29th April, fifth virtual club night


Mervyn Short’s warm-up (see the instructions in last week’s post)


Stepping up and immediately dance skip change of step.

This is usually for 2nd couple, for example if first couple lead down and up (for 3) and then cast off followed by 2nd and 1st couple dancing rights and lefts). It is more common for 2nd man (than 2nd woman) as he has also to do this if 1st couple cast and face their 1st corner.

What we want is for 2nd couple to look as though the stepping up and dancing is all one planned movement and not as if they have been taken by surprise. The problem is that for skip change of step the hop (and extension of the right leg) come before the first beat of the bar (on the first beat the dancer is stepping on to the fully extended right) but meanwhile stepping up takes 2 bars of music ( step-cross-step together on the 2nd and 4th beats of the two bars), so the couple stepping up are both completing the step up (“together”) and hopping and extending their right leg. Something is going to have to give.

The solution is anticipation – be ready for the hop so that both couples are moving at the same time. This is easier for 2nd man than 2nd women. 2nd man is standing on his left leg as he closes the right “together” and (importantly) is on the balls of his feet so that as his right comes together he can hop on the left and change direction of the right. 2nd woman has a trickier time, she is standing on her right foot which needs to be released before it can be extended ie she needs to be hopping on the left foot which is at that moment the one that is moving “together”. So she must get the left foot into place (again must be on balls of the feet) and hop in the amount of time that she would normally just come “together”.

Here are a couple of examples with the stepping up and dancing done very neatly

Mairrit Man’s Favourite (Book 24)

Lead down and up, crossing and casting followed by half rights and lefts

Pluto’s Head (Book 51)

Lead down and up and cast followed by rights and lefts

1st couple can help the appearance by not passing through second place too early – they should be passing through it on the first beat of the bar and not before, slow down if necessary. Here is a clip of a dance being done in a very confined space (during lock-down in Italy) where 1st couple are careful to not be ahead (to the point of pausing slightly). The stepping up comes on bars 23 and 24. The Lads of Saltcoats (MMM)

Fun stuff to look at

Here are 4 dancers in lock-down in Italy doing a lot of 2 couple dances in a confined space well. Quite inspiring. “Damn Virus We Will Defeat You”


A Jig for Mrs Dunn A Jig for Mrs Dunn

Bars 1 to 8     1st couple dance a Figure of 8 round 2nd couple

Bars 9 to 16   1st couple lead down the middle and up (remaining in the middle, 2nd couple step in on bar 16)

Bars 17 to 24 1st and 2nd couple Promenade and 1st couple cast to 2nd place

Bars 25 to 32 2nd and 1st couple circle 4 hands round and back

Be careful with the phrasing of the Promenade, it is different from a standard 2 couple Promenade. Here are the 8 bars:

Bar 1   Both couple dance a small step diagonally to right and 1st man wheels to left bringing his ptnr beside him, 2nd couple follow them

Bar 2  1st couple dance across to the men’s side and face down, 2nd couple follow them

Bar 3  1st couple dance down the men’s side, 2nd couple follow them

Bar 4  1st couple dance down and into the middle, 2nd couple dance down men’s side

Bar 5  1st couple dance up middle, 2nd couple dance down men’s side

Bar 6  1st couple dance up middle, 2nd couple dance into middle and face up

Bar 7 and 8  1st couple release hands and cast off into 2nd place, 2nd couple dance up and diagonally out to 1st place

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