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Circle dances

IN CONSTRUCTION

Circle dances - most walked, but some mazurka-ed, hamboed, or chassed.


Ad Absurdam Sur Place
(extracted from Lost Dances of Earthly Delights, Volume 2 - Village 15)

The Albert Hall Pavan
(extracted from Lost Dances of Earthly Delights, Volume 1 - Summer 7)

The Carousel Waltz
(extracted from Lost Dances of Earthly Delights, Volume 1 - Summer 8)

The Celtic Spiral
(extracted from Lost Dances of Earthly Delights, Volume 1 - Spring 8)

The Clap Waltz
(extracted from Lost Dances of Earthly Delights, Volume 1 - Spring 14)

Conjuring l'Amour
(extracted from Lost Dances of Earthly Delights, Volume 2 - Country 12)

Dancing in the Meadow
(extracted from Lost Dances of Earthly Delights, Volume 1 - Spring 13)

Fancy-Free Flirting
(extracted from Lost Dances of Earthly Delights, Volume 1 - Spring 4)

Harmony Hambo
(extracted from Lost Dances of Earthly Delights, Volume 2 - Town 7)

Indoor Games
(extracted from Lost Dances of Earthly Delights, Volume 1 - Spring 16)

Juggling Partners
(extracted from Lost Dances of Earthly Delights, Volume 1 - Summer 15)

Making the Bed
(extracted from Lost Dances of Earthly Delights, Volume 1 - August 6)

The Music Box
(extracted from Lost Dances of Earthly Delights, Volume 2 - Court 7)

Opposites Attract
(extracted from Lost Dances of Earthly Delights, Volume 1 - Spring 12)

The Palindrome
(extracted from Lost Dances of Earthly Delights, Volume 1 - Summer 13)

The Path to the Well
(extracted from Lost Dances of Earthly Delights, Volume 1 - Spring 1)

Potluck Welcome
(extracted from Lost Dances of Earthly Delights, Volume 2 - Village 7) 

Red Rocks Bourrée
(extracted from Lost Dances of Earthly Delights, Volume 1 - Spring 9)

Riverbank Ramble
(extracted from Lost Dances of Earthly Delights, Volume 1 - Autumn 11)

The Secret Liaison Waltz
(extracted from Lost Dances of Earthly Delights, Volume 1 - Autumn 3)

Sun and Moon Allemande
(extracted from Lost Dances of Earthly Delights, Volume 2 - Country 16)

Taking Turns
(extracted from Lost Dances of Earthly Delights, Volume 2 - Town 1)

Three Baskets
(extracted from Lost Dances of Earthly Delights, Volume 2 Village 4)

Vintage Footwork
(extracted from Lost Dances of Earthly Delights, Volume 1 - Summer 5)

Vulgarian Salutations
(extracted from Lost Dances of Earthly Delights, Volume 2 - Village 2)

Wedding Bell Waltz
(extracted from Lost Dances of Earthly Delights, Volume 1 - Summer 3)

The Wrong-Foot Polka
(extracted from Lost Dances of Earthly Delights, Volume 1 - Autumn 10)










Ad Absurdam Sur Place
(extracted from Lost Dances of Earthly Delights, Volume 2 - Village 15)



Angelus ad Virginem

(extracted from The Christmas Carol Dance Book)

 

Form circles of 5 couples. Start l.f.. Prepare for walking (or skip-change steps) and clapping. Finish sequence with all having progressed on place around the circle, M cw, W acw. Dance sequence 5 times to return to original partner.

 

Angelus ad virginem
Subintrans in conclave,

A1

With 8 walking steps or 4 skip-change travelling steps 2h turn partner cw once around, open out facing in and take hs in a circle.

Virginis formidinem
Demulcens, inquit, 'Ave!

A2

With next 8 walking or 4 skip-change steps all into the centre and retire, turning to face partner.

Ave, regina virginum;

B

Clap partner r.h., l.h., both hs, then, while turning over l.sh. to face corner clap own shs (arms crossed) and own hs

Coeli terraeque Dominum

 

Repeat with corner, turning over l.sh. back to partner.

Concipies / et paries / intacta
Salutem hominem;
Tu porta coeli facta,
Medula criminum.'

C

Give r.h. to partner and with 18 walking steps (2 for each person) chain (M acw, W cw) 9 hs around set, passing partner l.h around other side of set and finishing just short of home place ready to take former corner (the 10th in chain) as new partner for 2h turn.


'Where are we going?'
says Milder to Melder.

A1

With 12 running steps all go left in own circle, outside circle cw, inside circle acw.

'Where are we going?'
says vassal to foe.

A2

Outside circle closes in while inside circle reverses even further into the centre, and as dancers in both circle do so they raise their joined hs, look to their right and loop their now slack arms over their own heads, own l.arm over own head onto own r.sh..

'We may not tell you,'
says the younger to the elder.

B

With 12 running steps and leaning out a little all basket in this 'cage' or 'net' formation to the right, along l.o.d.

'Away to the green wood!'
says John the Red Nose.

A3

All raise hs, let go and turn 11/2; over l.sh., those on the inside escaping between gaps to take hs in a new inward-facing outside circle and those outside taking hs in a new outward-facing inside circle - in other words, swapping circles.

 

This carol is mentioned by Chaucer in his late 14th century Miller's Tale, when he describes how the poor scholar Nicholas of Oxford, kept by his lonely bed a sautry, 'On which he made a nightes melodye / So sweetly, that all the chambre rong, / And Angelus ad virginem he song.' The carol was probably Franciscan in original and brought to Britain by French friars in the 13th century. There is a 14th century Irish source for the Latin version and a Middle-English version that begins:

 

Gabriel fram Heven-King / Sent to the Maide sweete,
Broute hir blisful tiding / And fair he gan hir greet

 

The Shorter New Oxford Book of Carols' translation of the first Latin stanza is:

 

The angel, coming secretly to the Virgin calming the Virgin's fear, said: 'Hail! Hail, Queen of Virgins! You shall conceive the Lord of Heaven and Earth and give birth, remaining a virgin, to the Salvation of mankind; you, made the Gateway of Heaven, the cure for sin.

 

The peculiar structure of this carol, with a 8 beat phrase in the A part, 5 beat phrases in the B part, 2 beat link to the C part and an 8 beat C part which is repeated, poses a choreographic challenge. The challenge can be turned to advantage, however, when it is realised that a 5 beat clapping sequence can fit the B part and that from the end of the B part to the end of the tune there are 19 beats, just enough to take r.h. with partner and grand chain, 2 brisk walk steps or one skip-change travelling step for each hand, to one place short of home ready to start again from progressed position. A 5 couple format makes not only for a progression in the chain, but also, given that there are 5 stanzas usually sung, a chance for everyone to start dancing with all possible partners.

 

Carol of the Bells

(extracted from The Christmas Carol Dance Book)

 

Form a circle of as many couples as will holding hs. Start l.f.. Prepare for rocking and stomping bourrée steps. Finish sequence having progressed one place, W acw, M cw. Dance the 28-bar bourrée sequence as many times as will, appending 4 bars of dance before the first time and 2 bars at the end of the last time.

 

Hark! how the bells / Sweet silver bells
All seem to say, / 'Throw cares away'

__

Just 1 st time - W only rocking forward on l.f. as hs swing forward and back on r.f. as hs swing back twice.

Christmas is here/ Bringing good cheer
To young and old / Meek and the bold

A1

M join W in simple rocking forward on l.f. as hs swing forward and back on r.f. as hs swing back twice.

Ding, dong, ding, dong / That is their song / With joyful ring / All caroling

A2

Take 4 stomping bourr1ste steps, swinging hs, in place.

One seems to hear / Words of good cheer / From ev'rywhere/ Filling the air

A3

M take 2 bourr1ste steps out (hs swinging forward) while W take 2 in then W take 2 bourr1ste steps out while M take 2 in).

Oh how they pound,
Raising the sound,
O'er hill and dale, / Telling their tale,

B

As M goes back again he lets go with his r.h. and rolls his l.h. neighbour across from his l.side to his r.side, her l.h. now in his r.h. .

Gaily they ring
While people sing
Songs of good cheer
Christmas is here.

C

Swing joined inside hs forward (into centre) and all the way back so W turn over her l.sh. under arcing M's r.arm, then M, turning over his own l.sh., passes W's l.h. into his l.h., then, turns her again over l.sh., this time under his arcing l.arm, and he passes her l.h. back to his r.h., finishing both in a circle facing in.

Merry, merry, merry, merry Christmas
Merry, merry, merry, merry Christmas

D

All take 2 bourr1ste steps in to centre (swinging joined hs forward) and 2 bourr1ste steps out (swinging joined hs back).

On, on they send / On without end
Their joyful tone / To ev'ry home

A5

All circle left with 4 bourr1ste steps, stomping becoming quieter as you go.

Ding, dong, ding, ...dong.

__

Last time - just M rock forward, back, forward and bow.

 

The tune for this carol was written by Mykola Dmytrovich Leontovich (1877-1921) and was based on an old Ukrainian melody. The original Leontovich piece (as Judith Otten of New York has discovered) was entitled 'Shtchedrik, shtchedrik, shtchevatchka', described what swallows sitting on the eaves of an inn could see, and did not have a final bass 'dong'. The words commonly used today were written by the American composer, arranger and choral director Peter J.Wilhousky (1902-1978). Of Czech background, Wilhousky grew up singing in Russian-American choirs and made many translations and arrangements of Slavic music. The lyric of this carol was suggested by the legend that at midnight on the evening Jesus was born all the bells on earth started to sound of their own accord. The lyrics and music are presented in The Christmas Carol Dance Book by Permission of Allans Music Australia Pty Limited. The lyrics are offered here in this compact form simply to inform the dance instructions and are not to be reproduced without copyright holder's permission (© Carl Fischer Inc).

The dance offered here matches the hypnotic trajectory of the carol. Just as it is customary to add voices as the verses compound, so in the dance, the M don't join the dance till after the W have started, and at the end, the M are still dancing a soft rhythmic peal when the W have stopped. In between, each 'plenary' sequence builds up from rocking in place, to bourr1ste-ing, to turning each other furiously. Indeed the 'gaily they ring' C part of the dance has the M turn once completely about and his new partner twice. This is followed by ringing in unison into the centre and out, and then fades back down to swaying in a circle.

The Cutty Wren

 

Form two concentric circles of approximate equal number of M and W, M holding hs on outside facing in, W on inside facing out, no partner necessary. Start l.f.. Prepare for running bourr1ste steps. Finish sequence with all resuming hs with same neighbours but having changed circles. Dance the 16-bar bourrée sequence as many times as will.

This 'Day after Christmas' carol is a relic of an ancient custom. For centuries in many parts of Britain and Ireland December 26, St  Stephen's Day, was as important as Christmas day and was the day for 'Hunting the Wren' or 'Going on the Wren'. Groups of boys would look for a wren then chase it until caught. The dead bird was tied to the top of a pole or holly bush, decorated with ribbons or coloured paper and carried around the village. At each house the boys, wearing straw masks or blackened faces, and dressed in old clothes, would sing a song and receive money. There were various songs, including one which began:

 

The wren, the wren is king of the birds
St Stephen's Day he's caught in the furze
Although he is little his family is great
We pray you, good landlady, give us a treat!

 

How the wren hunting custom came about is not clear. Some say that St Stephen, hiding from his enemies in a bush, was betrayed by a chattering wren, so the bird, like St Stephen, should be hunted down and stoned to death. Some that it is punishment for the wren betraying, albeit accidentally, Irish warriors sneaking up on the camp of some invading Vikings. Others that the killing of the wren, the 'king of the birds', is related to the pagan custom of sacrificing something sacred at year's end (or indeed a king every seven years) for the good of the tribe and land. Whatever the origin, the custom has been revived in some places in recent years, with girls joining boys to parade an artificial wren or a real wren in a cage and collect money (e.g. for their community or school).

 

To match this children's song, I have devised a dance which mimes children trying to trap some birds then setting them flitting (into exchanged roles). It is suitable for children, not needing exactly the same number of boys as girls, and not requiring boys and girls to hold each other's hs. The more dancers, however, the more comfort the cages.


Conjuring l'Amour
(extracted from Lost Dances of Earthly Delights, Volume 2 - Country 12)

 

Gaudete

 (extracted from The Christmas Carol Dance Book)


Form a double circle of as many couples as will, M on inside facing out holding r.h. in r.h. with W on outside facing in. Start l.f..  Prepare for singles, doubles and reverances. Finish sequence with all having progressed one place, M against, W along l.o.d., ready to turn new partner with r.h..  Dance the branle sequence as many times as will.

 

Gaudete, gaudete
Christus est natus

A1

1/2 r.h. turn partner with a l.f. double then, releasing hs., step back from partner with a r and l, bend l.knee and reverance pointing r.f.

Ex Maria virgine, gaudete.

 

1/2 l.h. turn partner back to home place with r.f. double, then release hs, step back from partner with a l and r, bend r.knee and reverance pointing l.f.

Repeat chorus 

A2

Repeat A part of dance

Tempus ad est gratiae

B

Double forward on own left diagonal to form a wave, M facing out W in, all holding r.h. in r.h. with original partner, l.h. in l.h. with corner.

Hoc quod optabamus

 

In wave, balance right (step onto right and kick left across) and left (step with left back to left and kick r.f. across).

Carmina laetitiae

 

Double to own right across in front of partner to form a new wave, l.h. in l.h. with original partner, r.h. in r.h. with new corner.

Devote redamus.

 

Balance left and right, finishing holding r.hs with new partner.

 

The verses of this carol derive from the medieval Bohemian song 'Ezechielis porta', a song which may have been heard by Finnish clerical students studying in Prague. Finno, the editor of Piae Cantione, included the verses in his book, adding a refrain which he may himself have adapted from a Lutheran German song. The Shorter New Oxford Book of Carols translates the text as follows:

Rejoice! Rejoice! Christ is born of the Virgin Mary; rejoice!

1. The time of grace has come for which we have prayed; let us devoutly sing songs of joy.

2. God is made man, while nature wonders; the world is renewed by Christ the King.

3. The closed gate of Ezekiel has been passed through; from where the Light has risen [the East] salvation is found.

4. Therefore let our assembly sing praises now at this time of purification; let it bless the Lord: greetings to our King.

This dance uses basic Renaissance steps such as doubles, singles and reverances, but combines them in such a way as to create a very lively social mixer. The giving of right and left hs in the A part encourages dancers to look at their partners and the jazzy sideways doubles and singles (chassées and balances) in wave formation in the B part offer an opportunity for the group as a whole to share weight and dance together. On those occasions when musician or singers want to repeat the A part of the tune (because the structure AAB is as common as AB), dancers simply repeat the A part of the dance - but they should be encouraged to take more extravagent steps and make more expansive reverances the  second time through.

 

Gower Wassail

(extracted from The Christmas Carol Dance Book)

 

Form a tight circle of as many as will holding hs, own l.arm crossed over own r.arm, no partner necessary. Start l.f.. Prepare for stomping triple steps (l, r, l and r,l,r) and mazurka hobble steps (l,r,hop and l,r,hop). Finish sequence with all having circled to left but without having released either hand or changed place. Dance the 24 bourr1ste/mazurka/waltz sequence as many times as will.

 

A wassail, a wassail throughout all this town,

A1

Turn out over l.sh., unlooping l.arm, with a l, r, l and point r.heel then turn back in over r.sh., relooping l.arm over with a r, l, r and point l.heel.

Our cup it is white and our ale it is brown.

 

Turn all the way over l.sh. and finish facing back in, this time r.arm looped over, with a l,r,l  r,l,r  l,r,l point r.heel.

Our Wassail is made of good ale and true,

Some nutmeg and ginger the best we could brew.

A2

Repeat all above until back in starting position, but starting with opposite foot, over opposite shoulder and pointing opposite foot.

Fol the dol, fol the doldy dol, fol the doldy dol, fol the doldy dee,

B

With own l.arm crossed over own r.arm and leaning out take 4 mazurka hobble steps (step onto l.f., bring r.f. up to it and take weight, then hop on r.f.) to turn the basket to left.

Fol dai-rol lol the daddy, Sing too ral aye do!

C

All go in with 2 bourrée steps (6 stomping running steps) and out with 2 bourr1ste steps (6 running steps).

 

A tune and lyric collected from the singing of Phil Tanner, who died in a workhouse in South Wales in 1947.To help support the overindulging waissailers in this carol, here is a dance which can be performed without ever letting go of the hands of your neighbours in the circle. The same was the case in the dance for 'The Angel Gabriel from Heaven came', but whereas that dance required partners and was gentle and hypnotic, this one does not need a partner and is in a bouncy triple-time. The dance matches the lyric to the extent that the raising of hands to turn this way mimes the carolers raising their mugs to receive, toast or drink, and the basketing left with the 'lopsided' hobble mazurka steps mimes the results of drinking too much.


Harmony Hambo
(extracted from Lost Dances of Earthly Delights, Volume 2 - Town 7)




Infant Holy, Infant Lowly

(extracted from The Christmas Carol Dance Book)

 

Form a circle of as many couples as will holding hs. Start M l.f., W r.f.. Prepare for waltz steps and 'twists'/knee-swivels. Finish sequence having progressed one place, M cw (against l.o.d.) W acw (along l.o.d.). Dance the 16-bar waltz sequence as many times as will.

 

Infant holy, infant lowly,

For his bed a cattle stall;

A1

With 3 waltz steps balance to neighbour and partner, then take neighbour in a r.sh. close ballroom hold and conclude with a twist (legs together, heels swivel one way - say to left - as knees bend, drop and point other way - say to the right - then straighten up abruptly).

Oxen lowing, little knowing
Christ, the babe, is Lord of all.

A2

With 3 waltz step starting again M r.f., W l.f. turn briskly as a couple 11/2; cw and twist (this time knees to the left, heels to the right), finish pointing joined hs, chests, noses forward along the l.o.d.

Swift are winging, angels singing,

Noels ringing, tidings bringing:

B

In the dramatic forward-facing arms-extended ballroom hold, starting outside foot promenade forward with 4 waltz steps.

Christ the babe is Lord of all.

C1

With 1 waltz step starting M l.f. W r.f., couple turn 1/2; acw, M wheeling back, and all twist (knees to the right, heels to left).

Christ the babe is Lord of all.

C2

With 1 waltz step starting M r.f. W l.f., couple turn 1/4; back cw, W wheeling back, open out, sliding into holding hs in an inward-facing circle, and all twist (knees to left, heels to right).

 

This carol is version of a traditional Polish carol 'W Zlobie Lezy'. There is an English version of this carol called 'Jesus Holy, Born so Lowly' but the translation given here was made and published by Edith Reed in December 1921, without the repeating of the last line. Though today the last line is most commonly repeated, as given here, if it is not the dance can still work if the couple open out back into a circle at the end of C1.

To give some Polish polish to the dance, the chest should be 'puffed-up' proudly, the arms extended as much as possible (especially when promenading or in circle), and the leg twists should be executed with a snap (as in the Polish dance Adas Kujawiak). If displaying the dance you might like to make sure you all alternate the starting foot of the waltzes and alternate the direction of your twists (if your last waltz step was onto l.f., your knee goes to right on twist, if last step r.f., knee goes to left). In a social setting, however, the direction doesn't matter, so long as the dancers all drop at the knee and straighten up in unison, and the overall carriage is dramatic. With dancers who can chain smartly, a double progression is possible by replacing the above C1&2 with the following:

 

C1.  With 1 waltz step starting M l.f. W r.f. M guides W with his r.h.under his raised l.h. to take hs in outward-facing circle then all twist (knees to the right, heels to left).

C2. With 1 waltz step starting M r.f. W l.f. change with neighbour, W going under M raised r.h. to finish in each others places in a new inward-facing circle then twist (knee to left heel to right).

Jingle Bells

(extracted from The Christmas Carol Dance Book)

 

Form a circle of as many couples as will, M facing along l.o.d., W against. Start l.f.. Prepare for travelling polka steps and heel and toe step. Finish sequence W having progressed one place along the l.o.d., M one place against the l.o.d Dance the 32-bar polka sequence as many times as will.

 

Dashing through the snow

A1

Chain, 2 polka step for each hand, starting r.h. to partner,

On a one-horse open sleigh

 

l.h. to next

O'er the fields we go

 

r.h. to next

Laughing all the way;

 

then l.h. turn next about (r.h. in the air) till facing in opposite direction.

Bells on bob-tail ring

A2

Chain back same way, r.h.

making spirits bright

 

l.h.

What fun it is to ride and sing

 

r.h. past original partner,

A sleighing song tonight

 

then l.h. to new partner, r.h. over top into skaters hold.

Jingle bells, jingle bells

B1

Side-by-side and both facing along l.o.d., l.f. heel and toe twice.

jingle all the way!

 

4 quick galop steps on left diagonal, lift and turn r.sh. forward.

O what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh, hey!

 

R.f. heel and toe twice and take 4 quick galop steps on r. diagonal, finishing raising hs to over sh. hold.

Jingle bells, jingle bells
jingle all the way!
O what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh.

 

B2

Repeat above in high promenade hold with W in front of M to heel and toe, not side-by-side but in parallel, and finish releasing l.hs, facing original direction, ready to pull past by r.sh..

 

Though now almost synonymous with a jolly Christmas, this carol was actually written for a Thanksgiving performance by Sunday schoolers at a Boston church. James Pierpont, the Sunday school teacher, called his song 'The One Horse Open Sleigh' and the children's performance was so well received they were asked to repeat it at Christmas. The song has remained attached to Christmas ever since.

With bells on your toes, get ready to galop (or, to be more precisely, polka) a swerving path through a field of imaginary snow. Try to give your set a lot of space so two polka steps don't bring you too quickly to the next hand in the chain, but if the set is tight compensate by making wide 1/2; way turns (with eye contact) for each hand. Don't miss the opportunity to raise your r.h. when, laughing all the way, you turn the last person all the way about. After chaining back to and one place beyond your original partner turn the easy way into a low skater's hold for your first prancing promenade. At the end of B1 be sure not to miss the opportunity to give a loud 'hey' as you raise your hs, M's r.arm going over W's head, into a shoulder-high promenade hold. At the end of the sequence, as you turn out of the high promenade and release l.hs ready to chain on the r.h., don't forget the eye contact and a word of good-bye.


The Music Box
(extracted from Lost Dances of Earthly Delights, Volume 2 - Court 7)



The Old Year Away is Fled

(extracted from The Christmas Carol Dance Book)

 

Form a circle of as many couples as will holding hs. Start M l.f. W r.f.. Prepare for polka (or Scottish travelling) steps. Finish sequence with all having progressed one place, M along l.o.d. W against. Dance the 16-bar jig sequence as many times as will.

 

The old year now away is fled,
the new year it is entered;

A1

All in with 2 polka steps (or Scottish travelling steps), and retire out with 2 polka steps.

 

Then let us all our sins down tread,
and joyfully all appear.

A2

With 4 polka steps, releasing corner, M turns to partner and goes cw around her, wrapping her up on his r.arm as she, r.h. raised, turns over l.sh., then joining front hs in sweetheart hold, they wheel cw as a couple, finishing facing along l.o.d.

 

Let's merry be this holiday,
and let us run with sport and play,

B1

With 2 polka steps M rolls W out and she, again r.arm raised, turns 1 1/2; over her r.sh. till M's r.h. holds her l.h. behind her back, then M's takes her r.h. in his l.h. (elbow extended) and they wheel cw, finishing again facing along l.o.d.

 

Hang sorrow, let's cast care away

B2

With 2 polka steps M raises and goes under W's r.arm, releasing her l.h. from his r.h. but retaining her r.h. in his l.h. to finish in exchanged positions facing in.

 

God send us a merry new year!

 

With 2 polka steps, balance on joined inside hs towards partner (touching free hs palm-to-palm) then (pushing with outside hs) away opening out into circle.

 

 

The lyric offered here is from New Christmas Carols, 1642 where it is said to go 'to the tune of Greensleeves'. Though some ascribe authorship of the later  to Henry VIII there is no evidence for this. Greensleeves was first registered in 1580 to a Richard Jones. Shakespeare mentioned it by name twice in The Merry Wives of Windsor - hired bands of musicians being said to play it slowly as traitors were hanged.

With a lyric too wordy to mime, this dance simply attempts to capture the spirit of this carol. The A part opens with a rousing communal figure before the man brings his new partner into a sweet embrace. The B part opens with a merry figure in which the W twirls out of one cosy hold into another (easy if she keeps her r.h. n a plane slightly higher than their l.h.), and ends with a brief greeting and farewell as all sing 'God send us a merry new year!' The dance works best when the carol is interpreted as a lively jig - with 1 skip or 'polka' step for every bar. For a slow interpretation it would be better to switch to the dance offered under What Child is This, and take 2 waltz steps where here you take 1 polka step.


 

Pastime in Good Company
(extracted from Odd Delights)

I wrote these dances in January 2010 as options for the wedding of Rowena and Greg, to take place in March 2010. The request was to choreograph a dance the wedding party could do to the tudor song ‘Pastime in Good Company’ (see end of section for music in facsimile, lyric and more historical notes). I wrote three possibilities, with the thought that they could do any one or all in a series.

All involve essentially the same footwork, but the orientations, figures and development differ. The first dance involves the man and the woman coming under each others spell. The second dance involves snowballing the action to bring onlookers into the dance. The third dance involves everyone dancing all the time—oriented half the time towards the encircled group, the other half towards an individual, with a double progression of partners with each playing of the tune.

In the descriptions I gave to them, and have reproduced below, I attempted to avoid any period specific language, and used just commonplace English words.

‘slow step forward’—(2 bars—1 weight change gradually across all 4 beats), an 16th century Italian step puntato involving stepping onto named foot and drawing other foot up but leaving weight on named foot.

‘slow sideways’—(2 beats—1 weight change gradually across all 4 beats), a 16th century Italian continenze involving stepping with bent knee onto named foot and drawing other foot up to rise but leaving weight on named foot. In the first of the above dances this is really like a slow French bassedance branle as it happens side-by-side with partner. In the second and third of the above dances as in Renaissance mixers like Branle des chandelier and Ballo del Fiore it happens facing a partner or prospective partner.

‘medium step’ (1 bar—1 weight change gradually across 2 beats), unlike the French ‘single’ but like the English single and the Italian passo, this step does not involve closing with the other foot.

‘quick,2,3’ (2 bars—3 weight changes on first 3 beats, no weight change on last beat), like 16th century Italian seguito ordinario or 17th century English double, this involves 3 quick steps leaving a new foot free.

‘bow’ (1½ bar—no weight change in 3 counts, starting with the last count of the preceding ‘double’ measure/step), a little like 16th century Italian mezza riverenza or short French reverence or 17th century English Almain honour, there is no time for the kissing of own hand, change and change back of weight etc which might be part of an 8 count bow.

Potluck Welcome
(extracted from Lost Dances of Earthly Delights, Volume 2 - Village 7) 


Sun and Moon Allemande
(extracted from Lost Dances of Earthly Delights, Volume 2 - Country 16)


Taking Turns
(extracted from Lost Dances of Earthly Delights, Volume 2 - Town 1)


Three Baskets
(extracted from Lost Dances of Earthly Delights, Volume 2 Village 4)


Vulgarian Salutations
(extracted from Lost Dances of Earthly Delights, Volume 2 - Village 2)








Courtship in Good Company
(extracted from Odd Delights)

Form couples, each man leads his woman out onto the floor till couples, scatter themselves around an imaginary two-lane circle, man on the inside facing woman on the outside, and after a bow, all turn to face anti-clockwise around the imaginary circle, i.e. face along the line-of-dance (l.o.d.), with left foot free  ready to do the following. The dance can conceivably be done by just 1 couple (e.g. bride and groom) and then later they can be joined by other couples who do exactly the same dance, all coming together at the end of each B strain.

Part 1

A1       (8 bars) Couples ½ clockwise ‘gypsy’ each other (i.e. go around each other without holding hands, just gazes) with 1 slow step left, 1 slow step right,  2 medium paced steps (one left and one right), and 3 quick steps (left, right, left) swivelling about and finishing weight on left foot,  right foot free.
A2       (8 bar) Counterpart—starting stepping onto right foot, ½ gypsy anti-clocwise back and swivel into facing forward along l.o.d. holding inside hand
B1       (6 bars) Both slow sideways left, slow sideways right, then with 3 quick steps to wheel ¼ acw (man back, woman forward) and finish taking hands with other dancers in an inward facing circle.
B2       (6 bars) Both slowsideways right, slow sideways left, 3 quick steps to wheel ¼ cw till couple are again facing along l.o.d. , and bow with left foot free.

Part 2

Similar to above, except during the A part both promenade forward together.

`

 Friendship in Good Company
(extracted from 
Odd Delights)

A version of the Courtship in Good Company’s Part 2 which can start with as few as one or two couples and snowball on to bring as many as will onto the dance floor. One possible strategy is to do the whole of the above dance with the inner wedding party, and then, without a break, do this snowballing version of the sequence (and if when wanting to go from the Courtship version to the Friendship version those who were dancing are a long way from those they want to bring in, then at the end Courtship’s part 2, instead of just wheel ¼ cw to facing along the l.o.d. wheel ½ cw to face directly out towards the side, and take all of the next A1 and A2 to travel to greet those seated):

A1       Starting couple or couples go along l.o.d with slow left, right, medium left, right, quick left, right, left,
A2       Continue forward and leaving the l.o.d. to go initially as couples but possibly if necessary towards end of phrase as  individuals towards those sitting waiting to join in) with slow right, left, medium right, left, quick right, left, right, finishing left foot free.
B1       As couple or individual facing other couple or individual,  slow sideways left, slow sideways right, and 3 quick steps (left, right, left) back while those greeted rise,
B2       Together with those now risen, all slow sideways right, slow sideways left, then 3 quick steps a little forward towards opposite and a little along l.o.d. take inside hand with this new partner (woman’s left in man’s right) and acknowledge each other with a small bow, left foot free.

Continue the dance till all are snowballed onto the floor, then either end, or dance sequence just as in Courtship in Good Company Part 1 and/or 2, or go on to All in Good Company.

 All in Good Company
(extracted from 
Odd Delights)

This is a simple form of the dance, with exactly the same weight changes, which can be done with everyone dancing all the time. Start with couples all in an inward-facing circle.

A1       Into the centre with slow step left, right, then retire with medium left (on a left diagonal presenting right shoulder), medium right (on a right diagonal presenting left shoulder) and 3 quick steps (left, right, left) retiring quickly straight back
A2       Repeat above but starting right foot, and turning at the end to face partner.
B1       With partner, slow sideways left, right then with 3 quick steps pass by right shoulder,
B2       With next, slow sideways right, left then 3 quick steps pass the next by the left shoulder, curling in acw over left shoulder (M ¼, W ¾) and resume hands in circle with a communal bow, left foot free. 

According to Wikipedia:

"Pastime with Good Company", also known as "The King's Ballad" ("The Kynges Balade"), is an English folk song written by King Henry VIII in the first years of the 16th century, shortly after being crowned. It is regarded as the most famous of his compositions, and it became a popular song in England and other European countries during Renaissance times. It is thought to be written for Catherine of Aragon...

The song is supposed to have been played in court, along with all the other of the King's compositions. However, due to its simple and catchy melody, it became a popular tune and was soon afterwards interpreted frequently at English fairs, taverns and events. It is also believed to have been one of the favourite musical pieces of Queen Elizabeth I. The song is referred to in a number of contemporary documents and publications, attesting to its popularity, and was subject of a wide number of variants and instrumental rearrangements by different musicians in the following years. In the 1548 work The Complaynt of Scotland, the anonymous author mentions "Passetyme with gude companye," as being among the popular songs within the kingdom of Scotland in the early part of the 16th century.

The oldest known version is part of the Henry VIII Manuscript (c. 1513), a collection of 14 works of his authorship currently preserved at the British Library (BM Addl. MSS. 31,922; Addl. MSS. 5,665; MSS. Reg. Appendix 58), which are signed: "By the King's Hand". The manuscript also includes two masses, a motet, an anthem, and other songs and ballads, both vocal and instrumental. A facsimile is included below.

"Pastime with Good Company" remains a favourite piece in choral repertoires, and has been recorded in many variants that include lute, recorder, trombone, percussion and flute, among other instruments. Because of its distinctive early Renaissance melody, it has also been included in different movies and documentaries based on the figure of Henry VIII and the Tudor era.