6 facing 6 contra dances

If you’re new to this post, the dances are listed in the order I wrote them.

To my knowledge, only the last one, “2 out of 3 ain’t bad” has been danced with real people. It’s challenging, but folks got it.

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February 26, 2014
I’ve been walking to work lately, because the roads are too icy for me to feel comfortable biking. As such, I have time to think about contra dances; and lately I’ve been thinking about 6 facing 6 formation. I’m not sure if anyone else has written in this formation, but I’ll put these out there as an incentive to get other folks thinking about it (and possibly to demonstrate why I shouldn’t be left alone with my thoughts…). The first one is my favorite. The last one is the most insane.

Wilmentor the Conqueror
6 facing 6 (form three equal improper sets and join them together)
permutation progression with trail buddies

A1
Women Chain on the Right Diagonal
Women Chain on the Left Diagonal

A2
In groups of 6 on the side, take hands in a ring: balance & spin one place to the right
Meanwhile figure:
Men in the edge groups of 4, allemande left 1.5x with other gent in your group of 4
Men in the center group of 4 not with each other but with closer women from edge group of 4, allemande left 1.5x

B1
In your trail buddy line of 6 do a hay for 16 counts, starting by Right shoulder
(this action starts with the trail buddy who would be in your group of 4 if you paused and took hands)

B2
Partner gypsy and swing, end facing line of direction

Notes:
This is by no means an easy dance. The title comes from my admiration of Will Mentor, who gets away with calling some of my dances in situations where I don’t think I could pull them off. If anyone can make this work, he could.

The dance is a bit choppy, having only one petronella, and the meanwhile figure in A2 which won’t leave the men perfectly positioned to face the correct trail buddy. I played around with several possibilities, but this is what I came up with to get the the 123->312 progression of dancers.

A much simpler dance that still gives the trail buddies different positions each time through uses many more petronellas:

Dodecanella
6 facing 6 (form three equal improper sets and join them together)
permutation progression with trail buddies

A1
Lines of 6 go forward and back
Lines of 6 go forward, and on the way back the leftmost lady rolls her corner away

A2
All 12 in a big ‘ring’, balance and spin one place to the right
In three groups of 4, balance the ring and spin one place to the right

B1
All 12 in a big ring, balance and spin one place to the right
Middle 8 in a medium ring, balance and spin one place to the right

B2
Partner Balance and Swing. End facing line of direction.

I don’t know that there’s enough interesting stuff in Dodecanella to merit the added complexity of a 6 face 6 formation. You don’t get a neighbor or corner swing, and you don’t even get a hey with your trail buddies…

If you leave out wanting to permute the couples, it frees up some of the choreographic constraints.

Swapping Sixes
6 facing 6 (form three equal improper sets and join them together), ends swap but the middle doesn’t

A1
Lines of 6 forward, and on way back, ladies roll away trail buddy neighbor if they have one
In groups of 4, balance the ring and petronella twirl one place to the right

A2
In groups of 4, balance the ring and petronella twirl one place to the right
In same groups of 4, left hand star 1x

B1
Pass trail buddy by left to start a 16 beat hey for 6 in your trail buddy line

B2
Partner balance and swing. End facing line of direction

Notes: As a more complicated, but possibly better flowing dance, leave a couple out on each end in the A2.5 and make only two left hand stars. You’ll start the hey passing my right shoulder with someone not in your star, which leaves you free to gypsy and swing your partner in the B2.

Thoughts on the Ice
6 facing 6 (form three equal length improper sets and join them together width-wise)
permutation progression with trail buddies

A1
Lines of 6 go forward and back
Corner Swing (at the ends, they’re across from you, not the ends they’re next to you)
End that swing making two sets of six. Ends facing in, others making a triangle towards closest end.

A2
Balance the ring of six, and petronella turn one place to the right
Balance the ring of six, and petronella turn one place to the right
End the second petronella with individuals at top and bottom facing up and down (heads, who are partners), and couples on the sides facing across (sides, who are not partners)

B1
Sides pass through across
when they’re clear, heads pass partner up and down
Four in the middle (who just passed through from the edges) chain and turn 180 to face outside edges
Sides chain to partner. Four in the middle turn extra to face back in to the middle.
During second chain, heads pass neighbor top and bottom (along width of set)

B2
Head couples take hands with end couples to make rings of four. Middle couples take hands in ring of four.
Circle left to progressed position (3/4 for center four, either 5/4 or 1/4 for end fours)
Swing your partner.
End facing line of direction.

If anyone successfully dances these, or any other 6 facing 6 contras, please let me know. Or maybe it’s better I don’t know, I might write more…
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Edited on March 1st to add another dance. Turns out I’m going to write more even if I haven’t gotten to test any of these. I’ll keep adding them to this post so they end up in one place.

Cherry Picking Swing
Six Facing Six (join three equal length improper sets)
Permutation Progression

A1
(In lines of 6) Give and Gents take to a neighbor swing. End at Gents home.

A2
Both outer groups of 4, trade places with the couple in front of you with a promenade & courtesy turn
On the right diagonal, right and left through (if no one there, don’t go, only 4 of 6 couples go)

B1
On the left diagonal, right and left through (if no one there, don’t go, only 4 of 6 couples go)
Center group of 4, trade places with the couple in front of you with a promenade & courtesy turn

B2
Women right hands across cherry picking star
Women drop out when you reach your partner (won’t be the same distance for all, hence cherry picking)
Partner Swing

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And another woke me up Sunday morning after a fabulous Montpelier contra:

Cascade of Rolls
Six Facing Six Dance
Permutation Progression

A1 ———–
(8) Lines of 6 forward, roll your corner away with a half sashay
(8) New Corner swing
A2 ———–
(8) Right Diagonal Right and left through
(8) Left Diagonal Women’s Chain
-while they’re chaining, Left most pair balance & gent roll lady away
B1 ———–
(4) Balance the Ring of 12
(4) Left most gent rolls (trail buddy) neighbor GENT away
(4) Balance the Ring
(4) Those two gents roll (trail buddy) neighbors away
B2 ———–
(4) Balance the Ring of 12
(4) middle fours (of line of six) roll away (will be Same Genders)
(8) Partner swing, end facing line of direction

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March 4th, and they’re still percolating

The Devil’s Scoliosis
Luke Donforth
Formation: Six facing Six
Level: Adv
Permutation Progression

A1 ———–
(8) Lines of 6, forward and back
(8) Corner swing
A2 ———–
Two groups of 6: Gents have right hand around corner, left hands form star
(8) Star Promenade 1x
as in Devil’s Backbone
(10?) Promenade in a sinuous flow to other star, passing by Ladies R
B1 ———–
(6) Star Promenade with ladies Right hands ~1/2 until gents are in progressed line
(8) Ladies star right ~1x while gents do half of a hey for three (starts by new middle gent passing trail buddy gent not in his star by left, total of 4 swaps for the gents)
B2 ———–
(16) Partner balance and swing

Notes: SIX FACING SIX
The title, and the dance, draw inspiration from William Watson’s “The Devil’s Backbone”
Probably needs extra room up and down for stars and heys in middle.
I’m not sure how the timing works out. It’s one thing to move pegs around a table, it’s quiet another to get dancers where they need to be judiciously.

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January 12th, 2015; and two related ones have been hammered out. I finally got a hey to work for a six facing six contra dance. In one, you do the hey in your line of 6 with your trail buddies of the same role, and neighbors of the opposite role. In the other, you do a hey around your group of twelve (it doesn’t work…).

D+ Petronella Linear
by Luke Donforth
SIX FACING SIX

A1 ———–
(8) Lines of six, forward and back
(8) In groups of 4, Balance the ring and mostly petronella
Outside fours petronella. Middle four, gent roll N lady away (2 gents stay put)
A2 ———–
(16) Hey in your line of 6, passing this neighbor by right shoulders
(opposite role right should, same role left shoulder, loop at the ends)
B1 ———–
(16) New Neighbor balance and swing
End facing gents line of direction
B2 ———–
(4) Give and ladies take
(12) Partner swing, end facing line of direction

The name comes from the fact that 67% of people are doing a petronella.

D+ Petronella Circular
Luke Donforth
SIX FACING SIX

A1 ———–
(8) Lines of six, forward and back
(8) In groups of 4, Balance the ring and mostly petronella
Outside fours petronella. Middle four, gent roll N lady away (2 gents stay put)
A2 ———–
(16) Hey around circle of 12, passing this neighbor by right shoulders
(opposite role right shoulder, same role left shoulder)
B1 ———–
(16) New Neighbor balance and swing
End facing ladies’ line of direction
B2 ———–
(4) Give and gents take
(12) Partner swing, end facing line of direction

Thank you to Chris Page for pointing out this one doesn’t work. I may try to re-write a circular version at some point down the road.

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I wrote a four facing four, and was intrigued by the interaction on the moves; and so tried it with a six facing six as well. It has some of what I think of a hallmark 6×6 issue, which is meanwhile figures. Haven’t tested this one yet, but I’ve got it more diagrammed than I usually write up.

Hammering on the dance forge

Six facing six
Initial condition
1 A 2 B 3 C        men: letters
F 6 E 5 D 4        women: numbers

A1
With the one across from you in the other line, right hand balance (4) and pull by (2)
​F 6 E 5 D 4​
​1 A 2 B 3 C
​turn towards partner and pull by left​ (2)
​6 F 5 E 4 D
A 1 B 2 C 3
With the one you find, right hand balance (4) and pull by (2)
A 5 F 4 E 3
6 B 1 C 2 D
pull by left with the next
5 A 4 F 3 E
B 6 C 1 D 2
A2
Balance and swing the one you find (B5, A4, F3, E2, D1, 6C), end facing into groups of 6 on the sides
B 4 A    3 F 2
5 C 6    D 1 E
B1
in groups of 6, make a left hand star, turn 1x
B 4 A    3 F 2

5 C 6    D 1 E
Gents initially in middle (B, E); break the star and lead single file prom to progressed (for men) line

E 1 D 3 F 2
5 C 6 A 4 B
B2
End gents who broke the star (B, E), give and take partner (2, 5) to a swing
Center four women (1346) make a left hand star and turn it half way to partner, waiting gents (FDCA) take 1 step to left.
Those eight people (FDCA 1346) gypsy and swing their partner​
​End facing line of direction
E 5 D 4 F 6
—————–
C 3 A 1 B 2​

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July 19th, 2015 after writing Hammering on the Dance Forge, I apparently haven’t gotten it all out of my system yet. Here’s another one, which may actually be the simplest of my 6×6 so far. If we believe the aphorism ‘90% of your writing is bad’ then at 10 compositions, maybe one of these is danceable.

Simple Sixes He Says
Luke Donforth
Formation: Six facing Six

A1 ———–
(8) On the right diagonal – Right and left through; turn to face the trail buddy couple you traveled with
(8) (the ones who traveled) with your trail buddy couple, Right and left through, turn to face in
A2 ———–
In a big ring of 12
(8) Balance the ring and spin to the right (petronella)
(8) Balance the ring and spin to the right (petronella)
B1 ———–
(4) Balance with your partner
(12) 1/2 Hey, passing partner right shoulders
B2 ———–
(16) Partner balance and swing

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July 23rd, 2015, and they’re still bubbling up. Here’s another one, written succinctly, then diagramed:

Give in to Progress
Luke Donforth
Type: Contra, SIX facing SIX
Permutation progression

A1 ———–
(16) Give and Gent’s take opposite to a swing
A2 ———–
(8) Right and left through up and down (R to ptr, L to one you swung)
(8) Twos half Figure eight across the set (line of 6 ladies, line of 6 gents)
B1 ———–
Starting with the same gender neighbor in your foursome
(8) 8 counts of a hey, gents start passing Left, ladies start passing right
(8) Take two hands with partners, 1s make tunnels, 2s duck through
head 2 passes 3 pairs of 1s, middle 2s pass 2 pairs of 1s, last 2 passes 1 pair of 1s
B2 ———–
(16) Give and progressed partner take to a partner swing
(1s: gents take; 2s ladies take)
End facing line of direction
Give in to Progress, diagrammed

Initial condition
1s are letters {lower case -> women, CAPS-> gents}
2s are numbers {roman->women, arabic->gents}

a A  b B  c C
1 i  2 ii  3 iii
A1 ———–
(16) Give and Gent’s take opposite to a swing
i A  ii B iii C
1 a  2 b  3 c

A2 ———–
(8) Right and left through up and down (R to ptr, L to one you swung)
a 1  b 2  c 3
A i  B ii  C iii

(8) Twos half Figure eight across the set (line of 6 ladies, line of 6 gents)
a i  b ii  c iii
A 1 B 2 C 3

B1 ———–
Starting with the same gender neighbor in your foursome
(8) 8 counts of a hey, gents start passing Left, ladies start passing right
ii iii i c a b
2 3 1 C A B

(8) Take two hands with partners, 1s make tunnels, 2s duck through
head 2 passes 3 pairs of 1s, middle 2s pass 2 pairs of 1s, last 2 passes 1 pair of 1s
c ii a iii b i
C 2 A 3 B 1

B2 ———–
(16) Give and progressed partner take to a partner swing
(1s: gents take; 2s ladies take)
End facing line of direction

2 ii  3 iii  1 i
————-
c C  a A  b B

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July 27th, 2015
If you really want to sell the hassle of a 6 facing 6 dance, it should have something that isn’t normally offered by standard longways contras; but it still needs to be accessible. Many of these dances are far from accessible, and don’t offer much beyond brain-puzzle satisfaction. But if a 6×6 let you dance with more of the hall, that would bring something worthwhile to the endeavor. At least, that was the motivation for writing a dance where you get 3 swings, two with neighbors, one with partner (the title only counts the neighbor swings).

Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad
six facing six contra (3 joined improper sets)
by Luke Donforth

A1
In groups of four (ptr and cpl opposite), balance ring; gents take opposite home and swing

A2
Lines of 6 go forward; on way back, middle gent roll neighbor (he swang) away with half sashay
8 counts of hey, starting by passing one you swung by Right shoulder​
​B1
New Neighbor gypsy and swing
B2
Give and ladies take partner to progressed position; swing.
End facing line of direction in permuted position​

 

Diagrammed/Pegged
Initial condition (men Capitals and Arabic, women lower case and roman):
a A  b B  c C
1 i    2 ii  3 iii
A1
In groups of four (ptr and cpl opposite), balance ring; gents take opposite home and swing
i A   ii B  iii C
1 a  2 b   3 c
 A2
Lines of 6 go forward; on way back, middle gent roll neighbor (he swang) away with half sashay
i A  B ii  iii C
1 a  b 2  3 c
​8 counts of hey, pass one you swung by Right shoulder​
​ii C A iii i B
2 c a 3 1 b ​
​B1
New Neighbor gypsy and swing
​ii C iii A i B
2 c 3 a 1 b ​
B2
Give and ladies take partner to progressed position; swing.
End facing line of direction in permuted position​
​2 ii 3 iii 1 i
—————
c C a A b B​
You can see a video of this being danced and Nils Fredland calling it at: