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My English Country Dances

Right now I'm not intentionally writing many, but occasionally one happens. That's what this page is for.

Longways duple minor

Sicilian circles

Set dances

Longways duple minor

A fancy way of saying "Hands four from the top."

by Chris Page
Music: Any 32-bar reel or jig, about 105-110 bpm [1]
A1 (4) Facing neighbor, mirror set (away, towards) [2]
   (4) Cloverleaf turn single away from partner [3]
   (8) Twos changes rights and lefts (PR,NL)
A2 (4) Facing same neighbor, mirror set (away, towards) [2]
   (4) Cloverleaf turn single away from partner [3]
   (8) Twos changes rights and lefts (PR,NL)
B1 (8) Star right 1 with previous neighbors (N0)
   (8) Star left 1 with original couple
B2 (8) Those men pass left [4]
   (4) Women pass right
   (4) Partner two-hand turn 1 & 1/2, open up to face next [5]
[1] Outside of the U.S., a number of modern English Country Dances are not written to a specific tune. I decided to similiary approach this, English-style.
Note the timing is given in beats, not bars. To obtain bars, divide all numbers by two.
[2] Start close to partner. Face neighbor, and hold convenient hand with partner. Women set to the right, then to the left; while men set to the left, then to the right. The easier way is to describe this is "away from your partner, then towards."
[3] Men turn single left, women turn single right. It's actually only about 3/4 of a turn single, until you're facing your partner.
[4] Second corners, for those that wish to do this gender-free.
[5] And stay close to each other to start the next round of the dance.

Written for the 2013 Los Angeles Playford-to-Present Ball. Named for the great band, Bonfire, to let them have a chance to play some of their contra sets in an English setting.

The two tunes that Bonfire chose were "East Tennessee Blues" and "West Coney Island Rag", the later written by Richard Scher for this dance. To hear both, check the video below.

Videos: (#1) (#2)

by Chris Page
Music: "Daybreak" by Owen Morrison, or another 32-bar waltz with setting music at the top of the B1.
Proper or improper [1]
A1 (12) Neighbor left-hand turn
   (12) Neighbor right-hand turn
A2 (24) Hey for four across the set (first corners pass left to begin)
B1 (6) Set to neighbor
    (6) Turn single right
    (12) Circle left 1
B2 (12) Partner pousette counterclockwise 1/2
    (12) Circle right 1 with N2 [2]
[1] This dance could be done proper or improper, depending on the caller's whim. The obvious difference is who you interact with in the A1. The less obvious difference is that in the improper dance, the same people (women) always start the hey for four. In the proper version, you change whether you start the hey when you switch between ones and twos.
[2] Finish the hey where you started, on the side with your neighbor.
[2] Continue the dance with these neighbors.

I didn't have a good, easy duple minor progressive ECD dance that taught a hey for four. (The closest I had was Smithy Hill.) So, I wrote one instead. If it looks like a contra with ECD timing, that's because it is.

For recordings of Owen Morrison's "Daybreak", see the album "Daybreak" or Elixir's album "Rampant."

Once Upon a Cherry Blossom
by Chris Page
Music: "Once Upon a Cherry Blossom" or other appropriate 32-bar waltz
A1 (12) Neighbor clockwise gate 1
   (12) First corners back-to-back
A2 (12) Neighbor counterclockwise gate 1
   (12) Second corners back-to-back
B1  (6) 1/2 mad robin, clockwise around neighbor [1]
    (6) Single file promenade clockwise 1/4  [2]
   (12) Partner two-hand turn 1 & 1/2
B2  (6) 1/2 mad robin, clockwise around partner
    (6) Single file promenade _counter_clockwise 1/4 [3]
   (12) Circle right 1
[1] This is (half of) the all-active, everyone moving version of the mad robin figure that's crept into contra, and some modern English. All face across, looking at partner. Sidestep (first corners in front to the right, second corner behind to the left) to trade places with your neighbor. Two waltz measures, or six steps.
[2] Lots of time for this. The net effect of the first two moves is a full mad robin for the first corners, a single file promenade 1/2 for the second corners.
[3] To the right. The net effect of the first two moves is a full mad robin for the first corner people (in second corner positions), a single file promenade 1/2 for the second corner people.

Written for the 2015 Sage Assembly Ball in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Written to a waltz "Once Upon a Cherry Blossom" written by the band, Ladies at Play. (The tune is on their cd, "Once Upon a Waltz.")

While it was written to that particular waltz, probably a number of other 32-bar waltzes would work fine.

The first half of B1 was an attempt to set things up for partner interaction of the side.

Most of the figures have loose timing. The exceptions are the two-hand turn and the circle right.

Videos: (#1) (#2)

A Waltz for Richard
by Chris Page
Music: "Waltz for Richard" [1]
Double progression
A1  (6) Man two turn single right to both women
    (6) Both women turn single right to man two
   (12) Man two and both women single file promenade clockwise 1 around man one [2]
A1  (6) Man one turn single left to both women
    (6) Both women turn single left to man one
   (12) Man one and both women single file promenade counterclockwise 1 around man two [3]
B1  (6) Ones lead down
    (6) Ones turn as a couple (M1 back up, W1 forward) [4]
    (6) Ones lead up
    (6) Ones diagonally cross up and cast down one place, twos move up
B2 (12) Four changes of rights and lefts, face new neighbors [5]
C1  (6) Balance the ring
    (6) Neighbor two-hand turn 1/2
    (6) Balance the ring
    (6) Partner two-hand turn 1/2
C2 (12) Ones assisted half figure eight up [6]
   (12) Twos assisted half figure eight down, face new neighbors
[1] Music is also titled "Waltz for Richard" by Lael Whitehead. There's a recording on the cd "Fresh From Dan's Hall" by The Dancehall Players.
[2] Man two can do an optional quick clockwise cast to enter into the single file promenade.
[3] Man one can do an optional quick counterclockwise cast to enter into the single file promenade.
[4] Really a gate halfway, with the man backing up and the woman going forward.
[5] At the end of the fourth change, face new neighbors. It's the first of two progressions.
[6] This is sort of like the dance "Candles in the Dark", where you keep a hand joined with your partner for the diagonal crossing part of the half figure eight.

Commissioned and written in memory of Richard Chenault, a member of our community who passed away in 2018. There's a lot of symbolism in this dance with assisting others, and in the B1, staying with and escorting his partner.

Sicilian circles

An improper set, where the major set is bent ito a circle, with its top and bottom touching.

Ones are facing counterclockwise, twos clockwise.

May Faire Fantasy
by Chris Page
Music: "Ladies in May" by Rebecca King
Sicilian circle
Quadruple progression
A1 (8) Dip and dive past two (ones arch, twos dive) (twos arch, ones dive) [1]
   (4) Twos 1/2 figure eight through next (N3)
A2 (8) Dip and dive past two (twos arch, ones dive) (ones arch, twos dive)
   (8) Ones 1/2 figure eight through next (N5)
B  (8) Mirror gypsy with current neighbors N5 (ones split twos)
   (8) Mirror gypsy with previous neighbors N4 (ones split twos) [2]
   (4) Facing partner, set
   (4) Trade trip-to-Paris style with partner [3]
   (8) Partner two-hand turn 1; face N5 [4]
[1] Ones start facing counterclockwise. You start facing N1.
[2] Feels like a hey for three on the side.
[3] Pass your partner by the right shoulder, but do an optional clockwise bonus spin. Taken from modern interpertations of the dance, "A Trip to Paris."
[4] The instructions originally said "face N4". That was a typo. Everyone should be facing their direction of progression (N5). (Fixed 2/12/2017.)

Commissioned for our 10th anniversary San Diego ECD ball in 2017. Since one of our main props is a maypole, both Rebecca and I were asked to give the feel of a maypole dance.

The music is 32 bars.

This dance is quadruple progression, so it's not ideal if the total number of minor sets is divisible by four. It does work fine if there's only an even number of couples, as the mirror gypsy catches the odd couples.

WARNING! This dance is fragile. If just one couple doesn't realize they have to progress twice in the dip and dives, they'll take out four hands fours in 30 seconds flat. (This happened at its ball debut. It wasn't pretty.) And getting back in isn't easy, since hands-fours aren't often clearly visible. If you do try this dance, make sure to emphasize that everyone moves forwards two couples in each dip-and-dive section.

Video: (#1) (done a little slow)

Set dances

As opposed to longways set dances -- those for a fixed number of couples.

A Double Rule of Three
by Chris Page
Music: "Thirty-three More" by Dave Wiesler [1]
3-couple circle [2]
Mixer, corner progression
A  (12) Circle right [3]
   (12) Partner gate 1 counterclockwise (women forward)
B1 (12) Circle left
   (12) Partner gate 1 & 1/4 clockwise (men forward)
         Men make star in middle, hold on to partner [4]
C   (6) All forward a double in star, pause
    (6) Men star left 1/2 while women cast over right shoulder and orbit clockwise, passing one, and facing the next (original corner) [5]
   (12) Corner gypsy
B2 (18) Grand right and left (CR,PL,opposite R), face corner (new partner) [6]
    (6) Turn single left

[1] Music is an unpublished 32-bar waltz at about 140 bpm. The A and B music are very similar. For more information, contact Dave Wiesler.
[2] Circle of three couples, with man on left and woman on right.
[3] Note the timing is given in beats, not bars. To obtain bars, divide all numbers by three.
[4] At this point, the men have left hands in the center, making a left hand star. Each man's right hand is holding their partner's left hand. Partners are facing in the same direction. They then all walk forward in the star. This is a lot simpler than I make it sound.
[5] When you meet your corner, men need to take a step or two away from the star to expand the size of the circle.
[6] Notice each change is six steps long -- they're better done as wide half-turns, rather than pull bys.

Written on request for the 2010 L.A. Playford-to-the-Present ball, to include a dance from the present. Many thanks to Dave Wiesler for providing me with some of his wonderful compositions.

Named for a line in the dreadfully tedious "Sylvie and Bruno" by Lewis Carroll.

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