This page - currently under development - describes common variations in the interpretations, reconstructions and local variations in dance choreography
as depicted in the videos
list, Those recording most suitable for learning each variation will be marked
with an asterisk*. These will generally be videos in which the music
and dancing are clear, the camera tends not to wander, showing at at least
one full iteration of the dance in which dancers exhibit competence and grace.
We begin with those dances for which there are the most videos
Auretti's Dutch Skipper
The Black Nag
The Comical Fellow
The Duke of Kent's Waltz
The Hole in the Wall
Juice of Barley
Jenny Pluck Pears
Mr Beveridge's Maggot
Upon a Summer's Day
Mr. Isaac's Maggot
My Lord Byron's Maggot
Physical Snob, The
Softly Good Tummas
Mr. Beveridge's Maggot (EDM 1695-1728)
[lnks to video list and
A 3/2 tune in G minor with an A strain of 4 measures and a B strain of 8 measures.
Mr. Beveridge was an English dancing master plying his trade at the end of the 17th century and the early years of the 18th. This dance was written for and/or by him.
The composer of the compelling music is unknown. There have been four major reconstructions of the dance.
Cecil Sharp apparently considered there to be insufficient music for the
choreography as he interpreted it and so included a second B - allowing the line
of four to move up and back 6 steps and to dance “go the Figure through “as a full
figure of 8 by the 1's. This reconstruction was included in The Playford Ball (Keller
and Shimer,1994) which included suggestions for how the 1’s move above the 2’s at the end of B1 and the need for some skipping steps in B2. Pat Shaw’s reconstruction honored the
admonition to play the B strain once only by having the line of four advance but 3
steps and interpreting “go the Figure through” as a half figure of 8. The two reconstructions are essentially the same for the first 8 measures.
In videos reviewed to date, no first couple has successfully fit all the figures into the allotted A music. The figures
choreographed for those 8 measures in the A’s seem to add to 9 measures:
- First couple cross - hole in the wall or some other acknowledgment (2
- Back to back with neighbor (2)
- Meet partner and turn single (1)
- Turn right with neighbor (2)
- Turn left with partner to return to place (2)
Dancers have found one or more variations to save a beat. For example:
The choreography most often used in our video list is the
TV version of the dance.
The A figures consist of a full right hand turn by the partners followed by a full left hand turn.
This gives the protagonists plenty of face time for “conversation” with good camera angles,
and it makes the dance a much easier challenge for relatively inexperienced dancers.
Colin Hume’s reconstruction is consistent with the original description and danceable to the music
- all the parts fit together, an achievement resting on the interpretation of the “cross over” in A1 to mean “cross over and go below”.
Only one video demonstrates this reconstruction;.
it does include both couples in the meet and turn single in A2 (the Hume
reconstruction has just the 1's meeting and turning) - an embellishment added by Victoria Bestock
to give the 2’s an added chance to get involved.
The Duke of Kent's Waltz (Cahusac, 1801)
[Links to video list
A triple time tune in the key of G with an 8-beat
"A strain" repeated and a 16 bar "B strain" played once in modern interpretations. The score indicates a repeat of the B strain but how that would
now work is not clear.
The dance was published in William Maurice Cahusac’s “Twelve Favourite Country Dances… for the year 1801”.
Copies of the book disappeared for a time until a copy was found (without a cover ) and later identified, by Jacqueline Schwab in London, where she was assembling a bibliography of dance sources. The book is now apparently under lock and key
Prince Edward Augustus, (11/2/1767 - 1/23/1820) was the 4th of 6 sons
of King George III. He'd spent most of the 1790’s in Canada.. After a
fall from his horse in 1799, he returned to England for convalescence and it was
at that time he received the title "Duke of Kent". This dance commemorated his new
title. In 1817, at the age of 50, the Duke separated from his mistress of 28 years and married for the first time,
joining a frantic family effort to provide a successor to his father since none of his 12 siblings had succeeded
and the only heir apparent, Princess Charlotte, had died in childbirth. . The
future Queen Victoria was born the following year; Edward died of pneumonia 8 months later,
a week before the death of his father.
There are 3 identified constructions of this dance as well as a few variations
for which the sources are unknown
- Cahusaic(1801). A plausible construction of the original version is shown in this video.
- The figure danced by the 1st couple after the chassés up is an Allemende although that term has applied to a variety of
figures and there may be disagreement about whether this particular choice
of name is historically correct. Note that
it is danced as a triple minor.
- Bert Simons, Kentish Hops
- Bert Simon, who lived in Kent searched for dances which had some relationship
to the place in the hopes of invigorating local dancing. He published a reconstruction of The Duke of Kent’s Waltz in
"Kentish Hops, second pickings" (1970 ) ; it was later published (posthumously) in a consolidated collection
- ”Kentish Hops”
- In Simon’s reconstruction:
- A1 is unchanged
- In A2, Simon specifies two chassés down and back followed by a cast to second place.
- In the B strain, each couple balances forward and back with their partner and then
they cross - the first time with a “Box the Gnat” and then with a “Swat the
- While the dance is now a duple minor there is a remnant of the earlier configuration in the final 8 measures. Each man turns the lady on his right diagonal by the right hand once around and then partners turn once around by the left.
- While there are good renditions of this choreography, new dancers often have difficulty with timing
in A2. There are 2 beats to chassé down, 2 to return and 4 to cast to second place as the two’s move up. If
the dancers are not familiar with a chassé they may not use all the music and
without a caution - e.g. suggesting a wide cast, or advising the 1's to take care not to arrive until the last beat of the A2 strain
- the cast may
be completed much too soon and the flow of the dance interrupted.
- Eugenia Solenikova
- A1 - same as Kentish Hops
- A2. 1's join inside hands, dance 3 waltz steps down the hall, then turn towards each other and face up in waltz position, do a full waltz
step moving up and then open up to
- B2 The balance and cross moves are same as Kentish Hops but the final 8 measures consist of
2 two-hand turns first by the second corners and then by the first corners,
confining the action to the two couple set and thus leaving behind any remnant of the triple minor.
- Other variations:
- There are a few other variants in the choreography of the dance for which we have no identified sources.
These add no new elements but rather have varying combinations (except for performance by the
Dorchester Historical Dancers
who offer a novel A1 in the middle of their performance).
- In A2. 1’s do waltz steps down the hall and back up with a handy hand or
right in right rather than a chassé
- covering more distance than the chassé. The 1's end with a progression either by casting after reaching their starting position,
or by the 2’s moving up on the last two beats and the 1s moving into their place.
The Hole in the Wall (EDM 1698)
[Links to video list
A tune in G minor with a repeated
"A strain" of 4 measures
followed by a single "B strain" of 8 measures. Its signature is 3/4 in Playford and scored as
3/2 in "The Barnes Book of English Country Dance Tunes".
Depending on the musician's interpretation, it may be danced with a waltz step emphasizing the first
beat or without
This is quite a simple dance on its face - 16 bars in which the 1's and then
the 2's cast and lead through back to place. 1st corners cross then
2d corners cross followed by all hands around half way and the 1's cast as 2's move up. When danced at all but the
quickest tempos, there seems to be too much music for the Playford
notation and that may have been the key factor in generating a number of
While the track for the cast and lead up might be lengthened in order that what might
be danced in 4 steps can be accommodated in 6 steps, the corner
cross can be harder to manage. How that was accomplished in 1698 is
left to speculation - the instructions above, taken from the 12th edition of
Playford (1703), would not be expected to note more than the
Berea dancers demonstrate that a simple head bob here and there may be
Douglas and Helen Kennedy,. Country Dance Book New Series No. 1 (1929)
This reconstruction was adopted by Keller and Shimer for "The Playford
Ball". While I don't currently have access to the Country Dance
my assumption is that the 6-step "Hole in the Wall Cross" (corners
cross, trading places, falling back on the last three steps) originated with the
Kennedys. It is the version most often shown in the videos and is danced across the range
of 70-91 beats per minute (see bar graph below). Keller and Shimer's
suggested tempo was 88 bpm. In this brief dance it gives the
corners a moment
Society for Creative Anachronism
This reconstruction makes liberal use of "reverence", i.e., bows and curtsies
- at the start and end of the casts and leads as well as at the beginning
and the end of the corner crosses.
The corner crosses are referred to as "palming" - the corners "extend
their right hands up to each other and turn as they exchange places".
This reconstruction can be danced at a variety of tempos -
this example is on the slower side.
This reconstruction is similar to the SCA choreography with a different styling of the reverence
and a variation of the cross in which the corners do not face and fall
back but rather continue forward and twirl at the end of
the cross. At the end of the half turn, after the 1's have let go of each
other's hands, they
hold their neighbor's hand until the 1's and 2's pass in their cast
and lead. In a variant both
couples cast -
the 2's doing a narrow cast and lead to move up; the 1's a broader cast
to move down
- Louisiana variation
- Observed at 89-90 bpm, this version shows more emphasis
on a waltz step - which tends to shorten the distance covered - and a turn into place at the end of the leads in A1 and A2.
- Two couple version
- This adds only a slight variation to
accommodate the progression.
- In one video the
musicians (all flautists) and the dancers are one and the same.
video from "Becoming
Jane" shows the hole in the wall cross at its flirtatious height.
Gathering Peascods (EDM 1651)
[Links to video list
A 4/4 (or 2/2) tune in the key of G (Playford) or A (Barnes) with three parts - each
part having repeated 6- measure A and B strains plus a repeated 8-measure C strain. One time through takes 240 beats.
reconstructed the dance in 1911.
- Initial figure
- The Opening figure is described in Playford as "Go all
2. doubles round, Turn S. That again. Sharp calls for 8 slipping steps left,
turn single and the same to the left.. Most venues have adopted that figure.
A Russian interpretation treats the double as steps - 1-2-3 together as
would be used in Up a
Double. This same distinction appears in the reconstruction of Jenny
- Sharp designated the turn singles in A be to the right. Playford doesn't specify
the default direction for a turn single and the weight of evidence is
default turn single at the time would have been to the left so that
SCA (The Society for Creative Anachronism) interpretations, for example, might turn
single left just as they would not call for a swirly siding in part II, although in the videos there seems to be a greater preference for turning
single with the leading shoulder - i.e. for the slipping circles first to the left and later to the right.
In a number of videos there appears to be no consensus among the dancers on which way to turn.
Playford calls for the men, then women, to meet and clap hands in
Part III. That might well have
indicated that the men would dance a double towards the center, clapping at the end of the move
with three steps and a close, the clap would come with the close. Sharp's
direction is "Men move forward a double, and meet, clapping their hands on the first beat of
the second bar (running step)". The first beat of the second bar is the equivalent of the third step
in the double which is the wording used in the "The Playford Ball" :
"Men forward a double to center and clap on the third step". Sharp's
intent for the dance is shown clearly in a 1929
film in which
the dancers swing their arms forward as they dance inward with the
hands clapping when the hands rise past the waist and the phrase
ending with the arms stretched above the head. At Pinewoods,
in 2014, Robin Hayden led a daily session on early Playford dances,
and is here calling Gathering Peascods with the clap on the third step.
- Most of the other videos display the clap at the end of the phase,
though when it does it may not be a clap at all - it may be a hearty
by the men and a "Hee!" by the women, or a
and a clap
or respect and a silent clap
This is a circle dance "for as many as will. When it is danced
6 couples the dancers in part II can return to
place at the end of the circle. When there are more dancers, the women's circle
may travel the right distance find their partners. For inexperienced
dancers, that is unlikely and perhaps for that reason, when the number of
dancers is large, the choreography is adjusted, generally by eliminating the
siding and arming and replacing those figures either with a
repetition of the
sliding step circle from Part I or by substituting a grand chain.
The tempos for this dance range up to 137 beats per minutes. Ju Gosling has choreographed a
compelling, dignified version at 41 bpm for dancers in wheelchairs.
Don't miss it
The Comical Fellow (Thompson, Twenty Four Country Dances for the Year 1776)
[Links to video list and
The original dance music was a 6/8 tune in the key of D with a 4
bar A strain and 12 bar B strain each repeated - for a total of 32
beats. What we see in the videos is a number of stylistic
variations based on a reconstruction by W.S
Porter, Marjorie Heffer and Arthur B. Heffer in their work, The Apted Book:
"Twenty-four Country Dances from the Last Years of the Eighteenth Century with Tunes and Instructions"
published in 1931 The music is expanded from 32 to 40 bars by doubling the
- A1. First man sets to the 2nd woman moving forward, falls back to place and
then turns her once around
- A2. Second corners the same, initiated by the 1st
woman moving forward
- B1. 1st couple, lead down through the 2nd couple, lead back
up and cast below. Clap four times; 2H turn partner halfway
- B2. Circle 4 left then right, clap 4 times and partner turn 2
All of the videos to date (Feb 2016) follow the
structure of the Apted reconstruction but
some include variations that alter the narrative a bit.
- In A1 and A2, a minority have the corners
- In B1, there are local variations in the execution of the turn and lead back.
- Clapping is to 1) clap one's own hands
together, 2) patty cake (clap one's own hands, clap right with
partner, own hands, and left with partner, or 3 ) All four claps are
one's own hands with partners, with
gusto or with
- The half-way
turns in B1 and B2 are done with two hands or no hands - by a
or with arming.
The Black Nag (Dancing Master from 1657 to 1728)
Links to video list and
“The Black Nag”, as it is now known, first appears in the 3rd edition of The Dancing Master in 1657 under the name “Black Nagg”, changed to “Black Nag”
in the 7th & 8th editions (1686-1690), then to “The Gallopping Nag” in editions 9-11(1695-1701), finishing
its run as “The Galloping Nag” (editions 12-18. 1703-1728). The choreography did not change; the music did
from the key of Bm to Dm.
The 6/8 tune has an 8- bar A strain and 2 repeated 8-bar B strains in each of three sections.
Cecil Sharp includes The Black Nag in part 2 (1911) of his "Country Dance Book"
setting the name as ”The Black Nag” and basing his description of the dance as published in the 4th edition (1670) (shown above).
The construction is consistent with the original, adding appropriate detail. “The Playford Ball (Keller and Shimer 1994)
essentially restates Sharp’s directions.
Siding. This is the first dance commented on here which
includes "siding" and that warrants a review of the modern history
of the figure The Dancing Master (1670) notes in Part II (A strain) “Sides all: That again“. But nowhere in the Dancing Master is a “side” or “siding” described.
Sharp explains the challenge of interpreting those words in the introduction to part 2
of the Country Dance Book:
"The rest of the figures described by Playford are, so far as the majority of them are concerned,
fairly easy to interpret. Of those which occur in the dances given in the text, the only about which I feel any doubt is the Side. "Sides all," "Arms as you Side," "First man Sides with first woman,"
are expressions which recur with great frequency.
Although I have consulted all the sources of information at my disposal, I have been unable to find any authoritative definition of this figure. Nor have I been able to find any one of the above expressions,
used in precisely the same way, in any of the dance collections subsequent to "The Dancing Master." I should have preferred to
have omitted from the dances noted in this book all those in which this expression was used, but owing to its frequent occurrence, this was quite impossible."
"Some solution had, therefore, to be made. The one given in the text was arrived at by comparing the several ways in which the term was used in various dances.
This made it quite clear (1) that the figure was a four-bar movement; (2) that it was executed by one dancer to another, or by two dancers, usually partners,
to each other simultaneously; (3) that it was a movement of courtesy similar to the Set; (4) and, lastly, that it consisted of two movements of equal duration, half to the right and half to the left.
This latter attribute, which is a very important one, was deduced from "Nonesuch" (see p.116), where the figure in question is described as
"Side to the right" and "Side to the left," with a turn Single added after each movement, thus converting the movement into one of eight instead of four bars.
"The most that can be said in favour of the solution I have ventured to give, is that it fulfills all the above requirements; and that it is difficult to think of any other movement which will do so.
Nevertheless, I am aware that, although the margin of doubt has been materially reduced, I have not succeeded in eliminating it."
Here is Sharp's formal description:
This is performed by two dancers, usually partners, but not necessarily so. They face each other, and move forward a double obliquely to the right,
i.e., passing by the left. On the third step they make a half-turn counter-clockwise, completing the turn on the fourth step as they face one another (two bars).
This completes the first half of the movement, and it is called side to the right. In the second half of the movement, side to the left, the dancers retrace
their steps along the same tracks, moving obliquely to the left (passing by the right), turn clockwise, and face each other on the fourth step.
The whole movement occupies four bars of the music."
At the same time (1922), in the introduction to part 6
Sharp expresses serious reservation"
“We have now, I think, arrived at the meaning of all the technical terms, used in the notations, with one exception - the Side.
Further evidence which has come to light with respect to this very troublesome figure seems to throw doubt upon the accuracy
of the half-turn in each portion of the figure, in the form in which I reconstructed it.
Now if, instead of turning, the dancers were to "fall back to places" along their own tracks,
the Side would be identical with the Morris figure of Half-hands, or Half-gip.
And this, I suspect, may prove to be the more correct interpretation;
but until it is supported by far more definite and conclusive evidence that we at present have, it would,
I think, be unwise to make any alteration in the figure as now executed”.
Hugh Stewart, in writing on this subject observes "In his notes for lectures (in the VWML)
Cecil Sharp implies that he was convinced that into line siding was what Playford intended, but that the EFDS members who had been drilled into Cecil Sharp siding refused to make the change":
(VWML refers to the Vaughan Willliams
In the 1970’s, Pat Shaw argued for the proposition that siding historically would have partners moving forward 4 steps to meet by the right shoulder,
retreat to place and then repeat the move to meet by the left shoulder - more or less what Sharp had
suspected. This is often referred to as setting “in-line”, when it is not called "Shaw" siding.
Shaw’s interpretation was strongly supported by the work of Raoul-Auger Feuillet a Frenchman who, in the early 18th century diagramed figures of English country dancing. His work was translated into English by John Essex‘s For the
of Dancing. Below are Feuillet's siding diagrams illustrating
the opening figures of La Jalousie.
Sharp had seen these same diagrams but thought they represented a later
development in siding.
“The Playford Ball" (1994), a collection of 103 dances
from 1651-1820, recognized the historical authenticity of in-line siding, but favored the
Sharp construction while
leaving it up to community leaders to decide how they would dance the siding.
A review of 46 videos may give a sense of which versions of siding are being danced. Note that the tempo in the videos
range from 78 to 140 beats per minute with a median on 120. The Payford Ball suggests 116 bpm.
Nearly all of the dances with Sharp siding are in the lower end of the range. At higher tempo, dancers may have
difficulty completing the move in time.
Two videos may be of special interest. A nicely danced Finnish reworking of the order of sections and the design of the slipping steps,
and a dance
which features a smooth way to tag in and out and a sound track of The Village People's' "In the Navy".
Childgrove (Dancing Master 11th edition 1701)
[Links to video list and
This is a 2/2 tune in Dm. with 32 bars: a repeated 8 bar A strain followed by a repeated 8 bar B strain. The source of the name of the tune is unknown. Patricia M. O'Scannel in her book, "The Complete Scottish and English Country Dance Master for Recorders, Part One"
(2002) suggests that it may come from an archaic definition of "childgrove"
as a second blossoming after the vibrant Spring bloom
has faded; a melancholic event suitable for D minor. An estate owned by
property in Worcester, UK was well-known for it's ancient Yew
tree and adjacent Oak grove Yews, are one of the few tree species which
are capable of a substantial regeneration in growth after they
appear to be fully mature. While there are at present 25 videos of the dance on this site there are over 200 mentions of the term :"Childgrove"-
as Paul Ross' video channel, Bob Green's website, a long-standing St. Louis dance group, and a band.
Playford 1701 Childgrove was danced in a longways formation
and proper (men all on one side, women on the other). The A section, ( with
a typo* corrected) can most easily be read as the two couples first siding with- and then going back to back with - their partners, then doing the same
2 figures with their neighbors.
For the B section, the notes are clearly addressed to the first couple: “Then turn sides and turn your own Partner in the 2nd place. Then go the whole Figure with the 2nd couple.”
“Turn sides” has generally been interpreted as taking the form of a two-hand turn which, to leave the 1’s below and use the
available music, would very likely be once and half around.
The grammar leaves unclear:
- who goes back to back with whom in the A’s. It might have been the men alone in A1 (this appears in the Christine Feyerabend reconstruction below) and the partners in A2
- is it the 1’s only who turn at the end of B1;
- is siding by the right shoulder in A1 & A2, or, right in A1 and then left in A2
- Each of the following videos are consistent with the Playford choreography:
one chose to have the 2's participate in the 2
hand turn prior to the figure,
another opted for
both setting and back to back by the right shoulder
third used the right shoulder with partner and
left shoulder with neighbor.
*The typo:. The Playford 1701 notes for A2 calls for the “the woman to side to the 2nd man and the 1st woman to the 2nd woman at the same time.
must have been meant to be the “1st man. We currently don’t have access to the later
Playford editions –12 through 18 (1728) to know whether a later
correction was made, but, in 1735, in Walsh’s “Caledonian
Country Dances” the corrected text appears albeit with a different
tune and new title
- "Scornfull Nancy".
- Sharp. Swirly siding was Sharp’s first solution to
the “siding” figure and though he came to the conclusion that he was likely wrong
about a hundred years ago, his
initial reconstruction appears to have remained the dominant form of the siding for Playford dance in the English-speaking world. The only other change is the participation of the 2s in the turns.
Except for the siding, this is the same choreography as in Playford above.
The swirly siding can pose difficulties for inexperienced dancers by causing the back to back to be rushed. There is
only one video which includes both a proper formation and Sharp siding,
and though the dancers appear to be enjoying themselves the caller did
not realize that the 2 hand turn was not just once around so there
was no progression.
- Kennedy. The Kennedy version
is improper, with swirly siding, right shoulder back to back both times,
and a single or double full figure eight. . After Cecil Sharp’s death in 1924, Douglas Kennedy - one of the few men in Sharp’s circle to have survived the first World War - was appointed director of the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS). In the years
just after the Second World War, faced with a paucity of male dancers and concerned that the
gender imbalance would threaten the future of the dance community, he introduced a “couples only" policy. In this context he changed Childgrove - at the core of which is the neighbor turn once and half once - from proper to improper. Keller and Shimer
note, in “The Playford Ball” that the change served to make the dance
more “sociable. This version accounts for the largest cluster of videos;
here is a sample. It appears
largely to be the version danced in the English-speaking countries except at Jane Austen events
- Jane Austen Society. This version
retains the improper formation added by Kennedy but reverts to in-line
siding. It here gets the temporary "JAS" name because it is seen dancing
also in Metallurgists'
Square. The 2's fully participate in this version.
- Face to Face. In this variation, the sidings become "facings".
Videos are from The
Netherlands and Poland,
- Russian. Improper with inline
sidings. There are two variations In both of which the 1st couple (but not the
2nd couple) is active for A1 and for the 2-hand turn in B1
after the turn 1-1/2 . In
one case, the 2-hand turn precedes the
figure of 8 figure In
the turn comes after the figure of 8.
- Rennaisance Fair. This version adds a 3rd B
strain for the 2's to do a full figure 8 through the 1's.
video shows 3
repetitions of the dance with increasing tempo - appropriate for the Time
- Christine Feyerabend. A recent reconstruction in proper formation with in-line dancing. The men side with their partners then
the men go
back to back with each other; the next sidings are along the line and
the women only back to back to complement A1. "Turn sides" has a different
construction which can
be seen in the video.
- West Coast . The unique element in this
version - reported but not yet seen - is that the first in-line siding is
forward right shoulder to right shoulder, return to place with a turn single
casting over the left shoulder and then moving smoothly into a left shoulder
back to back. The siding along the line is left shoulder turn
single back over right shoulder into right shoulder back to back,
- Others Keep your eyes open and note that the power of this tune is sufficient to make many varieties rewarding.
The Indian Queen (Dancing Master 11th edition 1701 - 18th Edition 1728 )
[Links to video list and
The tune is in D. with two A's and 2'Bs. An earlier form of the tune was published in the 9th
edition of the English Dancing Master (1695) with a dance titled "The New Bore (#1"),
and was given over to the Indian Queen in 1701 with slight differences
in cadence in the 4th full measure of each strain.
Cecil Sharp included the dance in part 6 of his "Country Dance Book"
- A1 1-4 First man and second woman move forward setting to each other and
fall back to places, turning single as they do so.
- 5-8 First man turns second woman.
- A2 1-8 Second man and first woman do the same.
- B1 1-4 First and second couples right-hands-across.
- 5-8 First and second couples left-hands-across.
- B2 1-4 Partners go back to back.
- 5-8 Circular-hey, three changes, partners facing (progressed]
- Historic dance groups generally consider "turn single" to be
to the left by default and the "right and left quite round" to be with hands.
- Cecil Sharp
- Sharp indicates that "turn single" in the Country Dance
Book, is, by default, to the right and - in using the term "
circular hey" - calls for no hands
- As with Russian variations of other Playford dances, the "move forward" in A1 and
A2 is only for the 1st man (in A1) and the 1st woman (A2), The back to back in B2 is
along the lines with neighbor.
- One video demonstrates a reconstruction of the dance in a
- variations in music and ornamentation
- Dances may
leap to add punctuation to the movements.
- The choreography is fairly simply. Musicians seem more
likely to vary
the tune or interpretation - for examplehere (change at 1:07) ,
here (playful from the start),
and here (with a
completely different piece of music).
- Tempo: "The Playford Ball" suggests a tempo on 108 beat/minute. The median tempo for the first 25 videos
was 112, ranging from 96 to 130. A
"Zesty Playford" version
get a lot of movement ino 113 bpm
Newcastle (Dancing Master 1st edition 1651 - 1690)
[Links to video list
A 4/4/ tune in the key of G with 3 verses
(each a repeated 8-beat strain} and 3 unique choruses, Each verse and chorus has a repeated 8- beat strain
Newcastle appeared in the English Dancing Master 1st edition in 1651 and continued through the 8th edition(1690). Cecil Sharp published his reconstruction in Volume II of the
Country Dance Book
(1911). The dance was included in “The Playford Ball” (Shimer and Keller, 1994) with some modification of the choreography.
It is the version which appears most frequently in the video list.
The dance offers many opportunities for embellishment. We look at the Playford text
in some detail as a vehicle for describing reconstructions and variants.
Verse 1: Meet all, back again, set to your own, and to the next *
That again **
Chorus 1: Arms all, with your own by the right, men fall with your left hands into the middle, Women go
round them to your places *
Arms again with your own and women left hands in, men go about them towards the left to your places**
In the verse "Meet all” is taken to mean all dancing a double to the center of
the set. "Next" is generally interpreted in this dance as the dancer on the
other side of you from your partner. It has been danced as a set to partner then corner, (first right than left for the
Sharp reconstruction and left then right for others), or a set to partner and then to the circle.
In the chorus, "round them" is ambiguous. Sharp's interpretation was that the men turn a left hand star once around counter clockwise while
the woman circle “them” (the 4 men) clockwise around to get back to place.
- What is here dubbed the “German” reconstruction
calls for the men (in B1) to move to the center facing counterclockwise and raising their left arms hands to form arches; each woman will pass through two such arches as she dances around her own partner.
Women go” Round them” - translated to mean each woman dances around her own partner and not each around all the men.
For what it’s worth the phrase “Women go round them to your places” changes by the 4th edition of the English Dancing Master
to “women go round then to your places”, and - in the 8th - Newcastle final appearance - to “women go round, then to your places”.
The changes do not readily clarify the intended choreography. The phrase in the end of the chorus ”men go about them towards the left to your places” undergoes no changes.
What might have distinguished the meaning and perhaps gender specific usage of “round” and “about “ in the 17th century in not clear. The term ”about” is
derived from the Old English "on+bûtan" (outside of)
- The Domenico troupe dances with swords which affects their maneuverability, substituting right handed pull-by as the
men move counter clockwise touching swords in the middle and the women move clockwise.
When partners meet they pull- by the left hand trading inside and outside tracks and continuing in the same direction until they are back to place.
- A “
French” variation sends the men (in B1) into a left hand star once around while the women cast out of the circle
over their left shoulder and return to begin a left hand turn with their partner. This path does not appear in any way to take the women around
with their man or all the men.
Verse 2: Sides all with your own, and change places with them * Sides with the next and change places with them**
Chorus 2:. The 1st man and 3rd Woman take hands and meet the 1st woman and 3rd man, lead out again then holding up hands; the other four cast off and come under your arms to their places*
The other four the like**
Variations of siding used: Cecil Sharp swirly siding, in-line siding. back
to back instead of siding accompanied by a variety of options for moving
from partner to another. For purposes of this discussion we refer to “odd
“ and “even” couples – the odds are the four dancers who began the dance at
the top or bottom (1 & 3 ) the evens are the dancers who started as side
couples (2 and 4). (Numbering is clockwise). After the verse, the "odds"
are on the sides and the "evens" at the head and foot though no one is with
their original partner. The Chorus begins with the sides meeting in the
center, then leading back to place where the "odds" each creates an arch.
The Playford description indicates the moves of the “odds” and “evens” but
leaves open whether the their movements are sequential or overlapping. Sharp
clearly leaves the first four bars in each B to the “odds” and the next four
to the ”evens”. Other reconstructions call for all to be in motion in bars 3
and 4 – the “odds” lead back to place while the “evens” cast, creating, in
the overlap two parallel lines – a precursor to the chorus in Part III.
- Newcastle has been referred to as an “origami” dance and that concept – changing/folding lines - dominates the movements from the chorus of
Part 2 through the end of the dance in this
Lithuanian variation :
German variation calls for the “evens” to lead through the arches before casting to place by meeting as the “odds” lead back to place then leading through the arches from their position in the center, and finally casting back to place.
- In a Romanian variation
the “odds” lead in and back. As they return to place, the “evens”
- without moving , create arches and each of the “odd” couples cross and cast, go through an arch and return to place.
Arms all with your women and change places*
Arms with the next and change places** (Now every man is with his own woman in the contrary place).
Fall back from each other, four and four abreast to each wall, turn and change places with your opposites*
Fall back from each other four and four along the Room, turn single change places with your opposite** (So each falls into his place as a first.)
- The note at the end of the verse indicates that original partners are together but on the opposite side of the set from
their original position
(contrary place) They are not yet arranged in lines of four. Sharp notes that this is the position at the end of the verse: (Partners are now side by side, but in opposite places). The
(“The Playford Ball” ) choreographic edit skips this position, moving directly from the arming to two lines up and down the hall at the end of the verse.
- A SCA reconstruction by the Barony of Cynbarr
(in and around Ann Arbor) illustrates the dancers moving from the arming to the original formation and then to lines across.
- The German variant noted above calls for the dancers to move from the original formation to
parallel lines on the diagonal (cattey- cornered) .
And, Ju Gosing reimagined Newcastle
for wheelchair-bound dancers.
Rufty Tufty (Dancing Master 1st edition 1651)
This 2/2 tune is in the key of G, with 3 parts - in each of which there are
A and B strains of 8 measures and a C strain of 6 measures played twice. The dance and music appeared only in the first edition of the English Dancing Master. Cecil Sharp
reconstructed it for
The Country Dance book part 2
(1911) and It was included in Keller & Shimer's "The Playford Ball"
Here's Sharp's reconstruction:
||Both couples move
forward a double, meet, and
fall back a double to places
||Partners set and turn
||First man, with his left
hand, leads his partner a
double toward the left wall;
while second man, with his
left hand, leads his partner
a double toward the right
||Both couples turn round
and face each other; the
men, with their right hands,
lead their partners a double
to places (r.s.).
||All turn single.
||First man, with his
right hand, leads second
woman up a double, turns
round and, with his left
hand, leads her down a
double to her place; while
second man, with his right
hand, leads first woman down
a double, turns round and,
with his left hand, leads
her up a double to her place
||All turn single.
||Partners side with each
||The same as B in First
||The same as C in First
||Partners arm with the
||Partners arm with the
||The same as B in First
||The same as C in First
At first glance the dance looks to be fairly simply but the videos show
that it is the rare group
which performs it flawlessly . That may be due to the frequent changes
in direction. There are times when it is not clear if dancers are
intentionally following a unique choreography or are unintentionally finding
new paths. We have omitted videos in which a substantial segment of the
dance - e.g. a verse - have been omitted. The median tempo is
112 beats per minute from a low of 109 to a high of 129.
6 versions are identified below.
Playford. This includes dances which would be as described by
Cecil Sharp except with inline siding, generally first by the right
shoulder and then by the left. The figure "set
and turn single", which, for Sharp, would have begun with a step to the
right begins with a step to the left.
Sharp. In this version, siding refers to swirly siding with partners passing by
the left shoulder and returning and "set and turn single" beginning with a step to
- Split figures. There may be some uncertainty in the 1651 choreography.
Where Playford directs "sides all", Sharp specifies
"Partners side with each other" .and Keller and Shimer direct "Partners side twice"
These constructions have general been danced such that each man sides with
his partner For Sharp - that would swirly sidings passing the partner by the left shoulder and returning;
or, for others, an in-line siding which is danced right then left or
left then right. In the "split figure" reconstruction(s), the siding is first
to the partner and then to the neighbor as are the arming and all the set
and turn singles.
In the chorus, the most common form of turn (bars 5-6 and 11-12 in part C)
is a clover leaf turn
down and away from your partner for all the variants except this
one and the circular formation.
Here the turn is
as likely to be to the right in 5-6 and to the left in 11-12. Note a
third variation of this figure has a cast up and away in 5-6 and a
cloverleaf in 11-12.
- Vale: Assuming that at the start of this dance each man is, with his
right hand, holding the left hand of his partner, the "double" and all the
following figures of the verses are between neighbors and the choruses begin
with the men leading out with their neighbors.
- Bloomsbury variation. In this version the
corner's role is enhanced. For each' set and turn single' the men begin with
a set and turn to each other to the right and the women follow with a set and
turn to the left. Siding is inline to the right with partner and then inline
to the left with neighbor; arming follows the same pattern
- Circle Dance. Rufty Tufty is reportedly used from time to
time in a circular form to give new dancers some experience with stepping in time to music.
This is an example
Upon a Summer's Day (Dancing Master 1st edition 1651)
The dance occupied a place of distinction on page 1 of the 1st edition of of The English Dancing Master in 1651 (above). It was "demoted" in subsequent editions changing
it's position and name as shown below in the 4th edition).
[Links to video list
A tune in the key of F minor in 6/8 time (Barnes) or D
minor in 6/4 (Barlow) with 3 parts each with 2 A's of 8 measures and 3 B's
of the same length (240 beats for the full dance).
The dance as described in Playford leaves uncertain the path the couples take in the chorus on their way to passing through the arches: "the first
of each side to go under the Arms on their own side and meet below".
Sharp interprets this as follows: "Second and third men keep hands joined and make
an arch; while second and third women do the same. First man casts off,
passes under the arms of second and third men and moves to the lowest place;
while first woman does the same on her side". Sharp clearly states that to "cast off" is to turn outward and dance outside the General Set.
"Country Dance Book", Part 3 - p.8 thus passing through the arches from the outside.
In "Elizabeth Country Dances" (1986) John Fitzhugh Millar followed
Sharp's lead while noting that Pat Shaw had earlier advanced a revision
of the dance to
have the top couples lead down through the middle and then out through the
arches. (This is also an
interpretation of Playford ). "The Playford Ball" (1994), while it cites
Playford and Sharp, directs the 1st couple to lead through the middle of the
line, going out though the arches on their way to the bottom of the set.
That makes two distinct variations and then, somewhere along the way, the
"casting" version of the dance was associated with having the lines begin
the chorus by falling back and then meeting; that version has been danced in
a number of venues in the U.S. One
adjusted the gender line movements in B1 having the men move forward
while the women move back and vice versa. This has an advantage in
maximizing available space in a crowded hall.
The videos thus far available display a narrower range, noted below.
None incorporate a cast and none are outside-in. The median dance tempo for the
videos is 115, ranging from 92 to 120. A number of the videos omit beginnings, or endings, or parts in the middle; these are noted as "incomplete in the listing.
- Playford, For classification purposes this is Playford
using the SCA/Playford Ball interpretation i.e., with the top couple moving
down the middle of the set in the chorus but also use of in-line
siding, . It is the predominant
interpretation in the videos
- Empirsällskapet. (for the name of the performance group.
This is Playford but with the sides in the chorus moving first out and then.
- Maria Angad Gaur (2009). The variation appears to be in the arming where the couples first turn half way by the left, set and turn single and then turn
halfway by the right back to place.
Iris, The chorus begins with the top couple dancing down the center and out
the arches after which the lines meet and fall back.
- Saltatio Aachen. In the chorus the 2nd and 3rd couple create arches with their
partner and the top couple moves straight down the inside of the set to bottom position.
- Morris variant.
The dancers carry sticks bedecked with flowers which has a way of modestly
altering the figures.
- Archless. No frills version from Les Baladines de Céret
- The Playford Ball. This variant follows The Playford Ball choreography,
retaining the Sharp swirly siding.
Nonesuch: Dancing Master 1st edition (1651) through the 3rd (1665)
A close variant of Nonesuch with a similar tune appears as "A La
Mode de France" (with variant spellings over time) in the 1st Edition
through the 18th (1728). The image below is from the 4th edition (1670)
and tunes for (Nonesuch) and (A
la mode de France)
The music is 2/2 in the key of D minor, consisting of 8-bar A’s and B’s. In the most common variants there are an A and B strain for each of 5 parts of the dance with an added AB for each iteration of the progression in part 2 and an extra A for the hey at the end. A version with 5 iterations has 152 beats.
There are videos in hand of Nonesuch danced with 3 ,4, 5 ,6 and 8 couples and from 0 to 9 iterations of the progression.
The present day Nonesuch, reconstructed by Cecil Sharp in 1911, began as two similar dances with similar tunes: Nonesuch was published from 1651 to 1625 and A la Mode de France from 1651 to 1728 with periodic modifications of the spelling of the title.
While the Playford choreography is organized in three parts, “up a Double”, “Siding” and “Arming”. Here we divide the dance into 5 parts, give an overview of the figures and follow by identifying specific variants.
Part I: Partners lead up a double and back (2x) and set and turn single (2x). In some variants, the set and turn single take a different form.
Part 2: The progression. The first couple meets, leads down to be between and a bit below the 2’s.
The 1st man and 1st woman each turn outward to face their neighbor, moving them out and up pushing back and maneuvering the 2’s to a position in line above the 1’s. The couples, in line, then fall back, come forward and two-hand turn their partner once around.
There are variations with respect to each element:
- How do the 1’s meet?
- Playford (“A la Mode de France”) notes “First couple meet take both hands and fall in between the 2nd couple”.
- Playford (“Nonesuch’) directs the first couple to slip just between the 2nd couple.
- Sharp’s reconstruction specifically calls for dancers to spring into the center in part 3 and out in part 5 but here in part the direction is “First man and first women face and move forward 2 steps, joining hands…”.
- In a majority of the videos, the dancers spring (“lightly”) into the center. The first written mention that we can find is in The Playford Ball (1994).
Note that the spring to the center appears in a 1984 performance by the Berea dancers.
Leaving aside - for the moment - the particular choreography of the progression there is the question of how many iterations will there be?
In Playford “Nonesuch” states “Doe thus to the last” and “A la mode de France” directs: “so to all”.
Whatever might have been the understanding in 1651, that might now translate to continue until:
The 1’s reach the bottom
- The 1’s return to the top with all couples in their starting position
- The set is inverted
- Recorded music is exhausted (usually 4 times), enough to allow the 4’s to reach the top
- The 4’s have had a chance to lead (6 iterations)
- other options given that Nonesuch has been danced with 3,4,5, 6 and 8 couples
successive iterations of the progression in a 4-couple set:
Part 3: Partners side and turn single, either in-line siding (side to the right turn single, repeat to the left), or half side (left shoulder) across the set
then turn single right and repeat right shoulder back to place and turn right. In some cases, the turns single is omitted and the time saved is used elsewhere.
The first man now springs to the center and faces down; the first women springs to the center and faces her partner and so on down the line.
The only variation here is whether the move to the center is a spring or not.
Part 4: Partners arm right and then left; still facing each other along the center line, four slips out to their own left and return to place then slip out to their own
right back to place. (Nonesuch 1651) Sharp adopts this figure and clarifies what is left and what is right by directing the men to slip first to the right wall
while the women slip to the left wall (see below). The terminology used in A la Mode de France is ambiguous with respect to the direction of the slipping.
It seems more likely than not that the men slip first to the left wall (to their own right hand) and, after a return to center, slip to the right wall and back.
Part 5: .
The center line will now split to return to two gendered lines. In the Playford Nonesuch the men serially move to the right wall (improper) and the women move the left. The1’s begin a hey to their proper side talking hands down the line (all others are facing up) and up the other side.
A la Mode de France calls for the dancers to move to their proper (initial) position. The 1’s initiate the hey by giving hands to each other, as the others face up, until all are back in the place
from which they began the hey.
In summary, Sharp adopted the slipping steps in part 4 from Nonesuch (A la Monde de France may be the same but is ambiguous) and part 5 from A La Monde de France.
In some variations the hey begins at both the top and the bottom; in others, it is a half hey
- The Playford Ball (Keller & Shimer, 1994)
This is the Sharp reconstruction with two modifications: First, In Part 2 “With a light spring 1st couple set forward to meet” replaces
“First man and first woman face and move forward” and second, the number of iterations is specified at 5 which leaves the 4th couple at the top.
- SCA1 Cynnabar
- This appears to be a faithful reconstruction of the 1651 “Nonesuch”. There are 9 iterations of the progression,
bringing the couples back to their original order. The hey begins with the couple improper 1’s face down, others face up and ends with the couple proper
in the order in which they began the dance.
- SCA2 Northwoods
- This is a reconstruction based on A la Mode de France (the hey begins with couples proper and 1’s crossing by the right hands
and then proceeding down the lines until they return home) and with - we observe with great respect- contributions inspired by the Department of Silly Walks.
There are two iterations of the progression which bring the 1’s to the bottom, the couples in order 2-3-4-1
- Texas Renaissance fair
- Another reconstruction based on A La Mode De France. Similar in ways to the Northwoods variant but with 3 couples.
- Nonesuch emphasizes lines - moving up and back a double, creating a center line one dancer at a time and, later,
returning to gender lines in the same fashion; the dance concludes with a hey along the lines.
In this variant – danced at 89 bpm - the progression is altered to be closer in style to the rest of the dance.
The odds (first and third couples) meet and slip down the center while the evens slip up.
The odds, moving forward poussette diagonally up and out with their neighbors then into lines.
Partners fall back, come forward and turn two hands once and a half with their neighbor bringing everyone back to original place.
The set and turn single in part 1 is replaced by the lines twice coming together and falling back.
- Tanzgruppe von Eulenspiel
- This variant goes a step further than Ilballarino by eliminating the progression altogether. Following the up and back a double,
couples continuing to hold hands facing up, step left together, right together and turn single left, and repeat and start the siding.
There are 3 videos - aerial and floor level perspectives of a performance at the Military History Museum in Vienna -and a demonstration at a Vienna pub.
- Passeggio Dance Group
- This variant uses the same figure described above (Tanzgruppe von Eulenspiel ) for part 1 as but rather than eliminate the progression,
this variant makes it the centerpiece. The ones dance with the 2s, 3s and 4s; this part ends with the couples in the order 2-3-4-1,
It begins with the 1’s passing by the right shoulders to be improper and then side slipping down between and below the 2’s, turning up and in to face
their opposite-gendered counterpart. The initial movement is diagonally up and out as expected but the dancers are connected by their eyes and not their hands.
The first man then turns inward halfway maintaining eye contact with 2nd woman who is pivoting and he then “moves” her back to place, passing her with a last
glance before meeting his partner (who has been following the same track). They turn two hands once around and move on to the 3’s.
Parson's Farewell (Dancing Master 1st edition 1651 - 1690)
.[Links to video list
The music is 2/2 in the key of D minor, consisting of 8-bar A’s and B’s.
The dance is in three parts with an A strain for the verses and two B
strains for the choruses for a total of 144 beats
The dance description changed little during its Playford tenure: 1) In its last publication
"Farewell" shows as "Farewel": 2) In the chorus of B,
a third comma
is added and may be clarifying: "Men meet, cross right hand,
then left, pass over; and 3) In the third chorus, "Turn your own with your
right hands ,,,, Turn your own with the left hands " becomes "Turn
your own with your right hands ; Turn your own with the left hand "
whhich appears to be a careless change.
The verses and choruses display a progression of increasing interchanges
between the couples. In the first verse, the couples, holding inside hands. meet
their opposites, slip away from them back away and return to place. In
part 2, the couples, each taking inside hands meet, then lead their opposite out
and back and return to place. In part 3 the couples, taking two hands,
slip to meet then , taking both hands with their opposite slip out and back and
lead their partner to place, The progression of engagement of opposites is: no
hands, one hand and to hands.
In the first chorus, the dancers, from their corners,
acknowledge the others - with
a rise and/ or
a twist, or
a nod, or
a shake or
doff of the
cap and then turn two hands with their opposite. In the second
chorus, the men (in B1 and women in B2) cross the set passing each other with
some form of acknowledge (see montage below) and then proceed to take a turn
with their opposite at her/his home.. The third chorus is a more
elaborate movement engaging all the dancers. Beginning and ending with a
partner turn, it includes some form of hey. in which the
interactions are among all the dancers at once, The choruses progress from a greeting at
a distance to a visit across the set to a a figure in which all are
- While there are a number of stylistic variations in the
dance, there are essentially only two variations in the figures.
- Part 3 Chorus: has been interpreted to include either a
straight hey across the set with the couples crossing to the
opposite side of the set at the end of B1 and back to place in at the end of B2,
OR to include two changes of a circular hey which results in temporary
change of the set's orientation. If couple begins with their backs to the top of of the set,
they will finish the strain with their backs to the right wall, facing the other
couple. Original positions are restored at the dance's end.
- Part 2 Chorus: calls either for the men (in B1) and
women (in B2) to meet and cross right hands and then left hands, or to
cross with one hand turn on without hands
- Cecil Sharp
- Sharp's reconstruction, published in Part 2 of his Country
Dance Book, include two changes of a circular hey, rather than a straight
hey. and, calls for a right then left hand cross in the Part 2 Chorus.
- This reconstruction differs from Sharp's only in the
third chorus which is danced as a straight hey rather than two changes of
a circular hey.
- Performance variant
- This variant call for the straight hey in Part 3 and
for one hand turn the Part 2 chorus, and on their return may omit the hands altogether. We have been unable to
identify the source of this variant and so, as a place holder, it is referred
to as the "Performance variant". Note, there is
one SCA reconstruction
which calls for taking hands once in Part 2 but it contains the
"two changes of a circular hey" in the Part 3 chorus. There are no
videos displaying this combination
- In the part 1 chorus there is a minor variation in that in
each strain the same gender dancers acknowledge their neighbor and partner
followed by rises to each of the other dancers. The Parrt 3 chorus begins
with a half turn to partner instead on a full turn with a compensating turn
and a half at the end., . .
- ilballarino reconstruction
This variant generally follows Sharp's reconstruction, except that: 1) the
Part 1 chorus calls for half turns instead of full turns at the end of B1
and B2 and uses the extra time for additional rises, and 2) In the Part 2
chorus, in the first passing there is a clap of left hands and, on the
return a clap first by the right then the left..
The Fandango: Thompson 1774
.[Links to video list
The music is 6/8 time in the key of D minor, consisting of two parts
each with 2 A’s and 2 B’s.
(128 beats for each of the 3 progressions). While the dance was originally a triple minor in a longways formation, it
was reconstructed as a three couple set by W.S. Porter in The
Apted Book of Country Dances (1931). This version also interpreted the
turn of the active couple at the end of B2 in Part I as a cloverleaf turn, i.e., the man turns
clockwise and the woman counter-clockwise.
All of the videos to date demonstrate the Apted version of the dance.
The median tempo is 116 beats per minute ranging from 107 to 125
Auretti's Dutch Skipper: Rutherford's Complete Collection vol 1. 1756
[Links to video list
The music is 5/6 time in the key of B-Flat, with 2 A’s and 2 B’s. It
is included in "The Playford Ball"
(1994) which suggests dancing at a tempo of 108 dotted quarter notes per
minute. Of the first 19 posted videos, the median tempo was 117 beats
per minute ranging from 84 to 123.
In two of the Russian videos the setting in B1 begins to the left which is common for regions that have not taken their
cues from Cecll Sharp.
- In a third video from
Russia the settings are replaced by right shoulder siding. The
siding seems to work well, keeping the lines in order and anticipating the 3
changes that follow. Note the music is an alternate tune though it's not clear
if this was the tune danced. or simply used in the video.
In one video B1 is danced as
a set and turn single launching a circular hey ,
A variation in which the dancers take hands
along the lines for B1 may also help to keep the long lines well
[Links to video list
The music is in 6/8 time in the key of C, with 2 4-bar As and 2
8- bar B’s. . The Playford text leaves
ambiguous the timing of the clap - there are 4 bars for the men (in B1) to go
around their corner and 4 bars to circle; the clap is between" those two
Cecil Sharp provided a reconstruction (1916) placing it at the 5th
bar and this is the choreography
that appears in "The Playford Ball" (1994) which suggests dancing at a tempo of
116 dotted quarter notes per minute. Of the first posted videos, the median
tempo was 117 beats per minute ranging from 90 to 129.
The basic Playford Ball version is shown in dances from
This dance packs a lot of movement into about 25 seconds. Some groups pare down the figures to help the dancers
keep up, e.g. by
eliminating the clap (reinstated by the same group
4 years later) or
dropping the hands four
around in the B's
A Finnish group opts to clap on the last beat
A variation from Austria begins the B1 figure as a solo for the 1st man -
who dances around his corner to the 2nd man's position, As he arrives, the 2nd
man dances around his corner to he first man's original position. There is
neither clap nor circle. The women do the same in the 2nd B. The origin of this
version is, as yet unknown
The tune consists of 8-bar A and B strains, In each of 6* parts of the
dance the A-bar is played twice and the B bar once. The A bar in 6/8.
time; the B in 3/4 *(The Playford description above
describes 4 sections,
reconstruction sets out 6 sections and a
Russian reconstruction from the Rondino Dance Ensemble organizes
it into three verses. In describing the tempo in this site's video list,
the A tempo is based on a dotted quarter note and the B is based upon a
quarter note, used by The Playford Ball, which adopts the Sharp
reconstruction and suggests a tempo of 126 for the A strains and 104 for the
B. In the 25 videos reviewed, the median tempo for the A strain was 116 bpm and 92 for the B. The B strain was, in a
couple of instances, at a higher tempo than the B. Leaving aside the interpretation of the "double" which begins the
dance, the choreography consists of the partners doing a double with a
set and turn single, followed by the men placing the women into the center,
honoring them skipping around the women one way and then
the other and fetching their partner back into place. That series is
repeated beginning with a siding, this time gender roles reversed, and
finally with arming. Th
- While there are many small variations in how Jenny Pluck Pears is danced,
the major distinction is based on the first figure, set out in Playford as "Hands and
2. D. round, set and turn S" Sharp's calls for directs reconstruction beginning the dance with Hands-six, eight slips clockwise
while the Russian reconstruction begins with two doubles meaning 3
steps and a step together . The difference doesn't compel a particular
narrative but it makes it more likely that when the dance begins with a slipping step
it will look
like this as
compared with the use of two doubles see
- The B Strain - placing the partner in the center
- Sharp directs the man to take the lady
by right hand and place her into the center facing him and
later return her to place by taking her by the left hand. Most
commonly seen in the videos, the man will take his partner's
right hand in his right, moving her forward and -
after the skip = return her to his side using the same
hands. Or, man
takes partner's right hand in his left (as he
steps to his right and she to her left to face him or he
his position and as she moves Generally, the
partners continue to hold hands
til all three couples are in
place then honor with a step step back or to the side.
Often the man will twirl the lady under his arm either
when being placed in the center or return to position or
- Having placed their partners in the
middle, men skip clockwise around the women , then reverse
direction until they face their partner.(instead of a turn
the men may stop and foot it with their partner
During the skipping, the women may keep the beat by clapping, or acknowledge
their partner and or neighbors as they pass, or link arms and do their own
turn facing. The Zesty version of this dance turns the
skippers loose to
roam the hall and corridors. ,
- Siding and arming display have the usual variety,
of couples: written for 3 couple, the videos show groups of 4, 8 and 16
[Links to video list
The music is in 6/8 time in the key of C, with one 8-bar A strain
and 2 8-bar B strains for each the 4 or 5 sections. The Playford Ball
version, danced with 5 sections suggests a tempo of 116 bars per minute.
Of the 23 videos posted at the time of this writing the tempos ranged from 83
beats per minute to 131
with a median of 118.
- NOTE: links to videos are incomplete 9/7/16
- The dance instructions in Playford above are simple and sparse. Cecil Sharp's
(The Country Dance Dance Book Part IV) adds some detail, calling explicitly for slipping steps in the first
figure, specifying here and there how to one's use hands and feet.
It did not include a 5th section When Volume Part 4 was
republished by H. Stiles in 1985, it incorporated an undated
list of corrections and additions that had been prepared by Novello &
Co the publisher in 1916, including, for Sellenger: "It is customary to conclude the
dance with a repetition of the First Part.".
- In "The Playford Ball", Keller and Shimer adopted the Sharp reconstruction, incorporating a repeat of the first section at the end of the dance.
While they express a preference for the Sharp swirly siding, they leave the choice of siding up to the dance leader. The double into the center and fall back in B
is to be without hands. These videos are annotated as "Playford 1670; Sharp; The Playford Ball".
In the Berea video
the dancers sing along to the music in the last slipping circle.
(La-la-la-la-la, la... ), John Ramsey recalls that the first time heard this
was in 1971 when his 15 year old son "asserting his adolescent exuberance
and independence and a greater appreciation: burst out singing.
- Other variations which resemble the basic Playford structure are divided by how the first figure is danced - either with a
slipping step *variation A ": or walking/double *variation B" The
style in which other figures are danced will vary. .
- Variation C, The overall structure remains the same but
a variety of new A strain figures fill in for the double, arming and siding,
These include one and/or two hand turns with partner, men and later
women dance into the circle, around their partner then around their
neighbor back to place, men, then women advance to the center on a diagonal
and back to move to the other side of their partner,
The slipping circle may begin to the right, and in the B strains the dancers
advance and fall back holding hand, This choreography is shown in videos from the Netherlands,
Italy and Argentina. No written source has been unidentified.
- Variation D This three couple variation is
danced to an alternate tune.. It uses a number of the figure
used in variation C and is the only variation in which the partners change. .
[Image above from DM1(12th edition) 1703
Links to video list
The music is in 3/2 time in the key of G, with 2 8-bar A and B strains. The Playford
Ball suggest a tempo of 108 beat per minutes based on a dotted quarter
note. The mean tempo for videos was 112. The Playford description covers all the figures as
currently danced. The variations focus on the detail.
- "Cast down": Frank Van Cleef's interpretation "24
Country Dances from the Playford Editions" c.1982, as published in The Playford Ball, calls for the initial turns to be by the
right hand followed by a "cast down" 'as the 2nd couple moves up, The Playford
Ball definition of "cast down" in a progressive longways dance is "the 1st (or
active) couple face up, separate and move down outside one place".
See this illustration
- "Move down". An interpretation by Burtukova Svetlana and Morus
Stratalatov - decribed shown here in a somewhat
awkward Google translation from the Russian - directs the first couple
at the end of the 1-1/2
to turn through their outside shoulder coming to second place, while
the second couple is moving upward.
- As the the top couple casts below, the bottom couple moves
directly up the set except in
this Czeck variant
in which the bottom couple turns up .
a Louisiana variation the
changes ii place of couples in A and corners in B are all danced passing by the
- A (Bert) Simons' Kentish Hops collection (c. 1965) specifies the
turns in the A strains as two--hand turns; no video has been found with
(Image above from DM1(12th edition) 1703
Links to video list
The music is in 4/4 time in the key of D, with 2 8-bar A and B strains.
Ball" suggest a tempo of 116 beat per minutes based on a half note. The mean tempo for
the videos was 111. The Playford description covers all the figures as
currently danced. The variations focus on the detail.
- Cecil Sharp's
interpretation clarifies the hey in A as" First man crosses over and
goes the hey with the two women (passing second woman by the right"
- There is a variation in which the hey is danced on the
diagonal. The :Regency Dancers notation states for A1: "First man hey
on the first diagonal with the two ladies passing second lady
right, First lady moving to first man's place as hey starts" .See, for
example this demonstration,
which employers the Flueret step
although the diagonal choreography is used with
with a walking step as
Russian variation uses pas de bouree with the heys on the sides
but adds this suggestion from the
Rondino ensemble : for the last two bars: "The first pair - caste, the second
goes forward (in this figure, you can let go of the hands of only the partners
of the first pair - then it turns out that the first pair pulls the second
through the "hole in the :wall::"). .