Dances I've Written
Here's a selection of my favorites from the dances I have written. My gratitude goes to the dancers of Santa Barbara and neighboring communities who have been the 'guinea pigs' for these dances -- as well as for a number of others that don't appear here because they did not make the grade! Please mail me any comments or questions on these dances.
Small print stuff: Permission is granted to call or dance these dances anywhere and any time you want; that's what they are for. Rather than reproducing them in print elsewhere, may I suggest linking back to this page; that's what the Web is for. I believe that all the routines here are original, but if you have information to the contrary, please mail me. Where a specific earlier routine served as inspiration, I have acknowledged it.
|The Fiddler of Dooney||Perpetual
||Fermat's Farewell||Trip to Monterey|
|Opening Day Reel||Blue Bayou
||Balancing Stars||Dancing Again|
|Rejuvenation||Independence Forever||Gypsy Fever||Airplane Mixer|
|Let's Play Two||Forgotten Swing||Two Happy Fiddlers||The Sprung Floor|
|Nightfall||Indian Creek Breakdown||Dawn's Early Light||Sailboat at Sunset|
|Double Dip||Second Chance|
THE FIDDLER OF DOONEYDuple improper, triple progression.
April 2007 (final version). One of my favorites of all my dances. Went through many iterations over several years before reaching this final form. Inspired by the W. B. Yeats poem by the same title, about a fiddler for whom people “dance like a wave of the sea,” which we see in the ocean wave move in B2. The poem also has a line about “I pass my brother and cousin…”, and you certainly do pass a lot of people in this dance.
Right hand to
neighbor, balance (4)
Do si do neighbor (6)
Allemande right neighbor 1 ¼ to line of four (6)
A2. Balance line of four (4)
Ladies allemande left x1 (4)
Swing neighbor (8)
B1. Gents allemande left 1 1/2, swing partner
B2. Circle ¾
Balance ring, California twirl
September 2008. The A1 owes a debt to Michael McKernan's Daybreak Reel, Penn Fixx's Jed's Reel, and their descendants. The title gives a nod to the first-mentioned. On the Pacific Coast, nightfall -- with the sunset -- is often a spectacular time; and it is a propitious time for contra dancers. I use this dance a lot; it suits many different groups and skill levels.
Balance and swing neighbor
A2. Long lines forward and back
Circle left halfway (4), lady rolls away across partner (4)
B1. Circle 3 places more, swing partner
B2. Ladies chain
Half hey for four
September 2013. Dedicated to something we all need from time to time, a second chance.
Entry into the swing with the lady on the gent's right can be awkward. When teaching this dance I invite the gents to 'draw the lady into the swing' by turning to face her and using the left hand.
SAILBOAT AT SUNSET
A1. Circle left all
the way around.
Do si do neighbor to line of four with ladies in middle.
A2. Allemande right neighbor, gents pull by, swing partner
B1. Four in line down the hall, turn as couples, return and bend the line to a ring
B2. Balance the ring
Spin one place right, Petronella style (4)
Balance the ring (4)
California twirl, face new couple and make a circle.
March 2012. A basically easy routine that has enough content to please the veteran dancers too. Dancers may need to be reminded a little bit on the trip up the hall, so as not to be late for the balance-the-ring.
Duple improper. 48 bars.
the way around.
Allemande right neighbor 1 1/2.
A2. Gents allemande
left 1 1/2
B1. Ladies allemande
right 1 1/2
B2. Right and left
1s half figure 8 above, to proper lines
C1. 1s turn contra corners
C2. 1s balance and swing
Summer 2012. Contra corners has fallen into disuse on the West Coast in the past decade. Possibly this is because there are only so many variations which have the dancers swinging everyone and also doing contra corners within 32 bars. This dance addresses the problem by adding 16 more bars of music. Note that everyone swings both partner and neighbor every time, and the 1s swing twice, hence the title.
Duple improper. Start in long lines facing
Forward to the
center; on the way back, lady rolls away
A2. Give right
to partner, pull by.
B1. Balance and swing partner.
B2. Ladies allemande right 1 1/2, swing neighbor.
February 2012. Dancers may need to adjust the buddy allemande to their own tastes and speed of dancing, so as not to have extra counts. Title refers to sunrises in Santa Barbara, which can be pretty impressive on winter mornings with a little cloud cover (see right, taken 6:45 am on 1/30/2012).
Opening Day Reel
Becket, moves left. Double progression.
A1. On left diagonal,
right and left through. (1st progression)
(New) ladies, chain across.
A2. Same four, pass through across, cross trail, face along line
Pass the neighbor you meet by the right shoulder
Allemande left the next neighbor once around
Pass the same neighbor by the right shoulder
B1. Balance and swing
the neighbor with whom you passed through
B2. Circle 3 places, swing partner. End facing new couple on left diagonal.
March-April 2011. Debuted right around that most pivotal date on the calendar, Opening Day of the baseball season. The action in A2 is borrowed from Julie's Reel by Penn Fixx. In Penn's dance you do this move with your partner and two trail buddies; I wanted a dance where you would do the same action with neighbors.
Let's Play Two
A1. Allemande right
neighbor once and a half to make waves at the sides, gents facing in.
Balance the waves.
Spin to right Rory O' More style, make waves again (neighbor now in left hand).
A2. Balance left
(back toward neighbor)
Allemande left the neighbor once around
Gents in center, allemande right once and a half
B1. Balance and swing
B2. Ladies chain
Half a hey, look for new neighbor.
March-April 2011. Written within days of Opening Day Reel, a 'double header' of creativity I have never experienced before; so the title just seemed obvious.
The timing in A2 is doable but challenging. With faster music (or a slower group) you may want to change B1 to simply be a long swing, so dancers can afford to be a few counts late.
A1. (New) Gents do-si-do
With neighbor, allemande right once and a half and a little more to put gents in center of line of four.
A2. Balance the line of four
Spin to right past neighbor in right hand; ladies keep spinning past each other to partner
B1. Full hey for four (ladies pass right shoulder to start)
B2. Ladies continue hey (pass right shoulder again), swing neighbor
August 2010. Make sure there is comfortable room in sets for the ladies to do the spin. Gents can help the group out by finishing up the do-si-do on the outside of the set, so it needs only about 1 1/2 allemandes to put them in center; otherwise the timing can become challenging.
Becket, travels left
(New) Gents allemande left x1, swing partner
A2. Half promenade
B1. Half hey (ladies pass right shoulders)
B2. Circle ¾
Gypsy 1 ½ with partner WHILE sliding left to new couple (travelling gypsy)
A dance that is a little harder than it looks, but a real treat once dancers get it together. Dancers need to be careful of timing so that gents are entering the set at start of A1 and ladies are already out of it. The first few rounds the ladies may get 'caught in the middle' and have to scramble. Not to worry; they will soon figure it out. When teaching, I note that backing up is what makes the travelling move possible: the dancer whose back is to the line of travel needs to back up a little, else the couple is going nowhere. Some dancers prefer to put arms around one another during the gypsy, making it somewhere between a travelling gypsy and a travelling swing.
INDEPENDENCE FOREVERBecket, travels left
Circle left x
Pass partner right shoulder, ½ hey (left shoulder in center)
B1. Balance and swing partner on gent’s side
Right hand star
Slide left with partner, to circle with next couple
BLUE BAYOUDuple improper
Summer 2009. Based on a wonderful dance by Penn Fixx, Settlement Swing. The latter ends with the 1's balancing and swinging while the 2's stand and watch, which is not much to modern taste. This dance is an adaptation to get everybody involved all the time. The name has nothing to do with a song title or a Disneyland restaurant; it is baseball slang for a fastball which, well, just blew by you.
The Sprung Floor
Four in line,
down the hall (ones in center)
Turn alone, come back, bend line
Balance the circle (4), Petronella spin one place (4), face partner on side of set
B1. Balance and swing partner
Ones gypsy once around, take partner and move on to next couple
May 2007.Composed quite by chance while preparing for the Sprung Floor Dance festival. Based on the late Ted Sanella's Scout House Reel, which honors a world-famous dance hall; this dance honors a famous
Airplane Mixer(Shawn Southard)
If you care, swap places with partner at start so lady starts out on left.
NON-MIXER VERSION ("AIRPLANE DANCE")
For groups with many young children and their parents, where 'gents' and 'ladies' are dubious roles and changing partners is iffy, I present the dance as follows:A1. Forward and back, twice
December 2005. Written mainly by my older son, then not quite three, who one day spontaneously began doing the key moves around his playroom. Dad just helped a little with the timing and instructions. Dance debuted on the composer's third birthday and was called by him (with just a little help) to an enthusiastic group at the Santa Barbara Sunday night dance. His preferred words appear in quotes. I've never since used it for an adult group, but have used it with great success at school events and even at pre-school.
Indian Creek Breakdown
Becket, travels leftA1. (Slide left to new couple), circle left 3/4
Composed mid-1990s on a solo hike
through the Indian Creek
region of the
Long lines forward and back
Ones do si do
Ones pull by,
cross set, down outside pass 2 couples
Come up the center, cast off (with opposite sex)
B1. Circle left 3 places, swing partner
Ones half figure eight above (back to proper formation)
Written about 1995. An attempt to capture some of the spirit of ‘chestnut’ dances in a figure more suited to modern tastes. When first teaching it I omitted the B1, hence the title.
Start in line of four facing down hall, side by side with partner.
A1. Down hall, turn as
A2. Circle left 3/4 (6)
Step forward into line of 4, holding right hds with neighbor, ladies in center (2)
Balance 4 in line, two times (4,4)
B1. Do si do next neighbor [progression]
These two ladies in center, almd left 1 ½ (8)
B2. Balance and swing partner
SquareA1. Four people, into the center and back (See notes)
On the first round,the ladies go into the center; on the second round, the gents; then head gents and side ladies, finally side gents and head ladies.
I include this dance here even though I no longer call squares. New England squares traditionally give variety by having a partner change at each round. I prefer keeper squares, so in this dance you keep your partner and the variety comes from having a different four people in the center each time.
Based on Jenny's Star by Roger Whynot and Parisian Star by Tony Parkes; this dance puts the key move (the A2 sequence) in a simpler setting, and lets you keep your partner. My thanks to Donnalyn Karpeles for giving this dance a very fitting title.
A1. Allemande right neighbor 1
Men allemande left 1 1/2
A2. Gypsy partner
B1. Half promenade
B2. Long lines forward and back
Left hand star
July 1993. Written for use at
TWO HAPPY FIDDLERSBecket, moves left; double progression
A1. On the
diagonal, right and left through
Right and left through across (new group of four)
A2. Circle left 3/4, Swing neighbor
B1. Long lines forward/back
Ladies do si do 1 1/2
B2. Balance and swing partner, end facing diagonally to left
For my favorite pair of happy fiddlers, Jim
Mueller and Amber
Roullard-Mueller of the Growling Old Geezers, on their wedding day,
Trip To MontereyA1. Down the hall four in line, turn alone and return
The B1 can also be danced as simply, "Balance and swing
neighbor." The original B1 is distinctive but a little
awkward because the gent enters the swing from the lady's left.
September 1995. My contribution to the extensive genre of "dances written in callers' heads while driving somewhere to call a dance," in this case, Monterey, CA. The dance is based on the late Ted Sannella’s Scout House Reel.
Duple improperA1. Do si do neighbor 1 1/4 to wavy line
January 1994. Written to celebrate my return to the dance floor after a six-month absence because of injuries. I had the temerity to show this to the great Tony Parkes (whose classic Shadrack's Delight was the inspiration). He gave me a very gracious response complimenting my effort but suggesting I try a balance -- which the dance did not then have -- in the middle of A1. He was right, of course.
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