from their allemande turn). Snappy calling (and dancing) is important for the B1 part so that actives meet in time to swing.

 


 

Beck and Call
a Becket formation contra dance

 A1 Long lines go forward and back
Circle left 3/4, pass through along the set
 A2 With the new neighbor, do-si-do 1-1/4 to form a wavy line-of-4
Balance that wave, slide or spin to the right and re-form the wave as in Rory O’More
 B1 Balance to the left, slide or spin to the left
Swing your neighbor
 B2 Circle left 3/4 and swing partner

Written originally to fit into a medley of Becket dances that never happened. My goal was to write a Becket dance that used Rory O’More spins, similar to Becky Hill’s More of a Becket, but that progressed to the left instead of to the right. As often happens to me when I start tinkering with choreography, more things happened than just my original goal.

 


 

Gents Give, Ladies Take
a Becket formation contra dance

At the end of each time through this dance, the new neighboring couple is on the left diagonal instead of directly across.

 A1 As couples, “yearn” on left diagonal (go 3 steps forward on the left diagonal, then back straight up into lines facing that new couple)
Those 4, come back together and circle L 3/4 (end on side of set with neighbor)
 A2 Allemande right neighbor 1-1/2
Half hey-for-4 (starts gents passing left shoulders)
 B1 Walk around neighbor by the right shoulder, and swing
 B2 Give-and-take (to lady’s side): Go forward as couples, ladies draw your partner back to your side of the set and swing him there

This dance is a variation on Larry Jennings’s dance Give-and-Take I. Larry invented the “give-and-take” figure. He used it a few dances, and many others have borrowed it as well. My version is close to Larry’s original, but tinkers somewhat with the gender roles. To “give-and-take” the dancers go forward in half shoulder waist position, and then partners take one another’s free hand move back to place and swing. The figure works best if the gents resist a little (but not too much!). Larry’s preferred timing was to go forward for two beats and return in two more, moving directly into a twelve-count swing. It is often reinterpreted to be four counts forward and four to return, with an eight-count swing. This dance was originally composed in the early 1990s, and later revised to use the “yearn” to progress. As far as I know, it is the first dance to “give-and-take” back to the women’s side, a variation that Larry once vigorously told me he disapproved of, but later (in the spirit of give-and-take) accepted.

The term “yearn” for the first figure was coined by George Walker, a dancer and dance composer from Seattle, who invented the figure. George’s “yearn,” however, is double progression; you move forward diagonally left and greet a couple with whom you will not be dancing, and then back off diagonally left to end facing your new new neighbors. I suppose this dance could be done as a double progression dance in that fashion, but my intention is to have you interact with all the other couples, so I prefer it as given above. If you fall all the way back to your line during the yearn so that it takes a couple of steps to reconnect, the allemande right is less likely to begin early.

I think of this as a smooth and mysterious dance, but you never know what some dancers will do with your ideas. I once found myself laughing out loud from the microphone as I watched two dancers improvise a version of the give-and-take figure in which the lady pulled the gentleman back to her line by his ear.

 


 

Maid Marian’s Fancy
a Becket formation contra dance

 A1 Circle left 3/4 and swing neighbor
 A2 Long lines forward and back
Two ladies allemande right 3/4 and allemande left 3/4 with the next lady (meanwhile, gents shift to the left)
 B1 Hey-for-4 (start by passing partner by the right shoulder)
 B2 Balance and swing partner

This was composed for the fortieth birthday of Michael Miller, a morris dancer from Syracuse who always plays the female lead in the mummers play on May Day morning (hence the title). A2 is, of course, lifted directly from David Kaynor’s wonderful dance, Mary Cay’s Reel.

 


 

Never Ending Love
a Becket formation contra dance

 A1 Swing partner
Long lines forward and back
 A2 Circle left 3/4, pass through along the set to new neighbors
Do-si-do this neighbor
 B1 Allemande left the neighbor you left behind and swing the one you do-si-do’d
 B2 Same four, balance in a ring and spin to the right one place as in Petronella
Balance again, begin a partner swing (continue to swing as the dance starts over)

I’ve had a version of this dance in my notes since the early 1980s. I believe that this version from May 20, 2004 is much more dance-worthy than the earlier one. The gimmick, of course is the swing that ties the end to the beginning. Ted Sannella used a similar device in a dance called Ted’s Whim.

My earlier version was dedicated – as I am – to my partner Laurel, who remains very tolerant of my dance habit. Believing that the dance has only gotten better (much as the relationship has), I dedicate this one to her as well.

The question arises: how to end the dance? I suppose you could improvise some other sort of B2 with extra measures. Or just sort of dribble out. I usually leave out the second balance in the B2 above, leaving an 8-count partner swing to close.

 


 

The Showers of May
a Becket formation contra dance

 A1 Shift left one place and circle left 3/4
Swing this neighbor
 A2 Promenade across the set
Half right and left through to get back
 B1 Circle left 3/4 and swing partner
 B2 Ladies chain across
Pass through across, turn individually to the right to face in, and circle
left 3/4

Leave out the “shift left” in A1 on the first time through.

Originally written with my young son Micah on a showery day in May of 1990 with a figure borrowed from Gene Hubert’s Flowers of April. Finally revised to usable status 14 years later on May 4, 2004 while thinking about Micah off in graduate school.

 


 

Oyster Sundae
a triple improper contra dance

 A1 Actives allemande left the one below 1-1/2
Do-si-do the next (ones and threes)
 A2 Come back one and balance and swing (ones and twos with neighbor; threes can balance and swing each other also)
 B1 All six circle left 1/2
Top four (couples one and three) left-hand star
 B2 All six circle right 1/2
Top four (couples one and two) right-hand star

The B-parts in Oyster Sundae were inspired by the chestnut, Oyster River. Similar sequences are part of two of my favorite triple minor dances: Ted Sannella’s Contravention and Chip Hendrickson’s The Old Master. Composed March 23, 2006 (yes, there is an ‘r’ in ‘March’). There is a family story behind the title about a memorable meal in Texas.

 


 

After the Storm
duple minor longways
Tune: After the Storm

A1 Couple 1:
1-4 Set and turn single
5-8 Take right hands: Gent handing the lady across, half figure eight down
A2 Couple 2:
1-4 Set and turn single
5-8 Take right hands: Lady handing the gent across, half figure eight up, continuing around neighbor to end in the middle of a line-of-4 facing up
B1 1-2 Line advance up the hall with two waltz steps
3-4 Fall back, bending the line into a ring
5-8 Circle left all the way around
B2 1-2 First corners (who are in second corner position) trade places, passing right shoulders
3-4 Second corners the same
5-8 Twos cast and lead while ones lead and cast

Composed in July 2017 to celebrate the wedding of Jennifer Fuller and Jonathan Avery.

 


 

Always Possible
duple minor longways, first couples improper
Tune: Kill Him With Kindness (in Barnes I)

A1 1 Neighbors lead out of the set
2 Turn as a couple with the gent backing up
3-4 Begin to lead back; gents cross over to face out on the other side while ladies catch left hands, turn half, and finish facing out on the same side, next to partner
A2 1-4 Repeat A1 to place, leading out with partners and ending with all turning over right shoulder into…
B 1-2 Single file clockwise halfway
3-4 Turn single over left shoulder and face neighbor up or down
5-8 Three changes of rights and lefts, meet new neighbor with a slight bow

This is a variation of an 18th century dance, Kill Him With Kindness. The tune is in 3/2 time — three steps to the bar. Neighbors could turn as a couple in the A-parts with a “California twirl,” but I prefer to “wheel around” side by side (a gating action) if space allows.

My title comes from a sentiment attributed to Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama: “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”


 

Banjo’s Mistress
a circle mixer in 3/4 time
Tune: Joyce R’s Waltz, by Bob McQuillen

A 1-4 All forward and back
5-8 Circle left
9-12 Forward and back again
13-14 Half sashay to trade places with partner (lady sliding to left in front and gent sliding to right behind)
15-16 Say farewell and then courtesy turn the next 3/4
B 1-4 Promenade this new partner
5-6 Back away from partner, men backing into the center of the circle and women backing away from the center
7-8 Balance to the right and left
9-12 Coming forward, partners back to back, ending in waltz position
13-16 Waltz with partner, and open up to face the center of the circle

This dance was originally composed May 3, 2004. It was slightly altered and retitled on December 19, 2007, to fit with a Bob McQuillen tune composed for my friend and colleague, Joyce Rossbach. Bob’s original composition repeats the A and B parts, but for purposes of this dance, Joyce R’s Waltz should be played without repeats.

Banjo was Joyce’s very enthusiastic canine companion when she and her husband John lived in Syracuse.

 


 

The Barnacle Waltz
a three-couple longways dance
Tune: Barnacle Waltz (from the Fiddler’s Tunebook)

A 1-2 Couples one and two balance in a ring
3-4 Drop hands and spin one place to the right (as in Petronella)
5-8 Repeat
9-16 Couples one and three the same: balance and spin twice
(Ones are now proper at the bottom; twos and threes are improper)
B 1-4 Ones slow sashay to the top (4 steps)
5-8 Ones do a long cast to the bottom WHILE twos and threes balance forward and back and trade places with partner (as in Duke of Kent’s Waltz)
9-12 Bottom four (couples one and three) right-hand star
13-16 Top four (couples two and three) circle left

I encourage the inactive couple to waltz in place during the A-parts if they choose. Couple three can waltz for the first 8 measures, and couple two for the next 8 measures. End facing in with the lady on the right.

This was composed as a triple minor longways dance for Tom Bannister of Rochester, NY, a fixture on their dance scene for many years. Tom loves triple minors, and loves to waltz. It was first danced on June 18, 2006.

On December 27, 2006, I made a few small changes to re-create Barnacle Waltz as a three couple dance, which then became David’s Triplet #6. Despite Tom’s love for triple minors, I decided I preferred the 3-couple choreography, and I no longer use the original version.

 


 

Because We Care
a three-couple longways dance, mixer
Tune: Flatworld, by Andy Cutting

A1 1-4 Top four circle left once around
5-8 Same four single file “serpentine” counterclockwise to the bottom (lady 2 lead) while bottom lady, followed by partner, cast to the top place
End 3 (improper) – 2 – 1
A2 1-4 Top four circle right
5-8 And single file serpentine clockwise to the bottom (gent 2 lead) while bottom gent, followed by partner, cast to the top place
End 1 (improper) – 2 – 3 (improper)
B1 1-4 Gent 2 facing up and lady 2 facing down: set to neighbor and turn single
5-8 Right-hand turn that neighbor 1-1/2 to trade places
B2 1-4 All six circle left, 2/3 around, until proper
(Gents are in 3-1-2 order; ladies are in 2-3-1 order)
5-8 Facing new partner across: set and turn single

As the circle spirals into the serpentine single file, start by all following the person you were already following in the circle. The leader (W2 in A1 and M2 in A2) crosses the set and turns down, while the other three continue to follow their leader. Meanwhile the bottom couple is getting out of the way.

Three times through gets everyone back to their original partner and position.

Composed 11/23/2016.

 


 

Brooklyn Dandy
duple minor longways
Tune: Flatbush Waltz by Andy Statman

A 1-2 Take hands in lines and set forward and back
3-6 Couple one right-hand turn 1-1/2
7-8 Ones cast down one place (improper) as the twos move up
9-16 Full double figure eight (ones cross up through the center as the twos cast down, etc.)
B 1-4 Left-hand star with new neighbors
5-8 Right-hand star with original neighbors
9-12 Ones two-hand turn 1-1/2 and face up
13-16 Lead up between the twos, cast back down to place

This dance began life as a variation on an old American contra dance called Dandy’s Hornpipe. Then came the idea to do it in waltz time and make the styling English, and the figures evolved from there.

 


 

Eliza Doolittle Day
duple minor longways
Tune: John’s March by John Wobus

A1 1-4 Circle left once around
5-8 With your partner back-to-back
A2 1-4 Circle right once around
5-8 With your neighbor left shoulder back-to-back
B 1-4 Couple 1 cross the set, go down the outside one place as the twos move up
5-8 Couple two cross the set; go down the outside, around your neighbor and into the center of a line-of-4 facing up (couple one can cast out to the ends of the line on the last 4 counts)
9-10 Up the hall three steps, turn alone (toward neighbor) to face down
11-12 Lead back down, “folding in” as you do so (twos gate ones 1/4) — end facing across, all improper and progressed
13-14 Twos cross and go below as the ones start a half figure eight up the hall
15-16 The twos meet and lead up as the ones finish their half figure eight

Created on the twentieth of May (hence the title) 2009.

 


 

Finding the Lamppost
duple minor longways
Tune: La Gueussinette by Stephen Jones (waltz time, played without repeats: AB)

A 1-2 First corners taking right hands, balance forward and back
3-4 Trade places with the lady turning under as in Duke of Kent’s Waltz
5-8 Second corners join and all star right-hands across
9-10 First corners drop out and second corners balance
11-12 and trade places
13-16 All four star right again
B 1-4 Couple one do a split half figure eight (man down, woman up)
5-8 Couple two the same (woman down, man up)
9 All pass partner by right shoulder
10 Loop to the right to face again
11-12 Repeat to cross back
13-14 Partners two-hand turn once around
15-16 All turn single left and face new corners

Composed May 4, 2014, on the way home from the Lenox Assembly, and influenced by the choreography I encountered there. The title and the wistfulness of the tune suggest “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” but the title also refers to the lamppost logo used by the Lenox Assembly.

For the split 1/2 figure 8s, the ones each start by moving to the left diagonal. When it is their turn, the twos start by moving to the right diagonal. You do not go through the same couple as your partner, although you will see a shadow. Avoid colliding with the shadow by staying close to the stationary dancer that you are dancing around.

 


 

Insurmountable Opportunities
duple minor longways, first couples improper
Tune: Insurmountable Opportunities, by Laurel Sharp and David Smukler

A1 1-2 All set toward your neighbor
3-4 Turn single over right shoulder and take hands four
5-8 Circle left, once around
A2 1-4 Gentlemen gate the ladies once around
5-8 Ladies turn by the left hand 1-1/2 in the center; during the last four counts the gents pull right shoulder back and cast into neighbor’s place facing into the set
B1 1-4 Half hey-for-4 across the set (starts by passing partner by the right shoulder)
5-8 Two-hand turn partner 1-1/4 to face in with the lady on the right
B2 1-2 In a ring-of-4, balance in and out, and…
3-4 (As in the contra dance Petronella) …turn single right, moving into the position of the dancer on your right; immediately face this neighbor up or down
5-8 Three changes of rights and lefts, starting with your neighbor

An anglicized variation of my own dance, Bingham’s Pie.

 


 

It Is a Gallant Town
triple minor longways
Tune: Portsmouth (in Barnes I)

A1 1-8 Crossover mirror heys-for-3 (lady cross first)
A2 1-8 Cross back and hey, all on the proper side
B1 1-4 The ones go straight across the set (passing right shoulders) and down the outside one place, as the twos meet and lead up
5-8 Ones half figure eight up through the twos
B2 1-4 Ones between the threes: handy hand turns (M RH, W LH)
5-8 Ones between the twos: handy hand turns (W RH, M LH)

I sometimes call a triple minor version of Portsmouth from the Neal Collection that begins with a crossover hey. This modification draws on both the duple and triple versions.

Composed May 20, 2016.

 


 

Lady Jane’s Maggot (or Tit for Tat)
duple minor longways
Tune: Fifty Years of David, by Jane Knoeck (Sept 2001)

A1 1-4 Right hand to neighbor: 2 changes of rights and lefts
5-8 Facing corner, set and turn single
9-12 First corners trade places by right shoulders; second corners the same
13-16 Partners two-hand turn, ease out to line
A2 1-4 Right hand to partner: 2 changes of rights and lefts
5-8 Facing partner, set and turn single, take two hands with partner
9-12 Half draw poussette clockwise (1st corners going forward throughout)
13-14 Partners balance forward and back
15-16 Ones cast while twos cross up the center as if starting a figure 8
B 1-8 Hey-for-3 across (the 2s taking turns in the hey*) as follows:
– 1s pass RS while W2 casts down
– Two women pass LS; W2 ends above on own side, displacing M2
– 1s pass LS while M2 casts down
– W1 pass M2 RS; M2 ends above on own side
All are now progressed and proper
9-12 Same four right-hand star
13-16 Left-hand star (2nd corners turn over RS to face next neighbor)

To celebrate my 50th birthday in September of 2001 I organized a free dance for my local community with music by the Groovemongers. Jane Knoeck, their piano player, composed a lovely waltz for the occasion called “Fifty Years of David.” Recently (almost 15 years later) she played the tune at a dance I was attending. “What a nice tune!” I said, “What is it?…” Re-inspired by her music, I composed this dance a few days later, on June 9, 2016.

* Note about the hey: For the 1s, it feels like a normal right-shoulder hey. The 2s have a support role: each in turn does half of a figure 8 pattern, casting down and crossing up, thereby filling a role in the hey as needed. Since W2’s role in the hey starts right after she crosses up the center at the end of A2, her path beginning on the last phrase of A2 will feel like 3/4 of a figure 8 (all but the final cast). Arriving in her progressed place, she displaces her partner, who casts just in time, and then crosses up to his progressed place.

 


 

Long Live Pat Shaw
By David Smukler and Carmen Giunta
Three-couple longways
Tune: Remembering Pat Shaw, by Charlene Thomson

A1 Top four:
1-4 Back to back with partner
5-6 Turn single right
7-8 Right hands across star halfway
A2 Bottom four:
1-2 Left-hand star halfway
3-4 Turn single right
5-8 Partners back to back
B1 1-8 Crossover mirror hey: 2s and 3s face down, 1s at the bottom start the hey by crossing up between the 3s
(couples are now in 2-3-1 order, all improper)
B2 1-4 All six circle left, one time around
5-6 Partners cross the set passing right shoulders
7-8 Partners set, right and left

Charlene Thomson created this evocative waltz to honor Pat Shaw in 2017, the 100th anniversary of his birth. She asked Carmen Giunta and me to create a dance for it. Here’s the result, written in June of 2017.

 


 

Master Barton’s Arrival
duple minor longways
Tune: The Argos Inn, by Rachel Bell

A1 1-2 Ones cast down one place as the twos lead up
3-4 Ones half figure 8 up through the twos
5-6 Twos cast down one place as the ones lead up
7-8 Twos half figure 8 up through the ones
A2 1-4 1st corner people (on the left diagonal) right-hand turn 1-1/2, trading places
5-8 2nd corners (right diagonals) right-hand turn 1-1/2
(All are now in progressed place)
B1 1-3 Circle left about 3/4
4 Turn single over left shoulder
5-7 Left-hand star back to progressed place
8 Turn single over right shoulder
B2 1-2 Starting with partner, two changes of rights and lefts with hands
3-4 Three quick changes without hands, continue to face out
5-6 Lead away with neighbor
7-8 Return and cross the set by the right shoulder
9-10 Partners two-hand turn once around

B2 is modeled on Peter and Peggy by Gary Roodman, a dance I love.

Rachel Bell generously created a “tune to order” for this dance, which was written for my first grandson, Isaac Benedick Smukler Barton, born September 19, 2015 (“Talk Like a Pirate” Day). The dance was modified into its present form in September of 2017. My dance Just Born, More Later was also written for Isaac.

 


 

Never Better
four-couple longways, couples 3 and 4 improper
Tune: Laurel’s Triumph, by Jane Knoeck (July 2017)

A1 1-4 Middle four join hands and make arches all round: ends cast down or up, dance into the side arches and out the ends to return to place
5-6 Couples 1 and 2 trade places with a half draw poussette clockwise, and couples 3 and 4 the same
7-8 The four now in the middle (original ends) circle left three-quarters while new ends continue the draw poussette (woman moving forward and man backing up) to orbit the set one quarter; the line of 4 couples now goes across the hall
A2 1-8 Repeat A1 to home places (all roles change, and the opposite people go forward or backward in the poussettes)
B1 1-4 All set to partner, turn single
5-8 Ends back to back with partner while middles walk around partner one time by the right shoulder (2 measures) and then do two quick changes of rights and lefts (2 measures)
B2 1-4 All meet a same sex neighbor along the line and two-hand turn 1½, open out to face across
5-6 With your neighbor, fall back and come forward
7-8 Partners two-hand turn once around
(ends face out, middles make a ring-of-4)

The action in measures 5-8 of the A-parts requires careful teaching. In B1, the back-to-back is long, the walk-around is tight.

Written August of 2017 for my wife, Laurel Sharp, to celebrate a significant birthday.

 


 

You’re Sauvain
By David Smukler and Carmen Giunta
duple minor longways
Tune: Not … So Vain, by Charlene Thomson

Part I: Siding

A1 1-2 Partners right shoulder siding into line (3 steps forward and 3 back)
3-4 Turn single over left shoulder to face neighbor
A2 1-2 Neighbors left shoulder siding
3-4 Turn single over right shoulder into…
B1 1-3 All four circle left once around
4 Fall back to line
5 First corners meet
6 First corners retire while the second corners meet
7 First corners trade places passing right shoulders
8 Second corners trade places passing right shoulders
B2 1-2 Single file promenade clockwise halfway round to home
3-4 Partners two-hand turn, end facing neighbors up or down
5-6 Neighbors forward and back
7-8 Ones cast down as the twos lead up
(optional: twos turn single away on last 3 counts)

Part II: Arming

A1 1-2 Partners arm right
3-4 Turn single over left shoulder to face neighbor
A2 1-2 Neighbors arm left
3-4 Turn single over right shoulder
B1 & 2 1-16 As above

Part III: Up a double

A1 1-2 All up a double and back
3-4 Turn single away from partner to face down
A2 1-2 Down a double and back
3-4 Turn single away from partner to face in
B1 & 2 1-16 As above

Carmen Giunta and I collaborated to create this dance in honor of Richard Sauvain, a wonderful dancer and organizer who has nurtured the English country dance community in Rochester, NY for many years. The dance was completed in August of 2016, and unveiled at an event in Richard’s honor on September 18, 2016, called “Salute to Sauvain.” The dance’s title was given to us by Lisa Brown, the president of Country Dancers of Rochester. My wife, Laurel Sharp, came up with the idea of having an “SAU” (rather than “USA”) structure for the dance. And the tune was composed especially for this dance and event by Charlene Thomson.

Also check out Lisa’s Maggot, a dance that Carmen wrote with some input from me. It uses another of Charlene’s fine tunes, and was composed in September of 2010 to honor Lisa Brown.

 


 

Balance the Star
a square dance figure

 A1 4 gents balance a left-hand star, then turn it 3/4 while ladies move left one place
All allemande right the same partner, and gents go back to the center to form another left-hand star
 A2 Gents balance the star again and turn 3/4 while ladies move left one more place
All allemande right your partner just 3/4, allemande left your corner
 B1 Grand right and left, 5 changes (pull past your partner at home)
 B2 Promenade the next to the lady’s home

Repeat three more times.

 


 

Bill Bailey Won’t You Please Come Home
a singing square

This was my first attempt at creating a singing square. I used a dance I’d made up earlier (Dave’s Quadrille after Tony Parkes’ Knave’s Quadrille) and added an intro, break and ending made up of a series of gents and ladies chains. My idea for all the parts of the dance was to have the gents leave home, but return eventually (“Bill Bailey won’t you please come home!”). To chain the gents: 2 gents give left hands, pull by to opposite lady, link up with arms around waists, and finish with the gent walking forward and the lady backing up (like a #2 lady casting off an active gent in a contra).

The figure is as follows:

Head couples go forward, take two hands with opposite(4)
The lady backs up to her home drawing the gent with her (4)
Heads swing opposite at lady’s home (8)
Sides do all that (16)

4 gents LH star 3/4 to find a new partner (8)
Swing that new partner (8)
And promenade once around to the lady’s home (16)

Here are the words more or less as I sing them:

Intro:

Head gents you chain across, right across the set
Side gents you chain across, go right across the set
Head ladies chain across, right across the set
Side 2 ladies chain across, and no you’re not done yet, because
The head 2 ladies chain back home, don’t you take too long
Side 2 ladies chain back home, right where you belong
Head 2 gents you chain back home and the side gents you chain back home
Bill Bailey won’t you please come home!

Figure [do twice]:

Head 2 couples forward go; lady bring the gent back home
You swing him all night long
Side couples forward now, to the lady’s home and swing somehow
Don’t ever do him wrong [or “Don’t let him do you wrong”]
Four gents star left 3/4, to a new partner there
You swing and swing and swing and then you promenade the square
Walk around that ring, and everybody sing
Bill Bailey won’t you please come home!

Break:

Head 2 gents you chain across, go right across the square
Head ladies chain across, and you meet this partner there
Side 2 gents you chain across, go right across the square
And the side 2 ladies chain across, and meet this partner there
Then the head 2 ladies chain back home, don’t you take too long
Head 2 gents chain back home, right where you belong
Side 2 ladies chain you know, when they get there the side gents go
Bill Bailey won’t you please come home!

[Repeat figure twice starting with sides]

Ending:

Head 2 gents you chain across and the side 2 gents you chain across
And the head 2 ladies chain across and the side 2 ladies chain across
Then the head 2 ladies chain back home and the side ladies chain back home
Head 2 gents you chain back home and the side gents you chain back home
Now allemande left on the corner, go back to your partner there
You swing and swing and swing and then you promenade the square
Walk around that ring, and everybody sing
Bill Bailey won’t you please come home!

 


 

Easy Quadrille Variation
a square dance figure

 A1 All go forward and back
Ladies grand chain
 A2 Head couples promenade halfway round the outside
Side couples right and left through
 B1 All circle left halfway
Swing your corner
 B2 Promenade to gent’s home place

A variation of Bob Dalsemer’s Easy Quadrille. I have rearranged Bob’s figures slightly to achieve a phrasing I like. Repeat the figure once more for the head couples, and then twice for the sides.

 


 

Lady Be Good

a singing square dedicated to Susan Kevra, who helped inspire me to include singing squares in my repertoire

Notes for interpreting the text:

  • Every line equals four beats of music
  • If the first beat is not on the first word, its word is underlined
  • Words in parentheses are spoken, not sung

Intro:

Bow to your partner
Bow to your corner too
4 ladies to the middle with a right hand star
And you turn it around, but not too far
Come back by the left till you get home
Allemande right there with your own
Then allemande left on the corner
Go back to your partner and look ’em in the eye

Oh just walk all around me, have some
pity (and swing me! swing me!)
Up and down in the great big
city (then promenade)
Oh sweet and lovely
Lady be good, oh
Lady be good
To me. (Face the middle, and go)

Figure:

In with your partner, out with your corner
Face that corner, do-si-do
Once and a half around
To your next old corner where you allemande left
Go back to your new partner, say “hi!”
Weave the ring right then
It’s a right shoulder, left shoulder till you meet
again (then a figure of eight)
Round your partner by the right
And your corner by the left
And your partner by the right
And if you want to swing, well don’t fight it!
Swing with your partner
And promenade so free, oh
Lady be good
To me.

[Repeat figure]

Break:

Four ladies to the middle and back
Four gents to the middle and back
Four ladies to the middle with a right hand star
[and continue as in intro. Finish by singing, “I’m like an
orphan lost in the wood; oh, lady be good to me.”]

[Repeat figure twice more]

Ending [the gents start]:

Four gents to the middle and back
Four ladies to the middle and back
Four gents to the middle with a right hand star

[and continue as in intro. Finish by singing, “I am so often misunderstood; oh, lady be good to me.”]

Often, if folks are enjoying themselves, I add one more verse as follows:

All eight to the middle and back
Now face your partner — and do-si-do
Just one time around
Then face your corner and you allemande left
Go back to that same partner, say “hi!”
And weave the ring right then

[and continue as in figure]

 


 

Perfectly Simple
a square dance figure

 A1 All see-saw (left shoulder do-si-do) corner
Allemande left your corner (either 1x or 2x), hold on and give right hand to partner in an “Alamo ring”
 A2 Balance, allemande right 1/2-way and give left hands to the next
Balance, allemande left 3/4
 B1 Gents make a right-hand star
Swing the one you left (original right hand lady)
 B2 Promenade to lady’s home

Repeat three more times.

This is a variation of Ted Sannella’s Perfect Match.

 


 

Sheehan’s Too
a square dance figure

 A1 Four ladies into the center and back
Four gents into the center and back
 A2 Ladies go behind your partner’s back and (cw) round the outside (1-16)
Gents left-hand star (9-16)
 B1 Pass your own and do-si-do the next
Swing same
 B2 Promenade to lady’s home

Repeat once as is, then you may swap gents’ and ladies’ roles in the A-parts as follows:

A1- 4 gents in; 4 ladies in
A2- Gents go behind ptr’s back & (ccw) round the outside (1-16)
ladies right-hand star (9-16)

The B-parts are the same and you still promenade to the lady’s home. Repeat the figure one more time with the gents in the lead to get own partner back.

This is my variation on Roger Whynot’s Sheehan’s Reel.

 


 

Trick Auto Square
a square dance figure

A1 Head two ladies chain 3/4 (see note)Forward 6 and back (head lady with side couples)
A2 Right hands up and left hands under: head ladies send sides to the head positions and then turn over their own right shoulder to allemande left their partner who is waiting behind
Same ladies chain 3/4 again (now the lines-of-3 are at the heads)
B1 Forward 6 and back
Right hands up and left hands under, head ladies turn and allemande left
(all are now opposite original home place)
B2 Four ladies grand chain, over and back
C1 Promenade single file (lady in the lead), gents turn back over right shoulder
Swing the one you meet (your corner)
C2 Promenade to the gent’s home place

For the “ladies chain 3/4,” in this dance, the gent goes without hesitation one place to the right behind the next couple and courtesy turns his own partner, who has passed between that couple to meet him there. After the courtesy turn she steps up between the standing couple for the forward 6 and back. Her partner waits patiently in the background while she disposes of the other two people and then turns over her right shoulder so she can allemande left with him. If the intro, break and ending finish up with a promenade, the gent’s momentum should send him in the right direction for the first 3/4 chain. But the active gents must move!

Repeat the figure once more for the head couples, and then twice for the sides.

I worked out this dance while waiting for my car to be ready at my favorite mechanic’s. I really like it, but find it a challenge to call well. The phrasing given above is important to me, although it’s fine to use an AABB tune, so that the first time through is AABBAA and the next BBAABB. The dance is not suitable for a crowded hall.

 


 

What the Heck
a square dance figure

 A1 Circle left, 8 hands round
Back to the right, single file
 A2 Head couples left-hand star
Right-hand back
 B1 All allemande left corner (4)
Grand right and left (12)
 B2 Promenade home
Go into the center and back

Repeat with the side couples leading in A2, then four ladies,
and finally four gents.

This is a combination of a dance by Roger Whynot (whose last name suggested the title) with Bob Dalsemer’s First Night Quadrille.

 


 

David’s Triplet #1
a triplet (3-couple contra, couple 1 is improper for this dance)

 A1 Couple 1 down the center, turn as a couple
Return, cast off with couple 2
 A2 Actives turn contra corners
 B1 Active balance and swing, end facing up and take hands with couple 2 in a ring
 B2 Balance the ring, drop hands, pass through across the set and turn individually over right shoulder into…
A circle left for all six, halfway round

Ends in 3-1-2 order with the new top couple improper.

David’s Triplet #1 was based in part on Ted Sannella’s wonderful Ted’s Triplet #7. It was composed during a period of time when I was calling lots of contra corner dances. I wanted a triplet to create an easy context to teach the figure in. I liked the result, but didn’t find it easy enough for my purposes.

So I created another even easier one and called it “David’s Triplet #1.5.” (Consequently, my next triplet became “David’s Triplet #3”; there was never a #2.) Later I discovered that Linda Leslie wrote the same dance much earlier than I did:

Corner Triplet by Linda Leslie (David’s Triplet #1.5)

a triplet (3-couple contra, all proper)

 A1 Couple 1 down the center, turn alone
Return, cast off with couple 2
 A2 Actives turn contra corners
 B1 Active balance and swing, end facing up
 B2 Actives up the center to the top, separate and go down the outside to the bottom
Forward six and back

Ends in 2-3-1 order.

 


 

Once I created David’s Triplet #1.5, I decided there was no need for a Triplet #2 and skipped right to….

David’s Triplet #3
a triplet (3-couple contra, all proper)

 A1 Couple 1 cast down the outside one place (as the 2’s move up), trade places passing right shoulders and face couple 3
Those two couples right and left through up and down the set, then take right hands with this neighbor (and 2’s at the top give right hands to one another)
 A2 Balance, pull by the right hand and pull by the next, left hands
Balance the third, box the gnat to face back the other way
 B1 Pull by two people (right hand and left hand)
And swing the one you meet (the first person you balanced), end facing in
 B2 All six circle left 1/2-way
Top two couples swing your partner, end facing up

Ends in 3-1-2 order.

On the weekend of March 2-3, 2002, three groups of callers met to dance through all 41 of Ted Sannella’s triplets. This dance was written on February 17, 2002 to honor Ted and that occasion. Ted often based his triplets on other pleasing dances. In that tradition, this one is based on Steve Zakon-Anderson’s Three Thirty-Three, whose distinctive figure appears in the A2 and B1 parts.

 


 

David’s Triplet #4
a triplet (3-couple contra, couple one improper)

 A1 Actives down the center to the bottom, separate, and go up the outside to the middle place
All forward and back
 A2 All allemande right partner once around and fall back to line
All allemande left partner 1-1/2
 B1 Promenade single file, 1/2-way round
Face partner and do-si-do
 B2 Balance and swing partner

Ends in 3-1-2 order.

At the end of A2 the allemande left leaves one line facing down and the other facing up, so a counterclockwise single file promenade will flow very naturally from that.

This was written at Pinewoods in the summer of 2002 and revised a bit on March 10, 2007. My goal was to make a triplet that was very easy to dance. I started with Ted’s Triplet #28, which is one of his easiest, and tried to make it easier still by eliminating a right and left through.

Some of Ted’s Triplets end with one or more couples improper, but all are danceable beginning with everyone proper. That is true of this dance as well, but I prefer to start by crossing over the top couple, which is how it should begin every other time. The timing in the first eight counts of A1 is tight, and the new top couple each time must begin promptly, so ending B2 with them facing down (lady on right) is helpful. In A2 the hand turns can go any distance. No matter who ends on which side the allemande left will feed into a counterclockwise single file, and the balance and swing will be in the same place. (It also makes no real difference which side any couple ends on at the end of B2.) Nevertheless, I suggest turning once by the right and once and a half by the left for a few reasons, not the least of which is that the same thing happens in one of my favorite traditional dances, Queen Victoria.

 


 

David’s Triplet #5
a triplet (3-couple contra, all proper)

 A1 Couple one down the outside to the bottom and step into the center
Up the center and cast off with couple two
 A2 All do-si-do partner 1-1/4 into a wavy line-of-6 (right hands with partner)
Balance, allemande right partner just halfway into a new wave
 B1 Balance, pull past partner’s right shoulder to start a hey-for-6 (just half a hey)
 B2 When you meet your partner, walk around by the right shoulder, and swing

Ends in 3-1-2 order. This was composed on a Mother’s Day: May 14, 2006.

 


 

David’s Triplet #6
See Barnacle Waltz.

 


 

David’s Triplet #7
a triplet (3-couple contra, all proper)

 A1 (Couple one around couple two) Lady round two and the gent cut through
Circle four hands to the left, once around
 A2 Balance the ring and swing your neighbor
 B1 (Couple one around couple three) Gent around two and the lady cut through
Circle six hands to the left, halfway around
 B2 All do-si-do partner
All swing partner

Ends in 3-1-2 order. This was composed on April 14, 2007.

 


 

Cortland Fancy
a four-face-four dance

 A1 Forward eight and back
Four ladies grand chain
 A2 Along your line-of-four (i.e., across the hall), ladies chain
Ladies chain back to your partner (i.e., up and down the hall)
 B1 Same four, left-hand star
Come back with a right-hand star
 B2 All eight circle left halfway
All swing partner, and face the next line-of-four (original direction up or down the hall)

This dance is in a double (duple improper) contra formation: four face four up and down the hall. Instead of a normal duple improper contra set, which is comprised of couples facing neighbor couples, two couples in a line-of-four face a similar line-of-four, and this repeats for as many foursomes as will. The dance could also be done as a double Sicilian Circle. It is still four facing four, but the groups of eight dancers emanate from the center of the hall like spokes of a wheel.

The original four-face-four dance was the traditional dance Portland Fancy. Several versions exist, and it seems to me that it was the formation that made a dance a “Portland Fancy,” and not the particular figures. Ted Sannella wrote a four-face-four dance, based on the most common version of the traditional dance, which added a partner swing and incorporated elements of a traditional square, The Route. He called it Ted’s Portland Fancy. Sometime later, Jacob Bloom came up with a four-face-four that swapped the position of couples in their lines-of-four back and forth. Now many dances exist in this formation that swap the couples like this.

Cortland Fancy simply inserts some of the interesting pieces of Ted’s Portland Fancy into Fred Breunig’s lovely four-face-four dance, Etna Star. I’ve always loved the way that the stars move into the large circle in Fred’s dance, reminiscent of another old dance, British Sorrow. Since I work in Cortland, NY, home of those wonderful apples, Cortland Fancy seemed like an obvious title. The dance is so entirely derivative of other dances that I hesitate to say that I “composed” it, but perhaps I could say that it was “assembled” on December 29, 2009. It was first called the same evening.

 


Four Dances in Tempest Formation:

“Tempest” formation, is named for a wonderful chestnut, The Tempest, and is an old form of double contra. The “minor set” (the people you dance with before progressing) is composed of four couples rather than two, as in a duple minor contra, or three, as in a triple minor contra. It is similar in this regard to a 4-face-4, or double contra (a formation that is also based on a chestnut, Portland Fancy). As in a 4-face-4, the ones are in a line-of-4 facing down, both couples standing side by side. However, what distinguishes Tempest formation from a Portland Fancy is that the twos are not in another line-of-4 facing up. Rather, they are out at the sides, facing in, as if in a very widely spaced Becket formation dance (wide enough that the line-of-4 fits between).

Progression in a Tempest formation dance is easy. The ones typically start by going down the center and back. Upon returning they face the nearest side (or number 2) couple. Each subsequent time through the dance, the twos must slide sideways up the hall as the ones are going down. This provides new neighbors for the ones to return to each time through. The twos should move up quite a bit each time, more than they might expect (think 2 places instead of 1). When the twos reach the top, they wait out once, moving into the center of the set. The next time through they are ones: a line-of-4 going down the center. When ones reach the bottom and have no new couples to dance with, they separate out to the sides and become twos.

Here are three good methods callers have used to get dancers into Tempest formation:

  1. The “contra” method. Start by placing the dancers in Becket formation. Then have them take hands eight. In each group of eight, two couples are closer to the top of the hall. Those two couples (the ones) turn to face down. They are standing side by side in a line-of-four. The other two couples (the twos) stay where they are, one at each end of the line-of-four, but move out to create space for the ones.
  2. The “square” method. To set up the Tempest from squares, align the squares up and down the hall. Then have each couple three come up and stand next to their couple one.
  3. The “four-face-four” method. Begin with a double contra (two couples in a line-of-four facing down at two more facing up, and so forth down the hall). The ones, who are facing down the hall, are all set. The twos, who are facing up, separate out to the sides and face in.

Tempus Fugit
a dance in Tempest formation (see note above for explanation of formation)

 A1 Line-of-4 go down the hall, turn as couples
Return, face the nearest side couple, and take hands four with them
 A2 Circle halfway (see note about whether to circle left or circle right), twos arch and ones dive through, then ones pass through with the other couple 1 as the twos California twirl
Do-si-do with the one you meet
 B1 Balance and swing that neighbor, end facing up or down the hall with the gent on left and lady on right
 B2 Same four circle left halfway and all swing partner; end with twos facing in and ones facing down

Note that in A2 the couple on the left of the line (as they face the music) turns left and circles to the right with their neighbor couple, while the couple on the right turns right and circles to the left. Momentum will naturally carry the circle the correct way. Because the twos always circle the same way, when in doubt they are in charge. (In the original dance both sides circled left. Nils Fredland suggested this change, and I love it.)

Many 4-face-4 dances progress such that the left-hand couple in the line-of-4 becomes the right-hand couple the next time through the dance, and vice versa. I had not encountered a Tempest formation dance with this feature, so I created this one. Tempus Fugit was composed on February 20, 2006. The original version of this dance had a slightly different A2 — and is more difficult:

A2: Balance the ring twice
Circle left halfway, dive through and pass through

The double balance is a nod to older versions of The Tempest, and a feature I enjoy. I think a double balance can bring a whole room together in a powerful way. However, time really does fly if you balance twice. Eight counts is barely enough time to circle half, dive through and pass through. In the current version, the do-si-do takes up the slack if any dancer experiences a momentary lapse. The original can be fun with the right group, but the dancers must work together without hesitation if they are to meet their new neighbor in time to balance at the top of B1. (It was Lisa Greenleaf who suggested ditching the double balance and adding the do-si-do. Between the good advice of Lisa and Nils, I think “my” dance is now rather fun….)

Another Part of the Island
a dance in Tempest formation (see note above for explanation of formation)

 A1 Line-of-4 go down the hall, turn as couples
Return, face the nearest side couple
 A2 Circle left halfway (4); weave the line across (12):
a 1/2 hey-for-4 with each couple acting as a unit (ladies pass right shoulders on outsides, gents pass left shoulders in ctr)
 B1 Same four circle left once around and swing neighbor
 B2 Balance and swing partner, end with twos facing in and ones facing down

Tempus Fugit, my first Tempest formation dance, progresses such that the left-hand couple in the line-of-4 becomes the right-hand couple the next time through the dance, and vice versa. This, my second dance in Tempest formation, has the same feature and also swaps the side couples back and forth. Another Part of the Island was composed on March 12, 2006, and revised June 13, 2008. The title is drawn from the most common scene direction in Shakespeare’s play, and refers, in part, to the way the couples migrate.

Going Dutch
a dance in Tempest formation (see note above for explanation of formation)

 A1 Line-of-4 go down the hall, turn as couples
Return, face the nearest side couple
 A2 All right-hand star halfway, twos left-hand star halfway
All right-hand star halfway, ones left-hand star halfway
 B1 These four circle left 3/4 and swing neighbor
 B2 Circle left 3/4 and swing partner, end with twos facing in
and ones facing down

My friend, Carmen Giunta created an English Country style dance based on Another Part of the Island, which he calls Star-Crossed Tempest. It is quite different from this dance, full of setting, poussettes and what not. I swiped the stars figure in A2 and reinserted it back into my contra-style dance. My title is a nod to Ernst van Brakel’s marvelous Dutch Crossing, which has a chorus figure that resembles the figure I took from Carmen. Going Dutch was written May 24, 2006.

Toronto Tempest
a dance in Tempest formation (see note above for explanation of formation)

 A1 Line-of-4 go down the hall, turn as couples
Return, face the nearest side couple
 A2 Circle left halfway and pass through, passing this neighbor by the right shoulder
Ones allemande left a shadow (from the other first couple) 1-1/2 while the twos turn as a couple to face in
 B1 Ones meet a neighbor on the opposite side: balance and swing, end facing up or down the hall
 B2 These four circle left halfway, and all swing partner, end with twos facing in and ones facing down

Composed November 23, 2008. I had just called Tempus Fugit at the Toronto Dance the night before. It went well overall, but I felt I had to work awfully hard as a caller to keep everyone together and happy. My goal was to come up with a slightly easier sequence. This was first tested with dancers on March 12, 2009 in Rochester, NY.

I love these Tempest dances, and hope that others will try them.



And a couple of tunes…

I composed the tune Molecular Structure for a delightful dance by Carmen Giunta called Professor Kekule’s Reverie.

My wife, Laurel and I created the tune Insurmountable Opportunities for the dance of the same name.

Permission is granted to print personal copies of these tunes and to perform them live; all other rights reserved.