Category Archives: English Country Dance

Dreaming of Dolphins – DI – Don Veino 20190123

Type: Longways, Duple Improper
Status: Proven

The title pretty much says it all. I was in a period where I was thinking about Dolphin Heys repeatedly, generating gobs of DH dances. Between this Duple Improper dance and two other 4-Face-4 compositions, From Here to Dolphinity and To Dolphinity and Beyond, I feel like I’ve got to where I wanted and the urge should finally be out of my system.

I’m pretty pleased with this – it incorporates some feel of the traditional dance Devil’s Dream plus the Down The Hall/Turn As Couple and Up The Hall/Cross Trail idea I found in The Campbells are Coming. Feedback from the first trial was extremely positive. I hope to get a chance to dance it someday! 😉

I think of this as a contra dance but it’s sort of a crossover contra/ECD composition… so I’ve labeled it as simply a longways duple improper here.

As this is an uneven dance, I recommend multiple shorter lines to give everyone a chance at playing dolphin. I start the walk through at A2 and finish with the A1 then have dancer couples swap places to retake hands four for a second quick walk through from A2 with the twos active. Reset and start at A1.

Neighbor Balance & Swing

LLF&B, 1s Swing
[face NEW 2s below] [NOTE this NBR!]

Dolphin Hey, Centers/1s as couple passing solo LDY/RVN 2 by LEFT
[end with Centers facing down, Outsides facing UP]

1s in Center DTH, Turn as CPL /*WHILE*/ 2s Outside UTH, Turn Alone
As Return, 1s Cross Trail to “Hey” NBR &…

Contra Variations (included only for completeness – I strongly prefer the above): Twos can stay put in B2 to anchor the set. Everyone could turn alone in B2 and omit the Ones Cross Trail into the A1 Balance (or Gypsy) & Swing.

From an ECD standpoint: A1 would likely be better as Gypsy & actives Two Hand Turn. The remainder would involve the ECD equivalents of the contra terms.

End effects: Be aware of the change in couple roles at the ends.
Tune suggestions: Of course Tom Kruskal’s – the “international standard” tune for Dolphin Hey dances. 😉 Other suitably regal yet driving tunes.
Video: First trial at Concord Scout House Monday Contras Series on 1/28/19.
See also: My other related dances, including So Long And Thanks For All The Fish, Fun With Flipper, From Here to Dolphinity and To Dolphinity and Beyond.
First called by me at Concord Scout House Monday Contras Series on 1/28/19.

Fun With Flipper – Triplet – Don Veino 20181006

Type: Proper Triplet
Status: Proven

Flipper approval graphic
Shouldn’t this be a Dolphin of Approval?

Yep, I’ve been on a real Dolphin Hey compositions run – which led me to research the history of that move back toward its origin. It appears the Dolphin Hey first appeared in the modern era Scottish Country Dance Pelorus Jack out of New Zealand, named after a famous dolphin there. I saw the opportunity for this triplet to use the Dolphin Hey in essentially the same way as the original Scottish dance but with differences in the formation, set up for the move and the exit. While the Scottish dance is done with skipping steps to a particular jig, this triplet is intended to be danced with a typical contra/ECD walking step.

(4,4) Lines/3 Forward and Back
(4) Ones Cross and Go Below 1 Couple (as Twos shift up)
(4) Ones Allemande Right ~3/4x (to Gent 1 face Lady 2, Lady 1 falls in behind Partner)

(8) Ones Pass Lady 2 Right for a Half Dolphin Hey* w/Second Diagonals and then to their right
(half = Second Diagonals swapped, Ones back in center)
(8) Ones Pass Gent 2 Right for a Half Dolphin Hey w/First Diagonals and to their right
(First Diagonals swapped)

Ones Pass Lady 2 Right for a Half Dolphin Hey w/Second Diagonals and to their right
(Second Diagonals swapped back)
Ones Pass Gent 2 Right for a Half Dolphin Hey w/First Diagonals and end below the Threes, facing Partner
(First Diagonals swapped back, all but Ones are Proper, couples are in 2-3-1 order)

All Partner Balance and Swing
[end Proper (as if facing up, 2-3-1 order) and face Partner across]

*Dolphin Hey: a hey for four traveling the path of a hey for three. One “couple” (in this dance, the Ones) travel as a unit while the other dancers travel solo. The couple stays in their respective orientation relative to the hall so they alternate the lead position as they travel the heys together, sweeping wide at the corners to trade the lead. In this dance that means Gent 1 leads up & out to the right, then Lady 1 leads the pass down & across the set, Gent 2 leads down & right and it ends with Lady 1 leading up and across the set toward the bottom. The pattern in this dance for the ones looks a lot like a Mac Command Key symbol

End effects: N/A
Tune suggestions: Energetic with strong 8 beat hinting and a nautical feel – e.g.: Quindaro Hornpipe, Fisher’s Hornpipe, etc.
Video: Pelorus Jack Scottish Country Dance: History, Easy to Follow
See also: Pelorus Jack Scottish Country Dance, my Dolphin Series dances
First called by me at Concord Scout House Monday Contras series on 10/8/2018.

Feeling Gravity’s Pull – DI – Don Veino 20180710

Type: Contra Dance, Duple Improper
Status: Proven

I wanted something smooth and stately which swapped around the idea of who typically does certain sorts of moves (e.g.: in this dance, it’s the Ladies who cast the Gents – not the other way around) plus avoided overused elements like allemandes and circles to keep things unique. This one came along pretty easily, once I thought of deconstructing a normal Figure 8 so only one party would walk that path – which is what the Gents do in the A2 here.

Dancers report liking this very much and the Ladies “bounce-back” in the A2 was a dancer-invented alternative.

During development, this was also known as “The Eyes Have It” because of all the eye play possibilities, but I discovered that title was already taken. Yes, I’m a big fan of very early R.E.M. music.

Neighbor Gypsy, Swing

Gents Swap Places (passing left) and face out
Gents Loop Left *WHILE* Ladies Slide Left+ (so each move into Partner’s starting place)
(inside hands) Ladies Gate the Gents 1x
[+Alternative for the Ladies here: Walk forward on the slight left diagonal to bounce back into the left hand position next to Partner Gent]

Pass Through straight across, Partner Swing

Gents pass Left for a Full Hey (EXCEPT Ladies Bounce Back the FIRST time)

End effects: none
Tune suggestions: Smooth/romantic/driving
Video: First trial at Concord Scout House Monday Contras series
See also:
First called by me at Concord Scout House Monday Contras series on 9/17/18.

Clap Happy – Gender Free Longways or Circle – Don Veino 20180115

Type: Longways or Circle Family/Ceilidh Dance – Gender Free
Status: Proven

Clap Happy being danced
Clap Happy dancers!
This dance always gets smiles with the right crowds. Very useful for those community dances where you want want to sense the crowd or provide some variety without the possibility of a crash and burn. Works well as a keeper with smaller kids paired to a bigger kid or parent. Can be used as a mixer with older kids or adults.

In larger crowds run this in multiple “longways for as many as will” sets with partners opposite.

In smaller venues as a circle dance, I get folks to take hands in a single circle with Partner, then have them adjust to have one person in each couple face me or put their back to me in the center so the couples form radial spokes for two concentric circles. Then I have them compare wingspans and move the bigger folks to face in on the outside circle and narrower wingspans to face out from the inner circle.

Starts facing Partner opposite:

(8 @ 1 beat/move) Clap two hands over (own! 🙂 ) left leg, under left leg, over right leg, under right leg, in front at waist, behind back at waist, in front again and then two handed “high five” with Partner
(8) Repeat pattern
[Encourage adjustments for mobility issues as required – can clap high/low instead of over/under leg, etc.]

(8) Partner Right Elbow turn 1x
(8) Partner Left Elbow turn 1x (so back at starting spot)

(8,8) Facing Circles or Big Oval to your own personal RIGHT (opposite direction from Partner) and back left
[as a keeper, left is return to Partner – as mixer, go one person past Partner to next]

(keep or new) Partner Balance & Swing (two-hand, whatever – end in place, facing in or out)

End effects: Never out
Tune suggestions: Bouncy 32 bar jigs, marches – bouncy A1 is key to the fun!
See also: Probably some traditional dances that are similar…
First called by me at Hancock UCC Barn Dance on 1/20/2018.

(Riding in the) Zoomy Car – DI – Don Veino 20170717

Type: Contra Dance, Duple Improper
Status: Proven

The A parts of this composition were inspired by Lindsey Dono’s work-in-progress composition Working Title (WT), which I’d become involved in discussing. Lindsey, several others and I were challenged to date in finding a smooth two-swing resolution to Working Title’s unique/signature compound-action Figure 8 and Hole in the Wall A parts.

However, after reporting back my best attempt on that to Lindsey, my brain wouldn’t let go of the feel of the dance and I came up with the following re-imagining on WT‘s A parts theme and married it to one of the B parts solutions I’d offered up for Working Title (which worked in that context only if the “half” Figure 8s in that dance included a second cross-over for the actives – becoming a “5/8ths Figure 8”?).

The title for this one is again inspired by our daughter Raeden. My sports car has remained in the garage for the 5 years since her birth (car seats are unsafe in two-seaters). Raeden loves speed/curves/inertia and frequently talks about a future day “when I’ll get to ride in Daddy’s zoomy car.” The swooping action of this dance reminded me of her dream – which I look forward to fulfilling soon.

2s Handy Hand Gate 1s 1+1/4x (mirror move)
[Simpler alternative: Long Lines Forward & Back]
1s Half Figure 8 down through 2s (around same role and above to center of line/4 facing down, L2,L1,G1,G2)

Line/4 Down the Hall, bend line
[pssst: the bend is actually a 1s Gate 2s 1/2x – but they don’t need to know that if you did LLFB in A1]
2s Half Figure 8 up through 1s (around opposite role and below to center of line/4 facing up)
[to G1,L2,G2,L1 from dancer’s perspective (or L1,G2,L2,G1 from stage)]

Line/4 Up the Hall; Gent 1 lets go, the Twos arch* via Gent doing Left Hand High/Right Low to shoot Lady 1 through to Gent 1
Partner Swing
[*note Lady 2 continues walking forward during Left High/Right Low move to make space for Lady 1 to pass through straight across and can keep hands directly into the Swing]

Gents Allem Left 1+1/2x
Neighbor Swing (and take [handy] hand with next…)
[Alternative for Allemande: Give & Take in some form to Ladies]

End effects: Be mindful of how your action changes when crossing over at ends
Tune suggestions: Marches, strongly phrased romantic tunes
Video: Princeton, NJ
See also: Lindsey Dono’s work-in-progress Working Title

First called by me at the Princeton, NJ Country Dancers contra on 7/19/2017 with LLFB option in A1.

House of Love – DI – Don Veino 20170529

Type: Contra, Duple Improper
Status: Proven

This is a re-imagining of my dance Soft Gummy Tummies to provide everyone partner and neighbor swings plus allow for greater tune flexibility. Note the A-parts marching direction is reversed here vs. SGT in order to ease the A2 swing entry. An alternate approach is to have the marching start CW and continue CW all the way around the 4 sides of the box back to the start – but I prefer it as written below.

The title for this dance was supplied by our 5 year old daughter Raeden and she made this illustration to go along with it (I’m the tall guy on the right pushing the swing):House of Love drawing

(Facing CCW around your hands/4 – think of the hands/4 as a box with the dancers at the corners)
(4,4) March 4 steps & turn 90 deg. left, march 4 steps more & turn to face center
[have walked around 2 sides to opposite the starting spot, facing back at original spot]
(4,4) Take 4 steps to center, loop/turn single over right shoulder to face CW back at this corner spot

(Facing CW around your hands/4)
(4,4) March 4 steps & turn 90 deg. right, march 4 steps more & Ladies turn back over right shoulder
[have walked around same 2 sides back to starting corner spot]
(8) Neighbor Swing

Give & Take to Gents, Partner Swing
[Alternate tune fit: Ring Balance, Gents draw Partner back to Swing]

(4,4) Ring Balance, Petronella Twirl/Slide Right
(4,4) Ring Balance, Pass Through Up/Down

Tune: Softly Good Tummas still works. For others suggest bouncy/march tunes, e.g.: Keith Murphy’s Reign of Love, The Wren, Burning of the Piper’s Hut, etc.
Video: First test at the Berlin, MA Country Orchestra dance 6/3/2017

Soft Gummy Tummies – DI – Don Veino 20170415

Type: Contra (or ECD), Duple Improper (or Gender Role Free)
Status: Proven

The inspiration for this dance came from Jeff Kaufman on Facebook. He related a story where his band The Free Raisins were asked to play the English Country Dance (ECD) tune “Softly Good Tummas” at a contra dance and that got him to think about adapting the associated ECD to a contra format. We had some discussion on that FB thread and he posted his Becket formation dance.

This discussion forced the tune to become an ear worm for me and I was compelled to take my own shot at composing a very simple dance to match the tune – one that could be used for a very beginner heavy dance venue. I put mine nominally in Duple Improper formation (but it arguably also works as a gender-role-free dance – so long as you’re careful to end in correct spots/facing direction with your P). As Jeff did, I lifted the A parts pretty much intact from the ECD.

(Facing CW around your hands/4 – think of the hands/4 as a box with the dancers at the corners)
(4,4) March 4 steps & turn 90 deg. right, march 4 steps more & turn to face center
[have walked around 2 sides to opposite the starting spot, facing back at original spot]
(4,4) Take 4 steps to center, loop/turn single over left shoulder to face CCW back at this corner spot, clap
(for a simpler version, substitute a double ring balance for the into the middle and turn singles)

(Facing CCW around your hands/4)
(4,4) March 4 steps & turn 90 deg. left, march 4 steps more & turn to face center
[have walked around same 2 sides back to starting corner spot]
(4,4) Take 4 steps to center, loop/turn single over your inside shoulder (wink at your Partner) to face your Neighbor on the side, clap
(for a simpler version, substitute a double ring balance for the into the middle and turn singles)

Neighbor Balance & Swing

(4,12) Ring Balance, 1s Swing & all face new group/4

B2 Alternatives:

  1. 1s Balance & Swing
  2. 1s Gypsy & Swing
  3. 1s Half Figure 8 up and around opposite N to Swing P below
  4. Circle Left 1x, 1s Swing
  5. 2s take the place of the 1s for any of the above/mirror moves
  6. Alternating action for 1s then 2s

Tune: Softly Good Tummas (see the original ECD with the tune)

First called by Linda Leslie at the LCFD Spring Dance Camp in Woodstock, CT – May 5-7, 2017

Fun fact: The title is obviously a play on Softly Good Tummas, but was inspired by a yummy candy from Trader Joe’s…
Gummy Tummy Penguins!

Linda’s Gifts (of Time) – Longways Duple Proper in Waltz Time – Don Veino 20160818

Type: Longways Contra or English Dance, Duple Proper
Status: Public, Proven

Linda Leslie photo
Linda Leslie

In grateful recognition of Linda Leslie‘s investments of time in the folk dance community and in particular her consultation and mentoring given me as I hone my dance calling and composition.

(6,6) First Corners Set to each other (small steps to the Right-2-3, Left-2-3), Hole in the Wall cross (forward 3 beats/steps, pass rights as pivot 1 step, fall back 2 steps into each other’s places)
(12) Second Corners, same thing

(12) Partner Two-Hand Turn 1x
(12) Circle Left 1x

(12) Ones Half Figure 8 up and around Twos to finish below
(12) Twos do similar below, to finish above

(12) Partner Back to Back/Dosido
(6) Ring Balance with current Neighbors
(6) Cloverleaf Turn Single over outside shoulder to face new Neighbors

B2 Variation (To fit Northdown Waltz tune, December 2017)
(12) Partner Back to Back/Dosido
(12) Four Changes of Rights and Lefts to next

Working title was “Two Rivers”, written to go with the tune of the same name by Larry Unger – twice through the dance for one cycle of the tune. Turns out Linda isn’t fond of that approach as she feels the dance/music fit varies.

In consideration of Linda’s view, I had previously recommended Max Newman’s waltz Saari & Kristen off the Nor’easter CD. As of March 2018, I’ve now come full circle back to a common repertoire Larry Unger tune which I find to be a perfect fit to the original (non-variation) dance – Judy and Jim’s Wedding (YouTube).

See also: ¡Que Linda!