And if you like patter calling you end it with "those four, swing four; there's a
new monkey on the dance floor!"
I don't know if I made that up or got it from sherry. I love this dance but it is
very hard to get kids to go pick someone who is not already swinging. They gravitate to
those already in the action. It's great with all adults at weddings and such.
206 330 7408
On May 18, 2015, at 6:40 PM, James Saxe via Callers
The author of "Monkey in the Middle" is Sherry Nevins of Seattle.
Her original version is slightly different from the version
(collected by Lynn from Carol) in Val's recent message.
Monkey in the Middle, by Sherry Nevins
9-person set: circle of 8, plus 1 in the middle
A1 Circle left (8)
Circle right (8)
A2 Into the middle & back (8)
Into the middle & back (8)
B1 One in the middle, swing [some]one [Ballroom,
elbow, or 2-hand swing. Choose fast!] (8)
Those 2, swing 2 [The swinging pair let go of each other, and
each swing someone new.] (8)
B2 Those 4, swing 4 [Each swings one of the remaining five. The
left-over person becomes the ...] (16)
New monkey in the middle. [The other eight] join hands and ...
In a message I have from Sherry, she wrote (in 2011):
... I found a page
from late December 2003 or early January 2004 headed "9 Pin Var."
with the dance written out ... It appears I first called
it (listed as "9 Pin Var.") at the South End Square Dance on
1/30/04. On 2/1/04 it was written on the set list for the Family
Dance as "Monkey in the Middle".
Note that Sherry considers the formation to be a "circle" of eight--
rather than a "square"--plus one extra person. While Sherry got her
inspiration from traditional versions of Ninepin Reel, her dance
has no calls directed to "heads" or "sides", and there needn't
any presumption that swinging pairs will be in opposite gender roles.
Another thing that distinguishes the dance from traditional versions
on Ninepin Reel is the sequence in the B part
One in the middle, swing [some]one
Those 2 swing 2
Those 4 swing 4
with the person left over becoming the new "Monkey in the Middle".
This contrasts with the usual method of choosing a new "ninepin",
in which five dancers race to dance with four potential partners.
The result of Sherry's method is that the person not chosen in one
round of the dance gets to be the first chooser in the next round.
The pattern of having 2, then 4, then 8 dancers swinging is
reminiscent of a "multiplication" (a/k/a "snowball") dance of
the sort sometimes done at wedding receptions or used as an
ice-breaker at teen parties. I can remember seeing such dances
in the 1960s, and I'm sure the idea wasn't new then. But so
far as I know, Sherry is the first to have integrated the
multiplication/snowball idea into a version of the ninepin
Sherry composed her dance as a 32-bar phrased sequence (though as
you can see, her version is just a little different from what Carol
apparently called at RPDLW). Some of the people who have since
spread the dance call it unphrased, for example Michael Ismerio
as heard in this video:
Note also that Michael only has dancers go in and back once
before the middle person starts the series of swings. It didn't
take many steps of folk processing to produce these differences:
Michael tells me he learned the dance from Sherry. While Sherry
understands that once a dance is released "into the wild", the
folk process will follow its course, I believe that if the dance
is published anywhere, she'd like her original phrased version to
... swing one.
Those 2 swing 2
Those 4 swing 4
are the way Sherry calls the action in the B parts. I use those
calls also. But during the walk-through, I explicitly tell the
first swinging pair to let go of each other and each swing
someone new. I do that because the very first time I called the
dance, I said "Those 2 swing 2 more" during the walk-through,
and I saw some people swinging in a basket of four.
Note, by the way, that the dance adapts very easily to a 10-person
version. Just have two people in the middle each time and have
them start the sequence of swings by swinging each other.
On May 18, 2015, at 10:48 AM, Val Medve wrote (to the SharedWeight
Hi all. Several folks asked me off-line for the
Monkey directions. Here's Lynn Ackerson's note and dance instructions, with her
permission -- and our thanks. And thanks, too, to Rich Goss for his even speedier reply to
my request! Val
From Lynn Ackerson:
The [RPDLW 2015] syllabus will be available for sale soon. We usually wait a year before
putting it online. But as a sneak peak, here's how the dance will look in the
Monkey in the Middle
As called by Carol Ormand
Formation: Ninepin: 4 couples in a square, with an extra person (the “monkey”) in the
Music: Joys of Quebec
A1 Circle left
A2 Into the middle and back
Monkey in the middle, swing someone
B1 Those two separate and swing two more
B2 Those four separate and swing four more; finish in a square with a new monkey in
> On Mon, May 18, 2015 at 9:32 AM, Val Medve <val.medve(a)gmail.com> wrote:
> That was quick!
> Two list members sent the instructions to me. Thank you! Val
>> On Mon, May 18, 2015 at 8:32 AM, Val Medve <val.medve(a)gmail.com> wrote:
>> At the Ralph Page Dance Legacy Weekend (RPDLW) in January, Carol Ormand called a
fun & silly little dance that I liked: Monkey in the Middle. I think there were 4
couples plus 1 extra person ("the monkey"). I don't think that the 2015
RPDLW syllabus is available yet online. Would anyone have instructions they're willing
to share? Val Medve, Essex, Vermont (val.medve(a)gmail.com)
>> My new email address is val.medve(a)gmail.com
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