“Pandemic Dances”

Dances composed, interpreted, or substantially revised between April 2020 and July 2021.

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. In May 2021 I finally began to gather with groups of fully vaccinated and masked dancers to test out the dances. The notes for each dance include either the fact that it has not yet been tested, or the month and year it was (to the best of my knowledge) first danced. If you find an untested dance here, please check back from time to time for updates. As I see dancers actually going through the figures, I often make changes to the directions, some small and some not-so-small. Some dances have been discarded or re-written entirely.

A note about difficulty: I do not make recommendations about the appropriateness of my dances for specific groups. However, the dances do vary greatly in difficulty, and teachers’ ability is also variable (as, of course, is dancers’). So, I leave all judgments about whether or not any of my dances is suitable for a specific group on a particular occasion to the dance teacher who chooses to use this material.

If you try any out of these dances, 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, Judith Cooper, Nadine Dyskant-Miller, Debbie Jackson, Jonathan Jensen, David A. Kaynor, Jane Knoeck, John Krumm, 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, David Millstone, Carmen Giunta, Christine Robb, Anna Rain, Brad Foster, Jenny Beer, and others (including my “deep dive” dancers) who have offered such helpful feedback on one or more of these dances.

-David Smukler


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 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19. 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. It has not yet been 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
 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 twos are facing diagonally right, just as they will to turn their first contra corner (but the active person is 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 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19. 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 (who move up), then down outside the next, arriving between these neighbors to form a new line-of-4 facing up

Although it is nice to have a bit of space above the set for the initial figure, twos should still move up as the ones begin the final figure, or the set will drift down and bunch up at the bottom.

When 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 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19. 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 while twos California twirl

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

The figures in B2 are more common in English country dancing, and are “meanwhile” figures. The 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. It has not yet been 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 during the COVID-19 pandemic. 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. As often happens to me when I start tinkering with choreography, more things happened than just my original goal.

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Pig Time
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

The dance’s title refers to a joke whose punchline is, “What’s time to a pig?” It progresses counterclockwise. Time often felt like it ran backwards during the pandemic. That said, this is not a slow paced dance. It is double progression and includes swings with three different people!

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

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Ambidexterity
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 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 takes 18 steps: all of B1 and the first half of B2. I don’t advise trying to count (8 changes in 18 steps…); you should find you have the right amount of time to fit in the corners crossing at the end of B2.

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 to form a line-of-4 from left to right. 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

Composed February 2021 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19. It has 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 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 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 to face current neighbor couple
9-12 Mirror back-to-back, ones between twos to begin; then face new couple behind you
13-16 Mirror back-to-back with these new neighbors, ones between twos 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 the 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 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19. 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 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. 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 and all crossed over)
B2 1-4 Repeat B1 with new first corners beginning
(next round starts with current neighbors)

Composed November 2020 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19. 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
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: Ones progress one place clockwise each time; twos progress across and back, twice. Repeat three more times to original places.

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 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19. 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 (which Chris Sackett also used for his dance, The Skin of Our Teeth).

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. Another way to simplify is to use a whole figure-8 for the active couple only in A2/A4.

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 curl 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
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, all face center
3 Middles (original second corners) right shoulder round halfway
4 All dance a clockwise arc that passes two people, as follows:
– 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
– Meanwhile, ends (original first corners) dance into the set passing partner and then one another by right shoulder; at the end of bar 4, neighbors take inside hands (L-file dancers facing up and R-file down)
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. 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, and then back up for the gate. 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 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19. 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 neighbor
B2 1-4 Neighbors back-to-back
5-8 Partners set and turn single

Composed June 2020 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19. 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
3-4 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

In B1 you have plenty of time for each change (6 steps per change). Do not make these into “Hole in the Wall” style crossings. Instead think of them as similar to Orange Nan: 3 steps to cross and three to loop to face back in. The “Petit Fours” in B2 are a variation on the figure Gary Roodman invented for his wonderful dance, Mary Kay.

Composed February 2021 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19. 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 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. It has not yet been road-tested.

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

A1 1-2 Top dancer on right file: set left and right acknowledging, in turn, corner and partner
3-4 Same top dancer cast to bottom; the line follows, inverting the line
5-7 Bottom two people right-hand turn 1x
8 Same two turn single left
A2 1-2 Top dancer on left file: set right and left acknowledging, in turn, corner and opposite
3-4 Same top dancer cast to bottom; the line follows, inverting the line
5-7 Ones (now reunited at the bottom) left-hand turn 1x
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: After once through, all have new partners, and those going into or out of second place have switched sides. Repeat twice more to original places.

Composed August 2020 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19. 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 Right-file dancers lead 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 their own side with #1 in the lead, ending in progressed place
5-8 Similarly, left-file dancers lead 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 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19. 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 (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, 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 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:

  • 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.
  • 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 if you wish. 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 more obvious which hand to offer for the gate.

Composed October 2020 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19. First danced May 16th, 2021.

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

A 1-2 Ones half figure-8 down through the (new) twos
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

“Diagonals” in the instructions refer to current position, not original positions. For the single file, first diagonals (who were more active in the chain) lead; neighbors follow.

Composed December 2020 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19. First danced June 6th, 2021.

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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, “swap the stars”: each dancer in turn leaves the star they are in to join the other star with the other hand, partners passing left shoulder to switch; then, as each couple meets again, take partner’s near hand to lead up and  … 
A2 1-4  – Ones: lead way up and a big cast down to second place;
 – Twos: lead up to the top and turn single away; and
 – Threes: lead up and cast back to bottom
(Dancers are now in 2-1-3 order, across from original side)
5-8 Partners, slow set and turn single
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 a double
7-8 Lines set right and left
9-12 Releasing hands, cast over right shoulder to spiral back to the center for a 2-hand turn with partner 1-1/2, 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. Couples enter and leave the stars one by one in turn. The pattern feels more coherent if dancers hang on to the star they’ve got until it is time to join the new one.

Similarly, in the first four bars of A2, couples come out of the two “decaying” stars one by one. Ones are already arriving at the top as the phrase begins, and they need a large sweep to fill four measures with their cast to second place. The twos follow them up but remain at the top with a mirror turn single. The threes continue the trajectory of the star as it carries them back to the bottom; for them it feels like a large mirror turn single. Use space to fill the music.

At the end of A2, the original ones (now the middle couple) should turn single such that they end farther from the center to make the circle round. Note that the circle at the top of the B is just halfway in 9 steps. Encourage dancers to pace themselves so that they continue without stopping into the pass through.

Composed March 2021 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19, but many people in New York State were getting vaccinated and starting to think about breaking out of their bubbles. First danced, June 27th, 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 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:
   Right diagonals roll through the center and end facing out, while
   Left diagonals 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. It has not yet been road-tested.

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

A1 1-6 Chase figure: #1 on the left-file cast down, followed by partner; leader goes down outside to bottom and up the center while follower comes into center between the other two couples and (now in the lead) comes up to top; then…
New leader, partner following throughout, casts to the right around one (middles moving up) and across; ones end in middle improper
7-8 Ones right-hand turn halfway (dancers now in 2-1-3 order)
A2 1-6 Similarly: #3 on the right-file cast up, followed by partner; leader goes up outside to top and down the center while follower comes into center between the other two couples and (now in the lead) comes down to bottom; then…
New leader, partner following throughout, casts to the right around one (middles moving down) and across; threes end in middle improper
7-8 Threes right-hand turn halfway (dancers now in 2-3-1 order)
B1 1-4 Middles (threes) face left diagonal: Right shoulder heys across the ends
5-8 Middles orbit counterclockwise halfway around the set; 
Meanwhile
long second corners change passing right (5-6), and long first corners change passing left (7-8)
B2 1-4 Middles face right diagonal: Left-shoulder heys across the ends
5-8 Middles orbit clockwise halfway around the set; 
Meanwhile
long first corners change passing right (5-6), and long second corners change passing left (7-8)

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

In the B-parts, the active dancers (original threes, now in the 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 the corners have crossed, everyone does the second hey with new people.

The figure in the second half of each B-part is a quotation from the dance Costumer’s Delight, by Philippe Callens. If you know that dance, note that the corner changes here are not quite the same as in Philippe’s dance. Here, the first change is by right shoulder and the second by left, no matter who goes first.

Composed March 2021 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19. First danced May 16th, 2021.

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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 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” (still passing right shoulders)
9-12 Circle left six hands halfway
13-16 Opposites 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
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)
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.

Composed September 2020 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19. First danced May 16th, 2021.

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Kaynor’s Charms
Duple minor longways
Tune: New Dawn, New Day by David Kaynor, © 2021

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 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19. First danced May 16th, 2021.

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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 Right-file dancers, working in tandem, initiate a hey-for-3 on the left file with #1 leading throughout (2nd diagonals pass left to begin); end by returning to own side with #1 still in lead (right file is progressed)
7-8 Opposites right-hand turn; top two only (original 1st corners) loop left out of the turn
A2 1-6 Left-file dancers, similarly, initiate a hey on the right file with #2 leading; end by returning to own side (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

Written January 2021 to honor Darlene Hamilton of the Historical Tea and Dance Society. First danced May 16th, 2021.

Both heys begin left shoulder on the second diagonal, and they are oriented up and down on one side or the other of the set as in Jack’s Maggot. However, unlike Jack’s Maggot, all four dancers participate in these heys-for-3, with two dancers working together “as a unit” within the hey. A “leader” (who begins on the second diagonal) initiates each hey and the leader’s neighbor follows 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!)

Having the top two loop left at the end of A1 smooths the transition into the second hey. It might be useful to identify first corners at the start of the walk-through and alert them that they will have a special role later, because at that moment they will no longer be on the first diagonal.

Lady Hamilton’s Decaffeinated Tea

A1 1-6 Right-file dancers, working in tandem, dance a full figure-8 through the left file dancers (#1 leading throughout): loop left below and right above, and end by returning to own side with #1 still in lead (R-file is progressed)
7-8 Opposites right-hand turn, , #1 on left-file may choose to loop left out of the turn
A2 1-6 Left-file dancers, similarly, dance a full figure-8 through the right file dancers with #2 leading throughout (all are progressed)
7-8 Partners 2-hand turn
B 1-8 (as above)

Composed February 2021 as a variation on Lady Hamilton’s Tea, which I wrote a month earlier. This version 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”:
The two dancers on the right end of the line make an arch; without releasing hands, left-end dancer dives under the arch drawing two others through, while those making the arch also move across the set, one of them turning under own arm (line ends inverted and facing down, ones still in center, all on original side)
 
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. It has not yet been 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, #1R 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.

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

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Love’s Triumph
Three-couple longways
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 ones 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 one’s path at the top of B2 is triangular, ones ending 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, which was the first one I encountered that neatly solved the problem of finishing the A-parts with all on their original side.

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” from the original directions (just before “lead thro'”). I found I could accomplish that by using a little bit of Fried Herman’s rather creative interpretation (two right-hand turns in a row). My version settled into this form late in April 2021 during a time we still were not dancing together because of COVID-19, but were hopeful of change because vaccination was ramping up (an example of love triumphant…). First danced June 27th, 2021.

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Maeve’s Tortoise
(pronounced “tour-toys,” as Maeve Higgins did on Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me)
Duple minor longways
Tune: Christy Barry’s

A1 1-6 First corners chase, as follows:
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 chase, as follows:
Current bottom corner dance clockwise around opposite while top corner follows; 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. When the dance was first tested, some dancers chose to travel an alternate (and longer) path as a way to use all the music.

Composed October 2020 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19. First danced June 27th, 2021.

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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 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 (roles reverse)
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 eight (second change is either up or down the side in the middle of the set, or around the 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 an opposite-role neighbor, duck into the ring-of-4, immediately release the neighbor, and take partner’s hand to duck back 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 a 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 a virtual circle halfway.

Originally composed September 2017. Revised October 2020 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19. The revisions 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 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 three-quarters
4-5 Partners 2-hand turn halfway into a ring-of-4 
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 turning single up and twos 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.

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

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The Nuthatch
Duple minor longways
Tune: The Nuthatch by Nadine Dyskant-Miller

A 1-2 Circle left halfway
3-4 Turn single left
5-6 Left-hand star to home (L-file face down; R-file up)
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 the set again
7-8 Dance forward a double to your original place, face across
C1 1-4 Partners left shoulder-to-shoulder siding, turn single right to home
5-8 Three changes of rights and left, starting with partner
C2 1-4 Partners set and turn single
5-8 Partners 2-hand turn

When falling back diagonally, pass (current or former) corner by right shoulders. 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 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19. It has not yet been road-tested.

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On Eagle’s Wings
Duple minor longways
Tune: The Noon Moose of Maine by Andrea Beaton, played AAB

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; at the end of the phrase, twos ease out of the turn to end just outside the set while ones step between the twos, forming a line-of-4 facing down (all improper)
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, 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-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, allowing for a small bow or courtesy to acknowledge the presence. (“The presence” used to be those of highest rank at the top of the hall, but nowadays it refers to the musicians and dance leaders we appreciate so much.) Although this creates a pause in the dancing:
– Let musicians know that there is no additional ritard; that note is held for exactly 2 extra beats.
– Let dancers know that there is not enough time to “step and honor”; it is simply a brief honor.

Composed November 2020 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19. First danced June 27th, 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 First corners 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 (six 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 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19. It has not yet been 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 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:

This is not a reconstruction. Andrew Shaw and others have done a beautiful job reconstructing the dance. I have adapted it, moving away in some ways from the 1714 directions to suit my own inclinations about dance momentum. “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. It is a bit of a 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. It has not yet been 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.

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, neighbors one and two pass right shoulders to begin
7-8 Ones gate counterclockwise halfway to change sides, while
Twos, looping left whenever possible, change places across the set passing left shoulder (see note)
A2 1-6 Parallel heys-for-3, neighbors one and two pass left shoulders to begin
7-8 Ones gate clockwise halfway to change sides, while
Twos, looping right whenever possible, change places across the set passing right shoulder
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 Partners come forward and 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 (original #1R) goes forward for both gates.

Twos- Always follow momentum coming out of the 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:
– 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.

Option for the Threes- At the end of A1, having finished the first hey facing the R-file’s wall, threes may enjoy a big turn single to the right to flow into the second hey.

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

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Sorrow’s Reach
Duple minor longways
Tune: Ritornelle – “Thanks to these lonesome vales” adapted from Dido and Aeneas, 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 along the line to home
7-8 Partners right-hand turn halfway, ending in partner’s place
A2 1-4 All left-hand turn on the left 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 lead up and pause (2 bars); cast back (2)
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, then 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 June 6th, 2021.

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Surge
Duple minor longways
Tune: Surge by David Smukler (3 steps per bar)

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
while second corners, facing each other, advance and retire
A2 1-2 With partner on the side: left shoulder siding, turn single right back to place
3-4 Second corners orbit halfway 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 (to original side), tug into…
5-8 Four changes of rights and lefts

Composed December 2020. Revised in June 2021 and first danced shortly thereafter: June 6th, 2021.

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Take the Long View
Duple minor longways
Tune: Our Cat Has Kitted (3 steps per bar)

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. 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 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 by also turning single during the A music (bars 4 and 16).

Composed June 2020 during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19. 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 “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 shoulders 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 turn single (Petronella spin) 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. First danced June 27th, 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)
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.

Composed November 2020, while waiting to vote early in a long, winding, socially distanced line in the rain. Since this was during the time we could not dance because of COVID-19, it has not yet been 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 right
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 the set (to progressed place) Turn single right into home place, and cast up or down to progress

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

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