Here are some of the dances we play regularly and a short glossary of the common holds and steps. Please contact me if you need more information.
Couples Dances Britannia two-step, Canadian Barn Dance, Pat-a-cake polka, St. Bernards Waltz, Swedish Masquerade, Rósza, The Gay Gordons.
Set Dances. Cumberland Square Eight, The Dashing White Sergeant, Holmfirth Square, Strip the Willow, The Virginia Reel, Buffalo Girls, Yarmouth Long Dance, The Farmer's Jig, The Seige of Ennis, The OXO reel, The Westmoreland Cottagers, The Riverside Jig, The Foula Reel, The Waves of Tory, American square, The Blaydon Races, Falling Masonry, Snowball, Coming 'round the Mountain.
Circle Dances. The Sicilian circle, The Circassian Circle, Lucky Seven.
Advance & retire: Move forward, acknowledge your opposite with a nod of the head, then move backwards to your original place. The number and type of steps you should take will be defined by the dance caller.
Anticlockwise: The direction faced while standing with the left shoulder towards the centre of the dancing area. Often notated as facing line of dance (LOD). The direction turned when making a continuous left turn.
Arch: Two dancers facing each other with joined hands raised to form an arch under which other dancers may pass. Two dancers side by side, with joined inside hands raised to form an arch etc. The two dancers are usually a couple but need not be.
Arm turn, left/ right arm turn: A couple, with left/ right elbow’s bent and forearm horizontal move toward each other and link left/ right arms. Each of the dancer’s right hands grips their partner’s elbow. The couple turn around with each other moving forward. (Left arm turns are anticlockwise, right arm turns are clockwise.) Warning: In this position the thumb should not be used for gripping as the inside of the elbow is sensitive to pressure.
Ballroom hold: The man faces the lady. The lady's right hand in the man's left hand, with the man's right hand around the lady’s waist. The lady's left hand on man's right shoulder.
Basket: Two couples in a small circle, the men, opposite each other, grip wrists with their arms behind the ladies' backs. Ladies rest their hands on the men's shoulder or grip the other lady's hand. All move clockwise using the buzz step.
Bottom (longways): The end of a set farthest from the top of a hall.
Bottom couple: The couple at the bottom of the set, (furthest away from the band).
Chassé: A step sideways followed by a draw step with the other foot to finish. Always leading with the same foot. i.e. step - together.
Cast off: Turn outside and dance around behind the set.
Do-si-do (from dos a dos): Partners move forward and pass each other by the right shoulder. Without turning each moves to their right passing back to back. Return to original position by passing left shoulders and moving backward. This may also be done passing left shoulders to start.
Flying basket: A basket where the ladies allow their legs to lift and swing outwards. This is dangerous for the dancers and everyone else and requires a great deal of skill to do it safely.Galop: Spring to the right on the right foot. Commence closing with the left foot, but before this finishes, spring from the right foot (to repeat the start of the step) and allow both feet to touch in the air before landing on the left foot. To start the step, a quick hop on the left foot provides the spring needed by the right foot as it starts moving to the right. The step repeats with the same footwork and may be done to the left with opposite footwork and direction. This is a step that most adults can do without being taught so that although its analysis is difficult it is generally not a problem to teach.
Grand chain: Partners face each other in a circle with the men facing anticlockwise (LOD) and the ladies facing clockwise (RLOD). Give right hand to partner and pass by right shoulders. Give left hand to the next dancer and pass by left shoulder. Continue giving alternately right hand and then left hand to the oncoming dancers.Longways set: A line of men facing their partners in a parallel line of ladies. The left most man in his line is at the top of the set which should be the end nearest to the music.
Promenade: A couple side by side, facing the same direction, with the man a little behind the lady in an Allemande hold. Left hands are joined and held up. The right hands are joined and held up behind the lady. The couple move in the line of the dance around the circle.
Proper (longways): A set is 'proper' if all the men are on the men’s side and all the ladies are on the ladies’ side of the set.
Right arm to your partner, left arm to everyone else: Important point to remember when ‘stripping’!
Setting or the pas de Bas(Basque): Face partner. Leap to the right onto the right foot. Step on ball of the left foot across in front of the right foot. Step on the right foot in place. The step repeats with opposite footwork to the left. or Face partner. Leap to the right on the right foot, close left foot, step right foot in place. Repeat with opposite feet. or Face partner. Kick to the left with right foot, then kick to the right with left foot and repeat.
Star - right/ left hand star: Usually performed with four dancers. All take right/ left hands in the centre and move forward clockwise/ anticlockwise. When taking hands in the centre, you can hold the wrist of the dancer in front, or the men can take hands and the ladies then take hands below the men’s joined hands.
Step-hop: A step followed by a hop on the same foot usually in even rhythm.
Swing: Take a secure hold with your partner (long-arm hold, short-arm hold, etc.) and use a buzz step to turn clockwise.
Top couple: The couple at the top of a set, (nearest the band).
Turn - right/left hand turn: Take right hands with partner, and pull them towards you and push them away from you so that you swap places. Repeat this movement so that you get back to where you started.
Two handed turn: Take a cross hand hold with partner, and pull them towards you and push them away from you so that you swap places in a clockwise direction. Repeat this movement so that you get back to where you started.
Up/down: In a longways set, the couple nearest the band is numbered 1, and the other couples are numbered 2, 3, 4 (and 5, ... if appropriate) working down the line. "up" is towards the band, and "down" is away from the band.
Waltz: This step may be danced in any direction or while turning. Big step backward on the left foot. Little step backward (just past the left) on the right foot. Close with the left foot. Big step forward on the right foot. Little step forward (just past the right) on the left foot. Close with the right foot. Men start with a step backward on the left foot and ladies start by stepping forward with the right foot.