[Callers] backwards becket (was end effects)

Erik Hoffman erik at erikhoffman.com
Thu Sep 19 15:26:22 PDT 2013

Regarding forwards, backwards, proper, improper, and modern names...

     First there was Proper, all men on one side, all women on the other.
     Then Hands Four, or Hands Six and the Minor Set
     Then there was Improper, where the ones cross over: now the man has 
his partner in his left hand, woman has her partner in her right hand.
     Then there was Becket, where the woman is still to the right of her 
partner, man to his left

And Becket dances went both ways, most commonly couples progress to the 
left, but some -- 15 or 20 percent? -- to the right.  Some of us work to 
set dancers up with a direction of progression by encouraging them to 
get into Becket formation by doing a quarter circle in the direction of 
progression, but (I think) it really doesn't matter: get in Becket 
formation and start the walk through. Occasionally there'll be a dancer 
who "knows how these things are supposed to work" and try to "progress 
the right way," but usually, it just doesn't make a big difference.

     Then some of us made up dances where the Twos had to change sides, 
starting in circles where the Man's partner is to his left, the woman's 
to her right.  I made up a dance like this in the 90s called "Waiting 
for the Passport," and called this formation "Reverse Improper."  Some 
people have dubbed this "Indecent."  For some reason, that name has 
never appealed to me, but, perhaps, it's becoming the standard, so I 
better learn to love it...

Now there is the "Backwards Becket."  And having not called any dances 
in this formation, I trust it's:
   Man to the right of his partner, Woman to the left of her partner, 
but can still progress left or right?  Do I understand this correctly?

I'd love it if someone sent me the "Weeks on the Road" dance in both its 
original and its folk processed versions.

Waiting for the Passport
REVERSE Improper (or, in Improper position, REVERSE progression)
Erik Hoffman

Start in a wave, Neighbor in Left Hand, Men in Center:

A1    Balance the wave, Men pull by (with Right); Swing Partner
A2    Men Allemande Left 1½; Half Hey, start passing Neighbor's Rt shoulder
B1    BAL & Sw Nbr
B2    Pass Thru to an Ocean Wave (4) Balance (4);  Current Neighbor 
Allemand Right ¾ (4) (to progress)
         (now momentarily in long wave at the side, meeting New Neighbor)
         Allemande New Neighbor Right ¾ (4) to put the Men in the center 
of a (new) wave (across) to start again

--- Initial position: twos cross over (!!), then Allemande Left Neighbor 
until the Mn are in the center of a wave.  We start from here.

--- Initial position: or think of it as a reverse progression. If the 
ones cross over, have everyone allemande their neighbor by the left 
until the men can form the wave.  This will cause the ones to now 
progress up the set while the twos progress down...

~erik hoffman
     oakland, ca

On 9/19/2013 1:02 PM, tavi merrill wrote:
> A quick thought on "backwards becket", which is the starting formation of
> one of my dances as well -  i tend to think of it as "becket indecent"
> since that regularizes the term with other formation terms, implying lady
> on the gent's left. The basic list of course - proper, improper, indecent,
> improper-progressed, becket, becket-right (or CCW)... and then our friendly
> distant outlier, the backwards becket.
> I'd theorize one reason Bill's dance "Weeks on the Road" folk-processed to
> start in normal becket is that "backwards becket" isn't a widely recognized
> formation.
> I run into the issue that - because becket-CCW dances are much less common
> than becket-CW (though more common now thanks to some great dances from
> Cary Ravitz and Heather Carmichael to name a couple) dancers zone out as
> soon as i say "circle one place to the..." [AUTOPILOT kicks in, dancers
> assume left]. Have found a variety of strategies to combat this, such as
> circling them to the left three places, or spelling R-i-g-h-t so there's no
> chance they, by some trick of perception, hear "left".
> Bringing these points up because a) i believe that formations, like certain
> moves, suffer from lack of use when general unfamiliarity on the dancers'
> part creates situations where dancers go on autopilot and b) while callers
> share common and frequently-used strategies for setting up / teaching /
> introducing the more standard moves and formations, there's a less uniform
> vocabulary and/or lack of shared strategies for the outliers...
> just a thought, from someone who likes anti-becket (oh, crap, there's
> ANOTHER way of saying becket-right) and reversed (or "mirrored") courtesy
> turns (see what i'm saying about vocabulary?) and such... which are in no
> wise more difficult than their normative counterparts, but confuse dancers
> who don't encounter them often.
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