Dance Tips

Folk Dance Terminology.

Dance Formations.

Longways Proper Set Set made up of Men facing their Partners in a Long Set of 3, 4, 5, or more couples dance in a long set.

Duple Minor Set A progressive Longways set in units of 2 couples. Ones remain ones to the bottom of the set and Twos remain twos to the top. When a couple reach an end they have a turn out (swopping sides if necessary). They change numbers and return back along the set in the opposite direction.

Triple Minor Set A progressive Longways set in units of 3 couples. Ones progress (as ones) into the next unit of 3 couples until they reach the bottom while couples 2 and 3 alternate dancing as either a Two or a Three as they progress up the Set. 

Ones progress down the set and are replaced by the 2s moving up to become a 3. The original 3rd couple in this unit are now the Twos.

Beckett Formation A progressive Longways Set but men with their partners by their right sides facing another similar couple across the set. Progression is along the side of the set and across the top and bottom of the set.

Square Set Four couples form the sides of a square and are numbered anticlockwise starting with the couple having their backs to the Presence.

Head couples are numbered 1 and 3. Side couples are numbers 2 and 4.

Double Circle Face partners with men on inside and ladies on outside. This is also known as a Promenade Circle.

Sicilian Circle Couple facing another couple in a large circle around the room. 

Double Sicilian Circle Two couples side-by-side facing another two couples side by side and forming a circle around the room.

Dance Positions.

Proper When facing up towards the Presence, Men have their Partner on their Right. This known as the Man's side and Lady's side.

Improper Men with their Partner on their Left when facing up towards the Presence, i.e. man on lady's side.

Contra/Opposite The person of the opposite sex other than your partner in a Longways four-hand set when all are 'Proper'.

Neighbour/Contra The opposite sex person other than your partner in a Longways four-hand set when one couple is 'Improper'.

Inside hands Hand nearest partner when both are facing in the same direction.

Corner The person on the other side to your partner when in a square set.

Opposite The facing person when in a square set.

Other terms

Grimstock Hey

Clover leaf turn

Double figure of eight

Hole in the wall crossing

Dance Etiquette.

Always join a set at the bottom unless invited to do otherwise.

Listen to the Caller Do not talk when the caller is talking

Folk Dancing is a contact dance. The man should lead or guide a lady to her position in the set.

Remember to move up as the dance progresses to prevent a crush at one end of the room.

Other than when in a 'square formation' keep the sets close together to make dancing easier. Pairs of dancers should be at no more than 'arms length' away.

Basic Terminology.

Allemande Join R or L hand as instructed and turn around each other, 

Balance Hop onto right foot - crossing left foot in front. Then Hop onto left foot - crossing right foot in front (usually precedes a swing) 

Back to Back Dancers pass by the right shoulder, step to right and move backwards to place without turning. This is often referred to as ‘Do-si-Do.’

Cast Turn out away from the set and move down behind other dancers.

Courtesy Turn Partners with inside hands joined and men move backwards to help their current partner round to face in or out of the set as directed.

Cross Change places with the person indicated by passing by the right (or left as directed) shoulder.

Grand Chain Partners start facing each other round a ring – begin by giving R hand and then take alternate hands with the next person while moving around the circle.

Gates One couple act as 'gate-posts' and take inside hands with neighbour to help them around so that all finish facing into the set.

Gypsy Similar to allemande but without hands. Face one another all way round while passing L or R shoulder as instructed.

Figure of Eight In fours in long set: - Couple face couple; lady going first cross between the other couple and dance a figure eight round them finishing in original places.

Half Figure Eight as above but only dance half way to finish in partners place.

Half Promenade Promenade to change places with couple facing (See promenade).

Hey or Reel For 3 or 4, weaving past each other passing alternate shoulders back to original place. Usually start by passing by the right shoulder. 

Ladies Chain Couple facing couple. Ladies take right hand and pass each other, giving left hand to opposite man, who places right hand on ladies waist and helps her round behind him. Repeat back to starting position.

Pousette Hold both hands with your partner and one of you pushes to move forwards, while the other couple moves backwards and you change places. In a full pousette you keep moving to get back to where you started.

Promenade Couples cross hands, right hand to right and left hand to left and walk facing forward.

Rights and Lefts In fours: Start with partner’s right hand and dance past the give left hand to the opposite and change places. Repeat back to places. Turn the shortest way in the direction you are moving and move the shortest way round a square. 

Siding Two types:-

Sharpe or 'curly' similar to half two hand turn to left followed immediately by a half two hand turn to right - but without taking hands with the other dancer.

Shaw or To the Shoulder’ dancers move forward a double to meet 'shoulder to shoulder,' to the R. or L as instructed and fall back looking at each other all the time.

Star Take right or left hands with corner and dance around. Dancers should hold the corner's hand there should not be a 'bunch of bananas'.

Swing Ballroom hold, with weight mainly on the right foot which is placed by the side of partner’s right foot. Dropping onto this foot, pivot with partner in clockwise direction, using left foot to transfer weight while moving right foot.

Turn Single Each dancer turns alone on the spot taking four steps in the process.