Strange Formation contra dances

The Friends of the Greenfield Grange held a contest to invent a new contra dance formation. Normally I eschew the madness inspiring decent into complexity, but I indulged myself in the challenge.

They’ve just announced that nobody won, there wasn’t “a new formation, and a well-composed and intuitive dance sequence that would lend itself to being included in dance programs for mixed crowds.”

I’ll admit, my own compositions are challenging dances. I was not able to come up with a new formation that had the accessibility of what we’re familiar with. I hope that they release the dances that did come in, as it would be interesting to see what other people came up with.

I don’t know if I’ll ever get to dance or even call these, but I’ll share them for posterity. If you also submit a dance, I’d love to know what yours was.

The first two are widthways triplet (becket sub-beckets).
The last one is an improper set injected into a becket set

Fridays with David
Luke Donforth
Type: Contra
Formation: Other
Start in longways proper contra set. Take hands six from the top.
Couples 1 & 2 cross over. Couples 2 & 3 quarter circle to the right.
All 3 couples quarter circle to the left.
Widthways triplet dance. 1s on the side, 2s above, 3s below
2W 2M 1W
3m 3w 1M
A1 ———–
(4) Right to your Partner, balance
(4) Pull by Right with Partner, Left with Neighbor
(8) Next Neighbor swing
A2 ———–
(8) Lines of 3 facing up and down, forward and back
(4) Right to your Corner (not the neighbor you just swung) and balance
(4) Pull by Right with corner, left with Partner
2s & 3s turn to face 1s, 2s and 3s take handy hand with opposite
B1 ———–
1s, with joined hand (Lefts if Gent wants to go backwards, otherwise her L his R)
(8) 1s zig and zag set, passing first by Right and second by Left shoulders
1s: Gent wheels lady around. 2s & 3s drop hands, turn 180, and take handy hand with new opposite
(8) 1s zag and zig with half new set, passing Left then Right
1s: Lady wheels gent around to face folks just zagged and zigged with; 2s & 3s drop hands with opposite
B2 ———–
(8) All 6 Circle Left 1X (have progressed, 2s are 3s, etc)
(8) Partner swing

This dance follows triplet convention. 2s and 3s alternate being 3s and 2s as they work their way up the hall. 1s work their way down the hall.

Greenfield in Love
Luke Donforth
Type: Contra
Formation: Other
Start in longways proper contra set. Take hands six from the top.
Couples 1 & 2 cross over. Couples 2 & 3 quarter circle to the right.
All 3 couples quarter circle to the left.
Widthways triplet dance. 1s on the side, 2s above, 3s below

2W 2M 1W
3m 3w 1M

A1 ———–
(8) Balance six and spin to the right (petronella)
(8) Corner swing
Gents end at home, Ladies on their Right
A2 ———–
(16) Ladies do 2/3rds of a hey for three with hands
2 w/ 3 R; 3 w/ 1 L; 1 w/ 2 R; 2 w/ 3 L (all home)
If the tune works with it, the gents can snap on 1 on clap on 3.
The snaps are the pull by, the claps are turn and face next
B1 ———–
1s take handy hand (G R, W L); 2s & 3s face 1s
(8) 1/2 Hey for 3, starting R w/1s
as 2s and 3s do final swap gent 1 loops lady 1 around, gent 1 same line, Lady 1 new line
(8) 1/2 Hey, starting L w/1s
as 2s and 3s do final swap gent 1 loops lady 1 around, gent 1 same line, Lady 1 new line
B2 ———–
new groups of six (3s are now 2s with same 1s, they’ve pulled in new 3s)
(8) All 6 Circle Left 1X
(8) Partner swing

This dance follows triplet convention. 2s and 3s alternate being 3s and 2s as they work their way up the hall. 1s work their way down the hall.

Other Notes: A2 is similiar to the passing figure in Heralds in Love from SCA.
Could do a snap/clap figure

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This last dance, well…

The other formation I attempted to create is a cross between a tempest and a triplet. ID’d positions:
1M 2w 2m 1’w
1W 3m 3w 1’m

To get in to formation:

1) Have the dancers start in two equal length proper sets.
2) Both sets take hands four from the top, and the couple closer to the band in that four crosses over (two improper sets)
3) The long set closer to the door turns one place to the left (now becket, while the other long set is improper)
4) The becket couple closer to the improper set moves to the far side of the improper set

The becket couples are facing towards each other across the hall, with an improper set in between them. The improper set is facing up and down.

This dance has similarities with a triple minor, but it’s a widethways triple minor for four couples. The improper couples in the middle are the “2s & 3s”. The becket couples on the sides are the “1s”. The 2s & 3s will swap position above and below as they move up the hall. The 1s will swap sides of the set as they move down (like standard four face four dances).

Oh, and the whole thing is double progression; which actually makes the end effects MUCH simpler. 2s & 3s that pop out at the top will wait out once and then come in as 1s. Similar for the 1s at the bottom.

The dance:
A1
(8) Lines of 4 forward and back
(8) Swing Neighbor in line of 4 with you (end facing same direction as for lines of 4)
A2
(8) Form rings of four on the ends (keep the person you swung and take hand with your partner) balance and petronella turn one place to the right in that group of four
(8) In those groups of four, ladies chain (1s chain to ptr, 2s & 3s chain to trail buddy)
B1
(8) Half hey in your line of four, starting passing Neighbor R on the outside
while the 2s and 3s do their final L pass in the middle, the 1s & 1’s loop on the end.
The partner closer to the bottom of the set gates their partner around to face back in. The gated partner (1M and 1’w) is now in line with a new couple, whereas the gating partner (1W and 1’m) are in their same line of four
(8) Half hey in your line of four, starting passing Neighbor R on the outside
while the 2s and 3s do their final L pass in the middle, the 1s & 1’s loop on the end.

The partner closer to the bottom of the set gates their partner around to face back in. The gated partner (1W and 1’m) is now in line with a new couple, and the gating partner (1M and 1’w) are still with their progressed couple.

-everyone’s progressed to a new minor set, but haven’t swapped with trail buddies yet
B2
(8) Hand 8, circle Left half way
(8) Partner Swing, end facing in (1s & 1’s across, 2s & 3s up and down)
I’ll admit, I haven’t even come up with a name for this. Maybe I’ll call it “Luke Should Go to Denmark”. If you call it successfully for a group of more than 20 dancers before I do, I’ll let you name it.