David Millstone had provided the figures for a dance proven to be as close to sure-fire as
a genuine contra can get at many, many events I've called where the dancers are all
beginners and very young and/or very old. I find it much more effective than Jefferson and
Liberty, a "chestnut" often recommended for beginners.
Ellen's Green Jig (Roy Dommett)
longways, duple minor
A1 Do-si-do neighbor
A2 Ones balance and swing
B1 Circle left; Circle right
B2 Square dance figure, Duck for the Oyster, Dive for the Clam: Still joined in
a circle, twos arch and ones duck partially under and then back up to place.
Ones arch and twos duck under and then back up. Ones duck all the way through
Twos' arch, drop hands with old neighbors to meet new neighbors.)
"Duck for the oyster, dive for the clam, duck through the hole in the old tin
can" or similar patter
Here's a dance based on Ellen's Green Jig that has turned out to be very nearly as
successful with more action and stronger connection:
A1: Couples ("partners welded together") do-si-do each other; all four circle
LEFT (flows very nicely; could do in opposite order)
A2: All balance and swing (or just the ones, if you need the twos to keep the ones
oriented correctly when the swing ends)
B1: Right-hand star; circle RIGHT
B2: Same as Ellen's Green Jig. I describe the duck/peek through the arch as a sneak
of both couples' final destination and have twos initiate the progression by carrying
their arch over the ones, who should duck down and then step forward through the arch.
Otherwise, the set migrates away from the music significantly.
This is a good dance for introducing stuff like the improper formation and the orthodox
way to end a swing, but ignoring both of those issues has not impaired its success.
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