Rickey asked about the hey in the Cornish six-hand reel ...
In the dance Cornish 6-hand reel there is a hey for 6
(not a surprise given
the name of the dance). Several sources agree that this gets 32 beats of
music (B1 and B2), which seems like too much music. In our contras a hey
for 4 (over and back) gets 16 counts. Reasoning from proportions (probably
a dangerous thing) it would seem that 32 beats (B1,B2) would be enough music
for a hey for 8 (God forbid), and that a hey for 6 should take 16+8 or 24
counts and leave ½ of a B undanced.
and David mentioned that some English dances use stepping, and said some very
good things about the connection of movement with music.
In my notes I have two versions of this dance. One explicitly says to use the
rant step for the hey, and that's the only way I've danced it. ("Rant"
variation on the polka step. Hop, hop, change; hop, hop, change. On the hops,
the free foot comes in front of the other foot and taps the ground, not taking
weight, then returns to its own side, ready to take weight. So that's actually
hop tap hop change, hop tap hop change; the usual mnemonic for the rhythm is
"po-ta-to crisp". (Since I'm calling in California, I point that out and
say "but in California, we can say "tortilla chip".) This only really
you play polkas or lumpy reels.
You can do rant steps in place, or traveling, or really doing high-speed
travel - but the high speed travel doesn't work until you're used to it, so I
wouldn't suggest it for a room full of people who haven't ranted before.
The use of stepping that lines up with the music really makes you notice how
much music there is.
(But that's a digression, because another source says "any good jig or
and you can't rant to jigs. [Well, you can if you're determined, but it
doesn't really express the music very well.])
I ask because I called the dance in
Exeter last Saturday and several dancers seemed to be getting through the
hey early. The tradition is to use B1 and B2 to do this hey. Its English.
(Some Cornish people would complain that it's Cornish, not English. I don't
really have a horse in that race.)
How do they do it?
The current style for heys in contra seems to be to just clear the person
you're passing, so the shape of the figure is pretty narrow, and it also tends
to be unpunctuated - one unbroken set of movements.
The English style of hey is broader (the track more closely resembles a numeral
8 than an egg timer) and you actually do go around the end rather than just
facing back in immediately. Heys for three take 16 counts; heys for four take
16 counts but you don't go as wide. To take 32 counts for a hey for six,
you just _do_ go as wide as you would with a hey for three.
When stepping is involved, there's more punctuation than in a walking hey.
For English and Scottish dancers, a hey or reel is a treat. You can break out
into skip-change step, cover lots of ground, see everybody as you whip by, and
I think modern contra choreography tends to use the hey as the prelude
to a treat - get through the hey and you get to swing on the side! In some
cases that gives you a reward (a longer swing) for finishing the hey early, and
thus a disincentive for matching the hey to the music.
(Digression: Heys are noticeable features in English and Scottish dances. You
might not do any in an evening, or you might do as many as three hey-containing
dances, but it's not likely to be as many as half. In modern contra, heys are
part of the background; you wouldn't say "you know, that dance with the
it's a common and unremarkable feature, like do-si-do, allemande, long lines.
So you're not inclined to savor them.)