--- Rickey wrote:
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.
--- end of quote ---
I'll get to this particular dance in a moment, but first a digression:
One of the tasks dancers face as they become more skilled is to make their
dancing fit the music. Thus, on a simple figure such as right and left through
(the full version, over and back), while this certainly can be accomplished in
far fewer than 16 steps, experienced dancers have learned to slow down a little,
to enjoy the time-- four steps to cross, four steps to turn, and the same on the
One of the strongest things that we in the contra and traditional square dance
community have going for us is that close connection with the music. Modern
Western Square Dance, for example, no longer has everything fitting the music,
and moves which we would do in, say, 8 steps, they often do in six, thereby
losing that connection with the musical phrases.
As a further aside, many intermediate level dancers have the same difficulty
fitting their movements to the phrase, hence the appearance of all those extra
twirls, designed to fill up the time while they're waiting for the next move.
And now, to the topic at hand:
I've never danced Cornish 6-hand reel, but I danced the Dorset 4-hand reel just
a few weeks ago. In many of these traditional English dances the dancers aren't
just moving with a simple walking step as we do in contras. They move with a
variety of steps, such as rants or polka steps. We actually see some of that
tradition in the sort of shuffle clog two-step that some older dancers prefer--
watch Dudley Laufman on the dance floor, for example, dancing Chorus Jig. On
that simple down the outside and back, he doesn't take 7 or 8 long steps down
the outside, but rather three or four two-steps, moving only a short way down
and a short way back.
Now, the question is, if you want to introduce Cornish 6-hand-reel, do you want
to take your allotment of talking time at the mic to introduce the notion of
stepping to your dancers? In some situations you may decide it's worth the
effort and the time-- you're presenting a dance which seems quite similar but
actually has an added challenge for folks to explore-- or you may decide that
it's not appropriate for that given venue.
Hope this is helpful.
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