Home: Calls of the Wild - Contradances by Martha Wild

 This site is a work in progress, and I'm not a web designer, so please bear with me as it evolves. 


Most of the dances that I have composed are listed on this page. I have divided them into different groups to help you peruse them. I have many dances that have partner swings without neighbor swings - I enjoy dances like this as well as dances with both partner and neighbor swings. As a dancer I don't enjoy dance programs where every dance has both a partner and a neighbor swing - far too frenetic and dizzying. In addition, programming of that sort usually results in every other dance having a circle left and swing somebody, and I find that gets tiresome. So, that's my two cents - you are welcome to your own coinage. Luckily our dance community does not insist on everybody being active all the time. In any event, I write dances that I think I'll find fun to do, and I hope you like them, too. If you have questions or comments, you can e-mail me at mawild at sbcglobal dot net.

One more comment about having every dance with two swings: I have talked to some new people who did not return to contra after the first time, as a follow-up. Their primary comment was that it was too dizzying, and there was too much swinging. Remember, for new people, swinging is awkward and often uncomfortable, not smooth and flowy as we are used to it. If you don't believe me, try swinging with someone in the other direction. Not role reversed - counterclockwise, left foot to left foot. At first you may find that it is not that easy to get it smooth. Well, this is what those new people are experiencing every time they swing, and if you have 24 counts worth of swing in a dance, that's a lot of discomfort and possible dizziness. You may drive them away before they get good at it. So if you are desperately trying to get new people, consider making the first half a bit more enjoyable for them and saving all those triple swing dances for the second half!

Martha Wild

P.S. September 2016 - New stuff: These worked well recently  - Four Cubed Contra, and Gateway to Julian #2 and #3. 
December 2016 - New stuff: Box the Compass Triplet, and Another Hey Weaver - people enjoyed these.
June 2017 - New stuff: Update of Robins and Vireos, now #2. Got to dance it myself - this is so much better that it has replaced #1. Gateway to Julian #1 and #4 work nicely as well. South Cascades has good flow. The 4 face 4 "Diving Ducks Redux" was well-liked by the dancers. San Diego Sleighride is fun, especially if you switch the "actives" swing between the ones and twos.


 Arch and under figures:
Mad robin :

Ricochet hey:

Star promenade:

Wave balance:

Full hey (without ricochet):

Gypsy star:

Mixers:

Complete list of dances:




Admirable Butterfly

Duple improper                                                                              October 15, 1997

A1    Women to center, balance in a wave, back out
        Men to center, balance in a wave 

A2    Men allemande left 1 ½
        Star promenade partner and butterfly whirl 

B1    Half hey, women passing right shoulder
        Swing partner 

B2    Right and left through
        Women chain 

One of the butterfly series of dances. I went through a butterfly whirl phase, and quite a few dances resulted. Some may quibble with the fractions I’ve used here and elsewhere in this website. To those purists I would say that this is less confusing to dancers than saying 1 ¼ - if they are within whirling distance of their partner, they’ll find them. 


Becket                                                                                        November 29, 2016 

A1    Circle left 3/4, pass through up and down
        Swing your neighbor

A2    Long lines forward and back
        Men allemande left 1 ½

B1    Pass partner by right, women half hey while the men ricochet
        Women ricochet, while the men half hey

B2    Gypsy and swing your partner

This dance uses the half hey/ricochet moves that I first encountered in Cary Ravitz's "Hey Weaver" dances. However, I wanted it to end with the gypsy and swing, so the heys are left shoulder in the middle. The flow seems to go very well.
 



The Bee's Knees

Duple improper                                                                            July 17, 1992


A1    Balance in a wave across, women allemande left half way
        Balance in a wave, box the gnat with partner (men end back to back in middle)

A2    Hey (pull past partner by right to start)

B1    Gypsy and swing partner

B2    Circle left ¾ and pass through
        Do-si-do the new neighbor once and a little bit more

Alternate B2:

Women chain across
Do-si-do the new neighbor once and a little bit more

This dance has appeared in California Twirls. It was the first dance I wrote, and I had a lot of chutzpah to name it The Bee’s Knees! But I do like the box the gnat into the hey, and the do-si-do into a wave. I initially wrote it with the ladies chain, but I like the circle left ¾ version better. The date is incorrect, my computer files don't go far enough back, so this is the first time I have a record of calling it.


The Bella Moth

A1    Women allemande right 1 ½
        Star promenade neighbor, butterfly whirl

A2    Hey, men passing left shoulders

B1    Gypsy and swing your neighbor

B2    With the next couple, circle left ¾
        Swing your partner on the side

This is similar in places to Chris Page's "Heart of Glass for Guys" and my own "Smooth Music #4". As I look at it now, I realize it could be done as a duple improper dance starting with the circle left and swing your partner on the side. Someone may well have put together the sequence that way. But I wanted it to end with swinging your partner, and that is why it took this form. Since people were not expecting in the middle of the dance to look for a new couple I told them to turn their back on their neighbor at the end of the swing and look for the next couple. 




Best of Friends

w. help from Jeremy Korr and James Hutson 

Duple proper                                                                                February 13, 2004

A1    Mirror do-si-do same sex neighbor (or plain do-si-do optional)
        Balance in a circle, circle left ¾

A2    Women down center (alternate with men up center), turn alone
        Return and hand cast with partner

B1    Pass through across the set and swing partner

B2    Women chain
        Ones half figure eight above

Note: This dance has seen a couple of versions. The balance prior to circling is my improvement - the circle left ¾ had a tendency to go too far without it. The hand cast leaves better spacing for the pass through across the set than the usual cast off. James Hutson suggested doing the mirror do-si-do, in which the ones split the twos, which flows nicely from the figure 8. Jeremy Korr suggested alternating every other time with the men coming up the center, initially only the women processed; this gives equal time. If it’s a beginner crowd though, stick to one direction.

This dance was written in honor of my true women friends, thanks for being there.

This dance can be seen here (with a plain do-si-do, and a regular cast off): Best of Friends w. Mary Wesley and Echo Summit Super Trio

Black Cat Mixer

Circle mixer, couples facing in                                                     April 29, 1995

A1    Forward and back
        Forward and back again

A2    Circle left
        Single file circle right, at end women tap shoulder of man in front

B1    Do-si-do (tapped and tapper)
        Swing this one

B2    Promenade, couple swoop left to face in at end

As any one who has danced contras or international dancing can probably tell, this is a variation on La Bastrangue. I modified it for a “one night stand” dance that I knew would have a host of beginners. Knowing which woman is on your left, trying to turn them under in a certain direction, and swinging for a long time are difficult tasks for beginners. Walking single file and tapping the potentially clueless person in front seems to get the right people together, and the do-si-do takes up part of the swing time. This limits the damage wrought by beginners, though there is still opportunity to promenade with the man and woman reversed. Because people can be identified as tappers and tappees, it can work in a gender-free context as well.

This dance can be seen here being done in Japan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8f-_fKoTtS0
 



Bluebirds in Burlingame

Becket                                                                                    March 21, 2013

A1    Circle left 3/4, pass through 
        Swing your neighbor 

A2    Long lines forward and back
        Men allemande left 1-1/2 

B1    Star Promenade your partner and butterfly whirl
        Women do-si-do once 

B2    Balance and swing your partner

Written while I was watching a bluebird family on a walk in my neighborhood.



Blue-eyed Pogo

Duple improper                                                                         February 26, 2000


A1    Allemande left neighbor one and one half
        Do-si-do the next neighbor once

A2    Balance and swing your original neighbor

B1    Circle left three quarters
        Swing partner

B2    Circle left three quarters
        Allemande right neighbor one and one half

A tribute to my cat Pogo, blind from birth, who died suddenly at 6 ½ years.

This dance has the interesting feature of interaction with three different neighbors in quick succession, from the allemande right with the soon to be history neighbor to the suddenly present neighbor to the preview neighbor, and yet it’s still a single progression. Note that you can participate in the allemandes and do-si-dos across the top and bottom of the set and when you are out. 



Box the Compass Triplet

Triplet, middle couple improper                                                                        May 25, 2016

A1    Middle couples box the compass*

A2     (Continue box the compass)

B1    Middle couple balance and swing, end facing down

B2    Bottom two couples balance the ring, circle left halfway^
        Top two couples balance the ring, circle left halfway

* Box the compass is contra corners except that one goes to all four corners. The middle couples, because they are crossed over to start, will have their first two corners be of the same gender role, and the last two corners will be the opposite gender role. Of course, because it is a triplet, if someone goes to the wrong person, unless they want the same one their partner is heading for, things will work out.

^ Point out that as the bottom couple becomes the middle they can do a little flip to face up and balance the next ring. 

Note: The top couple occasionally gets into trouble if they insist on swinging along with the middle couple as they tend to open up facing down and on the wrong side. Not sure if it's worthwhile warning them or would only encourage impatient behavior. 



Brad and Kris Reel

Duple Improper                                                                                        June 16, 2015

A1    Mad robin, women in front to the right
        Gypsy star - women take right hands, men left, proceed 1X in direction women are facing

A2    Gypsy and swing your partner (in center of set)

B1    Down the set two by two, ones turn as a couple, twos turn alone and move up (cast up) to join the end of a line of four with their ones
        Come back up

B2    (4) Circle left 1/2
        (12) Swing your neighbor

This is essentially Uncentennial Reel variant 2 with yet another variant - but there's so much changed now that I think I can give it a new name.

Bring Back My Bonnie

Duple improper                                                                                          February 14, 1997

A1    Long lines forward and back
        Swing your neighbor 

A2    Men go forward for four counts, bring partner back to your side in four counts
        Swing partner

B1    Women allemande right one and one half*
        Men allemande left one and one half

B2    Scoop up partner, star promenade and butterfly whirl
        Women chain

Alternate variants of A1 are: Balance and swing your neighbor OR Do-si-do your neighbor, swing neighbor
Alternate to B1 women's allemande: women can gypsy or even swing. 
Alternate to B2 women chain: Circle left 3/4 and pass through, which works better with the do-si-do your neighbor alternate for A1.

* On the women’s allemande, they are exchanging places with the other woman. It is important that they “get out of the way” so the men can allemande.

This is basically a combination of “January Joinery” by Tom Paul and “When Was the Wedding” by Eric Hoffman. A2 IS NOT A GIVE AND TAKE. If I had wanted one, I would have written it that way. One can have the men “lure” the women back with their eyes only; that can lead nicely into the swing. Have the women wait to be lured - instead of running across to join their partner. I enjoy calling this and “mixing it up” for the women, letting them chain for a while, then having them allemande or gypsy or finally swing each other.



Butter Lips

Becket                                                                                                      July 28, 2001

A1    Slide left and circle left ¾
        Do-si-do neighbor once*

A2    Long lines forward and back
        Women allemande left 1 ½

B1    Hey, start women passing partner by right shoulder

B2    Gypsy and swing partner

* The tricky part here is that when you do-si-do once, the women end up back on the left of their neighbor, and often the experienced dancers have the most difficulty with this. There is method to my madness, however, because the women can allemande left from the left more easily and pass smoothly into the hey and gypsy. I also like the do-si-do once into long lines. This was inspired by Gene Hubert’s "Butter"; I have had occasion to call my cat Pogo “Butter Lips”. 

A1 alternate: After the circle left, do a mad robin facing your partner across the set, with the women moving to the right in front of the men.



Cherokee Kerfluffle

Duple improper, double progression                                                                                          October 29, 2009
Music: Cherokee Shuffle - This is a crooked tune with 10 measures in the B part. Many Old-Timey bands know it. Similar tunes may also work, but they must have 10 measures in the B part, not 8.

A1    Balance and swing neighbor

A2    Long lines forward and back
        Women allemande right 1 1/2 (alt: women gypsy)

B1    (16) Balance and swing your partner
        (4)   Ones make an arch on their side. As man #1 gates woman #1 forward, woman #2 pops under to progressed position. Man #2 stays in place, man #1 only pivots like a post.

B2    (8) Balance in a ring with new couples, petronella turn
        (8) Balance the ring, petronella turn
        (4) California twirl 

It may be useful to point out that there is NO balance before the California twirl.
I like the tune Cherokee Shuffle, and there is a dance out there that uses it, but I'm not as keen on that dance. 



Chicken Bingo


Duple improper

A1    Do-si-do your neighbor
        Ones swing

A2    Ones down the center, turn alone
        Come back up and cast off

B1    Right and left through twice (alt: Women chain twice)

B2    Circle left
        Star left
        
A simple starting dance for short sets that is good for teaching the right and left through or the chain. The story of Chicken Bingo itself (not the dance) will appear at a link in the future.  

      

Christmas '96

Duple improper, double progression                                                             December 25. 1996

A1    Star left
        Circle left back

A2    Balance the circle, pass through up and down set
        Swing the next

B1    Circle left ¾*
        Swing partner

B2    Balance neighbor with right hand, box the gnat
        Star right 3/4

*Alternates for this B1 circle are:

1) Men go forward, lure partner back
2) Women allemande right 1 ½
3) Women gypsy 1 ½

If a program has too many "circle left and swing somebody" moves, I often alter this for variety. 



Consider Hydrogen

Duple improper                                                                                          August 11, 2000

A1    Women chain up and down the set
        Do-si-do partner

A2    Allemande right partner 1 ½
        Men allemande left 1 ½ WHILE women orbit clockwise to other side*

B1    Balance and swing partner

B2    Women chain across
        Balance partner (right hand) and half square through

* I usually call this whole sequence “orbit”. This dance requires space along the lines for the chain up and down. I like the half square through into ladies chain up and down transition - bit of a surprise at first.

This dance was written in honor of the late great physicist Richard Feynman, who taught at Cal Tech. There were only two questions on his Quantum Mechanics final exam - the first was “Consider hydrogen.” Of course, if you really look at this dance, perhaps it should be called “Consider Helium” or at least consider helium without the neutrons.... But that is hard on helium, so after a brief attempt at fusion (after building up spin energy in the do-si-do and allemande right), the combined orbits undergo fission and we’re back to hydrogen atoms in balance and swing your partner. By the way, the second question was “Do something elegant.”


Crosswalk

Duple Proper                                                                                           June 29, 2001

A1    Ones down the outside
        Ones up the outside to place, cross to partner’s side

A2    Circle right
        Circle left

B1    Do-si-do neighbor
        Swing neighbor

B2    Long lines forward and back
        Ones swing, end facing up

Here’s another easy version of the “cross” figure found in Hot Cross Bunny.



Crunchy Bees

Duple Improper                                                                                    July 7, 2014

A1    Do-si-do your neighbor (facing you in another wave)
        Swing your neighbor

A2    Right and left through (alt: Promenade across)
        Balance the ring, petronella turn (alt: Circle left 3/4)

B1    Balance the ring, twirl partner under using inside hands (reverse California twirl, Texas twirl etc. - your partner is on the SAME side of set with you, but woman is on left)
        Swing partner

B2    Pass through to an ocean wave, balance the wave
        Women turn by the left 1/2 way, balance the wave

After the twirl, partners are facing out but have the correct hands joined to give a little pull and step nicely right into a swing. Some people try other hands or have trouble doing the reverse California twirl, but it is a fun move done correctly - it may be worth demonstrating as some people try taking right hands and doing a box the gnat or other variations that don't flow.

The name is a musical direction - someone once told me that contra music is like peanut butter, smooth or crunchy. This requires a tune with Crunchy B parts.



Dad's Lancers Mixer

Mixer, Circle of couples facing in                                                              January 27, 2008

A1    Balance and swing your new partner

A2    Promenade in Varsouvienne position, forward four steps, turn, backing up in same direction four steps, reverse direction forward four steps, turn, backing up in same direction four steps

B1    Women turn back, allemande right once with the man behind them
        See saw partner

B2    Do-si-do neighbor and end facing into circle between your old partner and your neighbor
        Forward and back 

My Dad visited many, many years previous to this and danced here when I was calling. I wrote a version of this for him to do, and I was fairly happy with the promenade part, but not with the rest. I played around with various versions of this for a long time until I tried this version out, and it works well. I usually have to demonstrate the promenade or people crash into each other. Tell the dancers that after the do-si-do they should be standing between their old partner and the person they did the do-si-do with, who is their new partner.



Dark Vanessa

Duple improper                                                                                      December 11, 1998

A1    Women to center, balance in a wave, come back out
        Men to center, balance in a wave

A2    Men allemande left once and a quarter to partner
        Star promenade partner, butterfly whirl

B1    Women do-si-do once (or gypsy, or allemande right once)
        Swing partner

B2    Women chain
        Long lines forward and back

Another in the butterfly series of dances - the name comes from the mention of this butterfly in the beautiful Nabakov poem at the center of his wild and wonderful book “Pale Fire” - “…my dark Vanessa, crimson-barred, my blessed, my Admirable butterfly..”. If you haven’t read Pale Fire, I recommend it highly.




Die, Boromir!

Duple improper                                                                                  July 29, 1999
With help from Rich Ernst

A1    Balance and swing neighbor

A2    Women walk forward four counts to partner, bring him back (lure) for four counts
        Swing partner

B1    Pass through to an ocean wave, balance
        Women allemande left ½, neighbor allemande right ½ (aka left swing through), balance in a wave

B2    Walk in the direction you are facing 8 counts
        Walk back, pass your old neighbor

Alt. A2: Men allemande left 1 ½, swing partner.

Yes, I’m a Lord of the Rings fanatic; no, I don’t really hate Boromir. Let’s just say this dance was named at the time with malice toward one. The allemandes are quick, two steps each. When I first called the dance, I had only one allemande and the dance didn’t work the way I thought it was going to. As I was about to throw the card away in disgust, Rich Ernst, one of our regular dancers, yelled out that it could work if they just did two allemandes quickly – and it did. In the B2 walk, dancers can loop across the top or bottom of the set, women on an outside track, men on an inside track. A2 can be done as a give and take but it's on your head – I prefer to do it this way.




Ding, Dong, the Witch Is Dead

Duple improper                                                                                     October 24, 2000

A1    Women do-si-do (or gypsy)
        Women swing (unisex style)

A2    Men allemande right 1 ½
        Men Galway swing*

B1    Balance and swing your partner

B2    Half a hey, women start right shoulder (Alternate: right and left through)
        Women chain across


* Men's Galway swing is done with a hold that provides some personal space. The men maintain the right allemande hold, and they cup the other man's right elbow with their left hand, this makes for a very strong and stable, tetrahedron-like hold and a powerful swing. This swing also appears in Smog Check.

This contra was written for a Halloween dance. The “Ding, Dong, the Witch is Dead” riff from “The Wizard of Oz” is fun to throw into a tune if the band knows it. You are at liberty to have the women do the same swing as the men. 


        Dip and dive around the set*

A2    (Continue the dip and dive)
        Women chain up and down the set^

B1    Couples face across, women allemande right 1 1/2
        Swing your neighbor+

B2    Men star left halfway+
        Swing your partner

Did this dance on July 1, 2016, and it received good reviews, so I'm adding it to the canon. It's "redux" because an earlier version did not work as well, so I modified it and this one passed the test.

* Dip and dive (arch and under) around the set: Couple on the left of each line of four makes an arch, couple on the right prepares to dive. The first "dive" is up and down the set with the couple that one is facing, and then the couples turn to face across the set. At this point the couple that arched dives, and the divers arch to cross the set. Couples then face up and down the set again and repeat. It may work better to explain that this is essentially promenading in a circle with dipping and diving thrown in until you are back to place. Four steps per "dive", or 16 total counts to get around. 

^ At this point and the next instruction it is important to orient the women to chain UP and DOWN the set, and then face across and allemande ACROSS the set. It is also useful to have the women in each line identify each other at the start of the dance. The woman in your own line is the woman you will always allemande right with!

+ End the swing facing the people you are working with, men's original direction.


Dixie Twirl Redux

Duple improper                                                                                      July 29, 2010

A1    Long lines forward and back
        Swing your neighbor

A2    Lines of four down the set,
        Dixie twirl and come back up

B1    Circle left three quarters
        Swing partner

B2    Promenade across the set
        Women chain

The dance was written after doing Dixie Twirl Contra (author unknown). In a Dixie twirl the two middle people make an arch and the rightmost dancer leads through the arch to the other side, while the leftmost dancer heads across the set to face up. All dancers continue to hold hands and sort it out. This inverts the line for the return.



East Meets West

Duple improper                                                                                  March 1, 2003

A1    Long lines forward and back
        Star wrong ¾ (gypsy star)*

A2    Gypsy and swing partner

B1    Promenade across set
        Start a full hey (women pass right shoulder)

B2    Finish the hey
        Women chain

* Women take right hands across, men take left hands across, and the gypsy star is forward for the women. I like to call it a “star wrong” because it is easy to say and doesn’t confuse people as much as calling it a gypsy star; that sounds too much like “gypsy” and inevitably someone does. Calling it a star right because of its direction confuses the men. 

Written for Kate and Vamsi Potluru’s wedding. Kate is American, of Irish descent; Vamsi is Indian. They asked me to compose a dance for their wedding with the stipulation that it had a satisfyingly long gypsy in it, and it was to be called East Meets West. This dance is full of symbolism - the long lines are East meeting West, the gypsy star into a gypsy satisfies their request and is very romantic, the men leading the women with their eyes, the women moving forward, and the sensation of different paths to reach the same end. In the promenade the couple begins life together, then comes the hurly burly of life in the hey, the hey that crosses cultural boundaries (and musical ones), and finally, one must accede to the demands of society and the contra convention and chain across to continue the dance. If the music feels more as if it is in phrases of 8 rather than 16 in the B part, it will work well for the second half. Resist any temptation to switch the promenade and the hey - this is a satisfying dance as written, and a nice one for introducing the hey to beginners, as the entrance to the gypsy star is fairly simple.


Fiddle Camp Frolic

Duple improper                                                                                  April 7, 2015

A1    Pass neighbor by right shoulder to start a full hey
        
A2    Gypsy (or balance) and swing neighbor

B1    Women go forward, bring partner back
        Swing partner

B2    Men allemande left 1/2, allemande right neighbor 1/2 to a wavy line
        Balance the wave, walk forward 

At the transition, walk forward as if to form a new wave, then veer right past neighbor to start the hey. The B1 can be a give and take but I prefer this as I have always found give and take to be a clumsy figure for most dancers.
 

Fiery Skipper

Becket                                                                                            July 14, 2014

A1    Slice left
        Circle RIGHT ¾ (memorize the faces of your neighbors)

A2    Women pull partner out to the right to promenade the set in the direction faced, turn as a couple
        Promenade the set back and turn to face across at original neighbors

B1    Men allemande left 1 ½
        Star promenade your neighbor

B2    Women gypsy right 1 ½
        Swing your partner

Alternate: B1 Men allemande left 1X, star promenade your partner B2 Women gypsy once, swing your partner. A fiery skipper is another butterfly.



Becket                                                                                            April 15, 2015

A1    Slice left
        Circle left ¾ (memorize your neighbors)

A2    Men pull partner out to left and promenade along the major set
        Promenade back and face across

B1    Men allemande left 1 ½, scoop up neighbor
        Star promenade and butterfly whirl

B2    Women gypsy right 1 ½
        Swing your partner

Realized that it was not absolutely necessary to do this with a circle right as above. 
        

 

A Flurry of Robins #1

Duple improper                                                                                September 9, 2004

A1    Long lines forward and back
        Mad robin, women pass inside to right

A2    Half hey, start women passing left shoulder
        Swing neighbor

B1    Circle left ¾
        Swing partner

B2    Promenade across
        Women chain

Alternate B1 – Women allemande right (or gypsy) 1 ½, swing partner

A Flurry of Robins #2

Becket                                                                                                            September 9, 2004

A1    Long lines forward and back
        Mad robin with men moving right in front of the women to start

A2    Hey, start men passing left shoulder

B1    Gypsy and swing partner

B2    Right and left through
        Promenade across and a little bit more*


*If the couple moves a little bit further after the promenade across, they will meet a new couple across the set.


A Flurry of Robins #3

Becket                                                                                                          September 9, 2004

A1    Long lines forward and back
        Mad robin, men moving to right in front of partner

A2    Half hey, men pass left shoulder to start
        Swing partner

B1    Circle left ¾
        Swing neighbor

B2    Women chain across
        Promenade across and a little bit more*

*If the couple moves a little bit further after the promenade across, they will meet a new couple across the set. 
 
These were all written in a flurry of activity.


Four Cubed Contra     

Duple improper                                                                                September 15, 2016 

A1    Balance and swing your neighbor

A2    Long lines forward and back
        Women chain across

B1    Four in line down the set
        Swing your partner

B2    Four in line up the set, bend the line
        Balance the ring, women cross by left shoulder to new neighbor

This dance is based on a dance that I collected some years ago called "Four Square Contra", that had no partner swing. I threw the partner swing into the four in line, and then switched up the very end as now the women cross instead of the men. I like this progression. 

                                    

Gateway to Julian #1


Becket                                                                                                       September 9, 2015

A1    Slice left
        Women chain across

A2    Mad robin, woman moving to left in front of neighbor
        Men gate neighbor woman forward and around

B1    Men gate NEXT neighbor woman (on their left) forward and around
        Women gypsy left 1 ½ 

B2    Balance (or gypsy) and swing partner

For the gates, after the mad robin, neighbors take inside hands and the woman moves forward while the man backs up. They then take inside hands with the next neighbor along the line (for teaching purposes you can have them briefly take hands in long lines and then drop present neighbor's hand), and again the men back up while the women move forward. The dance is therefore a double progression, but start it with a simple forward and back to make the end effects a bit easier to deal with. Similarly keeping it as a double progression lessens the end effect issues. 

This dance flows very nicely - tell men to have their hands out ready to catch and gate the woman forward after the mad robin, and put their left hands out for the woman coming from the left to catch on to for her gate. Tell people to use the music - take all your time on the mad robin.



Becket                                                                                                       September 9, 2015

A1    Slice left
        Women chain across

A2    Mad robin, woman moving to left in front of neighbor
        Men gate neighbor woman forward and around

B1    Men gate NEXT neighbor woman forward and around
        Swing your ORIGINAL neighbor

B2    Women gypsy (or allemande) right 1 ½
        Swing your partner

Similar to Gateway to Julian #1, except this has two swings. Single progression. Worked well. 


Becket                                                                                                       September 9, 2015

A1    Slide left and circle left ¾
        Swing your neighbor

A2    Women chain
        Chain back

B1    Mad robin, woman moving to left in front of neighbor
        Men gate neighbor woman forward and around

B2    Women gypsy (or allemande) right 1 ½
        Swing your partner

Only one gate in this one - basically a simpler version of the dance with two swings, though now the clichéd circle and swing neighbor to unbecketize is included. 
Alternate A2: full hey. If the full hey option is used it might be better to switch the B1 as in Gateway to Julian #5, with the gate followed by the mad robin. 

After debuting this dance, one woman told me that at first she thought it would be too English Country, but then she really liked it.



Becket                                                                                                       September 9, 2015

A1    Slide left and circle left ¾
        Swing your neighbor

A2    "Queen Bee Hey" - Ricochet hey with the women passing right shoulder, men pushing off* 

B1    Men gate neighbor woman forward and around
        Men gate NEXT neighbor woman forward and around

B2    Women gypsy left 1 ½
        Swing your partner

This is a double progression. It could be done as a single progression without the slide, but that doubles the end effects so this may be more satisfying for the dancers. This worked quite well, with the ricochet into the gate flowing smoothly.



Becket                                                                                                       September 9, 2015

A1    Slide left and circle left ¾
        Swing your neighbor

A2    "Queen Bee Hey" - Ricochet hey with the women passing right shoulder, men pushing off* 

B1    Men gate neighbor woman forward and around
        Mad robin, woman moving to left in front of neighbor

B2    Women gypsy right 1 ½
        Swing your partner

This does not have the double gates, but inserts the mad robin figure instead. Single progression.


NOTE: I just wrote all of these and have not had occasion to try them. I will put their names in blue font if they prove worthy. I just got back from Labor Day Dance Away up in Julian which is why the main title. 


Hay for Heather

Duple improper

A1    Allemande right neighbor 1 ½
        Women allemande left 1 ½

A2    Hey, pass partner by right shoulder to start

B1    Gypsy and swing partner

B2    Long lines forward and back
        Circle left ¾, pass through

This is one of the “bunny dances”, written while caring for my friend’s rabbit, Heather. Heather eats hay, not hey, so that isn't a typo in the title.
This dance has appeared in California Twirls.



Heather's Cookie

Duple Improper                                                                                                February 5, 2006

A1    Balance partner with both hands, poussette once around neighbors*

A2    Hey, start women passing left shoulder^

B1    Women cross by left shoulder, swing partner

B2    Women chain
        Women do-si-do (Alt: Long lines fall back and go forward!)

* Begin the poussette with the men pulling back
^ As the poussette ends, the two couples “merge”, with the men backing up a bit more, so that the women can start the left shoulder hey

This dance was inspired by the English country dance "Companions" by Victor Skowronski where a poussette is followed by a hey. I’ve fussed with the last eight counts of this dance, initially trying a circle left; it is usually too slow for people to be in place for the balance. The women’s do-si-do once around works, but it must be emphasized that they return to place and face their partner across the set for the balance – it can help if the men stay still while women do-si-do and step forward when women get back to their place. It is more English, and rather satisfying, with a fall back and advance but consideration must be given to the dance space available. This is, oddly, not one of the bunny series of dances - in this case, Heather is a real person, who was involved in a test walkthrough to see if the timing of the balance and poussette would work out. She was trying to eat a cookie at the time, and one dancer suggested I call the dance Heather’s Cookie, which seemed a good way to remember the occasion.


Heather's Hop

Duple proper, double progression                                                                        July 17, 1992

A1    Long lines forward and back
        Ones gypsy LEFT 1 ½

A2    Gypsy right neighbor
        Swing neighbor

B1    Allemande left next neighbor 1 ½ (alternate: swing! next neighbor!!)
        Women chain

B2    Women chain back
        Ones half figure eight above

Yes, there is no partner swing. But the ones get to flirt with their gypsy. It can be made more challenging by the double neighbor swing. I have to admit that there have been dances where I was not sorry to miss out on a swing with the person who asked me to dance, and so I occasionally return the favor and do a dance out there for all the kind people who go out of their way to dance with everyone, heedless of personal sacrifice.

Another in the Heather-the-bunny series of dances. This has also appeared in California Twirls.


Heather's Hop Redux

Duple proper, double progression                                                                        June 19, 2014

A1    Ones swing 
        Ones turn the swing into a gypsy! 

A2    Balance and swing neighbor  

B1    Allemande left next neighbor 1 ½ (alternate: swing! next neighbor!!) 
        Women chain 

B2    Women chain back 
        Ones half figure eight above 

 A revisit of Heather's Hop to put a partner swing in. 

The Heat Is Off

Becket                                                                                                          August 14, 2010 

A1    Women chain
        Half hey across set (women start right shoulder), end in long wavy lines*

A2    Balance the wave, turn neighbor by the left ½ way
        Balance the wave, men cross while women turn to the left

B1    Balance and swing partner

B2    Right and left through across the set
        Promenade across and a little bit more

*Women are facing in and men are facing out in the long wavy lines


Hot Cross Bunny

Duple proper, double progression                                                                       June 11, 1993

A1    Ones down the outside. 
        Come back up and cross to partner's place* 

A2    Circle left once (zesty!)
        Do-si-do neighbor 1 ½ 

B1    With next neighbor gypsy and swing

B2    Long lines forward and back
        Ones swing, end facing up 

I often write dances because I have a hole in my program and everything I try to fill it with has a conflict - so I pick a bunch of figures I don’t have and determine whether I want a balance or a gypsy and one or two swings and try to come up with something. This was the result of such a stew, and it’s a dance that I use often (or some of its variations) to fill the hole. The goal was a proper dance that was a double progression with the ones swinging, facing up, and going down the outside, with both a neighbor and a partner swing. The name comes from bunnysitting my friend’s rabbit Heather, and listening to her rattle her cage on a hot day while I composed. She wasn’t really cross, but that fits with the cross to partner’s place, where, by the way, the women cross “in front” i.e. closer to the twos 

This dance has appeared in California Twirls. 

Hot Cross Bunny #2

Duple proper                                                                                                       January 23, 1999

A1    Ones down the outside
        Come back up and cross to partner's position 

A2    Circle left once 
        Do-si-do neighbor once* 

B1    Balance and swing neighbor

B2    Long lines forward and back
        Ones swing, end facing up 

* Alternate circle right, can then balance in a circle if desired prior to neighbor swing. 

A single progression version of Hot Cross Bunny without a gypsy, easy dance. Short lines work best. 

A video of this dance appears here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zUu94FZCL8w, with the Walker Family playing, and here: https://www.youtube.com/all_comments?v=QSXK0Zb2TDY with Smoke and Mirrors playing.

Hot Cross Bunny #3

Duple proper, double progression                                                                       January 11, 2001

A1    Ones down the outside 
        Come back up, cross to partner's position 

A2    Circle right!
        Allemande left your neighbor 1 ½ 

B1    Balance and swing the next neighbor

B2    Long lines forward and back
        Ones swing, end facing up 

A balance version of Hot Cross Bunny. I like the circle right into the allemande left and giving right hand for the balance with neighbor. 


Duple proper                                                                                                June, 2006

A1    Mirror do-si-do*
        1s swing

A2    1s down the center, turn alone
        Return and cast off with the 2s

B1    Circle left once
        Swing your neighbor

B2    Long lines forward and back
        1s half figure 8 above

* It may be useful to point out that men will always do a right shoulder do-si-do, women will always do a left shoulder do-si-do. 

Can be a good dance at the end of a hot, non-air-conditioned evening if lines are short.

Hula La

Duple proper                                                                                                            March 10, 1998

A1    Man #1, woman #2 balance, box the gnat 
        Star right once around* 

A2    Balance the star, "upperhanded" couple arch, "underhanded" man pull woman under to his side and swing, overhand man follows suit

B1    Circle left three quarters
        Swing partner 

B2    Women chain
        Ones half figure eight above 

* Hands-across star, men are below women in the star. 

I wrote this originally without the balance of the star, but the balance defines the move and works much better. This was written after a Hawaii dance camp, where Larry Edelman called a three couple circle mixer with the arch and under figure. I liked it so much I wanted to put it into a contra. You’ll find it here and in Tetrahymena Twirl. 


I'll Get You and Your Little Dog, Too

Duple Improper, double progression                                                                     June 13, 2014

A1    Chase - woman 1 faces out, and leads man 1 below the first neighbors, then out and around the second neighbors, 
        both come up between the second neighbors, casting off up the middle with the second neighbors (w1 with m4, m1 with w4). 
        As they pass the 2s initially, all 2s should take a step up the set

A2    Circle left 3/4
        Swing partner

B1    Circle left 3/4
        Swing neighbor

B2    Star right (hands across style)
        Star left with the new couple below once around (hands across style)


The last star left leaves the #1 woman facing out to start the chase again. The twos need to step up slightly as the ones start their chase or the dance will drift towards the bottom of the set. In addition it should be made clear that the twos are not posts as they cast off but need to actively back up which will help adjust the set towards the top as well. Since it is a double progression most couples will get a chance to do the chase. Ask the 2s to help point new ones in the direction they need to go.
    

I'll Take the High Road, and You'll Take the Low Road

Duple improper                                                                                                    June 8, 2011

A1    Handy hand allemade 1-1/2 (ones in center)
        Twos swing (above the ones) and face down

A2    Twos half figure eight below
        Long lines forward and back

B1    Ones head to their personal right to start a four person hey across the set with the couple either above or below them!* (hey will include another number one person except on the ends).

B2    Ones gypsy and swing partner

Ones start the hey by passing their first corner by the left shoulder. You will be passing the number one of the opposite gender from another set above or below the 2s by the right shoulder in the center, but this will happen naturally if people stay close to their corners as they pass left and go around them. After passing the last time on the outside beeline to partner for the gypsy and swing. As the ones swing, twos should make sure that they are above their recent neighbors and ready to start the dance with the next ones with the handy hand. This should happen naturally but sometimes one of the ones moves further than his/her partner and they are a bit askew.

This is an advanced dance.


I Will Follow Him

Duple improper                                                                                                         July 20, 2013

A1    Gypsy and swing neighbor 

A2    Mad robin, men in front
        Men start ½ hey by left shoulder, women begin but gypsy left and go back 

B1    Gypsy and swing partner

B2    Men allemande left 1 ½
        Women join in behind partner, star left once around 

It’s nice to have a mad robin with your partner, where you get to swing your partner afterwards. See "Mike's Mad Robin" for a better description of the 1/2 hey where the women gypsy and go back, or what Susan Michaels calls "Whoa Nelly".



Job Hunt Jig

Duple improper                                                                                                      July 30, 1999

A1    Balance neighbor by the left hand, swat the flea 
        Women chain 

A2    Promenade across (or right and left through)
        Long lines forward and back (alt. circle left once around) 

B1    Balance and swing your partner

B2    Men chain from the left side using the left hand
        Star right 

Alternate A2: Replace promenade with right and left through, and/or replace forward and back with circle left once around 



Job Hunt Jig #2

Duple improper                                                                                                      July 30, 1999 

A1    Balance neighbor by the left hand, swat the flea 
        Women chain 

A2    Promenade across (or right and left through) 
        Long lines forward and back (alt. circle left once around) 

B1    Balance and swing your partner 

B2    Circle left 3/4
        Balance the circle, California Twirl 

Alternate B2: Circle right three quarters, see saw the neighbor 1-1/2



John Wullich's Reel

Duple improper                                                                                                      January 9, 1999

A1    Do-si-do neighbor 
        Allemande right neighbor one and one half 

A2    Hey, men start by passing left shoulder

B1    Men cross by left shoulder, swing partner

B2    Right and left through
        Circle left three quarters and pass through up and down 

For John Wullich, contra dancer, Morris man, geologist, leader of wonderful hikes in the Anza Borrego desert, who never let grass grow under his feet. We miss you. 



Julian Sleigh Ride

Duple improper                                                                                                   April 15, 2015
A1    Long lines forward and back
        Long lines forward and back

A2    Ones do-si-do
        Ones swing or 2-hand turn

B1    Four in line down the set (ones between the twos)
        Turn alone and come back up, bend the line and all face up and take inside hand with partner

B2    Ones arch and move forward, twos back up under, twos arch, ones back up under
        Ones arch and move forward, twos back up under, twos arch, ones back up under (end with ones below the twos and form long lines on the sides again)

This is a simpler variant of San Diego Sleigh Ride that I wrote for use at barn dances. I call barn dances at the Julian Fiddle Camp frequently and have children and adults with limited dancing experience participating, so dances where it doesn't matter if someone ends up on the other side are very useful. See the video of Nantucket Sleigh Ride (by Kirsten Koths) for a good visual of the move.

Kimberly's Labor Day Reel

Duple improper                                                                                                      August 29, 1992

A1    Balance in a wave across, allemande right neighbor ½ 
        Balance in a wave, men allemande left ½ 

A2    Balance and swing partner

B1    Four in line down the set
        Wring the dishrag and come back up*, bend the line 

B2    Circle right!^
        Circle left, pass through up and down 

* For the wring the dishrag, the leftmost man makes an arch with the woman next to him, and he moves forward across the set while the woman on the right ducks under the arch, all retaining hands, until the line is inverted. Dancers should begin wringing the dishrag after 4-6 steps down - if they wait until after eight steps they’ll never get back. 

^ The music defines how far to circle right. Obviously the dancers circle left until they are back where they began for the pass through. It works out nicely in time for the balance, trust the music. 

Written in honor of my niece Kimberly’s birthday; she was born, appropriately enough, on Labor Day. 



Kimberly's Road Trip Reel

Becket                                                                                                                  July 9, 2001

A1    Women allemande right 1 ½* 
        Men allemande left 1 ½ 

A2    Star promenade partner, butterfly whirl
        Half hey across the set 

B1    Balance and swing partner

B2    Star left once
        Promenade across set and one more place^ 

* Women go to other woman’s position and get out of the way of the men. The men inevitably seem to move around while the women are allemanding, and the women often try to go to the wrong side of the men, which gets in the way of the men’s left allemande. I recommend teaching that the women should pass right shoulder with the opposite man when they finish. Men don’t move! 

^ Promenade across and loop as a couple to the left (one should end up as if you slid right one place from original spot, and be facing new neighbors). Don’t make a big deal of teaching this – it usually works just to say “Promenade across the set and a little bit more until you are facing a new couple across the set.” 

In honor of my niece Kimberly's road trip and visit to me after high school graduation, in the company of five other young women, all of whom were a delight to have in the house, even if one of them had to be taught how to peel and chop an onion - her family having grown up on takeout. 



King Bee Hey

Duple improper                                                                                                     February 21, 2004

A1    Do-si-do neighbor 
        Allemande right neighbor 1 ½ 

A2    "King Bee Hey" - Ricochet hey with the men passing left shoulder, women pushing off*

B1    Men pass left one more time, swing partner

B2    Men allemande left 1 ½
        Women join in behind partner for a hands across star left 1X 

*The men dance the full hey, passing left shoulders in the middle. The women start the hey passing right with their partner, but then the women meet in the middle and push off, backing up to the right and then back to where they started, repeat. This effectively makes little clockwise circles on the floor for the women. 

^ On the men allemande left, the women have to let the men get around once and then as their partner passes they move in behind him to join the left hand star. A bit of a moving start on the part of the women helps, as does knowing what your partner looks like from the back.

I’d danced Huntsville's Queen Bee, where the women dance the hey while the men meet in the middle and push off backwards. It looked like a lot of fun to do the push off, hence this “King Bee Hey”. 


Klezmer Mixer                                                        

Circle Mixer                                                                  November 11, 2004 

A1    Allemande right partner for 7 steps, on beat 8, stomp, yell "hey", throw free arm in the air
        Allemande left partner similarly

A2    Do-si-do partner
        Swing partner

B1    Promenade, end facing into the circle

B2    Forward and back, roll woman to left in front of partner on the way back
        Forward and back again, turn to face new partner

This dance is really fun if you have a good Klezmer type tune that makes people want to shout and stomp. "Carpathian Tune" (Footloose: Trip to the Moon CD) comes to mind. One can push off the joined left hands into the do-si-do. Simple and enjoyable for one-night stands. The dance went through a variety of modifications since its creation to simplify it and ended up like this. Can do another roll-away at end if people don't get confused, or switch which forward and back it is done on. I find this order is less confusing.

Labor Day Dance

Duple Improper, Double Progression                                                                  May 25, 2002 

A1    Do-si-do neighbor
        Swing neighbor

A2    Ones half figure eight above 
        Ones swing 

B1    Down the hall, four in line with the next, turn alone
        Come back up

B2    Circle left 1X 
        Star left


Lady Madonna

Duple Improper                                                                                                  December 21, 2007

A1    Balance and swing neighbor 

A2    Women allemande right 1 ½
        Swing partner 

B1    Down the set four in line
        Face partners for half a hey (pass partner by right shoulder) 

B2    Up the set four in line, bend the line
        Balance the circle, men cross by the right shoulder 

This dance goes well with the eponymous tune. Note that the dance can be switched up during the dance or done differently by changing as follows: 

A2 Men allemande left 1 ½, Swing partner 
B2 Up the set four in line, Balance the circle, women cross by right shoulder


Lampbrush Loop

Duple improper                                                                                                     June 5, 2003

A1    Hey for three across the set, ones as a couple*

A2    Down the set four in line (Ones in center)
        #2 man and #1 woman turn as a couple, others turn alone, come up the set

B1    Bend the line and circle RIGHT (the music will tell you how far)
        Star right back^, hands across, #1 hands below #2^

B2    Balance the star, twos form an arch, #1 man pull #1 woman under arch
        Ones swing

* Start with #1 man passing left shoulder with #2 woman.
^ Star right back until the #2s are back to their side of the dance, and #1s are either above or below them in center of set.

Here you get the hey for three of Nils’ Maggot and the arch-and-under figure of Tetrahymena Twirl, though there is only an 8 count swing for the ones. Use short lines if possible so all get a chance to be the ones.

This is another in the Joe Gall series of dances. Joe studied the lampbrush loops of frog eggs, wonderful structures where you can actually see the DNA being transcribed from the genes of the chromosomes. It looks something like the brushes used to clean out lamps in the old days before electricity, a lot of bristles coming out of a long central core, hence the name “lampbrush loop”. An opposing set of genes would look a bit like the two loops of a hey for three, as well. 

Duple Improper                                                                                                    February 21, 2014

A1    Circle left once around, retain hands
        Ones arch, twos duck under and release each other's hand to invert the circle and form a line of four facing down

A2    Four in line down the hall, turn alone
        Come back up and face your neighbor in the line

B1    Balance and swing your neighbor

B2    Long lines forward and back
        Ones swing


Love 'Em and Leave 'Em Mixer

Mixer, Couple facing couple scattered about the room                                          February 14, 1991 

A1    Circle left
        Balance your neighbor twice (alternate: Balance the circle twice)

A2    Do-si-do your neighbor
        Allemande right neighbor 1X, allemande left partner 1X

B1    Gypsy and swing neighbor

B2    Promenade randomly with this new neighbor and find a new couple

This dance was originally called “The Day After Valentine’s Day” as it was called first on Feb. 15, 1991. You will notice that after obtaining your new partner, you spend all your time flirting with the new neighbor, with only a cursory allemande of that partner you previously spent so much time flirting with. Perhaps one is regretting Valentine’s Day? The allemande move is similar to the “Georgia Rang-Tang” of square dancing. 

A variation of A2 is to skip the do-si-do and do a full Georgia Rang-Tang, allemanding neighbor, partner, neighbor, and partner again!  


Love 'Em and Leave 'Em Contra

Duple improper                                                                                                  Date unknown

A1    Circle left once
        Balance the circle twice

A2    Do-si-do your neighbor
        Allemande right neighbor 1X, allemande left partner 1X 

B1    Gypsy and swing neighbor

B2    Long lines forward and back
        Ones swing

I wanted to get the Georgia Rang-tang move from the mixer into a contra. It can be done – but it should be done with sets that have lots of room. 


Lucky Penny

Duple Improper                                                                                                  June 26, 2013

A1    Long lines forward and back
        Men allemande right 1 ½

A2    Scoop up partner, star promenade, butterfly whirl
        Women gypsy left 1X

B1    Gypsy right partner
        Swing partner

B2    Men go forward four steps and draw women to their side either by taking hands or with their eyes (not a give and take)
        Swing neighbor

Alternate 1: B2) Circle left ¾, swing neighbor
Alternate 2: B2) Women allemande left 1 ½, swing neighbor

Penny is a little torbie I adopted from the San Diego County Animal Shelter.


The Mad Dancers

Mixer, Circle of couples facing in                                                                          April 29, 2001

A1    ***Balance partner and box the gnat
        Grand right and left four changes

A2    Balance #5 and box gnat
        Grand right and left back

B1    Balance and swing partner

B2    Forward and back in a circle
        *Forward and back and face away from partner to face a new partner

***With the change I made, it's important to start this dance with the partners set up with the women's role on the LEFT of the man's role, because that's how you will encounter your new partner after one iteration of the dance.

Some people get disoriented by the box the gnat. Take the time to orient people as to which direction they are going, and make sure you don’t start with clusters of newcomers all in one corner, which tends to happen in the lineup of a mixer. I have deliberately invited beginner couples to join the circle in other places, and they get trained well then. The name has nothing to do with how the dancers felt upon doing it – it comes from a play of the same name, and as this can get rather fast and frenzied, I thought it suited. Dancers who don’t generally like mixers have told me they enjoyed this. 

* I changed the last B2. Originally I had people allemande left their original partner 1 1/2 times. It works, but I wanted to do this with a group that was less experienced, and decided to forego the allemande left and just have people forward and back twice and then turn their back on their present partner. Voila. It works much better as people easily identify their new partner and orient themselves in the right direction automatically. I like it much better than the original, so if you want to do it the old way with an experienced group, fine, but I'm sticking with this now.


Mad Hey for Shadrack

Duple Improper              Variant of Tony Parkes's dance                                          Date unknown  

A1    Long lines forward and back
        Mad robin, women to right in front of men

A2    Hey, start women passing left shoulder

B1    Women cross one more time to swing partner

B2    Women allemande right 1-1/2 
        Swing your neighbor

Didn’t put a date on this when I put it together. It was inspired by Tony Parkes "Hey for Shadrack" with a mad robin instead of a do-si-do, but the B part is switched around since the women, instead of the men, cross to partner in B1.

A video of this dance can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T6jC8HyiOQA, with Perpetual Emotion and Frannie Marr.


Mad, Mad World

Duple Improper                                                                                              August 8, 2008

A1    Long lines forward and back
        Mad robin (women to the right in front of men)

A2    Women pass by the left shoulder and gypsy partner
        Swing Partner

B1    Pass through across the set and California Twirl
        Mad robin (men pass to the right in front of women)

B2    Men pass by the left shoulder and gypsy neighbor
        Swing neighbor

The women can give a little tug to the men after the California twirl to start their mad robin.

Note: This dance can be done without the gypsies to a slow slip jig.  

This dance has appeared in the CDSS news Spring 2014.
Video links can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHscaBxLW5c, with Firecloud and Lynn Ackerson
And here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LrQcayS9CrM, with Perpetual Emotion and Susan Petrick
And here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wwNM9YBPnM with Eel House and Brian Hamshar
And here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9d7GxLTLJ5c with Stolen Goods
And here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OM8UAupcZD8, with Joyride and Bev Bernbaum

Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

Duple Improper                                                                                              August 31, 2008

A1    Long lines forward and back
        Mad robin (women to the right in front of men)

A2    Women start a left shouldered half hey, men begin but gypsy left each other, go back and
        Swing Partner

B1    Pass through across set and California Twirl
        Mad robin (men pass to the right in front of women)

B2    Men start a left shouldered half hey, women begin but gypsy left each other , go back and
        Swing neighbor

UNTRIED


Maggie's Maggot

Duple improper                                                                                                  August 2, 1996

A1    Long lines forward and back
        Men cross to partner, bring her back* (alt. women allemande left 1 ½)

A2    Balance (or gypsy) and swing partner

B1    Star left
        Promenade across with partner

B2    Right and left through
        Women chain

*If you wish to do a gypsy, have the men bring the women back with just their eyes.

There is a tendency for the swings to be askew, so that people might star with the wrong couple. If you had the men cross, tell people to look a little to the left for the couple to star with, and don’t star with a couple you previously danced with (unless you are repeating the walk-through, some people are SO literal!). If an allemande was done, have the women star with the woman they did the allemande with. Maggie was a gentle and timid long-haired black cat that I had for 18 years.


Magone's Maggot #1

Duple improper                                                                                              January 23, 1999

A1    Women do-si-do once
        Men allemande left 1 ½

A2    Balance (or gypsy) and swing partner

B1    Star right
        Star left

B2    Promenade across
        Women chain

I love the star left into promenade into chain, it flows so nicely. It is important with an inexperienced crowd to point out where they start the stars, and that they need to get back here to start the promenade. 

Barbara Magone is a magnificent piano accompanist (Cape Breton, Scottish, Irish) and I recommend any CD that has her on it (The Fiddler’s Friend is a good one). This is a simple dance so it may have been composed by others prior to me.


Magone's Maggot #2

Duple improper                                                                                              January 22, 1999

A1    Long lines forward and back
        Women go forward, bring your partner back

A2    Balance (or gypsy) and swing partner

B1    Star right
        Star left

B2    Promenade across
        Women chain

There can be some difficulty with identifying neighbors at the star, tell people to star with people they have not starred with before (excluding walkthrough, of course, if they are back to place). They can also notice their neighbors as they go forward and back (see comments on Maggie's Maggot). It is important with an inexperienced crowd to point out where they start the stars, and that they need to get back there to start the promenade. 

Note: Some people might substitute the call “Give and take” in the latter half of A1, but I would find it too repetitive with the long lines figure occurring immediately before.


Magone's Maggot #3

Duple improper                                                                                              March 30, 2001

A1    Long lines forward and back
        Swing neighbor

A2    Women go forward four counts, lure partner back in four counts
        Swing partner

B1    Star right
        Star left

B2    Promenade across
        Women chain

I like this version, as people know who their neighbors are from the first swing, and therefore they star with the right people after the slightly skewed partner swing. The women can take hands and bring their partner back or just lock eyes.


Mallomars

Duple improper, double progression

A1    Balance and swing your neighbor
        
A2    Ones half figure eight above
        Ones swing

B1    Down the hall four in line with the NEXT couple, turn alone and come back

B2    Women chain
        Women allemande right 1-1/2 to new neighbor

This was inspired by the Marshes of Mallow. I like double progressions where the ones swing, as usually everyone gets a chance to be ones. I have other reasons for liking solo swings, as long as there is fairness: as a dancer, I actually like to watch the other couple swing - I like to see the flash of their eyes, the swirl of the skirt, the smiles on the faces, the way they twirl. It's a time to rest for a moment and take in the entire scene, and it's often desirable on a hot evening without air conditioning. And it really frosts me when the couple not swinging decides to race across to one side, or even stay in the middle, and swing as well, often cramping the style of those that are swinging, and generally arriving selfishly late where they should be after the stolen swing, interrupting the flow of the dance for everyone else. 



March of St. Timothy

Becket                                                                                    September 10, 1998

A1    Slice left
        Women take four steps in, balance in a wave in the center

A2    Men take four steps in (women back out), balance in a wave in the center
        Men allemande right to form a wave across (partner in left hand), balance the wave

B1    All march forward (can bend around the ends, following same sex line)
        All march back

B2    Balance and swing your partner
        
If the band knows March of St. Timothy, it is a funky march that can work. But other marches and reels can work well, too, just as long as they encourage balancing on the off beats in the A parts. Encourage dancers to meet and greet the folks they are passing in the march. Dancers may slap hands as they pass.



Men in Tow

Duple improper                                                                                                      July 28, 2001

A1    Allemande with handy hand (#1s inside)
        Twos swing (above the #1s)

A2    Woman #2 leads man #2 around in a hey for three*,

B1    Twos down center passing two couples
        Woman cross in front to her side, each come back up outside own side^

B2    Long lines forward and back
        Ones swing and face down



*Man should twirl woman out of swing and switch hands. Woman puts right hand to her shoulder, partner is behind her with his right hand in hers. This move came from an international dance (forget which country) that I tried at a festival. Woman starts hey by passing woman #1 by right shoulder, and man trails closely behind her.

^#2 woman crosses in front of partner to her side, both come up the outside, ending ABOVE their ones.

This dance is very unequal, but I’ve called it for short lines near the end of an evening and dancers enjoyed it. Originally it had no name, but I called it in La Verne and the dancers there christened it “Men in Tow”. Use a ragtime tune or something funky to go with it.


A Midsummer Night's Dream

Duple improper                                                                                                      August 5, 2003

A1    Star right, hands across style
        Balance the star, women back out briefly and then come back in, as men “Rory” across and men take left hands*

A2    Women rejoin right hands for a star wrong (gypsy star) ¾ (men backing up)
        Swing neighbor

B1    Allemande left men 1 ½
        Swing partner

B2    Women chain
        Balance partner by right hand, half square through


* Women need to move out during the end of the balance to give the men room to pass, then immediately rejoin. The men do a Rory O’More type turn, passing “belly to belly” while spinning over their right shoulder into the other man’s place.

I was intrigued by the idea of having the men do a Rory O’More style turn here into the star wrong figure. I also like the half square through into the star right. Make sure the music says “Balance” at the second half of A and B.



Mike's Mad Robin

Becket                                                                                                                      September 1, 2006

A1    Women chain across
        Long lines forward and back

A2    Mad robin, men in front*
        Half hey for men, “Whoa Nelly” for women^

B1    Gypsy and swing your partner

B2    Star left once
        Promenade across and a little bit more@


* For this mad robin, the men move to the right in front of the women to start. 

^ The men start a left shouldered half hey. The women start to follow the hey pattern, but as the women pass left shoulders, they turn it into a gypsy left around each other and back to their partners. Susan Michaels likes to call this move “Whoa Nelly!”

@This is like Kimberly’s Road Trip Reel. If the promenade moves a little further along the set after passing across, a new couple will be encountered.

I wrote a dance similar to this for friend and local dancer Mike Hante, on the occasion of his 60th birthday – he particularly wanted a mad robin in it. I was disappointed in the flow when I called it for him, so I reworked it and tested this version out; it definitely passes muster, so this is now his dance.


Monarch Grove

Becket                                                                                                          June 14, 1998

A1    Slide left and circle left ¾
        Swing neighbor

A2    Long lines forward and back
        Men do-si-do BY THE RIGHT SHOULDER

B1    Men allemande left 1 ½
        Star promenade your partner and butterfly whirl

B2    Women do-si-do once
        Swing partner


This is one of my favorite butterfly whirl dances. I wrote it when I called a dance in Santa Barbara, and was staying with friends whose house backs onto the Monarch Groves there. We took a walk in the groves and saw millions of butterflies hanging like dead leaves from the branches, and then the clusters burst into orange clouds as the morning light touched and warmed them. What I like about it is the leisurely do-si-do the women get to do before they swing their partner, just once around and plenty of time to swing.

I emphasize the right shoulder because one of my fellow local callers used to substitute a left shoulder do-si-do in this. I’ve danced it as the man both ways, and I like it much better my original way - there is a satisfying shift of weight right at the change of the tune, as the hands slap into the left allemande, and it orients one better than spinning round and round in eternal counterclockwise circles, where the men get lost and scoop the wrong person and are late etc. etc. etc. Need I say more?



Mourning Cloak

Duple improper                                                                                              September 5, 1997

A1    Men allemande left one and one half
        Star promenade partner, butterfly whirl

A2    Women gypsy one and one half
        Swing neighbor

B1    Circle left three quarters
        Swing partner

B2    Circle left three quarters, pass through
        Balance in a wave, allemande right neighbor ½


I teach this by first doing the balance in a wave and allemande right neighbor to get men into position for the start. Actually, that’s how the dance originally began, but I couldn’t get the swings in the right place, so I started it in a different spot. I toyed with having it be a Becket, starting at the B1, but it’s such a cheat to immediately turn it duple improper. Music should have a good balance in the middle of the B2. Better done with more experienced dancers, who can make it to the balance. I’ve toyed with doing the allemande right neighbor and balance in a wave as the last eight – but it requires a tune with a great last 4 beat balance, not true for many tunes.

Mourning Cloak may seem like a sad name, but it’s a handsome butterfly that was quite common in New York where I grew up.



Nils's Maggot

Duple improper                                                                                                      September 1, 2002


A1    Handy-hand allemande 1 ½ times
        Twos swing

A2    Hey for three across set, #2s as a couple, start men passing left shoulder

B1    Four in line down the set (MMWW)
        Turn as same sex couples and come back up, bend line

B2    Twos half figure eight below
        Ones swing as soon as they pass by, and face down


This is my second favorite dance. This was unnamed for a long time, and Nils Fredland began calling it. He liked it so much he told me he was calling it "It's Awesome" but that was too much, so now I call it “Nils’s Maggot”. A “maggot”, by the way, is an old-fashioned word for a whim or fancy.

 

Ozymandius

Duple improper                                                                                          January 9, 1998

A1    Allemande right your neighbor one and one half
        Men allemande left one and one half

A2    Balance (or gypsy) and swing your partner

B1    Down the set four in line
        Turn as couples and come back up

B2    Circle right ¾
        Allemande left your neighbor one and one half

The hard part here is that circle right. I like this series of allemandes, also to be found in the dance, Blue-Eyed Pogo. This one is named after my cat Ozymandius, King of Cats, aka The Great and Powerful Oz, Ozmosis, Ozmolality, Ozmium, etc. The best cat ever, so smart, so interactive, so personable. I miss the little guy.


 

Paddy on the Computer Chair

Duple improper                                                                                      August 20, 2000

A1    Allemande left neighbor 1 ½ 
        Women chain 

A2    Hey, start women passing right shoulder

B1    Balance and swing partner

B2    Women balance (right hands), box the gnat (#1 woman lead)
        Star right 

Written as usual to fit in a particular spot; I wanted a star transition and a hey. My red-haired cat Paddlepaws (aka Paddy) took my chair while I wrote it; Irish musicians will appreciate the name. 



Painted Lady

Duple improper                                                                                    August 3, 2011

A1    Men walk in to form a wavy line in the center, balance 
        Men back out, women walk in, balance 

A2    Women allemande right 1 ½ times
        Scoop up partner, star promenade, butterfly whirl 

B1    Half a hey, start men pass left shoulder
        Swing partner 

B2    Long lines forward and back
        Women chain 

Another in the butterfly series of dances. The Painted Lady is a common butterfly here in California, and one year millions of them swarmed over the fields and yards here. Driving the freeway was a terrible experience, as every mile flattened more and more of the pretty, fragile creatures on the windshield and grill of the car, but there was no way to avoid them. So here’s a memorial dance to expiate my guilt. A reasonable fit as the women here are the ones who pick up the men, so to speak. 




Puce Set 1

Duple improper                                                                          January 16, 2000

A1    Ones balance and swing 

A2    Down the set four in line, ones in the middle, turn alone
        Come back up the set, bend the line 

B1    Poussette* with partner around other couple one and one half times, begin with the men moving forward (men push)

B2    Balance and swing your neighbor


For later in the evening with fewer beginners, alternate every other A part as follows:
Switch every other A part:

A1    Twos balance and swing

A2    UP the set four in line, twos in middle, turn alone 
        Go back down the set, bend the line 

Alternate A1 part, if two balance and swings is too challenging for a beginner group: 

A1    Long lines forward and back
        Ones swing 

This is generally an easy dance for beginners, unless swings are a problem. I like to use the alternate A part every other time to make it an “equal” dance - then most people can be patient and not get in the way of whoever is the swinging couple by stealing a swing. 





Becket                                                                                                    July 3, 2014
Music: Ragtime Annie or other 40 bar reel

A1    Slice to the left (first time do forward and back)
        Men gate the women forward and around

A2    On the left diagonal, women chain
        Women do-si-do across the set 1X

B1    Balance and swing neighbor (the one you chained to)

B2    Star left 3/4 (until partner is present)
        Swing partner

C1    Balance the ring, petronella turn
        Balance the ring, petronella turn


Note that the dance requires a 40 bar reel. Ragtime Annie is one, and the dance fits that tune well, but other tunes should work. Start the dance with a forward and back and then you will not have a couple out at the top for most of the dance every time. It is a double progression becket with the slice left.



Rara Avis

Becket                                                                                          July 17, 2003

A1    Square through, butterfly whirl with partner at end* 

A2    Women allemande right 1 ½ (alternate, women gypsy)
        Swing neighbor 

B1    Women chain on the right diagonal
        Long lines forward and back 

B2    Balance and swing partner


* Give right hands to your neighbor and start a square through, left to partner, right to neighbor. When you give left hands to partner the last time, the men move forward and scoop the women up with their right arm and courtesy turn/butterfly whirl them once around (or a bit more).

Susan Michaels gave a contra workshop at the Summer Solstice called “Rare Birds and Odd Ducks” in which she featured a number of old or new dances with figures rarely used. One older dance included a full square through, which done in the traditional manner, would have used four steps for each hand change of the square through. She had updated the move, as we tend to do it faster with time to spare, so she included the butterfly whirl with one’s partner at the end, making it a very interesting figure. The rest of the old dance however, left swinging to be desired, so I isolated the move and put it in this context. I particularly like not telling people where their partner is before saying “Balance and swing your partner”, just for the look of surprise as they realize that they are holding hands with them. 




The Responsible Woman

Duple improper                                                                          August 29, 1992

A1    Women do-si-do once 
        Men do-si-do left 1 ½ 

A2    Balance and swing partner

B1    Right and left through
        Women chain across 

B2    Hey, women start passing right shoulder


The responsible women have to identify the next woman for the do-si-do. I like the symmetry of the left shoulder do-si-do for the men; if you try to make it right shoulder, it takes a little longer for them to get around for the balance, and it also tends to skew the swings more. This dance has appeared in “California Twirls”. I find this to be a good dance for teaching the hey. 


Robins and Vireos #2

Duple improper                                                                        November 10, 2014, updated March 27, 2017

A1    Couples do-si-do once
        Mad robin ACROSS the set (eyes on neighbor, women pass in front of their partners)

A2    Balance and swing neighbor

B1    Women allemande right 1 ½ 
        Swing partner

B2    Circle RIGHT 1 1/4 (12 counts)
        As couples, veer to right, then veer left to pass neighbors and face a new couple (4 counts)

Women pass right on the couple do-si-do. 

The mad robin is done facing up and down the set. The men have a "poise point" where they shift directions as they lightly tug their partner in front of them for the mad robin. 

Alternate B1: Women gypsy right 1 ½,  or men can go forward and bring partner back, but please don't make this a give and take. I find it a highly unsatisfying figure in terms of timing and flow and do not want it to destroy the flow of this dance. I much prefer the four steps forward and drawing your partner back. 

This needs to be done with a lot of space in the lines - suitable for late in the evening if the crowd has thinned. Have people take hands in long lines and stretch out the sets. Though the mad robin across might seem to be rather tight with everyone passing through the middle, the veering and couple do-si-do beforehand tend to make enough space to allow it to be performed comfortably and dancers had no quibbles with it. 

This is an update of my first version, where the veer seemed to require too much time. This works a LOT better, and dancers liked it. 


Running the Gamut

Duple improper                                                                                         January 14, 2000

A1    Do-si-do your neighbor 
        Swing your neighbor 

A2    Men allemande left 1 ½
        Half hey across set (men pass partner by right to start) 

B1    Balance (or gypsy) and swing partner 

B2    Circle left once and a quarter (12 counts)
        California twirl partner (4 counts)

Alternate A1: Balance and swing neighbor


This is a dance I wrote to be an early dance in a program, done at a leisurely pace, introducing the half hey, but it is also a really good last dance done at a good clip with a satisfying partner swing. Initially I called it “Number One” to remind me to put it early and because I thought it might already exist, but James Hutson says I can claim it as my own. Since it works at the beginning or the end, I gave it this title. 


San Diego Sleigh Ride

Duple improper                                                                            August 1, 2014

A1    Balance and swing your neighbor

A2    Down the set four in line, turn as couples
        Up the set, bend the line, and all face up taking inside hands with partners

B1    Ones (below) arch and over, twos back up under the ones arch (4)
        Twos arch and over, ones back up (4)
        Ones arch and over, twos back up (4)
        Twos arch and over, ones back up (4)

B2    Twos face ones at end, circle left once around
        Ones swing and face down (can alternate with twos swing and face up with more experienced dancers)


This dance was written after I saw a Youtube video of Nantucket Sleigh Ride (by Kirsten Koths), which has this arch and under figure. The people doing it looked like they were having a very good time, but the rest of the dance had no partner swing. I have modified this to include one, or at best an alternating partner swing. Feedback was positive. 

Skoodge

Duple improper                                                                              June 5, 1998

A1    Balance neighbor by the right hand, box gnat 
        Star right 

A2    Circle right back
        Men allemande left one and a half 

B1    Balance (or gypsy) and swing partner

B2    Women chain
        Balance your partner by the right hand and half square through 


I call this "Skoodge" because I was trying to describe how one should keep hands after the box the gnat and turn it into a right hand star, and someone said that you just skoodge it together, so skoodge it is. 




Smog Check

Becket                                                                                          June 7, 1997

A1    On the left diagonal right and left through 
        Right and left through across the set 

A2    Women chain across
        Women give right hands and balance, box the gnat* 

B1    Men join in with a right hand star (hands across)
        Men Galway swing^ 

B2    Balance and swing your partner


*Woman closest to the band leads the box the gnat. Star is a hands across style, but men may take allemande hold at this time. 

^ Men's swing is done with the Galway swing hold that provides some personal space. The men maintain the right allemande hold, and they take the other man's right elbow with their left hand, this makes for a very strong and stable, powerful swing. I like to leave the men swinging at the end.

This dance was written as I waited across the street in a Coco’s for my car to pass its smog check. Seemed a manly sort of a name for a manly dance. 


South Cascades

Becket                                                                                          July 15, 2016

A1    Half a hey on the left diagonal (women pass right to start)
        Half a hey across the set

A2    Women chain across
        Long lines forward and back

B1    Men do-si-do once 
        Swing your neighbor

B2    Women allemande right 1 1/2 (or gypsy, or circle left 3/4)
        Swing your partner

This dance is based partly on the Penn Fix dance North Cascades. The right and left through figures were replaced with the half heys. The chain and forward and back are reversed for better flow. And then the B parts were switched about to allow two swings instead of one. OK, I guess it's not just a variant....



Split Infinity

Duple Improper                                                                             July 2011

A1    Wave balance (4), 
        Half a hey (women passing left shoulder in middle) (8)
        Wave balance (4) 

A2    Half a hey
        Swing your neighbor 

B1    Circle left three quarters
        Swing your partner 

B2    Circle left three quarters, pass through
        Do-si-do the next 1-1/4


Starts with the women in the center taking left hands for the first wave balance. Women then pass left shoulder to start the hey. Everyone will switch positions in the wave with their same sex neighbor when they form the wave again. This requires a bouncy tune, single jigs are useful, or something like Rock the Cradle Joe, to get the balances in both parts of the A1. 



Summary of the Invention

Duple improper                                                                                                  February 10, 1995

A1    Balance and swing your neighbor 

A2    Men do-si-do once
        Balance partner (man’s right hand, woman’s left), star through 

B1    Circle left ¾
        Swing partner 

B2    Women chain across
        Star left 


I’ve always liked the star through balance. If you teach the right and left hand balance clearly, this can satisfy all levels early in the evening. 




Swallowtail

Duple improper                                                                                                      September 5, 1997

A1    Women allemande left halfway*, balance in a wave across set 
        Allemande right your partner halfway, balance in a wave 

A2    Men allemande left 1 ½
        Star promenade neighbor, butterfly whirl 

B1    Women gypsy 1 ½ (or do-si-do)
        Swing partner 

B2    Long lines forward and back
        Circle left ¾, pass through up and down set 


This is my favorite dance in the butterfly whirl series. I prefer having the women gypsy because it is quicker and they get a longer partner swing. Swallowtail jig actually works well with this - but other tunes and reels will, too. 

*I like to say halfway here, because as the women walk forward they are oriented up and down, not across, and it makes more sense than other fractions that purists might like to confuse people with. 




Swinging on a Gate                                                                                        

Duple Improper                                                                                                        May 16, 2014

A1    Balance and swing your neighbor

A2    Long lines forward and back
        Men gate the women forward and around

B1    Women gypsy 1-1/2 
        Swing your partner

B2    Circle left 3/4
        Balance the ring, pass through

Alternates: The women could do an allemande right in B1, or a do-si-do.

This is a simple but fun dance, with the English Country Dance style gate propelling the women nicely into the gypsy. It works really well early on - could be used as a first dance if not too many beginners, I've used it as a second dance and the flow is nice.



Tag, You're It

Duple improper                                                                                                         August 5, 2011

A1    Interrupted hey for three* 

A2    Ones gypsy and swing 

B1    Four in line down the set, ones in the middle, bend the line
        Twos swing (Ones stand back) 

B2    Four in line up the set, twos in the middle, ones gate the twos around
        Long lines forward and back, men roll neighbor woman to right in front of them as they step to the left to progress. 


*The interrupted hey for three works as follows: Woman #1 essentially walks a half figure eight alone through couple #2, but couple #2 dances the whole thing as a hey for 3. Woman #1 passes left shoulder with woman #2, end in partner’s place (or just behind him). Man #1 then finishes the half hey for three by doing what seems to him to be another half figure 8 with couple 2, passing right shoulder now with woman #2 who has crossed the set and turned back on her portion of the hey for 3. It's easier to do than explain.

This is called “Tag, You’re It” because the woman can tag her partner to gently remind/propel him into his portion of the half figure eight/hey. I took this move from an English country dance (Autumn Moon, by Gary Roodman) that I enjoy. For couple #2, the hey for three should feel continuous. For the #1 couple, each part feels more like a half figure 8. On the 4 in line up the set, the #2 couple is in the middle.



Ted's Turns

Mixer, Circle of couples facing in                                                        July 15, 2014

A1    Forward and back 
        Women go forward, return facing out to form a wave (note that your NEXT partner is in the hand that is not attached to your partner)

A2    Wave balance, Rory-O'More turn to the right 
        Wave balance left first, Rory-O'More turn to the left

B1    Allemande right partner once
        Swing neighbor

B2    Promenade the set

This and Ted's Waves were written with Ted Sanella's mixer "Love and Kisses" as an inspiration.



Ted's Waves

Mixer, Circle of couples facing in                                                                        January 12, 2001

A1    Forward and back 
        Women go forward, return facing out to form a wave 

A2    Wave balance, allemande right partner 1X
        Wave balance, allemande left neighbor 1X 

B1    Do-si-do partner
        Swing neighbor 

B2    Promenade the set

This and Ted's Turns were written with Ted Sanella's mixer "Love and Kisses" as an inspiration.



Tetrahymena Twirl

For Dr. Joseph Gall

Duple improper                                                                                                  June 15, 2003

A1    Handy hand allemande neighbor 1 ½ 
        Twos swing* 

A2    Down the set four in line^ (mmww), men turn as a couple@, women turn alone
        Come back up, bend the line 

B1    Balance in a circle, pass through across the set^^ 
        Hands across star right 7/8** w. #1 hands below #2 hands*** 

B2    Balance the star, #2s arch, #1 man pull #1 woman under arch
        Ones swing 


* In the handy hand allemande, the ones split the twos, so the twos are progressed and above #1s for the swing.
^ The line is man/man/woman/woman, twos in the middle. 
@ The left hand man should lead the couple turn to avoid confusion 
^^ After the pass through, people turn individually to their right as they put their right hands in for the star. 
** The star right is simpler than it sounds - if it is turned 7/8, the #2 couples are back on the sides they started, across the set from each other, while the #1 man and woman are in the center of the set, the man below the #2s, the woman above them. 
***When couples take hands, the #1 hands should be underneath. (Be sure to say “hands” or the couples may think they are in the wrong place.) 

Please don’t let the number of notes in this dance dissuade you from doing it. This is my absolute favorite dance of those I’ve written, and it is MUCH easier to dance it than to explain - but really not that hard to teach - the notes are mostly for your benefit. This is a fun, satisfying, but unusual dance and I’ve had lots of positive feedback from dancers and callers, and have had the chance to enjoy dancing it myself. 

This was written after attending a reunion conference for my thesis advisor, Dr. Joseph Gall. I studied the intricacies of Tetrahymena ribosomal DNA in his lab, and on the plane back wrote a bunch of dances as a tribute to him. This is the one I like best. Tetrahymena are ciliated protozoans, similar to Paramecia. Few people know that the moves in this dance symbolize the sexual reproduction of Tetrahymena, which are diploid, and fuse with each other (not unlike the couples in the star), popping a micronucleus through (the arch and under) to start a new generation with hybrid vigor.


 

Tinker Tailor

Becket                                                                                              June 30, 2013

A1    Slice left 
        Half hey, women pass right shoulders 

A2    Two hand turn your partner 1X (counterclockwise)
        Women chain across 

B1    Long lines forward, and men “wrap” women up as they go back
        Star promenade, unwrap the women at the end (looks like an odd line of 4) 

B2    Roll women across in front of men, women pass by right shoulder
        Swing partner 


Alt B1: Long lines forward and back/Star promenade, butterfly whirl 
B2: Women gypsy/allemande right 1 ½ and swing partner 

This dance borrows heavily from Kirsten Koths’ exquisite “Tailor Made”. But I think it’s easier in case the crowd is not up to the original. 


Original by Al Olson

Duple Improper

A1    Do-si-do your neighbor
        Gypsy star - women take right hands, men left, proceed 1X in direction women are facing

A2    Gypsy and swing your partner (in center of set)

B1    Down the set two by two, ones turn as a couple, twos turn alone and move up to join the end of a line of four with their ones
        Come back up

B2    (12) Circle left 1-1/2
        (4) Pass through up and down

All I've changed here is that originally the second half of A1 was a star right. Altering it to a gypsy star allows more partner interaction and works well. Note that when the twos turn alone, they can make it much more flirtatious by looking at each other, pushing off, and casting up to the end of the line. Dance should be done when there is plenty of space to allow  the center set swings to be comfortable.


Uncentennial Reel variant #2

Original by Al Olson

Duple Improper

A1    Forward and back
        Gypsy star - women take right hands, men left, proceed 1X in direction women are facing

A2    Gypsy and swing your partner (in center of set)

B1    Down the set two by two, ones turn as a couple, twos turn alone and move up to join the end of a line of four with their ones
        Come back up

B2    (4) Circle left 1/2
        (12) Swing your neighbor

This puts a neighbor swing in, and switches the do-si-do to a forward and back as that works nicely out of the neighbor swing. Dance should be done when there is plenty of space to allow  the center set swings to be comfortable. As above, dance should be one when there is plenty of space to allow the center set swings. Nice at the end of the evening.

The Usher

Duple proper                                                                           February 9, 2013

A1    Ones face up, go down the outside below their neighbors and up the center between them
        Four in line up the set, ones turn as a couple

A2    Four in line down the set, bend the line
        Twos swing

B1    Circle left once
        Swing neighbor

B2    Forward and back in long lines
        Ones swing and face up
Becket                                                                                    January 24, 2013

A1    Mad robin, men to the right in front
        Half hey, men start passing left shoulders

A2    Gypsy and swing partner

B1    Men gypsy left 1-1/2
        Swing neighbor

B2    Women chain
        Slice left

Vicious Headache

Duple Improper                                                                              August 31, 2003


A1    Women do-si-do once
        Balance partner and star through* 

A2    Three changes of a vicious circle, balance the circle^

B1    Pass through across the set, swing partner

B2    Women chain
        Half hey (women pass right shoulder) 

Alternate B part: 

B1    Swing partner
B2    Long lines forward and back 
        Women chain 


* Take star-through hands with partner (women’s right, man’s left in this case) 
^ A vicious circle might require explanation. Dancers form a circle, and move two steps (one place) to the left, whereupon the women roll in front of the man on the right back to the place they were at the start while the men continue moving to the left. That’s one change (four beats), repeat 3X for three. The effect is that the men keep moving around the circle and the women keep rolling back to the same place. If weight is given and timing is IMPECCABLE, the balance will happen at the end of A2. If not, it will likely morph into the beginning of B1, giving a shorter swing. For a longer swing, try the alternate B. 

On August 30th, 2003, I called a zesty contra in Pasadena, and decided to call a dance I had just seen in the CDSS newsletter, “Vicious Circle”. The newsletter dances are usually keepers, and it looked intriguing, so contrary to my usual practice of testing out dances on my own forgiving community, I tried it out at the zesty contra, with semi-disastrous results. It called for four changes of a vicious circle and the dancers, quite good ones, tried desperately to fit it in to a tune that was actually at a reasonable speed, and it didn’t happen. I had nightmares about it (I take this too seriously), and woke up the next morning with this dance written in my head, and a wicked headache. I called this that night in Santa Barbara, explaining its origins, and it worked quite well, though the drift of the balance that I expected did occur; however, it was enthusiastically received. I offer it here as a more doable version of the vicious circle move. 



Wandering Skipper

Duple improper                                                                                              July 22, 2004

A1    Men allemande right 1 ½ 
        Scoop up partner, star promenade, butterfly whirl* 

A2    Hey, women start left shoulder

B1    Gypsy and swing partner

B2    Women chain
        Long lines forward and back 


* In this butterfly whirl, the direction is reversed! The men are on the right side of the women, but they still back up.

A deceptively simple dance, made interesting by the reverse nature of the butterfly whirl, which permits the flow of the hey into gypsy. Another of the butterfly series –a Wandering Skipper is, in fact, another lovely lepidopteran. 




When Hester and Peter Met

Duple improper                                                                                              March 23, 1997

A1    Allemande right neighbor 1 ½ 
        Men allemande left 1 ½ 

A2    Gypsy and swing partner*

B1    Balance neighbor and star through^ 
        Balance in a circle and petronella turn 

B2    Balance in a circle and petronella turn
        Balance in a circle and petronella turn** 

I tell people to end their partner swing close enough to their neighbors to make the next balance on time. 
^ Women give left hand to neighbor man’s right hand. 

**Just turn a bit more and you can slap right hands into that next allemande. 


I wrote this dance for the wedding of friends Hester and Peter, and asked Susan Michaels, who was the caller at their reception. if she would be willing to call it. She did, and it was great fun to dance. This wedding dance is full of symbolism – initially interacting with other people, then the couple meet, and it’s a joyous meeting with much stomping, whirling about, and clapping. 

One needs to pay attention to hitting the balance on B1, I love the way doing a star through leaves one in the circle ready to start the petronella balance sequence. Too often the first balance in a circle is hard to make. 



When Was the Baby?

Duple improper

A1    Do-si-do your neighbor (alternate A1: Balance and swing your neighbor)
        Swing your neighbor

A2    Long lines forward and back
        Men go forward, lure their partner back

B1    Balance and swing your partner

B2    Women chain
        Star left

This dance is a mixture of Erik Hoffman's "When Was the Wedding?" and David Kaynor's "Baby Rose" so its impertinent title seemed like a natural choice.



Whoa Mule

Duple improper, double progression                                                      December 20, 1996

A1    Balance and swing neighbor 

A2    Ones balance and swing

B1    Four in line with the next couple, ones in the middle, #1 man and #2 woman turn as a couple*, others turn single
        Come back up 

B2    Face into the center and women start a right shouldered hey^ 


* Women end up in the center of the line
^In B2, the line does not bend, all people in the line turn in to face the middle so the women are facing each other with the men behind them. 

This is a simple dance, and the sequence without the unusual turn in B1 probably occurs elsewhere, but the unusual turn is the key. It allows the hey to begin in a slightly advanced position, compared to just bending the line and having the women start the hey. Bending the line into a hey is unsatisfying for the woman on the inside, and gives a longer path to the woman on the outside, often making her late for the balance. With the unusual turn, there is plenty of time to enjoy the hey and yet balance your new neighbor on time. 

The dance was written specifically to go with the Old Timey tune of the same name, a whopping good tune if you can get it. If not, make sure you have a tune that says BALANCE NOW at the beginning of the A, with capital letters! 



Worker Bee Hey #1

Duple Improper                                                                        September 24, 2006

A1    Down the set four in line (ones inside) 
        Turn as couples and return*, face in to the center^ 

A2    “Worker bee” ricochet hey@, twos start by passing right shoulder, ones push off

B1    Twos gypsy and swing, end swing facing up! 

B2    Handy-hand allemande ~1 ½ times (twos step inside)** 
        Ones swing and face down 


* A little odd as the men are on the right of the women for the turn. 
^ The line is not bent, all just turn to face center, twos facing each other, ones behind. 
In this case, couple two does a full hey, passing right shoulders to start, while the ones meets at the center and push off backwards in little counterclockwise circles.
** Ones need to position themselves a little above the twos as they are swinging and face down to help them with the handy-hand allemande when they finish the swing.
 
I thought it would be nice to do the push off of the ricochet hey from Huntsville's Queen Bee with one’s own partner. The result was these three dances. I like this one as both the ones and the twos get their own swing.


Worker Bee Hey #2

Duple Improper                                                                              September 24, 2006

A1    Do-si-do neighbor 
        Swing neighbor 

A2    Four in line down the set
        Turn as couples, come back up 

B1    Face in, “Worker Bee” ricochet hey, ones start^

B2    Ones gypsy and swing


^ Worker bee hey is as described in Worker Bee Hey 1.

This is an easier version, but unequal. If done with short sets at the end of the evening, however, it can be satisfying.




Duple improper                                                                               September 24, 2006 

A1    Handy hand allemande 1-1/2
        Twos swing and face up!

A2    Four in line UP the set (ones join on the outside of the twos)
        Turn as couples and return, face the center in a line

B1    "Worker bee" ricochet hey, ones start by passing right shoulder, twos push off^

B2    Ones gypsy and swing

^ Worker bee hey is as described in Worker Bee Hey 1.


Duple improper                                                                               July 3, 2015 

A1    Mad robin, women to right in front
        Gypsy star 3/4 (star wrong) with women taking right hands, men left, women move forward

A2    Gypsy and swing your partner

B1    Four in line down the set, couple on left (2s) slide to right in front of couple 1, who slide to left
        Turn alone and come back up, bend the line

B2    Balance in a circle, circle left 1/4*
        Swing your neighbor

*The circle 1/4 is merely a teachable way to have the men draw the women to their side along a circular path. I prefer this to just saying draw your neighbor to your side and swing, because I would like people not to be skewed relative to each other when the mad robin is to start. The "sliding glass door" approach to turning the four in line about is seen also in Erik Weberg's "Now We Are Four". I have the 2s moving in front of the 1s for the sliding glass door move as the #1 man can lead the #2 woman into the move as he passes behind her. I like to use the term "Star Wrong" when I call this because I find that the term "Gypsy Star" can lead to confusion where the dancers hear only the "gypsy" part and start to gypsy a partner or neighbor instead of proceeding to the star. This dance flows nicely.
        


Xs and Os

Duple improper                                                                              August 1, 1996

A1    Star left, hands across* 
        Men allemande left 1-1/2

A2    Gypsy (or balance) and swing your partner

B1    Pass through across the set, California twirl
        Circle left once around 

B2    Women balance by right hand, box the gnat^
        Star right, hands across


*The stars are meant to be hands across, though the men may find it more satisfying to take allemande hold for the left hand star in order to continue their allemande left. 

^The #1 woman, who is closest to the band at this point, assumes the lead role for the box the gnat, turning the other woman under. They keep hands after the box the gnat and the men join right hands to form a star. 

I like the California twirl in B1, rather than a right and left through, because people are ready to begin the circle sooner, and it is important to move the circle all the way around so that the women are ready for their balance. 


Subpages (1): Past contra programs