A Barn-Dance is a lovely way to celebrate a wedding, birthday or anniversary - or just have a bean-feast or annual do. Rick Townend is a barn-dance caller, and works with his own barn-dance band or, if he is already engaged for the night of your party, he can put you in touch with other callers and bands.
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Some of the straight-forward dance patterns are some of the oldest which we human beings have danced - making a circle within which some of the dancers do something special, holding up hands in an arch for other people to go under, making lines down which the lead dancers pass. The caller's job is to make this happen so that the gathering of people can enjoy themselves and each get to meet the others. Of course the dances can be taken to a great degree of complexity, and if this kind of dancing is your passion, you will already know about its history and the different strains which have led to the dances we know today. Anyone who has read or watched on TV the works of Jane Austen will know that Cotillions and Country dances were part of the general culture of the gentry at the beginning of the 19th century. Thomas Hardy made some accurate descriptions of local traditional music and dance.
Many of the basic movements and terms
are well-known - here are a few:
"Swing your partner" - in ballroom hold or with hands crossed.
"Doh-si-doh" - walk past your partner (right shoulder to right shoulder), step to the right (passing back-to-back - dos-á-dos) and walk backwards to your place again.
"Promenade" - you and your partner cross hands in front, and walk round the circle to your home position
"Grand chain" - in a big circle, face your partner, give him or her your right hand, pull them past and - still facing the same way - reach out your left for the next person; pull them past and carry on right - left - right etc. till you meet your partner again round the other side of the circle or, in 'Lucky 7', stop at the seventh and get a new partner!
"Top Couple" - with lines of dancers, the couple nearest the band are the 'top couple'
"Cast Off" - the top couple separate and each go down the outside of their row; the other dancers follow in line. Often the top couple make an arch when they get to the bottom of the 'set' and every one else goes under, finding their partner again in the process.
"Turn out the Dish-rag" - in a circle of four with everybody holding hands, one couple raise their hands to make an arch; the other couple go under and then by a process of everyone twisting round - but not letting go hands - they 'wring out the dish-rag', by which everybody ends up at last in their original place.
Fancy a go?
Contact Rick at 01732 458261 or rick@ri cktownend.co.uk [NB please remove the space in this email address before using - it is only there to try and prevent 'spam']
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