“Coronavirus Dances”

I either created or revised the dances below during the COVID-19 pandemic, when I was unable to test them in a set of dancers. As your dancing begins to resume, please feel free to try some of my new dances and let me know how they go. Until that time, please stay safe!

DISCLAIMER
One of the first rules of writing dances is that they should be tested. How a dance looks on paper is often quite different from how it feels when actually danced. Nevertheless, because of the COVID-19 shutdown, none of the dances below has been danced in a group, nor will they be until it is safe to dance in groups again. When that happens, and the dances are tested properly, I fully expect to alter or discard much of this work.

I owe a huge debt to tunesmiths who entrusted me with their work, especially under these unusual circumstances. Emily Askew, Tim Ball, Andrea Beaton, Judith Cooper, Nadine Dyskant-Miller, Debbie Jackson, Jonathan Jensen, Jane Knoeck, John Krumm, Andrew Marcus, Daniel Roy, Dave Wiesler, John Wobus, and others from centuries past, thank you — I love your tunes! Thanks also to Laurel Sharp, David Millstone, Carmen Giunta, Christine Robb, Anna Rain, Brad Foster and others (including my “deep dive” dancers) who offered such helpful feedback on one or more of these dances.

-David Smukler

Duple improper contras

Duple proper contras

Becket formation contras

English country dances


Buttermilk Biscuits
Duple improper

 A1 Ones half figure-8 down the set
Ones swing
 A2 Down the hall 4-in-line
Turn alone, return and face neighbor
 B1 Neighbors balance and swing
 B2 Long lines forward and back
Ones half figure-8 up the set

Composed July 2020 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19. Consequently, it has not yet been road-tested.

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Phylla Mae Promenade
Duple improper

 A1 Circle left 1x and neighbors swing
 A2 Neighbors promenade 3/4 to face partner up or down
Partners do-si-do
 B1 Partners balance and swing
 B2 Balance the ring; spin one place to the right (as in Petronella)
Balance the ring; California twirl

My variation of Punxsutawney Promenade by Dan Pearl.

Composed June 2020 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19. Consequently, it has not yet been road-tested.

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Ross’s Reel #2 (revised)
Duple improper

 A1 Neighbors balance and swing
 A2 (4) Ones allemande right 3/4, same-role neighbors take left hands to form wave on right diagonal (depending on your role, it might be the current neighbor or neighbor 2)
(8) Balance the wave twice
(4) Neighbors allemande left once
 B1 Ones turn contra corners
 B2 Ones balance and swing, end facing down

Revised during the COVID-19 pandemic. Changes have not yet been road-tested.

Finish the neighbor swing in time for ones to be ready with their right hands in A2. Then, finding the correct neighbor will be key to forming the diagonal wave.

The dance is named for Ross’s Reel #4, a grand old tune that fits the dance well. This is Ross’s Reel #2, because I revised the original version, “Ross’s Reel.”

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Trip to the Shore
Duple improper

 A1 Neighbors do-si-do
Neighbors swing
 A2 Gents change places; partners balance
Partners swing
 B1 Ladies change places; partners change places
Circle left once around, hang on
 B2 Dive for the oyster, dig for the clam; shoot through the hole to the promised land

This can be called without reference to dance roles by replacing “gents” and “ladies” (or other role terms) with positional terms like “first corners” and “second corners.”

Composed June 2020 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19. Consequently, it has not yet been road-tested.

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We’ll Dance Again
Duple proper
Starts with ones in the center of a line-of-4 facing up

 A1 Up the hall 4-in-line, ones turn as a couple in the center
Return improper and hand cast to form a ring
 A2 Balance the ring (4)
Neighbors roll away with a half sashay, rolling clockwise (right to left)
Right-hand dancers chain across
 B1 Same two do-si-do and partners swing
 B2 Taking hands in a ring, balance and spin to the right (as in Petronella)
Ones: cross down between current neighbors, then down outside the next, arriving between these neighbors to form a new line-of-4 facing up

Composed May 2020 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19. Consequently, it has not yet been road-tested.

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Wild Idea
Duple proper
Starts with ones in the center of a line-of-4 facing up

 A1 Circle left 1x
Balance the ring, spin to the right
 A2 Ladies (who are now above) down the center, turn alone
Return, cast off with partner
 B1 Pass through across and partners swing
 B2 Gents allemande left 3/4 to cross the set while ladies turn out over right shoulder and cast up or down the side, ending across from partner
Balance the ring; ones turn single while twos California twirl

Modeled on Martha Wild’s dance, Best of Friends.

B2 borrows unabashedly from English country dance, and uses what ECD people call “meanwhile figures.” The English turn single for the ones is a clockwise turn in four steps that ends where it began. It is often described to newcomers as dancing around an imaginary manhole (or pizza).

Composed May 2020 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19. Consequently, it has not yet been road-tested.

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Beck and Call (revised)
Becket, clockwise

 A1 Long lines forward and back
Circle left 3/4, pass through along the set and form a wavy line-of-4 with new neighbors
 A2 Balance that wave, slide or spin to the right as in Rory O’More
Balance to the left, slide or spin to the left
 B1 Neighbors balance and swing
 B2 Circle left 3/4 and partners swing

Revised during the COVID-19 pandemic. Changes have not yet been road-tested.

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.

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What’s Time to a Pig?
Becket, counterclockwise and double progression

 A1 Balance the ring and spin to the right as in Petronella
Balance the ring, California twirl
 A2 Next neighbors balance and swing
 B1 Pass through across the set, turn away from this neighbor
New neighbors swing
 B2 Circle left 3/4 and partners swing

It progresses counterclockwise because time felt sometimes felt like it ran backwards during the pandemic.

This is a double progression dance. You swing your partner and both neighbors as well. So, pace yourself; there is a lot of swinging!

Composed June 2020 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19. Consequently, it has not yet been road-tested.

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Ambidexterity (revised)
Duple minor longways
Tune: Thirtieth Anniversary Slip (Irish traditional)

A1 1-4 Four quick changes of a circular hey (start by passing partner)
A2 1-2 Partners right shoulder once around
3-4 Neighbors gate clockwise (first corners going forward)
B1 1-4 Begin a full hey-for-4 across (first corners pass left shoulder to start)
B2 1-2 Complete the hey
3 First corners cross by right shoulder
4 Second corners the same
C1 1-3 Circle left all the way round
4 Partners 2-hand turn halfway
C2 1 Balance back
2-4 And partners back-to-back

Three steps per change on the circular hey. No need to rush the hey across, which takes 18 steps. I don’t advise trying to count; you will find you have just enough time to fit in the corners crossing at the end of B2.

Originally composed July 2018. Revised during the COVID-19 pandemic. Changes have not yet been road-tested.

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Bastille Day
Duple minor longways
Tune: Peace Walk, by Debbie Jackson

A1 1-4 Circle left halfway, neighbors fall back on the side
5-8 Neighbors 2-hand turn
A2 1-4 Circle left halfway, partners fall back (up or down the hall, away from neighbor)
5-8 Neighbors right-hand turn once around, ending in long wavy lines (first corners facing in and second corners out)
B1 1-2 Set in the wave
3-4 “Box circulate,” re-forming the long waves, as follows:
First corners (who are facing in) dance straight across to partner’s place
Meanwhile second corners (facing out) turn over right shoulder into neighbor’s place as if doing a right-hand turn halfway
5-8 Set again in the new wave; repeat the box circulate, with other corners crossing or turning to right (this time do not form a wave)
9-12 First corners change places; second corners the same
13-16 First corners change back; second corners the same
B2 1-4 Partners set and turn single
5-8 Partners 2-hand turn 1-1/2, open out to face neighbor couple
9-10 Twos arch over the ones while ones dive under the arch
11-12 Backing up, ones arch over the twos while twos back under the arch
13-16 Face new neighbors and repeat bars 9-12, ones under to begin
Tag (last time only)
1-2 Partners step right and honor
3-4 Facing the presence, all step left and honor

Composed June 2020 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19. Consequently, it has not yet been road-tested.

“Arch and dive” is not ideal for all groups. Relative sizes of dancers and willingness to stoop affect this. If necessary, the second half of B2 can be replaced with ones splitting twos for mirror back-to-backs.

This is one of a couple of dances I created to celebrate the birth of my grandson, Leo Horatio Smukler Barton. I asked Debbie Jackson to write a tune “worthy of the occasion” and she sent me “Peace Walk,” a tune I instantly fell in love with. Later she sent it to Karen Axelrod and the two of them played it “together” (Karen live with Debbie on the BOSE speaker) during Karen’s “In the Moment” FaceBook event on Tuesday, July 14, 2020, which by happy coincidence was the very day Leo was born!

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Behind the Mask
Four-couple longways
Tune: La Pipe, by Daniel Roy

A1 1-2 Foursomes single file clockwise one place
3-4 Balance into the center and back
5-8 Repeat
A2 1-4 Neighbors lead out a couple steps, gate turn halfway and return
5-8 Partners right-hand turn 1-1/2 (all are home)
B1 1-4 Circle left single file halfway around the entire set (skipping), face partner across
5-8 Partners back-to-back
B2 1-4 Circle right single file to home (skipping), face neighbor on the side of your foursome
5-8 Neighbors left-shoulder back-to-back
C1 1-2 Top four circle left halfway
3-4 Same partners change places across
5-8 Middle four repeat
B2 1-4 Bottom four repeat
5-8 Partners all set and turn single

The gate turn in A2 is counterclockwise: right-hand person forward; left backs up.

Composed December 2020 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19. Consequently, it has not yet been road-tested.

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Borrowed Time
Duple minor longways
Tune: Is the Big Man Within? (Irish traditional)

A-parts in 9/8, 3 steps to the bar
A1 1-2 First corners change places passing right shoulders; second corners the same
3-4 First corners right-hand turn 3/4 to end in neighbor’s place while second corners dance up or down the outside into neighbor’s place (ends with ones above and all crossed over)
A2 1-4 Repeat A1 with new first corners beginning (all are home)
B-parts in 6/8, 2 steps to the bar
B1 1-4 Neighbors back-to-back
5-6 Circle left halfway
7-8 Balance the ring in and out
B2 1-4 Partners 2-hand turn once around, open out to face neighbor
5-8 Three changes of rights and lefts, starting with neighbor on the side

Composed November 2020 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19. Consequently, it has not yet been road-tested.

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Breathing Space
Four-couple square
Tune: Nonpareil, by John Krumm

A 1-3 Gents weave individually counterclockwise, in front of one (your partner) and behind the next, to opposite gent’s place
4 Opposites right-hand turn halfway, trading places
5-7 Ladies, similarly, weave counterclockwise
8 Partners left-hand turn halfway
9-12 Four ladies chain halfway, end with a left-hand turn that folds into promenade position (begins like an open ladies chain, but then “closes”)
13-16 Promenade halfway, finishing with two step-close steps
B 1-8 (Sides face) Grand square “with breathing space”: 3 steps to meet or fall back, 3 more to turn and honor someone new, etc.
9-10 Set to current partner, right and left
11-12 Right shoulder once around the same
13-15 Gents left-hand star three-quarters
16 New partners right-hand turn halfway

Mixer: gents progress one place clockwise each time; ladies progress across and back, twice. Repeat three more times to original places.

Three Small Notes about the Grand Square:
1. Using waltz footwork helps the figure stay in sync with the tune.
2. Since ladies remain either heads or sides, gents can rely on them to know which way to go to begin the figure.
3. On the final change, honor current partner (i.e., heads do not turn on the last three counts, but sides do).

Composed August 2020 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19. Consequently, it has not yet been road-tested.

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Counting to Ten
Duple minor longways
Tune: The Noon Moose of Maine, by Andrea Beaton, 4 steps to the bar (mostly…)

A1 1-2 Ones cross and cast down while twos lead up and turn out
3-4 Mirror hand turns, ones between twos to begin
5-6 Ones back to back
7-8 Ones 2-hand turn
A2 1-2 Twos cross and cast down while ones lead up and turn out
3-4 Mirror hand turns, twos between ones to begin
5-6 Twos back to back
7-8 Twos 2-hand turn (end with ones above twos, all improper; ones step between twos to form a line-of-4 facing down)
B 1-2 Down the hall four steps, turning toward neighbor at the end of bar 1 to face up; fall back four steps to keep moving down the hall
3-4 Up the hall four steps, turning at the end of bar 3 to face down; fall back four steps moving up the hall, bending the line to face across as you do
5 All cross the set passing partner by the right, and re-form the line facing up with ones still in the center
6-7 Line-of-4 dance up the hall (4 counts), honor the presence (2), and fall back (4)
8 Neighbors gate, ones going forward to end progressed

Bar 6 of the B-part has an extra 2 counts, which are used for a small bow or courtesy to acknowledge the “presence” (musicians and dance leaders we appreciate so much). Note that there is not enough time to “step and honor”; it is simply a brief, 2-count honor.

Bars 6-7 are also an opportunity to “count to ten” (4+2+4 counts), although the title was not intended to be quite that literal.

Composed November 2020 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19. Consequently, it has not yet been road-tested.

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The Dandy’s Cravat (formerly “Brooklyn Dandy”)
Duple minor longways
Tune: Trip to Sligo (Irish traditional)

A1 1-4 Circle left once around
5-8 Ones single file chase clockwise halfway while twos meet and lead up (ones are below and improper)
A2 1-8 Full double figure eight (ones crossing up as twos cast down, etc.)
B1 1-4 Left-hand star with new neighbors
5-8 Right-hand star with original neighbors
B2 1-4 Ones 2-hand turn 1-1/2, face up
5-8 Lead up between the twos, cast back to progressed place
Repeat with couple 2 active:
A3 1-4 Circle left once around (with neighbor 2)
5-8 Twos single file chase clockwise halfway while ones meet and lead down (twos are above and improper)
A4 1-8 Full double figure eight (twos crossing down as ones cast up, etc.)
B3 1-4 Left-hand star with next neighbors
5-8 Right-hand star with current neighbors
B4 1-4 Twos 2-hand turn 1-1/2, face down
5-8 Lead down between the ones, cast back to place

This dance began life as a variation on a nineteenth century American contra dance called Dandy’s Hornpipe. Figures evolved from there and ECD styling seemed to suit. By now very little of Dandy’s Hornpipe remains. I created the dance in 2010; the latest revision is from November 2020.

Most of my ECD dance compositions start with a tune, but this one did not, and finding the best sort of tune took years. For a long while it was set to a very beautiful waltz, but eventually I saw reason and chose this jig.

The dance alternates who is active. With your first neighbors the ones are active (A1-B2). With the next it is the twos who are active (A3-B4), and you continue to alternate as you progress along the line. You can also choose to simplify by dancing only the first two As and Bs, so that ones are always the active couple.

Dedicated to Jennifer Staples, who made my linen cravat… and tried valiantly to teach me to tie it.

Revised to this state during the COVID-19 pandemic. Changes have not yet been road-tested.

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Distances
Duple minor longways
Tune: Distances by Dave Wiesler, © 2020

A1 1-2 Partners “swirly” siding (starting left shoulder)
3-4 Two changes of rights and lefts
5-6 Partners 2-hand turn once around, open out to face neighbors up or down
A2 1-2 Neighbors right shoulder swirly siding
3-4 First corners aim left shoulders toward each other and change places with 4 slipping steps passing back to back (as in “The Black Nag”); second corners aim right shoulders toward each other and do the same (all are home)
5-6 Partners poussette clockwise 3/4 into a line facing up
B1 1-2 Line-of-4 up a double and back
3-4 Half hey-for-4: begin by partners passing right shoulder, end facing down
B2 1-2 Line-of-4 down a double and back
3 Middles (second corners) right shoulder ~3/4 round until facing partner
4 Partners pass right shoulder; first corners in the center right-hand turn halfway while others stand pat with right shoulder facing into the set
5 Neighbors gate turn counterclockwise 3/4 (first corners continuing to move forward, others backing up)

I describe bars 3-5 in B2 measure by measure, but they form one continuous sequence.

Although moving backward in the gate, second corners can continue the counterclockwise motion to flow smoothly into the siding at the top of each new round.

Composed December 2020 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19. Consequently, it has not yet been road-tested.

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Doctor Fauci’s Maggot
Duple minor longways
Tune: Territorial Boys, by Debbie Jackson

A1 1-4 Right-hand star
5-8 All dance individually clockwise up or down your own line, wrapping around at the ends (skipping or skip-change step)
A2 1-4 Turn over left shoulder and return
5-8 Original foursomes left-hand star
B1 1-4 First corners change places passing left shoulder; when coast is clear, second corners change places passing right shoulders
5-8 Partners 2-hand turn 1-1/2, face new neighbors
B2 1-4 With these new neighbors, circle left, releasing hands a bit early to ease out to line
5-8 Partners set and turn single

Composed June 2020 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19. Consequently, it has not yet been road-tested.

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Eliza Doolittle Day (revised)
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 one cross the set and cast down one place as the twos meet and move up
5-8 Couple two cross and cast into the center of a line-of-4 facing up while the ones lead up and cast out to the ends of the line
9-10 Line-of-4, up a double
11-12 Set to the musicians
13-14 Fall back, the ends closing in to form a ring
15-16 Circle left halfway (change hands with your partner to form a ring with the next neighbors)

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

Revised April, 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Changes have not yet been road-tested.

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Exposed
Three-face-three, longways or Sicilian
Tune by Hieronymus Bosch & David Smukler, four steps to the bar

A 1-2 Lines-of-3 forward a double and back
3 Center with dancer on right: gate clockwise 3/4, center moving forward
4 Same center 2-hand turn your other partner halfway to change places; open up to face opposite of original direction
Meanwhile the lone dancer turn clockwise in place 3/4 more and rejoin line-of-3
5-8 Repeat measures 1-4 to end facing original direction but in a new order (if originally numbered left-to-right 1-2-3, you are now in 2-3-1 order)
B1 1-2 All six, circle left halfway
3-4 Opposites back-to-back
5-8 Turn contra corners from here: middles turn each other by right, first corner left, middles right, second corner left, end where you began
B2 1-2 Circle right halfway
3-4 Opposites left shoulder back-to-back
5-6 Lines-of-3 zig-zag to right and left to progress
7-8 New opposites 2-hand turn

The gate in bar 3 of the A-part ends with 2-facing-1 in each threesome. After bar 4 the line-of-3 has been reassembled in a new order facing the opposite direction from how it began. Although described bar by bar for clarity, think of bars 3-4 as one continuous action. The same moves are repeated in bars 7-8 with someone else in the center.

Composed August 2020 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19. Consequently, it has not yet been road-tested.

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Fanny Dashwood’s Comeuppance
Three-couple longways, twos improper
Tune: Miss Carmichael’s Minuet (1768)

A1 1-2 Lady 1 set left and right acknowledging, in turn, lady 2 and partner
3-4 Lady 1 cast to the bottom; the line follows, inverting the line
5-7 Lady 1 and gent 3, right-hand turn
8 Same two turn single left
A2 1-2 Gent 1 set right and left acknowledging, in turn, gent 2 and opposite
3-4 Gent 1 cast to the bottom; the line follows, inverting the line
5-7 Ones left-hand turn
8 And turn single right
B1 1-4 All six, circle left halfway and fall back in lines (original positions, opposite sides)
5-8 Partners back to back (~3 bars) and then cross the set by right shoulder (1 bar), finish by taking hands-6 (all are home)
B2 1-2 Circle left one place with two single steps
3-4 Cast clockwise one more place
5-8 New partners 2-hand turn

Mixer: Ladies end in 2-3-1 order; gents end in 3-1-2 order, with second couple improper. Repeat twice more to original places.

Composed August 2020 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19. Consequently, it has not yet been road-tested.

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Follow Me
Duple minor longways
Tune: The Call, by Judith Cooper (© 2006), 4 steps per bar

A 1-4 Ladies lead a dolphin hey on gents’ line: Lady 1 (followed by lady 2) pass gent 2 by the left to begin; lady 2 takes the lead to complete the loop to the left; as they loop right at the top, lady 1 retakes the lead; finish with ladies crossing back to their own side in progressed place
5-8 Similarly, gents lead dolphin hey on ladies’ line: Ones pass right to begin; gent 2 follows gent 1, but takes the lead as they complete the loop to the right; then gent 1 retakes the lead as they loop left at the top and cross back to their own side (all are progressed)
B 1-2 Ones, a long cast up to original places while
Twos meet, lead down, and fall back to line
3-4 Partners set and turn single
5-6 Half poussette clockwise
7-8 Same four right-hand star once around

The heys are up and down on one side of the set, as in Jack’s Maggot. Changing the lead in these dolphin heys involves “going wide” rather than “going long,” so that crowding is reduced. Lady 1 begins the first hey by dancing between the two gents and continuing wide. Meanwhile, lady 2 follows her between the gents but immediately does a tight counterclockwise loop around her partner, thereby taking the lead. Passing gent 2 at the top, it is lady 2 who goes wide out the side, while lady 1 does a tight clockwise loop around her partner and regains the lead. Gents, of course, do the same sort of thing in A2.

Composed August 2020 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19. Consequently, it has not yet been road-tested.

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The Gap
Duple minor longways
Tune: Archibald MacDonald of Keppoch (Scottish traditional, 6 steps to the bar)

A1 1 All change places on right diagonal passing right shoulders, end facing up or down
2 Fall back along the line into partner’s place
3-4 Star right hands across, once around
A2 1-2 Similarly, all change places on left diagonal passing left shoulders, and fall back to original place
3 Circle left halfway
4 Partners 2-hand turn halfway, end facing up
B 1-2 Half double figure-8, ones cross up and twos cast down to begin
3-4 Twos gate the ones once around
5 Retaining neighbor’s hand, face across; step right and honor
6 Releasing hands, cross the set passing left shoulder
7-8 Same four star left hands across, once around

Note about the tune: This is a slow air, not a jig. It is a lament and should feel solemn. Typically, it would be played rubato, but for the dance it must be played with a regular beat.

The diagonal action in the A-parts followed by falling back will feel like a chevron, although it is not exactly the same. Here are some tips that might be useful:

  • If your first diagonal change is down, then all of them will be down. And if it is up, it will also always be so. This remains true after changing from one to two or vice versa.
  • First corners change places with current corner, but second corners change places with former corner. This gives the second corners a greater challenge. The star and circle are with the current neighbors behind them, not those with whom they just interacted.
  • When a diagonal change sends you out of the set at either end, dance with a “ghost” to end up in the correct place for the moves that follow.

In the B-part, after twos cross up for the half figure-8, a little flip to face in at the end of the phrase will make it easier to offer the correct hand for the gate.

Composed October 2020 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19. Consequently, it has not yet been road-tested.

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Great and Small
Duple minor longways
Tune: Roslin Castle (no repeats, 4 steps to the bar)

A 1-2 Ones change places as in “Hole in the Wall”
3-4 Neighbors back to back
5-6 Ladies change places; gents the same
7-8 Neighbors right shoulder round 1-1/2
B 1-4 Open gent’s chain, as follows:
  Gents left-hand turn halfway, partners right-hand turn once
  Gents left-hand turn halfway, neighbors right-hand turn 3/4
5-6 Single file clockwise halfway (6), honor partner (2)
7-8 Ones half figure-8 up through the twos while twos cast and lead

In the first figure, ones change places in four counts ending close; then take four full steps back.

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In the Moment
Duple minor longways
Tune: First Parish, by Andrew Marcus (November 2001)

A1 1-4 First corners back-to-back
5-8 Neighbors gate once around counterclockwise (second corners forward)
A2 1-4 Second corners left-shoulder back-to-back
5-8 Neighbors gate once around clockwise (first corners forward)
B 1-2 Neighbors fall back a double
3-4 Partners change places passing right shoulder, flip on last beat to face back in
Set and link, as follows
5-6 Neighbors take inside hands and set
7-8 Neighbors change places turning over right shoulder: Those in first corner place roll through the center and end facing out while others cast up or down and end facing across
(all are now progressed and crossed over from their original side)
C1 1-4 Ones chase clockwise around the couple above: “First around two and your partner cut through”
5-8 Twos, similarly, chase clockwise around the couple below
C2 1-4 Circle left once around
5-8 Partners 2-hand turn

In the A-parts, the active corners fall back to place and then continue to fall back in the gate figure. In a sense this is a “trust fall,” and a trustworthy neighbor–who steps into the gate and reliably catches their neighbor’s hand–is important to its success. At the end of A2, dancers can move in to end close to partner before (more!) falling back in the B-part.

The chase in C1 (first for couple 1 and then for couple 2) works like this: each first corner in turn begins by chasing their partner in an orbit around the neighbor couple, but takes a short cut by slipping between those neighbors. Transitions in this dance are improved if you stay facing your partner as you slip through (somewhat like a modern “Mad Robin” chase). You are crossed over when the chase begins, but partners exchange places because of the “cut through” and so C1 ends with all on their original side. The path is similar to the first figure in Cheshire Rounds (1710), and the figure has jumped from one dance genre to another over the years. It came into southern Appalachian round dancing as “the old side door,” and from there made its way into traditional squares. Ted Sannella imported it into his contra dance New Friendship Reel, after which many other contra dance authors, including Penn Fix, Roger Diggle, and Donna Calhoun, have featured it. (I should count myself in that list as well; the same chase appears in my Triplet #7.) With Gary Roodman’s use of the figure in his now classic English country dance The Homecoming, this particular chase has come full circle.

Composed October 2020 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19. Consequently, it has not yet been road-tested.

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The Justice
Three-couple longways
Tune: The Almond, by James Oswald (1710-1769)

A1 1-3 Partners left-hand turn
4-5 All turn single right
6-8 On the right diagonal, those who can change places as in “Hole in the Wall”
9-12 Circle left six hands halfway
13-16 Opposites back-to-back
A2 1-3 Opposites right-hand turn
4-5 All turn single left
6-8 On the left diagonal, those who can change places as in “Hole in the Wall” (passing left shoulders)
9-12 Circle right six hands halfway
13-16 Opposites left-shoulder back-to-back
B 1-4 Middles cast up or down clockwise into half of a right shoulder hey-for-3 on the side (see note)
5-6 Middles continue trajectory of the hey to dance outside (left shoulder) around one to the middle position of lines-of-3 facing up and down (same-role neighbors are in the same lines); take hands
7-8 Lines balance forward and back
9-12 Similarly, middles cast clockwise into half of a hey-for-3 across (pass the same “trail buddy” by the right to begin the second hey)
13-14 Middles dance outside around one to the middle position of lines-of-3 facing across (all are halfway round from where they began the B-part); take hands
15-16 Lines balance forward and back
17-19 Opposites: “swirly” siding, 6 steps to cross by left shoulder, 3 steps back, then keep moving into…
20-24 Single file clockwise until all are home reunited with partner 
25-28 Partners 2-hand turn; ones face up, others retain hands
29-30 Ones cast to the bottom while others sidestep twice to move up one place
31-32 Ones turn single down while others turn single up

Middles (original long second corners) are actives during the first half of the B-part. In the first hey they can catch partner’s eye as they cast, but they pass the one who is not their partner by right shoulders to begin the hey. Measures 9-16 are a repeat of measures 1-8, but the figure is turned 90°.

Bar 20 is the end of a phrase, but the single file circle does, in fact, begin here. Think of the siding as a slingshot into the chase. The single file circle has 5 bars to go 5 places around the set, ending with everyone in home places.

I chose this somewhat formal but passionate tune for my tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, known for her brilliant mind, her ability to build consensus, and her fierce advocacy for equal justice. The dance was composed shortly after her death in September 2020 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19. Consequently, it has not yet been road-tested.

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Lady Hamilton’s Tea
Duple minor longways
Tune: Lady Hamilton’s Tea by Jonathan Jensen, © 2021

Slip jig
A1 1-6 Lady 1, with lady 2 following, leads a “Jack’s Maggot” hey on the gents’ line; end the hey returning to own side with lady 1 still in the lead (ladies are progressed)
7-8 Opposites right-hand turn
A2 1-6 Similarly, gent 2, with gent 1 following, leads a hey on the ladies’ line; end the hey returning to own side, gent 2 still in the lead (all are progressed)
7-8 Partners 2-hand turn
Minuet
B 1-2 In a ring-of-4, balance in and out  
3-4 Circle left halfway
5-6 Neighbors, a short lead out and back
7-8 Ones cross and cast while twos 2-hand turn halfway and lead up

Both heys begin left shoulder, and they move up and down on one side or the other of the set. The hey is always led by a second corner. Although the pattern is that of a hey-for-3, all four dancers participate. The leader’s neighbor begins by dancing up or down the line toward the leader’s home, then continues to follow that leader closely throughout, so that the two of them act as a unit within the hey. It is not, however, a “dolphin hey”; there is no overtake and pass. (There is no catching up with Lady Hamilton!)

Dancers can emphasize the difference between the two parts by using a skipping or skip-change step for the heys. Those familiar with historical dance might use minuet footwork for the B-parts.

Written to honor Darlene Hamilton of the Historical Tea and Dance Society. Usually, when I create a dance, the title is the last element to arrive. In this case, the title came first.

Composed January 2021 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19. Consequently, it has not yet been road-tested.

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Live Stream
Duple minor longways
Tune: Sage Hen Waltz, by Tim Ball

A 1-2 First corners right-hand turn halfway
3-4 All single file clockwise halfway
5-6 Second corners right-hand turn halfway
7-8 All single file clockwise halfway
B1 1-2 Neighbors right shoulder round
3-4 Next neighbors left shoulder round
5-8 Original neighbors right-hand star, end in a line-of-4 facing up
(ones in the center, all improper)
C 1-2 Dance up the hall 3 steps, fall back 3
3-4 “Thread needle” as follows: Gents arch; end lady dive under the arch and draw two others through, gent 2 moving to the opposite side and gent 1 turning under his own arm (line is inverted and faces down, ones still in the center, all proper)  
5-6 Neighbors gate turn, ones moving forward
7-8 Ones turn single while twos cast up above ones
B2 1-2 Ones 2-hand turn moving down while twos turn single
3-4 Ones cast up to place while twos 2-hand turn moving down
5-6 Circle left halfway
7-8 Partners change places across the set, passing right shoulder

Composed May 2020 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19. Consequently, it has not yet been road-tested.

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Maeve’s Tortoise*
*pronounced: “tour-toys”
Duple minor longways
Tune: Christy Barry’s (Irish traditional)

A1 1-6 First corners chase, as follows:
Top corner dance clockwise around partner while bottom corner pursues; both end at home
7-8 All four take hands and circle left one quarter
A2 1-6 Other corners chase, as follows:
Current bottom corner dance clockwise around opposite while top corner pursues; end where you began
7-8 All circle left one more quarter
B1 1-4 Ones half figure-8 up through the twos
5-8 Partners all 2-hand turn
B2 1-4 Twos half figure-8 down through the ones
5-8 Partners all set and turn single

The chase figure is borrowed from The Garter (The Dancing Master, 1688). There is plenty of time for it. Pace yourself to use up all 12 counts of music.

Composed October 2020 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19. Consequently, it has not yet been road-tested.

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Never Better (revised)
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 to orbit the set one quarter and re-form as a line of 4 couples across the hall (ends are now middles and vice versa)
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 Partners set and turn single
5-6 Foursomes circle left halfway, face neighbor along the line
7-8 Around the (flat) ring of eight, do two changes of rights and lefts (the second change is either up or down the side in the middle of the set, or around the ends)
B2 1-4 All meet a same-role neighbor along the line and 2-hand turn 1½, open out to face partner across
5-6 Neighbors fall back and come forward
7-8 Partners 2-hand turn once around
(New ends face out; middles make a ring-of-4)

Ends in 3-1-4-2 order, bottom 2 couples still improper. Repeat three more times to place.

At the top of each A-part, if those in the middle are not tall enough to make their arches conveniently high, then make “virtual” arches instead by lifting hands toward a neighbor rather than connecting.

The active dancers are those starting at the ends. Just after they cast, they can take hands with an opposite-role neighbor to duck into the ring-of-4. Then release the neighbor and take partner’s hand to duck back to home places.

The action in measures 5-8 of the A-parts requires careful teaching. It may be helpful to visualize the draw poussette as a virtual circle halfway. In A2, the same people will go forward or backward in the poussette as did in A1. Those roles, however, change the next time through the dance.

Originally composed August 2017 for my wife, Laurel Sharp, to celebrate a significant birthday. Revised in October 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Changes have not yet been road-tested.

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Newt’s News
Duple minor longways
Tune: Salamander’s Tea, by Nadine Dyskant-Miller

A1 1-4 First corners orbit counterclockwise halfway
5-8 Partners on the side, set and turn single
9 Partners right-hand turn halfway
A2 1-4 Second corners (in first corner position) orbit clockwise halfway
5-8 Partners across, set and turn single
9 Partners right-hand turn halfway (all are home)
B1 1-3 All single file clockwise three-quarters
4-5 Partners 2-hand turn halfway into a ring-of-4 (gents above and ladies below)
6-7 In the ring, balance in and out
8-9 Spin to the right one place as in Petronella (all are in progressed places)
B2 1-7 Full double figure-8, ones cross up and twos cast down to begin
8-9 Reverse turn single cloverleaf:
Ones turn single up and twos turn single down

In the final turn single, first corners are turning over left shoulder, and second corners over right.

Last time through, when B2 has 10 measures, use the extra measure of music after the turn single to face across and honor partner.

This is one of a couple of dances I created to celebrate the birth of my grandson, Leo Horatio Smukler Barton. Nadine wrote a sweet and unusual tune for me to use for this purpose, and called it Salamander’s Tea. In one of my messages to her, I accidentally left out the apostrophe-s, and for some reason Nadine was dismayed by the notion of “salamander tea”….

Composed June 2020 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19. Consequently, it has not yet been road-tested.

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Rebecka Reimagined
Duple minor longways
Tune: Rebecka Ridinghoode (1714)

A 1 Ones cross down through twos and turn away from each other
while twos cast up and face down, into…
2-4 Neighbors mirror back-to-back, twos between ones to begin
5-6 Ones half figure-8 down through the couple below (next neighbors)
7-8 Ones two-hand turn and face up
B1 1-2 Ones lead up through current neighbors and cast down to place
while twos dance down the outside and lead up to place
3-4 Ones lead down through next neighbors and cast up to place
while twos dance up the outside and lead down to place
B2 1-3 Circle left once around
4 Ones turn single up while twos turn single down (twos then continue dancing up the outside for the next round of the dance)

Rebecka Ridinghoode was published in 1714 with these directions:

I adore the tune but find the choreography as reconstructed by Andrew Shaw challenging. It is possible to fit those A-part figures to 8 bars of music, but they are very tight, and the quick moves and long strides don’t strike me as a good fit to the gentleness of the tune. So, the “reimagining” here is adapted choreography that I hope will suit and feature the tune. Doing this meant moving away in some ways from the 1714 directions. “Rebecka Reimagined” is loosely based on the original figures, but I have no pretensions whatsoever that it is an accurate rendering of the historical dance!

Note that the cloverleaf turn single at the end of B2 is reversed from what happens in many dances. Think of it as a kind of farewell to the current neighbors, rather than a greeting to the new ones.

Created November 2020 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19. Consequently, it has not yet been road-tested.

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Slippery Slope
Duple minor longways
Tune: The Icy Drive, by Nadine Dyskant-Miller

A1 1-7 Parallel heys-for-3, ones and twos pass neighbor by right shoulder to begin
8 To finish the hey:
  – Ones gate counterclockwise halfway to change places, while
  – Twos cross up from the bottom to end in middle place on each other’s side, and
  – Threes finish the hey on the same side and face up
A2 1-7 Parallel heys-for-3, ones and twos pass neighbor by left shoulder to begin
8 To finish the hey:
  – Ones gate clockwise halfway to change places, while
  – Twos cross up from the bottom to end in middle place on home side, and
  – Threes, again, finish on their original side
B1 1-4 Top four, circle left halfway; those partners change places by right shoulder
5-8 Bottom four the same
B2 1-4 Lines-of-3 fall back a double; drop hands and come forward turning single
5-8 Partners 2-hand turn

Ends in 2-3-1 order. Repeat twice more to place.

Remain aware of your partner throughout the heys, both to make your paths parallel and because it is fun with this trance-inducing tune!

Composed November 2020 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19. Consequently, it has not yet been road-tested.

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Surge
Duple minor longways
Tune: Surge, by David Smukler (2020)

A1 1-2 With partner across: right shoulder side-by-side siding, turn single left back to place
3-4 First corners orbit halfway counterclockwise, end in each other’s place
A2 1-2 With partner on the side: left shoulder siding, turn single right
3-4 Second corners orbit halfway clockwise, end in each other’s place
B1 1-2 Circle left halfway (all are home)
3-4 With former neighbors, left-hand star once around
5-6 Original foursomes circle right halfway
7-8 With next neighbors, right-hand star once around
B2 1-3 Partners back to back
4 Partners right-hand turn halfway, tug into…
5-8 Four changes of rights and lefts

In B1, the half circles have ample time, and at the end of the phrase dancers orient as needed for the star. (In each case one partner walks right into the star while the other does a bit of a flip to get going.) Then the stars surge forward to get all the way around in six steps.

Composed December 2020 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19. Consequently, it has not yet been road-tested.

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Take the Long View
Duple minor longways
Tune: Our Cat Has Kitted (English traditional)

A1 1-2 First corners left-hand turn, into…
3-4 Dance behind your neighbor moving along the set to the place beyond them (temporarily losing partner)
A2 1-2 Second corners, similarly, right-hand turn, into…
3-4 Dance along the set behind the one who replaced your neighbor (partners are reunited)
B1 1-2 Partners right shoulder once around
3-4 Partners 2-hand turn, end facing down
B2 1 Ones cast up while twos lead down (to meet original neighbors)
2-4 Original neighbors mirror back-to-back, twos between ones to begin; as the figure ends, first corners turn over left shoulder to meet the next

The dancers who are not moving in each A-part (second corners in A1 and first corners in A2), should stand their ground, resisting the urge to accommodate the neighbor traveling behind them.

The A-parts result in a (temporary) double progression. In B2, dancers back-track one couple to their actual progressed place. At the ends of the set, participate where possible, even though it will sometimes be necessary to cast around an imaginary neighbor.

Composed November 2020 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19. Consequently, it has not yet been road-tested.

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Take the Oar
Duple minor longways
Tune: Take the Oar, by David Smukler

A 1-3 First corners right-hand turn
4 Turn single left
5-8 Neighbors on the side, left-shoulder back to back
9-12 Partners half poussette counterclockwise
13-15 Second corners (in first corner position) left-hand turn
16 Turn single right
B 1-3 Circle left
4-6 Partners 2-hand turn
7-8 Cloverleaf turn single, ones down and twos up

Neutral corners may choose to participate if they wish by also turning single during the A music (measures 4 and 16).

Composed June 2020 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19. Consequently, it has not yet been road-tested.

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Tiptoe to Narnia
Duple minor longways
Tune: La Gueussinette, by Stephen Jones (played without repeats: AB)

A 1-2 Neighbors turn single right such that neighbors now face in a line of 4 across (first corners on the outside facing in, second corners on the inside facing out)
3-4 Two changes of a hey-for-4 across, neighbors passing right shoulders to begin
5-6 Partners 2-hand turn 3/4
7-8 Circle left just 1/4 using a waltz step on the 1st bar and a single step (step-close) on the 2nd bar (all are in progressed place)
9-10 Balance the ring, in and out
11-12 All turn single right
13-16 Partners right-hand turn 1-1/2
B 1-4 Ones split half figure-8 on the left diagonal (see note)
5-8 Twos the same (all are again in progressed place)
9-12 Partners back-to-back
13-16 Four changes of rights and lefts, starting with partner

The turn single at the top of the A-part is a 2-person Petronella twirl.

Dancers can use alternative footwork in bars 7-8 of the A-part, as long as the circle only moves one place to the left.

The split half figure-8 in the B-part accomplishes the same thing as a more typical half figure-8 — changing places with partner. Face on the left diagonal, dance up or down between the couple above or below you, and then loop to the right around one person. Although you do not go through the same couple as your partner, you will see a shadow. Avoid collisions with the shadow by staying close to the stationary dancer that you dance around. At the ends of the set, either you or your partner will be dancing through an imaginary couple and looping to the right around no one.

I wrote a dance to this evocative tune in 2014 called “Finding the Lamppost.” Several years later, while reworking that dance, I noticed after a while that only the split half figure-8 remained. So, it became a new dance with a new title in 2020.

Composed November 2020 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19. Consequently, it has not yet been road-tested.

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We the People
Three-couple longways
Tune: Heady Days, by Emily Askew

A1 1-2 Partners lead up and fall back
3-4 Ones cast down to middle place and then go diagonally left to form lines-of-3 facing up at the top and down at the bottom
Meanwhile twos lead up and turn single out to the ends of the line that faces up, and threes turn single down and out to the ends of the line that faces down
5-6 Lines lead up or down, and fall back
7-8 Ones take a step forward and then cast to the right to end in middle place improper while twos and threes 2-hand turn with partner
(end facing up)
A2 1-8 Repeat A1 with ones and twos reversing roles
(end facing in, 1-2-3 order, ones and twos improper)
B1 1-2 All six, circle left halfway
3 Turn single left
4-5 Circle right
6 Turn single right
B2 1 Bottom four, right-hand star halfway (3)
2 Same four, dance straight out of the set towards opposite walls, one partner chasing the other; at the end of bar 2 the one being chased flips to face partner (3)
3 Dance back into the set while facing, one partner moving forward and the other back (3)
4-6 Top four repeat bars 1-3, starting again with a right-hand star halfway (9)

Ends in 3-1-2 order. Repeat twice more to places.

Advanced version:
Insert a clap on beat 4 of each circle in B1 (while continuing to circle single file).

Composed November 2020 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19. Consequently, it has not yet been road-tested.

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