Core Dances

We select a set of core dances each year, and ask callers to include them where possible so that people dance them frequently and get to know them. The core dances for 2018 are:


  • A semicolon marks the end of 2 bars, a colon marks the end of 4 bars and a full stop marks the end of 8 bars. One bar corresponds to a single right-and-left step, usually.
  • A normal longways set organised by "hands 4" is called a duple minor set, because the main (major) set consists of small (minor) sets of two couples.
  • Turns, circles, stars etc are once round unless stated otherwise.
  • Turns single, crosses, back-to-backs etc are right-shoulder unless stated otherwise.


Source: The Dancing Master 1701. Formation: longways duple minor set. Music: own 32-bar tune.

A1Side with partner: back-to-back partner.
A2Side with neighbour: back-to-back neighbour.
B1Two-hand-turn neighbour one-and-a-half to change places: two-hand-turn partner.
B21s figure-8 up through 2s.

Note: This is often danced with the 1s improper so that more of the interaction is with members of the opposite gender.

Heptathlon jig

Composer: Alan White 2003. Formation: 7 people of any gender in a longways 3-couple set with an extra person in the centre. Music: 7 x 32-bar jigs.

A1Centre and top two people on the right right-hand-star: centre and top two people on the left left-hand-star.
A2Centre and bottom two people on the right right-hand-star: centre and bottom two people on the left left-hand-star.
B1Centre passes right middle person right shoulder to start a reel-of-3 across the set with the middle two people.
B2Centre and top-right person right-hand-turn one-and-a-half to change places: all set; outside people cast one place clockwise while new centre person sets.

The Merry Andrew

Source: Maggot pie 1932. Formation: longways 3-couple set. Music: own 3 x 32-bar tune.

A1Top two couples half right-hand-star; turn single left: half left-hand-star; turn single right.
A2Bottom two couples as A1.
B1On the right diagonal set; pass right: man 2 followed by man 1 cross the set below man 3 and cast up to men's side while woman 2 followed by woman 3 cross the set above woman 1 and cast down to women's side.
B2On the left diagonal set; pass left: man 1 lead man 3 while woman 3 lead woman 1 as in B1.

Notes: Change partner each time through. The original version had dancers passing right in B2.

The nice combination

Composer: Gene Hubert. Formation: longways duple minor improper set. Music: 32-bar contra reels.

A1Balance and swing neighbour, ending in a line of four facing down.
A2Lead down the hall; turn as couples: come back; bend the line.
B1Circle left three-quarters: swing partner on the side.
B2Ladies chain across: left-hand-star.

Sun Assembly

Formation: longways duple minor set. Music: own 32-bar tune.

A1Circle left halfway; fall back on sides: 1s gate up through 2s.
A21s half figure-8 up through 2s, 2s cross: all set to partner and turn single.
B11s right-hand-star with the 2s below: 1s left-hand-star with original 2s.
B21s lead down one place; cast up: all two-hand-turn partner.

Turning by threes

Composer: Gary Roodman 2003. Formation: round 3-couple set. Music: 3 x 32-bars Tourner รก trois.

A1Circle left; turn single left: circle right; turn single right.
A2Back-to-back partner: two quick changes of a grand chain around the set; right-hand-turn the next.
B1Men left-hand-star: women right-hand-star.
B2Men lead in; women lead in as men fall back: women look over right shoulder to gypsy right one-and-a-bit with the man on their right, who becomes their new partner.

Notes: Change partner each time through.

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