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
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:
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.