"Following is one - - - " and "Here's the info " leads me to
think that directions for a dance will actually follow "here".
But they were not "there"!
The directions weren't there because the message you were
looking at was David Kirchner's reply to a message from Ridge
Kennedy. David quoted Ridge's opening remarks but snipped
off the dance description. Below is a copy Ridge's original
message, including the dance description and Ridge's comments
about it (but excluding a copy of an even earlier message
from David to which Ridge was replying).
On Mar 29, 2016, at 6:47 PM, Ridge Kennedy srk3nn3dy(a)gmail.com [trad-dance-callers]
David asked about dances with an English accent.
Following is one I think meets his criteria, mentions David and his great dance Fast
Living, and remembers wonderful person and English Dancer and Dance leader, Mary Kay
Friday. Here's the info on a dance. Title is explained in notes.
Contra, Becket, Clockwise
Ridge Kennedy and Bob Isaacs
A-1 Move forward on Left Diagonal (4) Fall straight back (not too far!)
Gypsy Across (see notes) (4) Turn Single (W 1x; M 3/4 See
A-1 Promenade single file 3/4 (8) Neighbor Swing
B-1 Hey Halfway (men pass left, partner right, women left, neighbor right
Men allemande left once and a half (8)
B-2 Partner Balance and Swing (or gypsy and swing if you are so inclined)
Notes: Mary Kay Friday was one of the nicest, kindest and all around best people I ever
met in the world of traditional dance, or anywhere else for that matter. Her death in
2001 stunned the traditional music and dance community, and filled the church on the
grounds of the Washington Cathedral with shape note singers and dancers and family and
Shortly afterward, I had the notion that I wanted to make up a dance for her. Tom Hinds
had already made up “The Other Mary Kay’s Reel” but I thought there was room for one more
dance for Mary Kay.
The last dance I remembered dancing with her was Fast Living by David Kirchner – a very
fine four-facing-four dance. That become a sort of starting point for me – the dance
should be four facing four. And it should have an English (as in English country dance)
accent, since Mary Kay was one of the very best leaders of accessible ECD who I ever have
At some point along the way, I found out that Mary Kay had a personalized license plate
on her car. It said: “TGIF.”
OK, so that had to be the title of this dance.
I thought about it a lot, and even tried to recruit some eminent dance choreographers to
help me out. But it just didn’t seem to be happening.
But this year – ten years after Mary Kay’s death – I came up with this little sequence
that I thought might work as the start of the dance. I asked Bob Isaacs to help me out
with the second half of the dance and he suggested something that only appeared in one
other dance he knew of – Fast Living. Well. It’s fate, I thought.
So the dance came together – but it was flawed. The men’s allemande turns changed from
one time through to the next – first once and quarter, then three quarters. It was a
For skillful dancers, it worked and was enjoyable, but it was very challenging. The
second time I called it, at the Sunday Night Dance in Glen Echo, Maryland, I was watching
couples at the end of the lines while they were “out” do the dance as a two-couple dance –
just like a contra in Becket formation. Ann Fallon was in one group of four that was going
through the dance when it became clear to me – this isn’t a four facing four dance – it’s
better as a plain old duple, contra in Becket formation.
And so it is.
It’s flirty, as one dancer said to me. It’s fun. It has an English accent. It goes well
with music that’s a little funky and maybe bluesy and cool in a hot and sultry sort of
way. Or if the band can play tunes from from the ECD repertoire, well that will work
nicely too. I am confident Mary Kay would have enjoyed it.
Now the technical stuff:
Gypsy across: Change places with the neighbor you are facing in four beats of music. Move
directly toward each other then turn halfway clockwise to pass and step back. It is a
“Hole in the Wall” cross, only faster.
There is a tendency, when dancers to the “forward on the left diagonal (slice left, per
Becky Hill) and fall back – for the dances to move back fairly far. That will make the
“gypsy across” more difficult and through the timing off for the next part of the
sequence. Encourage the dancers to fall back four “teeny tiny” steps so they have less
separation and distance to travel to change places in four steps.
Turn Single, but it’s not really a turn single because men and women turn different
amounts: The turn here is also clockwise (right shoulder moves back, left shoulder moves
forward). Women turn all the way around in four steps. Men turn only three quarters.
Women end facing across the set – looking at neighbor’s right shoulder. Men face up or
down the set, looking at partner’s right shoulder.
This is unfamiliar to many contra dancers. The key to success (getting turned in four
steps) is to be sure you are turning with the *first* step. It should be off to the right
– not forward, so that the turn is completed by step no. 4.
Overall – a demonstration of the “gypsy across, whirl away, promenade and swing sequence
will be very helpful. You can also remind dancers that all the turns are to the right. If
folks like to gypsy and swing with partners – hey let it be up to them. It provides a
little more of an “English accent” for the dance, but I prefer and balance and swing