Back3-Couple Dances




3 Couples:  General

Dunant House Waltz        Dunant House Waltz: Music in PDF, MIDI and ABC formatPrint this danceRecordings

Format: 3 couples longways, Twos Improper.

Dance: Colin Hume, Music: Roger Davidson, 1991

A1:Middle couple set right and left; cast right shoulder round one person.  Half reels of three across the set, middles passing left shoulder with that person's partner.
A2:Middle couple set to each other (facing up and down); cast right shoulder round the same person (all now in partner's place).  Half reels of three up and down the set, middles passing left shoulder with the person at the other end.
B:[1-4]   Middles out to your right, circle left with this couple and let go with your left hand to break to lines of three up and down (2nd man at the top on the men's side with 1st lady and 1st man below him).
 [5-8]   All back-to-back with opposite (new partner).
A3:Circle 6 left and right.

Men are now  2, 3, 1; ladies are  3, 1, 2.  Repeat the dance twice more, with a new partner each time.  If you'd like to lead the figure with your original partner, first and third men need to switch places before the dance starts.

It's pronounced Doo-NANT, with the emphasis on the second syllable, not DUNNant as some people think.  Henri Dunant was a Frenchman, so he would have pronounced it Doo-NON, but the house is in the Netherlands.  See the section on Composing Dances for the full story of how it came to be written.

The Grandparents' Waltz        The Grandparents' Waltz: Music in PDF, MIDI and ABC formatPrint this dance

Format: 3 couples longways.     Dance and Music: Colin Hume, 2003

A1:(16 bars): Ones right-hand turn, cast to middle place (twos lead up) and pass each other left shoulder to face first corner (7 bars).  Step right (1 bar) and…
 Honour, step left and honour, turn single left ¾ to finish improper in middle place.  Left-hand turn partner a little more than once around to finish in the middle of the set facing second corners (the man facing diagonally up to the top lady, the lady facing diagonally down to the bottom man).
A2:Pass second corners right shoulder: half a diagonal reel, then as the ones pass each other left shoulder they veer left to face first corner (the other opposite-sex person).  Three changes of a diagonal reel starting right shoulder, to finish with the corners in each other's places, the first man at the bottom between the twos and the first lady at the top between the threes (3 bars).  Ones step right (1 bar) and…
 Honour, step left and honour, turn single left ¾ and…  Loop left shoulder round right-hand same-sex neighbour to middle place: 3, 1, 2 all improper facing partner (3 bars).  Ones cross left and turn left while the others turn single left ¾ (1 bar).
B1:(16 bars): All single file anti-clockwise half-way to 2,1 improper, 3.  Lines of three fall back a double; lead forward.
 Middles (ones) move out to your own right and circle left with this couple, then the ones break with your left hand and draw the line up or down (5 bars).  All pass through with opposite and stay facing out (2 bars).  Turn single left ¾ (1 bar).
B2:All single file clockwise half-way to 3L 1M, 3M 2L,1L 2M.  Lines of three fall back a double; lead forward.
 Middles (2nd lady and 3rd man) move out to your own right and circle left with these two people, then the leaders break with your left hand and draw the line up or down (5 bars).  Ones in middle place two-hand turn half-way to your own side and fall back (3 bars).
Reverse progression.

Written for Malcolm and Barbara Shaffer on the arrival of their second grandchild.  I knew I'd got the music right the first time Barbara heard it, when she came up to me and said: “That's gorgeous.  What is it?  It sounds Jewish”.

The turn single left ¾ needs to be energetic — it's only one bar (three steps).  People have great difficulty with the timing of this dance.  There are six places where the musical phrase starts on bar 8 rather than bar 1, and each time there is a rising or falling three-note sequence for the step and honour or the turn single left three-quarters.  But people tend to think in 8-bar phrases rather than actually listening to the musical phrase.  I wrote the tune first, and usually I'm careful not to write a three-beat upbeat.  I've had arguments with Andrew Shaw about “Sally in out Alley”, for instance — he thinks people should start to move on the upbeat bar and I think they should wait until bar 1 proper.  But having written this tune, I had to write a dance which would fit it, which meant putting in movements which start at odd places and on the left foot (though Barbara says mentioning the feet only confuses people).

Barbara and Malcolm also said, “the half diagonal heys are one continuous flowing move, which should lead directly into the second honours and the cast to 2nd place improper.  Again the ones crossing just flows from the cast and it is difficult to get the other dancers to time their turn single in order to flow into circle anti-clockwise half-way.”

I would say that if they're listening for the rising three notes at the start of the musical phrase they should be able to do it.  It should be a case of the music telling you!

Their conclusion was, “In short, the whole dance just flows for the first couple, but you need the others to be aware of the importance of their timing.  Good dancers should very quickly be able to dance it without a call, because it is a dance that rewards a bit of effort to learn it.”

I hope they're right.

Laura and Filon        Laura and Filon: Music in PDF, MIDI and ABC formatPrint this dance

Format: 3 couples longways, twos improper.
Dance: Colin Hume, 2003.     Music: Traditional Polish Folk Song (waltz)

A:Twos face up: half a Grimstock hey (12 steps, finishing 3, 2, 1).  At the bottom: ladies cross (second and first ladies, on the diagonal); men cross (all right shoulder).
B1:Tops (threes) cross down through the middles and go down the outside to the bottom, the others moving up.  All circle left 4 places, to finish opposite your shadow.
B2:The same (led by the same third man, this time with the second lady).  The same, to finish opposite your partner.
Standard progression.

I've loved this tune for years — long before I met my Polish wife Renata.  My father travelled abroad a lot on business, and he brought back recordings of music from many countries, including an LP of Polish Folk Music.  I'd been meaning to write a dance to this tune for some years, and while I was staying with Susan Murrow in the States I had a go.  I wanted B1 and B2 to have the same moves, since they're the same music, and I had an idea of a three-couple set with the middles improper circling four places round.  Unfortunately I had started the A part with moves which made this totally impossible, so I struggled with it for a couple of hours and eventually gave up.  Back in England I scrapped the A part and wrote the dance in about five minutes!

A Grimstock hey is what they call in the States a mirror hey (because they don't know the dance Grimstock) and in Scottish reflection reels or mirror reels.  I could argue that a morris hey is also a mirror hey.  On the other hand, Americans could argue that there are three different heys in Grimstock!

Lucy        Lucy: Music in PDF, MIDI and ABC formatPrint this dance

Dance and Music: Colin Hume, 2006.  Waltz time.

Format: 3 couples longways

A:Ones give two hands: balance forward and back; let go with outside hand and star through.  Ones and twos the same.
B:Join hands in lines of three and fall back two waltz steps; lead forward.  Do-si-do partner.
C:Circle left.  Circle right.
D:(12 bars): Ones (in middle place) cross; cast up to top.  Lead to the bottom, acknowledging each couple as you pass them (threes move up).  All two-hand turn.

LucyFor Lucy Ward, who has known me all her life.  First danced at the ceilidh following her wedding to Alex Dickson, 4th August 2007, with music from Folkus Pocus.  Lucy had trouble with the Star Through because she needed one hand to hold up the train of her wedding dress!  I suspect many bands wouldn't be able to play it well, so I seldom call it.

“Star Through”:  Man let go with left hand; lady let go with right hand.  (In this dance it's easier to describe it as “Let go with your outside hand”.)  Raise your joined hands and both move forward, the lady going under the arch, to finish in each other's places standing side-by-side.  Star Through is not only a change position move but a change direction move.

The New Man        Castle Church Jig: Music in PDF, MIDI and ABC formatPrint this danceRecordings

Dance: Colin Hume.  Music: Chris Dewhurst.  1987.

Format: 3 couples longways, Twos Improper.

A1:Join hands in lines, go forward and back.  Men swing the lady below (leaving top lady, bottom man spare), finish facing out.
A2:They lead away (go round a couple from the next set), wheel around and lead back, while the bottom man (the New Man of the title) seizes his chance to swing the top lady, and they lead up and wheel around.
B1:Circle left (slip).  Circle right, making sure the New Man and his current partner finish at the top.
B2:Grand chain all the way round.
C1:Promenade with the same person, and when the new man and his lady reach the bottom they promenade up the middle followed by the others, back into a longways set.
C2:Top couple long cast to middle place.  Half figure eight down through the bottom couple to finish improper, ready for the next turn of the dance.
Progressed position is 2M+3L, 1L+3M, 1M+2L.

Written for the wedding of Sian Morgan and Peter Gillam (with Chris Dewhurst playing the organ for the service at Castle Church, Stafford), and called by Joe Hodgson at the wedding ceilidh, 19th December 1987, with Alterations providing the music.

The music appears in the Cloverleaf Collection, Book 2, along with many other excellent country dance tunes composed by Chris Dewhurst.

Northbourne Hop        Northbourne Hop: Music in PDF, MIDI and ABC formatPrint this danceRecordings

Dance and Music: Colin Hume, 1998.

Format: 3 couples longways

A1:Ones right-forearm turn 1½ (or 2½) with a step-hop.  Ones left-forearm turn neighbour 1½ or 2½.
A2:Right-hand star for six (1-2-3-hop).  Back with the left.
B1:In lines, four chassées diagonally right into one long line; four diagonally left (finishing with back to partner).  Four diagonally backwards left (into one long line); four diagonally backwards right.
B2:Circle left half-way.  All cross-hand swing, finishing on original side.

Progressed position is 3, 1, 2.

I was lying in my tent at a Folk Camp at Northbourne in Kent when Barbara Bradford walked past and challenged me to write a hornpipe dance called “Northbourne Hop” — because of the association between Kent and hops.  I wrote this dance in four minutes — my record so far!

The Retiring Librarian        Print this dance

Dance: Geoff Todd, 1994.

Format: Three couples circle.  Music: 32 bar jigs

A1:Circle left.  Circle right.
A2:Ladies right-hand star.  Left-hand star.
B1:Do-si-do corner.  Swing (new partner).
B2:Promenade anywhere, and find two more couples.

I suggest that the first time you swing your original partner, and the last time you finish with a basket of 6.  Most people eventually realise that you don't actually need three couples — but let them find this out for themselves!

Geoff Todd gave up calling some years ago — he said he was getting rusty and it was becoming a chore.  His dance “Left, Right and Centre” won the Beckenham and Croydon Dance Club's “Dance Search” Competition in 1986 and appears in the Dance Search book.

This one was written in 1994 for Sheila Mainwearing on her retirement as a librarian.  Sheila says it's not so much a retirement as having time to do the things she's really interested in, such as the excellent job she used to do booking (and looking after) bands and callers for Sidmouth Festival.  Anyone who knows Sheila will tell you that she's not the least bit retiring!

Six and Sixpenny Rant        Print this dance

Dance: Manchester University Dance Group, c. 1970.

Format: 3 couples longways.     Music: 3 x 32-bar rants.

A1:Middle couple stand still to act as posts, ends give right hands: First lady and third man dance a full figure of eight through the middles while their partners dance all the way round the outside (stepping).
A2:Ends give left hands and do the reverse.
B1:Ones lead to the bottom, the others come up the outside to invert the set.  Threes (at the top) face down, make a single-hand arch and lead to the bottom, the others turn in and dance up to finish 2, 1, 3.
B2:Twos dance anti-clockwise all the way round the outside while the others dance anti-clockwise one and a half times round each other to finish 2, 3, 1.
Norman and Denise Bearon have provided the following background information:
The dance is based on Sussex Bonny Breastknot and was composed by small group of us whilst at university one evening after going back to someone's flat because we were not prepared to pay 6s 6d to get into the local dance (poor students as we were!)
One of the group (a Mr. Peter Fox) then went and published it in English Dance and Song magazine under this name.  At the time we were very upset with him over this because (a) he had not consulted any of us, nor credited anyone else and (b) although that title had been discussed we were concerned lest the real reason for the name became known and we did not want to upset the local District.  We wanted to call it “Varsity Rant”
John Sweeney then gave me the dates:
It was published in the Winter-Christmas 1970 edition of EDS.  The letter complaining about the lack of acknowledgement and the name of the dance was published in the Summer 1971 edition.

Tamar Rant        Print this dance

Dance: Maurice Dart.     Date unknown.

Format: 3 couples longways.     Music: 3 x 32-bar rants.

A1:Ones cross diagonally down through the set, pass between the 2nd and 3rd person of the opposite sex and dance a figure of eight around these two people back to the top.
A2:Mirror heys (Ones still improper) and one extra change to bring ones to middle place.
B1:Man up, lady down: right-hand star with this couple.  Ones cross over, left-hand star with the other couple, again finish improper.
B2:Ones half figure eight up through the twos.  Ones and threes swing and change (just half-way) to progress.

Repeat the whole dance twice more.  Rant step except in the stars.  Use plenty of space.

First published in English Dance and Song, Summer 1991.  By then Maurice Dart had lived in Devon and Cornwall for 59 years, and danced there for 39 of them.  He named this dance after the one common factor — the River Tamar.

Whitby Town        Print this dance

Dance:  Elaine Beckingham.   Date unknown.

Music: 3 x 32 bar jigs.

Format: Three couple square (twos on the right of the ones, and a gap between twos and threes).

A1:Men stand behind partners (optionally with hands on lady's waist): Shetland reel (reel of three with couples acting as a unit) started by the ones and twos passing right shoulder.
A2:Ones and twos do-si-do opposite.  Ones and threes do-si-do opposite.
B1:Twos and threes do a ladies chain (there and back) while ones wait for the ladies to cross, then lead through the other couples and cast back to place.
B2:Ones and twos right and left through [half].  Ones and threes right and left through [half].

The second man must make sure he finishes the Shetland reel on his partner's left.

First published in English Dance and Song, Spring 1995.  Elaine Beckingham comes from Sheffield and is a well-known and popular caller in that area.  At that time she had been calling for about twenty years, and writes and calls dances in various styles — Playford, American and Ceilidh.  She has called with “Airs and Graces” for twelve years; she has done evenings of her own dances at Whitby Festival (where I came across her some years ago) and Sidmouth.  The formation of the dance is meant to represent Whitby with the East and West piers.  Her view is that a good caller must be very aware of the audience.  You're there for the dancers, not to show how good you are, and you need to remember that there was a time when you didn't know what the terms meant.  She's also very keen that the dance should fit the music.

Ann Taylor from Wirral has pointed out that this is essentially the same as a Scottish dance called Indian River Strathspey devised by George Senyck from Florida and published in 2009.  I don't know which came first.

3 Couples:  Playford-style

Angelique        Updated 9-Feb-17Print this dance

AngeliqueDance: Bill Kinsman.  Date unknown.

Format: 3 Couples longways.     Music: 6 x 32 bar reels.

A1:Lines forward and back.  Back-to-back partner.
A2:Two-hand turn partner.  All circle left half-way.
B1/2:Men (on the ladies' side) face down and dance two-thirds of a sheepskin hey, then the new leader leads the line around to face a new partner.
 Alternate turns of the dance start improper, and the bottom lady leads the sheepskin hey.

Bill came across a simple dance by Peggy Hazell called “The Tulip” which just had the men weaving round the ladies and back to their own partner.  He decided he could do something more interesting and this is the result.  “Angelique” is the name of a big double tulip.

My thanks to John Sweeney for pointing out that I had the wrong sex leading the sheepskin hey.  If you picked this dance up from here before February 2017 please correct your card!

For another dance with a partial sheepskin hey, see The Viking's Sheepskin on this page.

Barbara Walton's Delight        Print this dance

Dance: Irene Crew.  Date unknown.

Format: 3 Couples longways.     Music: 3 x 32 bar reels.

A1:Join hands in a circle of 6: set right only, slip left all the way (6 bars); in lines set right and left.
A2:Ones and threes double figure eight round the twos: ones cast, threes cross up through the twos to start.
B1:Middle man up, lady down: figure 8 through this couple.
B2:At the top, right-hand star half-way; cross right with partner.  At the bottom, left-hand star half-way; cross left with partner.

First published in English Dance and Song, Autumn 1999.  For information about Irene Crew and Barbara Walton, see The Countryman's Hat

The Bath Waltz        Added 23-Oct-16The Bath Waltz: Music in PDF, MIDI and ABC formatPrint this dance

Dance: Cahusac: 24 Country Dances for the year 1798

Format: 3 couples longways

A1:Ones face partner, twos face threes: Three changes of a grand chain, 2 waltz steps per hand (dancing in a curve rather than just pulling by) and face the next (the person you originally faced); balance forward and back (no hands).
A2:All that again.
B1:First man push, second man pull: Half poussette at the top.  First man pull, third man push: half poussette at the bottom.  [It's always the end man who pushes.]
B2:Twice more from new places, finishing 3, 1, 2.
C1:Ones turn first corner right, partner left 1¼.  [There is more time than people think for this, so don't rush it.]
C2:Second corner right, partner left 1½.  [Reverse progression]

I learnt this dance from Valerie Webster, but she doesn't know who did the nice job of converting it from triple-minor to a 3-couple set — if it was you please let me know.  Alan Winston, Regence Dance expert from California says, “It seems like a lot of the [Regency period] waltz-time dances are 48 bars and have 16 bars of ”swing corners“ in them, so they're not very different.”

Chamberlain Election        Added 2-Nov-16Chamberlain Election: Music in PDF, MIDI and ABC formatPrint this dance

Dance and Music: Matthew Welch, 1767:
“A Variety of English Country Dances for the present Year…By Cards”

Format: 3 couples longways.

A1:Ones cast to the bottom.  Cast back to the top, followed by the threes and twos to invert the set.
A2:Ones cross (quick), go below the next, cross to the bottom.  Ones lead up to the top and cast to middle place.
B1:Man down, lady up: Allemande right with first corner (a slow walk, once around, gazing at each other).  Ones move straight up or down the set to allemande left ¾ with second corner till the ones are facing each other, then the ones gipsy left half-way to face out on the men's side with the lady on the right of her partner.
B2:Lead out 4 steps through the men (swagger), on the last two raise your joined hands and turn away from each other to face back into the set; lead back to the middle with hands joined across your bodies.  Lead through the ladies and unwind; the man draw his partner back to middle place.

The original interpretation was by Tom Cook and was published in the sleeve notes of an LP by The Falconers called “Playford Style”, but it's been through the Folk Process since then and this is how I do it!  (I haven't been to the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library to study the original book.)  The threes and twos following the ones in A1 was added by Tom to convert the dance from triple minor to 3-couple reverse progression.  The first half uses a one-two-three-hop, and in A2 there's very little time so make sure the hop is a push forward rather than a push upward.  Then in B1 the dance slows down dramatically, and a lot of people just can't make the transition.  Actually a lot of people can't do the allemande either!  Link right elbows with your first corner, so your arm is flat against their back, not bent, then put your left hand behind your back and take the other person's spare hand.  Corners, don't move forward to meet the ones: let them come to you.  B2 also fools some people, and make sure you go well out through the ladies so that the man can actually draw his partner into second place rather than her being there already.  I think there's a case for the caller demonstrating the whole dance!  Musicians, make a contrast between the bouncy A-music and the smooth B1.

Barbara Segal — a historical dance teacher who knows a lot more about these things than I do — says it wouldn't have been a 1-2-3-hop, it would have been an allemande step: allemandes were all the rage then and this dance contains the allemande move.  Tom said the B2 moves for the ones were also called an allemande — how confusing!

Close Harmony        Close Harmony: Music in PDF, MIDI and ABC formatPrint this dance

Dance and Music: Colin Hume, 2012.  The tune is in 3-time.

Format: 3 couples longways, Twos Improper.

A:Twos cross left shoulder, loop left, round one to the middle of lines across, close together (12 steps).  Lines fall back (3 steps), lead forward (3 steps); circle right half-way (6 steps) — drive the circle round.
B:Twos cross right shoulder, loop right, round one to the middle of lines up and down.  Lines fall back, lead forward; circle left half-way (home).
C:All cross right shoulder with partner, turn right (6 steps); single file two places round the entire set, to 3L 2M, 3M 1L, 2L 1M.  Back-to-back opposite (shadow), finishing well apart — ladies observe the man on your left.
D:Ladies meet in the centre (R, L, R), step on the left foot and curtsey; cast right shoulder around the man on the left to finish opposite partner (12 steps); two-hand turn partner half-way (6).
Standard progression.  It may help to note that A is all anti-clockwise and B is all clockwise And if you look at your partner as you cross it should be obvious which way to go next.

Jenni, Dan, Victoria, Dave, Nigel, CeliaI've known Nigel and Celia Close and their daughters Victoria and Jenni for many years; Victoria says she can't remember a time when she didn't know me.  They are all beautiful dancers and danced with Woodfidley, the best English Folk Dance team I have ever seen, for whom I put together several sequences of dances and wrote “The Buttercross”.  I had long thought of writing a dance for them, but a dance for one man and three ladies seemed to have limited appeal.  Then in 2008 Victoria married Dave Yeomans, becoming the flute and accordion duo “Deo Volente”, in 2012 Jenni married Dan Hall, and suddenly a three-couple dance was indicated.

I was planning to call it “Close Encounters”, but Fiona Birchall had already used this title for her dance for one man and three ladies dedicated to the Close family in “A Hampshire Garland”, 1998.  Then I remembered that Nigel, Celia and Jenni sang in an excellent West Gallery choir called “Madding Crowd” and a better title occurred to me.  First called at Eastbourne Folk Festival in May 2012 with music from Bare Necessities when only Nigel and Celia were present, but at Chippenham Folk Festival a few weeks later all six of them were on hand to demonstrate the dance.

Click to play videoClick the image on the right to watch a video of me calling it in the States in 2015.

Colin's BMX        Colin's BMX: Music in PDF, MIDI and ABC formatPrint this dance

(well — who's heard of his big LX?)

Dance and Music: Trevor Monson, October 2004.

3 couple longways — 2's improper

A1-4All back to back — 2's with 3's and 1's with partner,
 5-81's long cast into middle place while 2's 2-hand turn ½ way & lead up to top while 3's set & turn single.
 
B11-41's go right for right-hand stars of 3 once round at each end, 1's finish facing their 1st corners for…
 5-8½ diagonal reel of 4 with 1st corners (passing right shoulder to start).  1's then pass right shoulder in the middle and face 2nd corners for…
 
B21-4½ diagonal reel of 4 with 2nd corners (passing right shoulder to start).  1's finish in middle place improper for…
 5-81's go right for right-hand stars of 3 at each end.     (3 1 2 all improper)
 
C1-4Top 2 couples pot hook to change sides — 1st lady & 3rd man passing right to start and then 1st man & 3rd lady pass left
 5-8Bottom 2 couples pot hook to change sides — 1st & 2nd ladies passing right and then 1st & 2nd men pass left.     (3 1 imp 2)

This is the first tune Trevor has ever written.  Keeping Thyme refused to play his F#dim chords, and Trevor admitted that he didn't understand chords at all!  I have replaced them with something more feasible.  He called the dance at my 60th birthday party dance (the “big LX”).

According to Wikipedia, BMX (an abbreviation for bicycle motocross) is a form of cycling on bikes, generally with 20 inch wheels.  It originated in California in the 1970s, where teenagers imitated their motocross heroes on their pedal bicycles.  I'm happy to say that I have never owned or ridden one.

The B part has a Scottish flavour and can be danced with a skip-change step provided you don't get ahead of the music!

For You Shall See        Miss Brook: Music in PDF, MIDI and ABC formatPrint this dance

Format: 3 couples longways.       Dance: Dick Hosking, 1998.
Music: 3 x 32 bar steady Scottish reels such as Miss Brook by J. Scott Skinner.

A1:Cross heys.
A2:Hey own sides.
B1:Lines forward and back.  Twos out to own right: right-hand star two places; all move round the set two more places (men 2, 3, 1, ladies 3, 1, 2).  [Twos lead own-sex line home.]
B2:Circle left (slip).  Circle right.
It's a change partner dance.

Written for his wife Maggie in memory of their honeymoon in 1993 near Fuschlsee.

December Rose        December Rose: Music in PDF, MIDI and ABC formatPrint this dance

Format: 3 couples longways.     Dance and Music: Colin Hume, 2003.

A1:(24 bar jig): First lady quick cast to middle place, end men step forward; set in a wave.  Lady up: four changes of a hey for three, finishing with ones passing left shoulder — second man move down on the last four beats, third man loop left into top place.
 Lady down, man up: heys for three across, lady starting right shoulder with second man, man starting right shoulder with second lady — twos and threes not with partner.
 Ones keep going: pass the same person right shoulder and loop right to middle place.  Lead to the bottom (bottoms cast up); two-hand turn half-way.
A2:First man cast up to middle place, end ladies step forward; set in a wave.  Man down: four changes of a hey for three, finishing with the ones passing left shoulder — 3rd lady move up on the last four beats, second lady loop left into bottom place.
 Lady down, man up: heys for three across (lady starting right shoulder with 2nd man, man starting right shoulder with 3rd lady).
 Ones keep going: pass the same person right shoulder and loop right to middle place.  Lead to the top (tops cast); two-hand turn half-way.  [Order is now 1, 3, 2.]
Note: All the heys and the ones' loop are danced with a skip-change step.
B1:(3-time): Ones cast to middle place (6 steps); half figure eight down.  All circle 6 left half-way; gipsy right with partner.
B2:Ones stand still, twos and threes half double figure eight through them, tops casting and bottoms crossing up (12 steps).  Ones lead to the top and acknowledge (all home); cast to the bottom as the threes lead up.

Christine RobbCommissioned by Karen Millyard (on behalf of the Toronto English Country Dance Group) for Christine Robb when she got married and moved to Boston.  I was told by the group and her husband Kim what she liked: complex dance, energetic, stepping, complicated or unusual heys, strong driving open circles, gipsies — and came up with this.  The first part may seem rather Scottish, but the three-time second part establishes it as English — with even a hint of Pat Shaw's “Four Winds”.

The other dance I wrote for Christine is Christine's Conundrum — I don't know which of the two is harder!

Forsooth        Print this dance

Format: 3 couples longways.
Dance: Francis Carter, 1991     Music: 3 x 32 bar bouncy jigs

A1:Ones cross, cast below twos who lead up.  Ones half figure eight up, and end facing first corners (man facing the bottom lady, lady facing the top man).
A2:Those four people dance a diagonal reel (right shoulder), and the ones do the final change right shoulder to finish improper in second place.
B1:Ones set; cast to the bottom as the threes lead up.  Ones half figure eight up through the threes.
B2:Top two couples face down: Inverted Grimstock (mirror) hey.

Skip-change step throughout.  The style is more Scottish than English — and why not?

Written for Sue Downs.  It must have done the trick — she married him a few years later!  Published in Sussex Folk Harvest, 1991 — it was the winner of the competition that year.

Gold for Bernice        Gold for Bernice: Music in PDF, MIDI and ABC formatPrint this dance

Format: 3 couples longways.     Dance and Music: Colin Hume, 2007/8.

A1:(10 bars):  Ones cross and cast one place, twos lead up (6 steps); ones back-to-back (6 steps).  Join hands in lines of three: fall back (3 steps), lead forward (3 steps).  Ones to your own right (man up, lady down): half reels across with this couple (6 steps); ones to your right: half figure eight through the other couple (so the ones do an ellipse), finishing 2, 1, 3, all improper.
A2:Twos the same — except that going to your right means man down, lady up — all finishing home.
B1:(10 bars):  At the top, first corners cross (first man, second lady) (3 steps), second corners cross; all circle left half-way.  Top couple (threes) cross down into a mirror (Grimstock) hey, finishing 3, 1, 2 (12 steps).  All two-hand turn (6 steps).
B2:At the top, first corners cross (third man, first lady), second corners cross; all circle left half-way.  Top couple (twos) cross down into a mirror hey, finishing 2, 3, 1.  All two-hand turn.

For Bernice and Ken Jackson on their Golden Wedding.

I think this is version 7 of the dance — I struggled to get it right.  Trevor Monson tried out various versions and gave useful feedback, until we arrived at this.  In A1, I recommend that you walk thought the half reel, stop, then walk through the half figure eight.  Now warn the ones that the ends will still be moving as they start the half figure eight, and they need to go through the other couple, turn left and go round the same-sex person to finish where they started the reel.  Now walk the two moves through together.  In a Grimstock hey I always recommend that the dancers take their partner's hand at the end of the set.

Invisible Mending        The Balloon: Music in PDF, MIDI and ABC formatPrint this dance

Format: 3 couples longways.
Dance: Sue Downs, 1998.     Music: 3 x The Balloon (Fallibroome 6)

First Figure:
A1:Up a double; set away and together (men left, ladies right).  Full turn single away to finish facing up; fall back a double.
A2:Down a double; set away and together (men right, ladies left).  Full turn single away to finish facing down; fall back a double.
B1:Ends two-hand turn half-way; top two couples circle left half-way.  All circle left half-way to finish 3, 1, 2 with the ones improper.
B2:“Magic Hey”: Full Grimstock (mirror) hey, but ones cross on final lead up to finish proper in middle place.
Second Figure:
A1:Into-line siding right shoulder to right, then turn to face partner; turn single left to place.  Left-shoulder back-to-back.
A2:Into-line siding left shoulder to left, then turn to face partner; turn single right to place.  Right-shoulder back-to-back.
B1:Ends two-hand turn half-way; top two couples circle left half-way.  All circle left half-way.
B2:“Magic Snake”: Ladies about turn into a Shetland reel, men following partners, top two couples pass right shoulder to start — middles cross at last moment to finish proper.
Third Figure:
A1:Right-hand turn partner half-way; men move down a double, ladies up.  Fall back; finish the right-hand turn.
A2:The same left.
B1:Ends two-hand turn half-way; top two couples circle left half-way.  All circle left half-way.
B2:“Magic Star”: Middles to own left: Right-hand star with this couple.  Cross right shoulder with partner into left-hand star with this couple, and all finish proper.

I'm sure you've worked out that it's called “Invisible Mending” because the active couple are improper at the end of B1 and magically become proper at the end of the figure.

Janet Murphy's Delight        Janet Murphy's Delight: Music in PDF, MIDI and ABC formatPrint this danceRecordings

Dance: Colin Hume, Music: Jenny Jones, 1989.
Each line of music is ten bars of three-time.

Format: 3 couples longways

A1:First lady cast, first man wait three beats and follow; twos lead up, ones finishing improper in second place.  Lines fall back, come forward; set in lines.  All two-hand turn partner half-way (2 bars).
A2:Top two men cross, face, back away; top two ladies the same.  Circle 6 left all the way (6 bars).
B1:Ones cross, face, back away; cast to middle place as the twos lead up and cast out.  Ones lead down through the threes and cast up to place, followed by the twos.  Ones cast to middle place while twos lead up to top place (2 bars).
B2:Threes cross, face, back away; cast up to middle place as the ones lead down and cast out.  Threes lead up through the twos and cast to place, followed by the ones.  Threes cast up to middle place while ones lead down to bottom place (2 bars).

First danced at Morland Village Hall on Friday 18th August 1989.

Janet Murphy is in her eighties, but is still amazingly alert and interested in everything.  After doing my version of a Playford dance she's been known to say: “I've been dancing that for fifty years, but I really think your way is better.”  I hope I'm as open-minded as that.  Her husband Bill was a well-known folk dancer and a leading figure in the Morris revival.  We displayed the dance on the final evening of the Morland Dance Week, and Janet was as taken aback as I've ever seen her!

All the crossings are what some people refer to as “Hole in the Wall” crossings (which I've heard referred to as “Well-Hall” crossings in the States).

John's Folly        John's Folly: Music in PDF, MIDI and ABC formatPrint this danceRecordings

Format: 3 couples longways.     Dance and Music: Colin Hume, 2000

A1:Top two couples circle left.  Pass that same neighbour right shoulder to start half a straight hey on the side.
A2:Bottom two couples (twos and ones) circle right.  Pass that same neighbour left shoulder to start half a straight hey (home).
B1:Ones and twos take nearer hand with partner and set to neighbour; twos move up the outside as ones move down, first man rolling his partner across to change places with her.  Ones and threes the same, so that the ones finish at the bottom on their own side.
B2:Take hands in lines of three and fall back a double; lead forward a double.  All two-hand turn.

Written for John Konvalinka, who bought the dance at the Pinewoods auction during English Week 2000.  John asked for a three-couple dance, smooth and flowing, which would be suitable for beginners but enjoyable by experienced dancers.  My first version proved far too complicated, but I managed to simplify it and call it on the final afternoon of the camp.

John suggested the title (possibly his reaction to topping the bidding for a dance and tune which hadn't even been written), and this gave me the rhythm of the first bar of the tune, its Scotch snap setting me off on a tune and dance which have something of a Scottish flavour.

Jonathan's Jig        Jonathan's Jig: Music in PDF, MIDI and ABC formatPrint this dance

Format: 3 couples longways.     Dance and Music: Colin Hume, 1998

A1:(12 bars): Middle man down, lady up: Half hey across with this couple, then actives quick right-hand turn half-way to take their partner's place in the other half of the other hey — finish with actives improper (8 bars, skip-change step).  Actives cross right shoulder; loop right one place, man finishing in top place on the men's side, lady in bottom place on the ladies side while first man and third lady move right into middle place (4 bars).
A2:New middles repeat, all finishing in original place.
B1:(12 bars): Middles left-hand turn half-way; cross giving right hands on the right diagonal (all diagonal crosses are with same sex).  Cross left hand on the left diagonal; cross right hand on the right diagonal, finishing 3, 2 improper, 1.  Circle 6 left half-way, finishing 1 improper, 2, 3 improper, in lines well apart.
B2:Lines forward and back.  Ones cross and cast; twos lead up.  Threes cross and cast up; ones lead to the bottom.
Standard progression.  Repeat the dance twice more.

The dance and tune were bought by David Macemon and Cynthia Stenger at the auction at Mendocino English Week 1998, for their son Jonathan Macemon.  They suggested the title, and since Jonathan was very young at the time I started the tune with a quote from the children's song “Here we go round the mulberry bush”.

Masquerade        Masquerade (3:4): Music in PDF, MIDI and ABC formatMasquerade (3:2): Music in PDF, MIDI and ABC formatPrint this danceRecordings

Format: 3 couples longways.     Dance and Music: Colin Hume, 2004

A1:(12 bars): Ones two-hand turn (6 steps); cast to middle.  Two-hand turn first corner (shadow) ¾ to lines of three across; circle 6 left half-way.  Leaders (3rd man, second lady, on the left-hand ends of the lines) tight cast left into half reels of three across, and at the end the ones keep moving into middle place.  [3, 1, 2]
A2:Threes at the top do the same.  [2, 3, 1]
B1:(12 bars): Bottom couple (ones) lead up into half figure eight through the tops, then face up, middle couple (threes) move down and face partner.  Grand chain 4 hands.  [3, 2 improper, 1]   Middle couple (twos) lead up (the way they're facing) and cast back while end couples set and Hole-in-the-Wall cross.  [3, 2, 1, all improper]
B2:Top couple (threes) lead down into half figure eight through the bottom couple then face down, middle couple (twos) move up and face partner.  Grand chain 4 hands (so both grand chains are in the normal direction).  [3 improper, 1, 2 improper]   Middle couple (ones) lead down (the way they're facing) and cast back while end couples set and Hole-in-the-Wall cross.  [3, 1, 2]

Written for the band “Masquerade”, and first performed with them at Broadstairs Folk Week in 2004.  Masquerade is Daphne Baker on piano, Graham Knibbs on violin and Stephen Thomas on double bass.  I'd already called with Daphne in England and Holland so I knew she was very good, and when she told me that she had formed a new band called “Masquerade” consisting of three classical musicians I knew I was in for something exceptional, so I wrote a tune that I would hesitate to give to many folk musicians, complete with some interesting bass notes for Stephen.  They played it superbly.  Some time later they played at a concert for classical musicians and included this tune to show the audience the sort of things they played for dancing, and it was the hit of the evening.  No, it's not a waltz — it's slower than that.  I've provided versions of the music in both 3:4 and 3:2 time.  Ian Jones (accordionist with Cumbrian Gap) said, “ I have a way of playing 3/2 tunes which seems to work and comes automatically when I see that time signature.  Also the more spacious appearance of 3/2 enables the players to 'feel' what you want more readily.”  But Daphne Baker finds the 3:2 version a “forest of crotchets” (quarter notes) and the ties in the 3:4 version more readable.  The choice is yours.

I was at a workshop at Cecil Sharp House in 2006 where they were playing for Philippe Callens, and at least three people came up to me and said, “Do you know this band?  I've never heard of them.  Aren't they good!”  So my prediction that Masquerade would soon become better known was fulfilled.  In August 2007 they released a CD of my tunes, including “Masquerade”, which sold well (in fact it's now sold out) and received general approval.  Read more about Masquerade here.

Modifications:

November 2007: Originally at the start of B1 I had the threes waiting for two bars and then leading down, but it seems better to get them out of the way immediately — and the same for the twos in B2.

Pride of the 21st        Shandon Bells: Music in PDF, MIDI and ABC formatAdded 22-Aug-16Print this dance

Format: 3 couples longways.     Dance: Gerry Phelps, 1974.
Music: 3 x 48 bar jigs: Shandon Bells.

A1:All left-hand turn partner.  First man third lady right-hand turn, keep hold and give left to partner in a diagonal wave.
A2:Those four kick-balance right and left twice.  Middle two do-si-do the spare person in front of them, and fall back to place.
B1:All right-hand turn partner.  First lady third man left-hand turn, keep hold and give right to partner in a diagonal wave.
B2:Kick-balance twice.  Middle two do-si-do the spare person in front of them, and fall back to place.
C1:Right-hand star at the top.  Left-hand star at the bottom.
C2:Half poussette at the top: first man push, second man pull.  Half poussette at the bottom: first man pull, third man push.

Written for the 21st anniversary of the Square Club in the Cheltenham/Gloucester area.

Rebecca's Progress        The Gradely Lass: Music in PDF, MIDI and ABC formatPrint this danceRecordings

Format: 3 couples circle.     Dance: Bob Lilley, 2008.
Music: The Gradely Lass from Maggot Pie.

The ones are the couple with their backs to the presence at the start of the dance.

A1:Circle left (slip-step).  Men cast left shoulder, behind partner to the next place round on the right.
A2:Circle right until the ladies are home.  Ladies cast right shoulder, behind current partner to the next place round on the left.
B1:Ones set to (original) partner, moving forward to the centre of side lines of 3 (without hands); all clap: together, right with opposite, together, left with opposite.  As they fall back, the right-hand people of each line lead the same move, setting to their original partner.
B2:As they fall back, the new right-hand people lead the same move.  They fall back into a circle; all clap with new partner: together, together, both.  The new ones are the couple with their backs to the presence.
Second figure:
A1:Side right.  Men cast left shoulder to meet original partner.
A2:Side left.  Ladies cast right shoulder to meet another new partner.
B1/2:As before, led by those new ones.
Third figure:
Arm right, etc.

A very useful tip is that although everyone does the triple clapping figure in different directions and from different positions each time, it's always with the same people in the same order.

Becky LonghurstBecky CapronWritten for Rebecca Longhurst.  I called this at Becky's 21st Birthday Dance in 2011 and made a complete mess of the walkthrough — I'd tried to fit the instructions onto one card, and when I wrote the card I understood it, but when I started the walkthrough I realised I didn't.  Fortunately Bob was dancing with Becky in the top set and they kept putting me right; if necessary I would have danced with Becky and got Bob to do the calling.

Bob Lilley is a retired trainer of silicon chips.  He's been calling since 1981 and writing the odd dance (some of them odder than others) since 1986.  He's a resident caller at the Linsleighders' FDC in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, and a regular guest caller at various other clubs in the area.  His best-known dance is The Fast Packet.

Rebecca Longhurst (Bex or Becky), comes from Bob's neighbouring village of Pitstone.  Introduced to country dancing at the age of 17, she took to it like a duck to water, and she and David now dance all over the place.  In 2013 they were married, so she is now Becky Capron, and the tune for this dance, arranged for organ by Chris Dewhurst, was the recessional music at the wedding service.  She and David are also up-and-coming dance callers.

Bex has been active in the Girl Guide movement, and the figures in “Progress” were inspired partly by the trefoil badge.

The Responce        St Giles's Pound: Music in PDF, MIDI and ABC formatPrint this dance

Format: 3 couples longways.     Dance: Francis Carter, 1995.     Music: 3 x 40 bars St Giles's Pound (Fallibroome 4)

A1:Ones cross right shoulder; cast to middle place.  Cross right shoulder, turn left, go round one person and face first corner — man facing across to bottom lady, lady facing across to top man.
A2:Reels of three across the set (pass first corner right shoulder to start), and ones continue the move to finish improper in second place.
B1:Ones set; cast to the bottom (threes stand still).  Half figure eight up; threes lead up to middle place.
B2:Rights and lefts for six:  All cross giving right hands; those in first lady's and third man's place cross giving left hands, the others cross with neighbour giving left hands.  The same from new places.
B2:The same from new places.  All set and turn single.

The dance won second prize in the Dance Search '95 competition run by the Beckenham and Croydon Folk Dance Group.  It was published in CDSS News the same year, with the spelling changed from “Response” to “Responce”.  The “Rights and lefts for six” figure comes from Scottish Country Dancing.

Ruth        Ruth: Music in PDF, MIDI and ABC formatPrint this danceRecordings

Format: 3 couples longways.     Dance and Music: Colin Hume, 2006

A:Ones cast (twos move up straight away); right-hand turn first corner just over half-way to a diagonal wave of four with the corners in the middle — from the top: first lady, second man, third lady, first man.  Middles left-hand turn half-way; set in the wave.
B:The other two people step forward to make same-sex right-hand stars and start to turn them, then the ones move up or down their own line and the others follow to finish with the men home and the ladies in the order 2, 3, 1.  All back-to-back opposite (shadow).
C:Ones (on a long diagonal) set to each other; cast left shoulder to middle place on own side: 2, 1, 3.  Join hands and set in lines; cross right shoulder with partner and turn right.
D:Circle left half-way.  Two-hand turn partner.
Progressed position is 3, 1, 2.

Written for Ruth Allmayer, and first danced at Sigmaringen in Germany in March 2006, with music played by Folkus Pocus.

RuthRuth booked me with Folkus Pocus for a similar weekend in 2004.  Before that, English dancing in that region had meant Alan Davies (with a safe band), and Ruth wanted to show people that different callers put a very different slant on things.  (Antony Heywood has since pointed out that he has also run courses in that area.)  In addition to Playford-style I gave them American Squares and Contras, Scottish, English Traditional and some of my own dances.  They coped with everything I threw at them, and of course were delighted with the music, and Dan, Caroline, Renata and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  When Ruth booked me for a second weekend I said to Renata “I'm going to write a dance for Ruth — should it be stately or bouncy?”  “Bouncy”, she said, which was what I had already thought, so here it is.  Some Playford-style bands would not be too happy with the tune, but I knew Dan and Caroline would be in their element.  After she had danced it to my calling, Ruth then called it (without looking at the instructions) while I danced it — a brave woman!

Ruth has called with Alan Davies for several Dance Weeks at Halsway Manor with a mixture of dancers from England and Germany.  Since our first weekend in Germany she has danced at Pinewoods for two weeks (including participating in a callers course) and called at Sidmouth, and is becoming better known as a caller.  In 2007 she was again booked for Sidmouth, where she called this dance (and another six of mine!), and in 2008 she was booked for Eastbourne but could not appear because of illness, so I took over her programme.  She appeared in 2009 and did a really good job.

Strawberries and Cream        Strawberries and Cream: Music in PDF, MIDI and ABC formatPrint this danceRecordings

Format: 3 couples longways.     Dance and Music: Colin Hume, 1996

A1:First man and third lady pass your partner right shoulder, and dance round the outside to each other's place.  (Their partners do not move!)  Those who can, set on the right diagonal; cross over passing right shoulder and face in.
A2:First lady third man pass your opposite left shoulder, and dance round the outside to each other's place.  Those who can, set on the left diagonal; cross over passing right shoulder again, and stay facing out.
B1:Lines of three lead away four steps; ends move in and circle left half-way in those threes.  Lead back; cross right with new partner and turn right.  [This means that one end person in each line turns the long way, but it flows much better into the reel.]
B2:Reels of three on the side, the top two people on the men's side and the bottom two people on the ladies' side starting right shoulder (6 bars); middles right-hand turn half-way to own side.

Progressed position is Men: 2, 3, 1; Ladies: 3, 1, 2.  Repeat the dance twice more.

No particular reason for the dance or title — it just seemed a sweet little tune.  In fact I prefer strawberries and ice-cream, but somehow that doesn't sound right.

Unrequited Love        Unrequited Love: Music in PDF, MIDI and ABC formatPrint this danceRecordings

Format: 3 couples longways.     Dance and Music: Colin Hume, 1986

First Figure:
A1:All lead up a double and back.  Top couple cast to middle place, middle couple lead up to top place; bottom couple cast up to middle place, middle couple lead down to bottom place.
A2:All lead down a double and back.  Bottom couple cast up to middle place, middle couple lead down to bottom place; top couple cast to middle place, middle couple lead up to top place.  [Home]
B:Bottom two couples circle left half-way; open into a line of four facing up and fall back while top couple two-hand turn all the way.  The line of four make an arch at each end and lead up, the top couple go down under one arch each, bend the line to reform the longways set.
C:The same from new positions.  [Home, ones and threes improper.]
D:Join hands in lines and take one step back, then cross over right shoulder and turn right to face in.  Circle left four places (until the middle man is at the top on his own side).
E:New middle man down, lady up: right-hand star with this couple, middles finishing on original side facing new partner.  All two-hand turn new partner.
Second Figure:
 As before, but siding into line right shoulder at the start of A1 and left shoulder at the start of A2.
Third Figure:
 As before, but arming right in A1 and left in A2.
Coda: (having finished with two-hand turn original partner): Step right and honour partner; step left and honour.

The dance was published by Cotswold Music in the Hunter's Moon collection in 1987, with an LP recording by Wild Thyme (later available on cassette) and is now on the Spring Blossom CD by Dampier's Round.  Originally I had the top couple standing still at the start of B and C but I noticed people doing a set and turn single, and when I asked them why they said it was the only point in the whole dance where anyone stood still.  I could see the force of this argument, but if the bottom two couples are circling and opening up into a line it seems more logical to me that the top couple should do a two-hand turn and open up into a line.  If you do it, make sure you turn all the way — particularly in C where you start and finish the turn improper.


3 Couples:  Scottish

The Viking's Sheepskin        Miss Gayton's Hornpipe: Music in PDF, MIDI and ABC formatPrint this dance

Format: 3 couples longways

Rod Downey

Dance: Rod Downey, 2014.  Music: Miss Gayton's Hornpipe: 3 x 48 bar reels.

A1/2:Ladies dance a partial sheepskin hey: first lady leads the other two ladies above the first man and weaves between the men and round the bottom man — when the third lady reaches the middle man she goes all the way round him and takes the lead, weaving up round the top man and so on — when the second lady takes the lead they dance behind the bottom man and up to finish in the order 2-3-1.
B1/2:Men the same.
C1:Right-hand star at the top. Left-hand star at the bottom.
C2:Parallel reels, starting right shoulder at the top.

Click to play videoThe sheepskin hey comes from “Picking of Sticks” (which Cecil Sharp renamed “Picking up Sticks”) published by John Playford in the Dancing Master first edition, 1651.  Rod has cleverly cut it down and put it into a Scottish dance — though there's nothing here that English dancers would have trouble with except the sheepskin hey!  Click the image on the left to see it being danced beautifully in Johnsonville, Australia in 2015.

Rod has written many Scottish dances which can be found at homepages.mcs.vuw.ac.nz/~downey/dances.html — including this one described in much more detail here.  He is a Professor of Mathematics in New Zealand and also a Scottish Country Dance teacher.  He learnt the sheepskin hey while dancing with the Capriol Society for Early Dance in Cambridge, England.

For another dance with a partial sheepskin hey, see Angelique on this page.

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