[Callers] Dance formation names?

Alan Winston - SSRL Central Computing winston at slac.stanford.edu
Mon Aug 2 01:28:20 PDT 2010

Luke Donev wrote:

> A dancer friend asked me about initial formation terminology, and I
> wasn't sure so I thought I'd ask the hive mind.

> In contra sets with hands four, if neither the 1s nor 2s cross over,
> it's proper formation (specifically duple minor I believe). If the 1s
> cross, it's improper.

Correct on duple minor - "duple" because it's a two-couple figure.

> If the 1s cross and the whole set rotates 1/4 circle, it's Becket.

> If the 1s don't cross over but the 2s do, I've called that formation
> indecent. I'm not sure how widespread that use is.

Joseph Pimentel has spread that name for the formation around. 

> If the 1s and the 2s cross? I'd be inclined towards anti-proper or
> maybe improper-indecent (a mouthful). This was the question that
> prompted the query.

Unaware of standard name for this ofrmation.

> Triple minor dances are hands six, and can be proper or with some
> couples crossed over... I don't know specific sub-names.

> Tempest formation is a wide n shape of four couples, actives in the
> middle facing down, inactives on the sides facing in.

> There's circle dances and Sicillian circles of facing couples. There's
> four couple square dance formation, five couples for Levi Jackson's
> rag, Morris and rapper formations and more. But are there other contra
> formations and if so what are they called?

A circle of couples all facing the same way.  (Not unknown for mixers.)

There's a circle of couples all facing in.  (Single circle.)

A circle of men facing out surrounded by a circle of women facing in.  (Double

Four-face-fours in column or Sicilian circle.
  (Portland Fancy or Mescolanza or Double Sicilian)

Three-face-three.  (Historically, "the Swedish dance" - a name assigned by
English dancing masters.  I usually say "threesome Sicilian."  "Rustic Reel" is
an American example.)  

There are triplets, which are three-couple longways.  (Not aware of specific
sub-names for 1s improper or 2s improper.)  Is it "traditional" if Ted Sanella
named the formation?

Then there's various scatter mixer formations, where two or three people start
somewhere in no relation to any other couple, then break up and find other

Does that help?

-- Alan

 Disclaimer: I speak only for myself, not SLAC or SSRL   Phone:  650/926-3056
 Paper mail to: SSRL -- SLAC BIN 99, 2575 Sand Hill Rd, Menlo Park CA   94025

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