Friday, April 20, 2007

Two person figures

Figures performed by two people. All of these instructions are found in the dance terms post, but for the sake of being somewhat organized we have divided them up into categories.

Allemande-- a turn--8 counts-- In traditional contra dancing, a right allemande would be performed by two people joining right hands and walking around each other in eight counts (a left allemande would be to join left hands, obviously). Hence, a half-allemande takes 4 counts. If the allemande is a move performed by a lady and a gent, a shake-hand hold may be used. If the allemande is between two ladies or two gents, a pigeon grip is often used. --Other ways to do it are to hold each other at the elbow (we like to call this the "buffalo wing grip", but we are crazy) or just above the elbow.

Arch-- partner/friend move-- Unspecified count structure-- Simply join hands with your partner or friend to form an arch that other couples can pass under.

Balance (your partner or friend) -- partner/friend move--4 counts-- The couple faces each other with both hands joined (less commonly with one hand joined) and takes two steps toward each other, and then two steps apart.

Box the Gnat--a turn--4 counts--A couple meet offering right hands, they change places with the woman going under their joint raised arms, and turn to face each other still holding right hands. This means that they swap positions, and end up facing back the way they came.
Swat the Flea is a less common variant, where you use left hands instead of right.

California Twirl --a turn-- 4 counts-- Starting with a couple facing in the same direction (or each other) holding inside hands (man's right, woman's left) she turns left and moves into his place under their raised hands while he moves a step forward and then turns right and moves into her place. The lady does most of the "work" in this move. --Also referred to as a California Turn.

Chasse-- floor movement-- Unspecified count structure-- A fancy French word for what is essentially a form of skipping. Join hands with your partner and in a galloping fashion go where directed during that particular count structure.

Do-Si-Do (also Back to Back or Dos-a-do)--two person move--8 counts--(this figure returns you to your starting position)Commonly performed with your partner. Face the other person and pass right shoulders, pause and fall back to where you started, passing left shoulders. It should be noted that you continue to face the same direction the entire time. Some gents like to set their arms perpendicular to the ground on top of each other in front of them... (Indian style). Ladies often hold their skirts. (depending on the length of your skirt, this may be highly practical)

Honour--a still-standing move-- 4 counts (during a dance)-- You don't actually move on this one! Facing your partner or friend, the ladies curtsey and the gents bow. You've seen this done before many different ways-- pick a way you like. This is also commonly done at the beginning and ends of dances, often to no particular count structure. It would be appropriate during the musical introduction to the dance.

Kick Balance--Partner/friend--4 counts--Join right hands with your partner, step forward on your right foot, kick your left foot across your right, step back on your left foot and kick your right across your left.

Promenade--partner/friend move--Count structure specific to the dance--As a couple, with the lady on the right (at least properly, although we may ask you to do it wrong, in which case you can simply hold hands), the couple walks where the caller directs. There are several different handholds. In one method right hands are joined, and left hands are joined, and both are kept in front of the dancer's body, with the right hands on top. This is called the skaters promenade.

See Saw (left shoulder do-si-do) --two person--8 counts--Instead of starting the do-si-do with the right shoulder, the dancer starts with the left shoulder. (Two dancers begin facing each other, move so as to pass left shoulders, then back-to-back, then right shoulders, ending where they began.

Swat the Flea--a turn--4 counts--A couple meet offering left hands, they change places with the woman going under their joint raised arms, and turn to face each other still holding left hands. This means that they swap positions, and end up facing back the way they came.

Swing-- A turn-- 4 counts (often twice in 8 counts)-- Two dancers stand side by side facing in opposite directions, they then hold each other while moving forwards; the result is that they move together in a tight circle, and if they know what they are doing they can move rapidly and smoothly.
The simplest instruction is to stand beside your partner right shoulder to right shoulder, take half a step back, and then put your right feet in so the feet are adjacent. To swing you simply walk round keeping each foot on its circle, taking your weight on the inner foot, and using the outer foot to push you round like working a scooter. Remember to pick the inside foot up to move it round the circle - some people tend to keep their inner foot nailed to the ground.
The standard hold is a Ballroom hold: the man puts his right hand in the middle of her back (and this arm does all the work; she rests her left hand on his right shoulder, and they hold the other hands loosely out to the side.
--Other holds are: a cross-hands hold: you hold right hand in right, and left in left (conventionally right hands on top), and skip round in a much wider circle, or holding left hands as before, but putting your right hand on your partner's right shoulder with my right arm held straight (This arms-length hold means they can swing more as one unit). -- This is a lot of information for a simple move; it's not really that hard.

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