“Pandemic Dances”

Dances composed, interpreted, or substantially revised since April 2020, when everything dance-related changed . . .

Duple improper contras

Duple proper contras

Becket formation contras

English country dances

The dances below were all devised during the many months of the COVID-19 pandemic, at a time when I could not actually try any of them out with dancers. Starting in May 2021 some dances could be tested in groups of fully vaccinated dancers, but by late August rising case numbers put such gatherings on pause again. Notes for each dance below include either the fact that it has not yet been tested, or the month and year it was first danced. Untested dances are of course subject to change; it is likely that some will eventually be discarded or entirely re-written.

A note about difficulty: You won’t find recommendations here about the appropriateness of my dances for specific groups, in part because my own judgment about dances’ difficulty has often been questionable. I can say with confidence that the dances below vary greatly in difficulty, and that teaching and dancing ability are also quite diverse. If you choose to use one of these dances, I trust you to decide about its suitability for a specific group on a particular occasion.

If you try out any of these dances, thank you! Please feel free to send me feedback.

THANKS!
I owe a huge debt to tunesmiths who entrusted me with their work, especially under these unusual circumstances. Emily Askew, Tim Ball, Andrea Beaton, Rachel Bell, Judith Cooper, Nadine Dyskant-Miller, Debbie Jackson, Jonathan Jensen, David A. Kaynor, Jane Knoeck, John Krumm, Dougie MacLain, Aaron Marcus, Andrew Marcus, Daniel Roy, Dave Wiesler, Nicholas Williams, John Wobus, and others from centuries past, thank you — I love your tunes! Thanks also to Laurel Sharp and David Millstone, whose trusted advice is so valuable to me. Carmen Giunta, Brooke Friendly, Christine Robb, Anna Rain, Brad Foster, Jenny Beer, Will Mentor, and others (including my “deep dive” dancers and testers in Vermont and at Pinewoods Camp) have also offered helpful feedback on one or more of these dances.

-David Smukler


Anglo File
Duple improper

 A1 Going down between neighbors and angling to the left, ones pass left shoulder with neighbor for a dolphin hey across
 A2 Down the hall 4-in-line (ones in the center), turn alone
Return and bend the line
 B1 Circle left 3/4 and partners swing
 B2 Right-hand chain across
Left-hand star; for transition into next hey, release star and #2 on left file loop right (see note)

The transition from B2-A1 is a key moment. Ones continue the momentum of the star to bear left into the dolphin hey with the next neighbors, passing the new #2 on the right file. The other #2 (on the left file) is the only dancer who loops right out of the star.  

Composed July 2021. Not yet 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. Not yet road-tested.

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Ross’s Reel #2
Duple improper

 A1 Neighbors balance and swing
 A2 (4) Ones allemande right just over half and take left hands with a neighbor to form a wave-of-4 on the right diagonal (the pair above is with a current neighbor — partner of the one you swung; the pair below is with a new neighbor)
(8) Balance this wave twice
(4) These neighbors allemande left once and give right to partner
 B1 Ones turn contra corners
 B2 Ones balance and swing, end facing down

Originally composed in 2003. Revised in June 2020. 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 twos are facing diagonally right, just as they will to turn their first contra corner (but the active person in the wave is not your first corner; their partner will be your first corner).

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 First corners change places; partners balance
Partners swing
 B1 Second corners 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

“First and second corners” are right diagonals and left diagonals respectively.

Composed June 2020. Not yet road-tested.

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Buttermilk Biscuits
Duple proper

 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. Not yet 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 (4) Balance the ring
(4) Neighbors roll away with a half sashay, rolling clockwise (right to left) 
(8) 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 (who move up), then ones continue down outside the next, arriving between these neighbors to form a new line-of-4 facing up

I suggest including two important pieces of information in the walkthrough:

  • Although some space above the set is needed for the initial figure, it is important for twos to move up as the ones begin the final figure. This avoids having the set to drift down and bunching up at the bottom of the hall.
  • While waiting out at the top, do not cross over to the other line. At the end of B2, begin your new role by going down the outside below your first neighbors, and then up the middle to form a line-of-4 facing up with them.

Composed May 2020. First danced May 16th, 2021.

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Wild Idea
Duple proper

 A1 Circle left 1x
Balance the ring, spin to the right (as in Petronella)
 A2 Those now above, down the center two-by-two, turn alone
Return, cast off with partner
 B1 Pass through across and partners swing
 B2 Right diagonals allemande left 3/4 to cross the set while others turn out over right shoulder and cast up or down the side, ending across from partner
Balance the ring; ones turn single (or just “turn alone”) to face the next while twos California twirl

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

The figures in B2 are more common in English country dancing, as are “meanwhile” figures.

Composed May 2020. Not yet road-tested.

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Beck and Call
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 June 2020. Changes (albeit minor ones) 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.

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Noble and Generous Cetacean
Becket, clockwise

 A1 Slide left to new neighbors, circle left 3/4
Neighbors swing, face down
 A2 Down the hall 4-in-line, turn as couples (putting ones in the center)
Return and hand cast all the way (back to a line across), ones face right-wall and twos face in
 B1 Dolphin hey, starting right shoulder…
 B2 One more change of the hey to bring all to original sides, and partners swing

Omit the progression (slide left in A1) the first time through.

Composed July 2021 based on a dance called HumanKind, by Echo Lustig. Not yet road-tested.

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Some 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

Composed June 2020. Not yet road-tested.

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After the Rain
Four-couple longways
Tune: Bluebell Knoll, by Rachel Bell

A In fours:
1-4 Face across, take near hand with neighbor: set and link
5-8 Partners taking right hands, balance forward and back and change places, as in Duke of Kent’s Waltz
9-12 Repeat A 1-4: near hand with neighbor, and set and link
13-16 Circle left once round (all are in original place, improper)
B 1-2 All who can, change places on the right diagonal by right hand
3-4 Similarly, change places on the left diagonal by left hand
5-8 Repeat B1 1-4 from these positions (ending in 4-3-2-1 order)
9-12 Half poussette counterclockwise as follows: begin in fours, but end couples poussette around two such that top couple ends in 3rd place and bottom couple in 2nd place
13-16 Partners 2-hand turn, ease out to line and take new neighbor’s inside hand

Ends in 3-1-4-2 order. Repeat 3 times more to place.

At the end of bar 8 of B, end couples can notice that one person is in motion and the other is not. To begin the poussette, the moving dancer goes forward, and their partner goes back. If you are a middle couple, you are both moving, so if you are not confident about which way is counterclockwise take your cue from the nearest end couple (with whom you trade places).

Duple Minor Longways Variation

A 1-16 As above
B 1-2 First diagonals change places by right hand
3-4 All cross set, passing opposite by right shoulder, and loop right to face in
5-6 New right diagonals change places by right hand
7-8 All cross set by right shoulder (passing partner) and loop right to face in
9-12 Partners back to back
13-16 Partners 2-hand turn, ease out to line and take new neighbor’s inside hand

Composed October 2021. First danced November 6, 2021.

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

A1 1-4 Four quick changes of a circular hey (partners pass right to begin)
A2 1-2 Ones right shoulder once around
3-4 Neighbors gate clockwise (first corners going forward)
B1 1-4 Hey-for-4 across (first corners pass left shoulder while second corners cast back over right shoulder to begin)
B2 1-2 …complete the hey, ending at home
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.

The hey across fits comfortably into 18 steps, all of B1 and the first half of B2. Ending halfway through B2 leaves just enough time for the corners to cross at the end of B2. However, since 8 changes do not divide evenly into 18 steps, trying to count is counterproductive.

Originally composed July 2018. Revised in April 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Changes have not yet been road-tested.

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Animal, Vegetable, Mineral
Duple minor longways
Tune: The Animal, by John Krumm

A1 1-4 First corners set and turn single
5-6 Same two right-hand turn halfway, changing places
7-8 Opposites all cross the set passing right shoulders
A2 1-4 New first corners set and turn single
5-6 Same two right-hand turn halfway
7-8 Partners all cross the set passing right shoulders
B1 1-4 “Follow the leader into a line-of-4” as follows: All begin to single file clockwise, dancers stopping one at a time from left to right to form a line-of-4 facing up. The bottom dancer on the left file is the leader, and dances up and to the left, stopping after 1 bar to become leftmost dancer in the line. The next follows, stopping after 2 bars just to the leader’s right, etc.
5-8 Line-of-4 go up a double and back, bending into a ring as you fall back
B2 1-2 Balance the ring in and out, simultaneously moving one place to the left
(all are home)
3-4 Ones cast down one place while
Twos lead up and turn to face each other
5-8 Partners left shoulder once around

Before beginning the walkthrough, identify #1 dancer on R-file as the leader for the B1 figure.

Composed February 2021. Not yet road-tested.

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Bait and Switch
Duple minor longways
Tune: Old Hag, You Have Killed Me

A1 1-4 Ones lead up between former neighbors and cast back
5-8 Twos lead up between current neighbors and cast back; curling in toward neighbor, all face out
A2 1-4 Neighbors lead out; set while facing out
5-8 Turning in toward each other, lead back; cloverleaf turn single
B1 Cross-Stitch Hey (two half heys-for-4, one on each diagonal; both begin with 1st corners passing each other, and 2nd corners going up or down the outside)
1-4 First half hey on right diagonal:
– First corners pass left, pass partner right at opposite corner, and cross the set to own side, while…
– Second corners go up or down to neighbor’s place, pass partner right at corner, pass each other left on the diagonal, and end facing out
(1s now on L-file; 2s on R-file)
5-8 Repeat to home, same roles but on other diagonal with other shoulders:
Original first corners pass right on the second diagonal, pass neighbor left at opposite corner, and cross the set to home, while…
– Second corners go up or down one place, pass neighbor left at corner, and pass each other right on the diagonal
(all home facing neighbor)
B2 1-4 Neighbors 2-hand turn 1-1/2, changing places
5-8 Circle left all four

The movements in B1 interlock like clockwork, and the challenge is for every dancer to move confidently through their path in an unusual hey. Think of each half of the hey as wedge-shaped; one leg of the wedge is on the diagonal, and the other is either straight across (for 1st corners) or up-or-down the line (for 2nd corners). Each half-hey has three actions: 1) dance the first leg of your wedge; 2) loop around someone turning the corner of the wedge; and 3) dance the second leg of your wedge.

Couples who prefer not to switch roles in the cross-stitch hey may change sides while waiting out at either end, thereby remaining a first or second corner.

Thanks to Aniela Wolkonowski, who came up with the name for the cross-stitch hey.

Composed September 2021. First attempted November 6th, 2021. Needs additional road-testing.

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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 to home, face neighbors (partners retain hands) and fall back
5-8 Neighbors right-hand turn once around, ending in long wavy lines (first corners facing in and second corners out)
B1 1-2 Holding the wave, set right and left
3-4 “Box circulate,” re-forming 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 and repeat the box circulate with other corners crossing or turning to right (this time do not form a new 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 to face current neighbor couple
9-12 Mirror back-to-back, 1s between 2s to begin; then face new couple behind you
13-16 Mirror back-to-back with these new neighbors, 1s between 2s to begin
Tag (last time only)
1-2 Partners step right and honor
3-4 Facing the presence, all step left and honor

Take (or retain) partner’s hand when possible during 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!

Composed June 2020. First danced May 16th, 2021.

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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 Single file clockwise halfway around entire set (skipping), face partner across
5-8 Partners back-to-back
B2 1-4 Single file counterclockwise to home (skipping), in fours face neighbor up or down
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. First danced July 9, 2021.

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Borrowed Time
Duple minor longways
Tune: Borrowed Time, by David Smukler

A-parts with current neighbors: 6/8, 2 steps to the bar
A1 1-4 Neighbors back-to-back
5-6 Circle left halfway
7-8 Balance the ring in and out
A2 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
B-parts with new neighbors: 9/8, 3 steps to the bar
B1 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, all improper)
B2 1-4 Repeat B1 with new first corners beginning
(next round starts with current neighbors)

Composed November 2020. First danced June 27th, 2021.

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Breathing Space
Four-couple square: partners on the left are ones; those on the right are twos
Tune: Nonpareil, by John Krumm

A 1-3 Ones weave individually counterclockwise, in front of your partner and behind the next, halfway round the set to meet your opposite
4 Opposites right-hand turn halfway, trading places
5-7 Twos, similarly, weave counterclockwise halfway round
8 Partners left-hand turn halfway
9-12 Twos right-hand star halfway; opposites left-hand turn, folding into promenade position (begins like an open chain, but then “closes”)
13-16 Promenade halfway, finishing with two single steps (step-close, step-close)
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 Ones left-hand star three-quarters
16 New partners right-hand turn halfway

Mixer: Repeat 3 times more to place. Ones progress one place clockwise each time; twos progress across and back, twice.

Three Notes about the Grand Square:
1. Using waltz footwork helps the figure stay in sync with the tune.
2. Since the twos remain either heads or sides, the ones 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. Not yet 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 next neighbors
5-8 Right-hand star with current 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
Every other time, couple 2 active:
A3 1-4 Circle left once around (with new neighbors)
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

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 choose to simplify by dancing only the first two As and Bs, so that ones are always the active couple. Another way to simplify is to use a whole figure-8 for the active couple only in A2/A4, rather than a double figure-8.

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 (which Chris Sackett also used for his dance, The Skin of Our Teeth).

Revised during the COVID-19 pandemic, and dedicated to Jennifer Staples, who made my linen cravat… and tried valiantly to teach me to tie it. Jennifer says that the full double figure-8 resembles the tying of a regency cravat. This version was first danced on Jennifer’s birthday: July 11, 2021.

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Distances
Duple minor longways
Tune: Distances by Dave Wiesler, © 2020, 4 steps per bar

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 neighbor on the side
A2 1-2 Neighbors right shoulder swirly siding
3-4 Second corners change places passing left shoulders;
First corners change places passing right shoulders (and turn in to face partner; first corners will go forward in the poussette)
5-6 Partners poussette clockwise 3/4 into a line facing up
B1 1-2 Line-of-4 up a double and back, face partner
3-4 Half hey-for-4: partners pass right shoulder to begin, end facing down
B2 1-2 Line-of-4 down a double and back; maintaining line across all face center
3 Middles (original second corners) right shoulder round halfway, into…
4 All dance a clockwise arc that passes two people: Middles continue their right-shoulder round but spiral out of it, passing each other and then partner to end on original side with right shoulder toward center,
while, ends (original first corners) dance into the set passing partner and then one another by right shoulder, neighbors take inside hands (L-file dancers facing up and R-file down), into…
5 Neighbors gate turn counterclockwise 3/4, first corners continuing to move forward, others backing up, to end facing in

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

  • The middle two dance right shoulder around each other and out to own side. There they briefly stand pat, offering a supportive right hand to the approaching neighbor. As the neighbor arrives, they back up for the gate. Meanwhile…
  • The end two give the middles a 4-count head start, and then dance an “S” pattern starting with a clockwise arc to cross the set and ending with a counterclockwise gate turn with their neighbor.

Composed December 2020. First danced May 16th, 2021.

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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, open out to face current neighbors
B2 1-4 Neighbors back-to-back
5-8 Partners set and turn single

Composed June 2020. First danced May 16th, 2021.

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Doctor Fauci’s Return
Duple minor longways
Tune: Doctor Fauci’s Return, by Debbie Jackson, © 2021, 3 steps per bar

A1 1-3 Circle left
4 Partners cross passing right shoulders
5 Loop left to face back in
6-8 Partners left-shoulder back-to-back
A2 1-3 Circle right
4 Partners cross passing left shoulders
5 Loop right to face back in
6-8 Partners right-shoulder back-to-back
B1 1-2 First corners change places (3 steps to cross, 3 to loop to face back in)
3-4 Second corners the same
5-6 Partners the same
7-8 Ones cast up while twos lead down (all are home)
B2 Modified Petit Fours and Progress
  Ones: Twos:
1 Pass by right shoulder and immediately face down Fall back
2 Lead down the center Come up the outside
3 Fall back Pass by right shoulder and immediately face down
4 Come up the outside Lead down the center
5-6 Cross and cast down one place California twirl and lead up
7-8 Partners 2-hand turn Partners 2-hand turn

“Petit Fours” in B2 are a variation on the figure Gary Roodman invented for his wonderful dance, Mary Kay.

Composed February 2021. First danced June 27th, 2021.

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

A1 1-4 Circle left once around
5-8 Partners back-to-back
A2 1-4 Circle right once around
5-8 Neighbors left shoulder back-to-back
B 1-4 Ones cross and cast down one place while twos meet and lead up
5-8 Twos cross and cast, and into the center of a line-of-4 facing up while
Ones lead up and cast out to the ends of the line
9-10 Up the hall 4 steps
11-12 Set to the presence
13-14 Fall back, 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. New version danced first June 6th, 2021.

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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
3-4 “Reshuffle and turn the line,” as follows:
  Two rightmost dancers gate 3/4, center moving forward, then release hands (4 steps)
  Original center 2-hand turn the other partner halfway (changing places) while the lone dancer turns over right shoulder; the line-of-3 re-forms facing the opposite direction from where it began (4)
5-8 Repeat bars 1-4 to end facing original direction but in 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, ease out to lines-of-3

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. Those who do the 2-hand turn in the first half of the A-part will do the gate in the second half.

Composed August 2020. Not yet road-tested.

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Flesh and Blood
Duple minor longways
Tune: Mr and Mrs Maclean of Snaigow by Dougie MacLean,
published by Limetree Arts and Music

A1 1-2 Ones lead down the center, flip to face up at end of phrase
3-4 Ones fall back (2 single steps) to continue moving down the hall
5-8 Ones lead up to home and cast off one place, twos moving up
9-12 Ones half figure-8 up through the twos
13-16 Ones 2-hand turn 1-1/2
A2 1-16 Repeat A1 for the twos (all are home)
B 1-8 Cross-Stitch Hey (two half heys-for-4, one on each diagonal; both begin with 1st corners passing each other, and 2nd corners going up or down the outside)
(1-4) First half hey on right diagonal:
– First corners pass left, pass partner right at opposite corner, and cross the set to own side, while…
– Second corners go up or down to neighbor’s place, pass partner right at corner, pass each other left on the diagonal, and end facing out
(1s are now on L-file; 2s on R-file)
(5-8) Repeat to home, same roles but on other diagonal with other shoulders:
– Original first corners pass right on the second diagonal, pass neighbor left at opposite corner, and cross the set to home, while…
– Second corners go up or down one place, pass neighbor left at corner, and each other right on the diagonal
(all home facing neighbor)
9-10 Neighbors lead out
11-12 Neighbors California twirl to face back in (progressing)
13-16 Lead back in and cloverleaf turn single away

Aniela Wolkonowski dubbed the figure in B 1-8 a “cross-stitch hey.” The path in each half of this hey is wedge-shaped; one leg of the wedge is on the diagonal, and the other is either straight across (for first corners) or up-or-down the line (for second corners). Each half-hey has three actions: 1) dance one leg of your wedge; 2) loop around someone turning the corner of the wedge; and 3) dance the other leg of your wedge. You pass two people per half, one at a corner (between the two legs of the wedge), and the other in the center whenever you cross on the diagonal. You do not pass anyone on that shorter leg.

As the twos complete their 2-hand turn at the end of A2, an optional cloverleaf turn single may be inserted (for one or both couples) as a lead-in to the cross-stitch hey. Couples who would prefer not to switch roles in the cross-stitch hey may change sides while waiting out at either end, thereby remaining a first or second corner.

Composed November 2021. Not yet 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 Right-file dancers, working in tandem, initiate a dolphin hey on the left file (see note): begin with 2nd diagonals passing left shoulder, switch leads twice, and finish with the tandem pair crossing back to own side with #1 in the lead (right file is progressed)
5-8 Similarly, left-file dancers initiate a dolphin hey on the right file: begin with 1st diagonals passing right shoulder, switch leads twice, and finish with the tandem pair crossing back to their own side with #1 in the lead (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 oriented 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. Each #1 dancer, when they are leading the hey, begins by splitting the dancers in the opposite line and continuing wide. Their neighbor begins by following but immediately does a tight loop around the bottom dancer, thereby taking the lead. Coming around the top of the hey it is the #2 dancer who goes wide out the side, while the original leader does a tight loop to regain the lead before crossing the set to their home side. The progression is embedded in the heys.

Composed August 2020. Not yet road tested.

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Ganymede’s Secret
Three-couple longways (if using role names, twos begin improper)
Tune adapted from an Almain by Anthony Holborne, 4 steps per bar

A1 1-2 Up a double and back
[2nd time: Right shoulder siding into line and back]
[3rd time: Arm right]
3-4 Ones cast to bottom; others follow to invert the set, twos ending wide to form a ring
A2 1-2 All into the center and back
3-4 Left shoulder round corner (at the top this is your partner; for others it is the neighbor), and face the next (turn your back on corner)
B 1-2 Starting with this person, do 2 changes of a grand chain
3-4 With the next (corner person from A2), 2-hand turn 1-1/2 and face out (threes at bottom are with partner and face down; others face out the sides with neighbor)
C 1-2 Lead out (original threes at battom leading down, others leading out the sides), all California twirl and return
3-4 Top couple cast to bottom while bottom couple continue to lead up and turn single away at the top (ending in 3-1-2 order)
5-6 Partners set and turn single

Ends in 3-1-2 order. Those moving into or out of second place will have switched sides with partner. After three times through all are in original places.

All but the first two bars is the same each time. A1 1-2 uses standard Playford “USA” figures.

Those who go clockwise in the first grand chain will always do so, and vice versa.

Composed December 2021. Not yet road tested.

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The Gap
Three-couple longways (if using role names, twos begin improper)
Archibald MacDonald of Keppoch, 4 steps per 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 (two single steps)
3-4 Original foursomes, 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 Original foursomes 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, end by easing out to lines

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 pace of dancing is slow and stately. Use as much space as possible and focus on matching movements to the musical phrase.

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:

  • The diagonal change is always down for those starting the dance on L-file, and always up for those starting on R-file.
  • 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.
  • Neutral couples waiting out at either end may choose to stay out of the action altogether. However, one of you will have a diagonal approaching you to change places. If you are that person, you may support the two chevron-like figures by participating. Note that those are the only figures that will need you. (Your partner will have a similar opportunity at the opposite end of the set, and can be helpful now by simply standing aside, out of the way.)

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. First danced May 16, 2021.

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

A 1-2 Ones half figure-8 down
3-4 Neighbors mirror back-to-back, ones between twos to begin
5-6 First diagonals change places; second diagonals the same
7-8 Neighbors right shoulder round 1-1/2
B 1-4 Open left-hand chain, as follows:
– First diagonals left-hand turn halfway, partners right-hand turn once
– First diagonals 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

For the single file, first diagonals (those who were more active in the chain) lead; neighbors follow.

Composed December 2020. First danced June 27, 2021.

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Here We Go Again
Duple minor longways
Tune: A Bagpipe Hornpipe

A 1-3 Ones lead down between twos and cast back
4 Ones change places across passing right shoulder
5-7 Twos lead up between ones and cast back
8 Twos change places across passing right shoulder (all are improper)
B 1-2 Following twos’ momentum, all dance up or down the line (R-file down/L-file up)
3-4 Turn over left shoulder and return
5-7 Within original fours, left-hand star
8 Turn single right
C 1-2 Second diagonals change places, first diagonals the same
3-4 Partners quick 2-hand turn
5-6 Circle left halfway, fall back a bit
7-8 Two changes of a circular hey, partners pass right to begin

Wright published two different 3/2 tunes called “A Bagpipe Hornpipe”; I particularly love this one. The original tune has six parts. I have adapted it for this 3-part dance by choosing to use only parts A, C, and F. In my notation those parts are re-named A, B, and C to make the directions clear.

Composed August 2021. Not yet road-tested.

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Here’s a Health
Three-couple longways
Tune: Miss Carmichael’s Minuet, Scottish fiddle tune

A1 1-4 Ones and twos set right and left; 2 changes of a circular hey, partners pass right to begin
5-8 Ones and threes the same
A2 1-2 Ones cast up to middle pace while threes lead down and turn single away, into…
3-8 Right shoulder heys-for-3 across, ones pass left diagonal by right shoulder to begin (ones end proper in middle place, face right diagonal)
B1 1-4 Right diagonals left-hand turn ~3/4; ones pass each other left, into…
5-8 Modified right-shoulder half hey-for-4 on 1st diagonal:
Ones pass corner right and then orbit the set clockwise to end in middle place improper, while long 1st diagonals pass the #1 by right shoulder, each other by left shoulder, and loop right into opposite corner
B2 1-4 Left diagonals right-hand turn ~3/4, ones pass each other right, into…
5-8 Modified left-shoulder half hey-for-4 on 2nd diagonal:
Ones pass corner left and then orbit the set counterclockwise to end in middle place proper, while long 2nd diagonals pass the #1 by left shoulder, each other by right shoulder, and loop left into opposite corner

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

The #1 who faces up for the left-hand turn in B1 will also face up for the right-hand turn in B2. Likewise, the one who faces down for the left-hand turn will face down for the right-hand turn. After the hand turn in B, the corners may do a little “flip” to offer the other shoulder for the hey.

Composed January 2022. Not yet road tested.

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Hope Reclaimed
Three-couple longways
Tune: Hope Comes in Threes by Dave Wiesler, © 2021

A1 1-4 Ones cast out, others follow them into mirror stars
(left-hand star on L-file; right-hand on R-file)
5-8 As ones meet at the bottom, begin to successively “swap the stars”: each pair cross up by left shoulder to join other star with other hand
As ones meet again, take partner’s near hand to lead up into . . .
(others are completing the second star and will follow the ones into the next figure)
A2 1-4 – Ones: lead up above top of set and a big cast down to 2nd place;
– Twos: meet, lead up to the top and turn single away; and
– Threes: complete second star, meet to face up, and turn single away into 3rd place
(end improper in 2-3-1 order)
5-8 Partners set and turn single right
B 1-3 All six, circle left halfway, into . . .
4 Cross the set (passing partner by right) and take hands in lines-of-3 facing out
5-6 Lines-of-3 lead out four steps and pause
7-8 Lines set right and left
9-12 Releasing hands, loop over right shoulder, and 2-hand turn with partner 1-1/2 to own side, end facing up

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

A1 is borrowed from a square dance figure called, “Venus and Mars” (also used by Roger Whynot in his dance T.A.G.). It should feel like a cascade. Pairs enter and leave the stars one by one in turn. The pattern feels more coherent if dancers maintain the star they’ve got until it is time to cross and join the new one.

Similarly, in the first four bars of A2, pairs come out of the second star one by one. Ones need a large sweep to fill four measures with their cast to 2nd place. Twos follow them up but remain at the top with a mirror turn single. And threes turn out from the star to end back at the bottom. Each pair is doing a version of a large mirror turn single up the hall. Use space to fill the music. Note also that the result of this figure is that ones and twos have changed places.

At the end of A2, the original ones (now the middle couple) can make their turn single wide, ending farther from the center to create a rounder circle. The circle goes just halfway in 9 steps. Encourage dancers to pace themselves so that they continue without stopping into the pass through.

Composed March 2021. First danced June 27, 2021.

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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 Maintaining hand with neighbor, fall back a double
3-4 Partners change places passing right shoulder, flip on last beat to face back in
5-8 Set and link: Taking inside hands, neighbors set and then change places turning over right shoulder (right diagonals roll through the center and end facing out while left diagonals cast up or down and end facing across) (all now progressed, but improper)
C1 1-4 Ones chase clockwise around couple above: “First around two and your partner cut through”
5-8 Twos, similarly, chase clockwise around 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. Not yet road-tested

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John-a-Dreams
Three-couple longways
Tune: Moss Rose and Yarrow by Nadine Dyskant-Miller, © 2021

A1 Ones chase, alternating leads:
1-6 #1 on the L-file, followed by partner, cast down outside to the bottom and up the center while follower goes counterclockwise around one and into center facing up, taking over the lead; now chase up through the top and cast right around one (middles moving up) to end with ones in middle place improper
7-8 Ones right-hand turn halfway (dancers now in 2-1-3 order)
A2 Threes chase similarly:
1-6 #3 on the R-file, followed by partner, cast up outside to the top and down the center while follower goes counterclockwise around one and into center facing down, taking over the lead; now chase down through the bottom and cast right around one (middles moving down) to end with threes in middle place improper
7-8 Threes right-hand turn halfway (putting dancers in 2-3-1 order), releasing hands at the end of the phrase to move directly into . . .
B1 1-4 Middles (original threes) orbit clockwise halfway around outside of set
Meanwhile long right diagonals change places passing left shoulders (bars 1-2), and long left diagonals change passing right (3-4)
5-8 Middles, following momentum from the orbit, go individually out to their left for a right shoulder hey across with the end couple; the last loop of the hey sends middles into . . .
B2 1-4 Middles orbit counterclockwise halfway around outside of set
Meanwhile long left diagonals change places passing right shoulders (bars 1-2), and long right diagonals change passing left (3-4)
5-8 Middles go individually out to their right for left shoulder heys across

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

The figure in the first half of each B-part is borrowed from Philippe Callens’ dance Costumer’s Delight. I started work on this dance a few weeks after learning about Philippe’s death, and I wanted to acknowledge the dance community’s loss by including something from one of Philippe’s dances.

Some might find the following cues useful for the B-parts:
– Long right diagonals always change by the left, and long left diagonals always change by the right. Another way to think about this is that corners stay to the side they begin on (L file or R-file) as they arc past each other.
– B1 begins with both the orbiters and right diagonals moving; in B2 it is the left diagonals.
– Active dancers (original threes, now in middle place) go the same way, be it up or down, for both heys. If the first (right-shoulder hey) is up, the second (left-shoulder) one will be up as well, and vice versa. But, because corners have crossed, the second hey is with new people.

Composed March 2021, and revised August 2021. Changes not yet road-tested.

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The Justice
Three-couple longways
Tune: The Almond by James Oswald

A1 1-3 Partners left-hand turn
4-5 All turn single right
6-8 On 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 left diagonal, those who can change places as in “Hole in the Wall” (still passing right shoulders)
9-12 Circle left six hands halfway
13-16 Opposites back-to-back
B 1-4 Middles cast clockwise up or down into half right shoulder hey-for-3 on the side
5-6 Middles continue trajectory of the hey to dance outside (left shoulder) around one to middle position of lines-of-3 facing up and down (original L-file dancers above, R-file below); take hands
7-8 Lines balance forward and back
9-12 Similarly, middles cast clockwise into half hey-for-3 across
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 across from partner
25-28 Partners 2-hand turn; ones face up, others retain hands
29-30 Ones cast to bottom while others sidestep twice to move up one place
31-32 Ones turn single down while others turn single up

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

Middles (original long second corners) are actives during the first half of the B-part. To get into each half hey they pull right shoulder back. They can catch partner’s eye on the first cast, but they pass the one who is not their partner to begin the half hey right shoulder. Measures 9-16 are a repeat of measures 1-8, with the figure turned 90°. Both heys begin with the same “trail buddies” passing by right.

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.

Composed September 2020. First danced May 16, 2020.

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Kayner’s Charms
Duple minor longways
Tune: New Dawn, New Day by David Allen Kaynor

A1 1-4 Neighbors set and turn single
5-8 Neighbors 2-hand turn 1-1/2, changing places
A2 1-4 Partners set and turn single
5-8 Partners 2-hand turn 1-1/2, changing places
B1 1-4 Circle left once around
5-8 Partners back-to-back
B2 1-4 Neighbors back-to-back
5-8 Three changes of rights and lefts, starting with neighbor

Composed March 2021. First danced May 16, 2020.

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Lady Hamilton’s Tea
Duple minor longways
Tune by Jonathan Jensen

(Music in 9/8)
A1 1-6 Right-file dancers, working in tandem, initiate a hey-for-3 on the left file: #1R, with neighbor following closely, cross down to make the first left-shoulder pass at the bottom; end by returning to own side with #1R still in lead (right file is progressed)
7-8 Opposites right-hand turn; top two (original first corners) loop left out of the turn (others release hands and follow momentum clockwise to enter second hey)
A2 1-6 Left file dancers, similarly, initiate a hey on the right file: #2L, with neighbor following closely, cross up to make the first left-shoulder pass at the top; end by returning to own side (all are progressed)
7-8 Partners 2-hand turn, open up to take hands-4
(Music in 3/4)
B 1-2 In a ring-of-4, balance in; as you come out, partners release hands
3-4 Neighbors gate, ones up the center to begin; drop hands with these neighbors and take hands-4 with new neighbors
5-6 Balance the new ring in and out, neighbors release hands
7-8 “Interlaced” gates across the dance, right-file dancers forward to begin; ones start the gate just ahead of the twos

Written to honor Darlene Hamilton of the Historical Tea and Dance Society.

The heys are oriented up and down on one side of the set or the other. Both begin with left shoulder, and people from second diagonal places make the first pass. All four dancers participate in these heys-for-3, with two dancers working together as a unit within the hey, the leader’s neighbor following them closely throughout. Note that this is not a “dolphin hey”; there is no overtake and pass. (There is no catching up with Lady Hamilton!)

A strong turn for the first gate is important to create enough time for the transition from one ring to the next.

The final gate figure is interlaced to avoid crowding up and down the hall. Think of it as similar to a half figure-8 where one dancer must go first. Ones start the gate just ahead of the twos, setting up the leader and follower for the tandem hey that begins the next round of the dance.

Composed January 2021, and revised August, 2020. Changes not yet road-tested.

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Local Produce
Duple minor longways
Tune: Sage Hen Waltz by Tim Ball

A 1-4 Facing corners, all set forward and turn single to place
5-6 Right-hand star halfway, pulling in close at the end of the phrase
7-8 A large turn single left, into…
B1 1-4 Swirly siding, partners passing left to begin
5-8 Ones lead up, cast back, and lead to the center of a line-of-4; while
Twos cast down, lead up, and cast out to the ends of the line
(Ones in center, all improper)
C 1-4 Dance up the hall 5 steps and pause; fall back, “flip” on last beat to face down, turning toward neighbor
5-8 Similarly, dance down the hall and fall back to place (end facing down, no flip)
B2 1-2 Twos gate the ones 3/4 to face across (ones above)
3-4 Partners 2-hand turn halfway, fall back (all home)
5-8 Taking inside hands with neighbor, set and link

The tune was named for the Sage Hill Farm in Lodi, NY, where dancers Margaret Shepard and John Henderson grow wholesome veggies—including ~80 varieties of garlic—using sustainable practices, nurture free-ranging chickens and bees, and maintain a large orchard of apple and various other fruit trees.

Composed January 2022. Not yet road tested.

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Lost and Found
Triple minor longways
Tune: A happy jig such as Brendan Tonra’s

A1 1-4 #1L does 2 changes to end in third place as follows:
Right diagonal by right hand; left diagonal by left hand
5-8 Similarly, #RL does 2 changes to end in third place:
Left diagonal by left hand; right diagonal by right hand
A2 1-4 Bottom four (ones and threes) two changes of rights and lefts, starting with partner
5-8 Top four (ones and twos) the same (all are home)
B1 1-2 Ones lead down the center
3-4 Ones set
5-8 Ones return (skipping) and cast down one place, twos moving up
B2 1-8 Top four full double figure-8, ones cross up and twos cast down to begin

Lost and Found is my variation of an early American dance called Elegance and Simplicity. I have made several changes to the historical dance. The original A1 consists of stars halfway (moulinet), first by right hand and then by left. Down the center in B1 included a rigadoon step, and B2 would have been four changes of rights and lefts. The changes are mostly intended to make timing and flow more appropriate for modern dancers.

Crafted sometime in 2020. Not yet road-tested.

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Love’s Triumph
Three-couple longways
(originally triple minor); final figure is adapted for the progression)
Tune is in Barnes I

A1 1-2 Ones and twos dance in (forward a double toward corner)
3-4 Turn single back to place
5-8 Same four circle left halfway, 2-hand turn partner halfway
A2 1-8 Ones and threes repeat A1 (ending 2-3-1 order)
B1 1-2 Ones cast up to middle place, threes leading down
3-6 Ones only, back-to-back
7-8 And turn single right
9-16 Ones and twos, four changes of rights and lefts, starting with partner
B2 1-2 Ones right-hand turn with first corner about 3/4
3-4 Ones right-hand turn with that person’s partner about 3/4 more, ending with all on own side in 2-1-3 order
5-8 Partners all back-to-back
9-12 Ones lead up through twos and cast back to place
13-16 Ones lead down to bottom and turn single away while threes do a wide cast up into middle place

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

The back-to-back in B1 is for ones only and crosses the phrase. The back-to-back in B2 is for all. The ones’ path at the top of B2 is triangular, and all end where they began. Note that both turns are by right hand.

Love’s Triumph has already been interpreted by Bernard Bentley, Fried de Metz Herman, Philippe Callens, Colin Hume, Scott Higgs, and probably others. My version largely follows Colin Hume’s 2007 interpretation, because I liked how he neatly solved the problem of returning 2s and 3s to their original side, something not specified in the original directions.

I chose to re-interpret Love’s Triumph because none of the authors mentioned above manage to include the final “Back to Back with your Partners,” which is so clearly indicated in the original directions (see highlighting above). I accomplish this by making the two preceding turns just 4 counts each. Using right hand twice in a row makes for smooth flow despite fairly quick turns.

Re-interpreted May 2021. First danced June 27, 2021.

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

A1 1-6 First corners chase: Top corner dance clockwise around partner while bottom corner follows; both end at home
7-8 All four take hands and circle left one quarter
A2 1-6 Other corners also chase: Current bottom corner dance clockwise around opposite while top corner follows; end where you began
7-8 All circle left one quarter more
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 all 12 counts of music. Alternate paths are acceptable as long as they end where they began at the right moment.

In this dance, both chases are on the right diagonal.

Composed October 2020. First danced June 27, 2020.

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Mulled Cider
Three-couple longways
Tune: Somerset Wassail, adapted by David Smukler

A 1-4 Right diagonals right-hand turn 1-1/2, changing places
5-8 Left diagonals left-hand turn 1-1/2, changing places; take hands-6
9-12 Balance the ring and spin one place to the right as in Petronella
(all are improper and across from partner in 3-2-1 order)
13-16 Ends cross the set passing right shoulders and loop right to face in while middles right shoulder round, once and a little more, to face first corners
B1 1-2 First corners clap patta-cake (own hands, corners’ rights, own hands, corners’ lefts); on final clap middles face across improper
3-4 Partners clap patta-cake with each other; on final clap, second corners face
5-6 Second corners clap patta-cake; on final clap, middles move toward proper side, into . . .
7-8 Middles cast clockwise one place up or down own side while first corners roll into middle place
B2 1-4 All set, turn single
5-8 Partners 2-hand turn

Mixer: L-file end in 2-3-1 order, R-file in 3-1-2 order. Repeat twice more to place.

Composed October 2021. Not yet road-tested.

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Never Better
Four-couple longways
Tune: Laurel’s Triumph, by Jane Knoeck

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 Within foursomes, couples exchange places with a half draw poussette clockwise
7-8 Those now in middle (original ends) circle left 3/4 while
New ends continue the draw poussette to orbit the entire set 1/4 and re-form as a line of four couples across the hall
(original ends are now middles and vice versa)
A2 1-8 Repeat A1 from new positions and roles (end at home)
B1 1-4 Partners set and turn single
5-6 In fours, circle left halfway, face neighbor along the line
7-8 Two changes of rights and lefts around the (flat) ring-of-8 (second change is up or down set for middles, and around end for ends)
B2 1-4 Next neighbors 2-hand turn 1-1/2, 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. Those who began as ends are now middles. Those who began as middles are at opposite end and crossed over. Repeat 3x more to place.

At the top of each A-part, those starting at the ends are actives. They cast, take hands with their counterpart from the opposite end, duck into the side arch, immediately release the neighbor, and take partner’s hand to duck back out the end arch to home places. If the middles are not tall enough to make those arches conveniently high, they can make “virtual” arches instead, lifting hands toward partner or neighbor, rather than connecting.

The action in measures 5-8 of the A-parts can be disorienting. It may be helpful to visualize the draw poussette as equivalent to circling halfway.

Composed September 2017 and revised October 2020. Changes not yet 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 into each other’s place
5-8 Partners on the side, set and turn single
9 Partners right-hand turn halfway
A2 1-4 New first corners 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 3/4
4-5 Partners 2-hand turn halfway and take hands in a ring-of-4
6-7 Balance the ring in and out
8-9 Turn single while moving right one place, as in Petronella
(all 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 turning single up and twos down

Each part of the tune is 9 bars in length. Alert dancers that the musical phrase will not necessarily be immediately apparent.

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.

Composed June 2020. Not yet road-tested.

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The Nuthatch
Duple minor longways
Tune by Nadine Dyskant-Miller

A 1-2 Circle left halfway
3-4 Turn single left
5-6 Left-hand star to home
B 1-2 All dance forward a double one place up or down your own line
3-4 Fall back on the diagonal to cross the set (ending in partner’s place)
5-6 Fall back on the other diagonal, crossing set again
7-8 Dance forward a double to original places, face across
C1 1-4 Partners left shoulder-to-shoulder siding, turn single right to home
5-8 Three changes of rights and lefts, starting with partner
C2 1-4 Partners set and turn single
5-8 Partners 2-hand turn

The B-part imitates the way a nuthatch moves on the trunk of a tree. When falling back diagonally, always pass right shoulder. First corners back up past each other the first time, and past a former corner the second. Second corners do the opposite: back up past the former corner first, and current corner second. .

At either end of the set, those waiting out can participate. Also, when at the ends of the set, some of the corners you pass might be “ghosts.” Dance through the entire pattern anyway

Composed March 2021. Not yet road-tested.

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On Eagle’s Wings
Duple minor longways
Tune: The Noon Moose of Maine, by Andrea Beaton, 4 steps per 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
A1 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
B 1-2 Down the hall 4 steps, turning toward neighbor at the end of bar 1 to face up; fall back 4 steps to keep moving down the hall
3-4 Up the hall 4 steps, turning again at the end of bar 3 to face down; fall back 4 steps moving up the hall, end by “bending the line” (ones release hands and back out)
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 dance up (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, just enough for a small bow or courtesy to acknowledge the “presence” Although this creates a pause in the dancing…
(1) Let musicians know there is no additional ritard (i.e., that note is held for exactly 2 extra beats), and
(2) let dancers know that there is not enough time to “step and honor”; it is simply a brief honor.

Composed November 2020. First danced July 11, 2021.

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Planxty Nancy Koch
Duple minor longways
Tune: Miss Hamilton, by Cornelius Lyons (1680-1750), 4 steps per bar

A 1-2 Balance in a ring-of-4, spin one place to the right (as in Petronella)
3-4 Ones half figure-8 across between twos
5-6 Twos half figure-8 across between ones, and take hands-4
7-8 Balance the ring, spin one place to the right (all are progressed)
B 1-2 Two changes of rights and lefts, starting with partner across
3-4 Partners 2-hand turn 1-1/2 to home place, open facing up
5-6 Ones lead up 1 place and cast down 2 while
Twos cast down 1 place and lead up 2
7-8 With new neighbors, circle left once around
(Next round of the dance begins with these)

Possible style points: Turn single right for the Petronella turn. Do not stop between Petronella turn and half figure-8. Make the changes at the top of B1 half turns rather than simply pulling by.

The lead-or-cast in B 5-6 begins with former neighbors, not current ones. Neutral couples do not participate but do allow other couples to lead through or cast around them. Then they re-enter the dance just after, with the circle at bars 7-8.

Cornelius Lyons was harper to the Earl of Antrim and friend of Turlough O’Carolan.

Composed September 2021. First danced November 6, 2021.

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Prospero’s Promise
Duple minor longways
Tune: Introduzione, adapted from Oboe Concerto by Domenico Cimarosa
(4 steps per bar)

A 1-2 First corners right-hand turn once around
3-4 Same two turn out over left shoulder and orbit counterclockwise to change places while second corners right-hand turn once around
5-6 Second corners turn out over left shoulder and orbit counterclockwise to change places
7-8 Facing neighbor and taking partner’s hand: advance and retire
9-10 Twos cast down while ones lead up and turn single away (6 steps)
B 1-2 Partners 2-hand turn
3-4 Neighbors right-shoulder swirly siding
5-6 Partners left-shoulder swirly siding
7-8 Two changes of rights and lefts, starting with partner

Composed February 2021. Not yet road-tested.

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Rainy Day Walk
Duple minor longways
Tune: Rowing from Isla to Uist

A1 1-4 Partners left shoulder round
5-8 Neighbors right shoulder round
A2 1-4 First corners cross; second corners the same
5-8 Circle left once around
B1 1-2 Neighbors lead out
3-4 Neighbors face and set
5-8 All cross set passing partner by right shoulder, loop right to face back in
B2 1-8 Four changes of rights and lefts, right hand to partner to begin; finish last change with polite turn (continue to turn over left shoulder until facing partner)

Releasing hands a bit early on last change allows all to reorient to partner across for the next round of the dance.

Composed September 2021. Not yet road-tested.

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Rebecka Reimagined
Duple minor longways
Tune: Rebecka Ridinghoode

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 couple below (next neighbors)
7-8 Ones 2-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 placce
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:

Rebecka Reimagined is loosely based on these original figures, but it is not intended as a faithful rendering of the historical dance. To see a more accurate historical version of Rebecka Ridinghoode, look for interpretations by Andrew Shaw and others.

For ones, the first bar of the A-part is like starting a half figure-8.

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

Composed November 2020. Not yet road-tested.

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Return to Pinewoods
Three-couple longways
Tune: The Champaign Jig Goes to Columbia, by Liz Carroll

A1 1-4 Top four set to partner, two changes of rights and lefts
5-8 Bottom four the same (end in 2-3-1 order; only the 1s are on original side)
A2 1-4 Top four, partners lead down and cast back; middles are in the lead throughout and end at the top
5-8 Similarly, bottom four, partners lead up and cast back, new middles lead and end at the bottom (now in 3-1-2 order)
B1 1-4 Slipping circle to the right
5-8 Slip back to the left
B2 1-4 Partners 2-hand turn (and the end couples both face down)
5-8 Ends half double figure-8 through the middles, top couple cross down and bottom couple cast up to begin (skipping or skip change step)

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

In the final half double figure-8, the middles (original 1s) should be aware that the other dancers must efficiently get both between them and behind them, and therefore be careful about spacing. Also, if the top dancers want a rule about who goes first, they can pass right shoulders while crossing down. This improves the flow slightly coming out of the 2-hand turn. However, it is of little importance, and dancers used to dancing in traditional gendered roles might not expect it.

Composed July 2021. Not yet road-tested.

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Slippery Slope
Three-couple longways
Tune: The Icy Drive, by Nadine Dyskant-Miller

A1 1-6 Parallel heys-for-3, pass right shoulder at the top to begin
7-8 Ones gate counterclockwise halfway to change sides, while
Twos, turning left whenever possible, cross set passing left shoulder (see note)
A2 1-6 Parallel heys-for-3, pass left shoulder at the top to begin
7-8 Ones gate clockwise halfway to change sides, while
Twos, turning right whenever possible, cross set passing right shoulder (all are home)
B1 1-4 Top four, circle left halfway; those partners change places (keep inside hands joined and roll clockwise)
5-8 Bottom four the same
B2 1-4 Lines-of-3 fall back a double; set right and left
5-8 Come forward and partners 2-hand turn

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

Each couple has its own unique transition in bars 7-8 of the A-parts:

Ones- The same person (orignal #1R) goes forward in both gates

Twos- Follow momentum coming out of hey, even if it means turning farther than expected. At the end of A1 the twos’ path is counterclockwise, so…
– Before crossing, #2L loops left 3/4 to face across (almost a full turn single)
– After crossing, #2R (similarly following momentum) loops left 3/4 to face up

Similarly, at the end of A2, the twos’ path is clockwise throughout, so…
– Before crossing, original #2L loops right 3/4 to face across
– After crossing, #2R loops right 3/4 to face up
Note that the same person crosses first (or loops first before crossing) both times.

Threes can simply wait at the end of A1. Or, they may enjoy a big turn single right to flow into the second hey.

Composed November 2020. Not yet road-tested.

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Sorrow’s Reach
Duple minor longways
Tune: Ritornelle – “Thanks to these lonesome vales”, by Henry Purcell

A1 1-4 All right-hand turn on the right diagonal 1-1/2
5-6 Cross the set by right shoulder, turn right and dance to home
7-8 Partners right-hand turn halfway, ending in partner’s place
A2 1-4 All left-hand turn on the right diagonal 1-1/2
5-6 Cross the set by left shoulder, turn left and dance back to partner’s place
7-8 Partners left-hand turn halfway to home, flip to change hands
B1 1-4 Two changes of rights and lefts, starting with partner
5-8 Partners 2-hand turn 1-1/2 and face up
B2 1-4 Couples up a double, cast back
5-8 Same four, left-hand star

Sorrow’s Reach has an interesting and unusual end effect worth teaching. At each end of the set, one dancer has no one on the right diagonal in A1. This dancer waits in place for 4 bars, crosses over passing right shoulder with opposite, crosses back (chasing that opposite) as part of the entire set moving one place clockwise, and finally does the right-hand turn halfway with partner to change places. A2 is the mirror image for the same dancer, who now has no one on the left diagonal. The same situation occurs both when you and your partner are otherwise waiting out for one turn of the dance, and when you start the next time through, so it happens twice in a row. (At the other end of the set, your partner will have this experience.)

As you change from a one to a two (or vice versa, it is also worth noting that first and second corners have very different transitions from B2 to A1. The left-hand star naturally sends first corners toward a new corner for the right-hand turn. Second corners, however, begin the next round with the same old corner, whose left hand they are holding in that star. So, for them the transition is a little flip to change hands, much like the end of A2.

Composed May 2021. First danced July 11, 2021.

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Surge
Duple minor longways
Tune by David Smukler

A1 1-2 With partner across: right shoulder side-by-side siding, turn single left back to place
3-4 First corners orbit counterclockwise while
Second corners, facing each other, advance and retire
A2 1-2 With partner on the side: left shoulder siding, turn single right
3-4 Second corners orbit clockwise while
First corners, facing each other, advance and retire
B1 1-3 Circle left once around
4 Turn single left
5-7 Left-hand star once around
8 Turn single right
B2 1-3 Partners back-to-back
4 Partners right-hand turn halfway, tug into . . .
5-8 Four changes of rights and lefts

Composed December 2020. Revised and first danced June 6, 2021.

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Take the Long View
Duple minor longways
Tune: Our Cat Has Kitted

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 (meeting 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. Not yet road-tested.

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Take the Oar
Duple minor longways
Tune: Tune 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 New first corners 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 during the A music by also turning single (bars 4 and 16).

Composed June 2020. Not yet 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 Petronella turn: All turn single right 3/4 such that neighbors face each other 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 shoulder to begin
5-6 Partners 2-hand turn 3/4
7-8 Circle left just 1/4 using 2 single steps (step-close, step-close) (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

At the top of the A-part, the Petronella spin is for each neighbor pair separately, rather than being a 4-person move where everyone ends up one place to the right. It may be helpful to teach it by having neighbors 2-hand turn 3/4 to a line across in order to show people where they are going. Then start over and have them turn single instead directly to that spot.

The split half figure-8 in the B-part accomplishes the same thing as a 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 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. Notice also that half of the dancers are doing the figure-8 outside their minor set. If you are one of them, be sure you know which neighbor to work with for the final four changes.

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. First danced July 9, 2021.

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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 steps)
2 Same four, dance straight out of the set toward 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 moving forward and the other back
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 place.

Composed November 2020. Not yet road-tested.

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Woodland Shadows
Four-couple longways
Tune by Aaron Marcus

A1 1-2 Partners lead up (~5 steps) and a brief pause to acknowledge the presence
3-4 Similarly, fall back and acknowledge partner
5-8 All go forward just past top of the set where each couple in turn casts, first to right and next to left alternating; end in re-formed lines facing original neighbor couple across
A2 1-4 Opposites back-to-back
5-8 In fours, circle left halfway;
Retaining hands with partner, shift left to face new opposite couple (moving along line or around end), and in these foursomes first corners change places (see note)
Finish across from partner, with centers facing each other up or down, and ends facing out their end
B1 1-6 Parallel heys-for-4: centers pass right shoulder and ends turn over left shoulder to begin; just before hey ends (centers facing in, ends facing out), partners catch inside hands
7-8 Center couples, turning left, lead out the sides while ends California twirl and then follow other couple from your hey (1s/3s lead out to R-wall, and 4s/2s to L-wall)
B2 1-2 Lead couple loop to the left, follower loop right, and re-form the set taking hands-4 with couple you meet (original neighbor couple)
3-4 Circle left 3/4 (ending in home position, but 1s and 3s improper)
5-8 Ones cast to bottom (3 bars) and 2-hand turn halfway (1 bar); meanwhile:
Others move up one place while doing a 2-hand turn, twos and fours turning once or twice, and threes turning 1-1/2, to end proper

Ends in 2-3-4-1 order. Repeat 3x more to original places.

The same people (those who begin on left-file) are always first corners at the end of A2.

The circle in A2 is leisurely; the circle in B2 is brisk.

Composed December 2021. Not yet road-tested.

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Worth the Wait
Duple minor longways
Tune: Jig du dimanche après-midi, by Nicholas Williams

A1 1-4 Partners left shoulder round
5-8 Partners set and turn single
A2 1-4 Circle left halfway, balance the ring in and out
5-8 Circle left halfway, turn single left
    First corners: Second corners:
B1 1-2 Left-shoulder side-by-side siding  
3-4 Turn single right to return Left-shoulder side-by-side siding
5-6 Change places passing right Turn single right to return
7-8 Loop right to face back in Change places passing right
B2 1-2 Right-shoulder side-by-side siding Loop right to face back in
3-4 Turn single left to return Forward and pass by right shoulder
5-8 Left shoulder round each other 3/4, crossing set (to progressed place) Turn single right into home place, and cast up or down to progress

Composed January 2021. Not yet road-tested.

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