[Callers] Grand Marches and ONS

Richard Hart rich at harts.mv.com
Mon Oct 16 07:18:56 PDT 2006

Here are a few things that I do with a grand march. It works well with 
ONS dances, but I often do it somewhere in the middle, maybe after a 
break, if there is one. I usually start the dance with simpler couple 
and circle dances where I can review some basic formations (some of 
forward and back, circle, dos-a-dos, R&L over, ladies chain, etc), 
without the dancers also needing to remember to stay in line, who was 
active, and which way to progress. This is a good break from the 
slightly more complex dances and always well liked.

1. I start in a big circle, which either I join to lead, or I have 
seeded with someone who knows all or most of the routine.

1. Circle left and right.

2. Then I or the seed breaks the circle and leads the line in various 
directions around the room.

2. When hands are held in a line like this we can do a spiral in, until 
the spiral is so tight you can't go any further. Then the leader makes a 
very tight U turn and spirals back out. (Be careful of those who have 
difficulty with their balance here..)

3. Then the line, hands still held, leads around the room until the 
seed, or I, am in the rear of the room in the center.. Before this point 
I have called out "drop hands, march single file". From the rear, we 
march toward the band in single file.

4. At this point I either drop out and turn around, or am already facing 
the line approaching me. Now I point and call out "left, right," etc., 
as you remember.

5. Now I say "go back to the rear and take hands 2 X 2 with your 
partner." (Careful here if the original circle was created from 
individuals and not partners)

6. At this point you can (optionally) lead the couples in line around 
the room and do different varieties of arches and bridges. - first 
couple arches, second goes under and makes an arch, third goes under 2 
arches and makes an arch, etc. Then when all have passed under the 
arches/bridge, the first couple follows under the bridge. Be careful to 
let them know they should not continue the bridge, or it will go on 
forever. There are a number of other possibilities here, such as an over 
and under line where each couple goes under the first couple, but then 
makes an arch to go over the second and continues under and over down 
the line.

7. Again, lead the line of couple around the room, to end at the rear, 
center, where now the couple head again up the center toward the band. 
Again I face the line and point and call "Left, right" to go around the 
oudside of the room and back that magic point in the middle of the rear.

8. Now take hands in lines of 4 and again come up the hall. At the 
front, again alternate lines go down the outside to the rear and take 
hands 8 in line.This line proceeds up the center to the front. I may or 
may not proceed to lines of 16, depending on the hall and number of people.

9. At this point, when the lines again approach the front, I raise my 
hands for them to stop and let the band finish the last time through the 
tune. Then I end by introducing the band and ask for a big hand for the 

I'm pretty flexible with this and I vary it every time I do it. I chose 
the parts that will fit the time, desired dance length, crowd, and hall. 
There are certainly other formations that could be included, as well. 
With posts, you may need to keep lines short, or tell people to drop 
hands where necessary to pass the posts.


Rickey remarked on 10/15/2006 9:53 PM:

> Hi,
> I'm doing an ONS on a Sunday afternoon for a church group.  There will be 4,
> 5, 6th graders, with some contra dance experience, and adults, some old,
> with none.  The room has two ROWS of columns, but there is room at the sides
> and between the rows of columns.  I am thinking of doing a Grand March to
> start, to get everyone involved.  I have done this several times with
> Dudley, all more that twenty years ago, and don't remember how to start
> them.  Mostly I remember Dudley pointing alternately left and right, very
> cool, as we went from marching in two's to marching in four's, eight's and
> so forth.  Any ideas for what else to do?  I'll probably do a circle mixer
> next.  It would be fun to somehow end the grand march so everyone was in the
> circle.  How might you do that? And of course, any great ONS dances would be
> great to have.
> Thanks,
> Rickey Holt.

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