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October 07, 2008


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Hi Oleksiy,

In response to your comments -

1. No, it's not only sideways motion; lead down the middle and up again clearly is, but the lead through the bottom and top is not. But because there are two options, one can never just assume it means side-by-side with forward motion (which is generally the modern assumption). So I always have to examine the possibility.

2. Yes, setting sometimes travels forward. For forward setting, it's easiest to use the pas de basque, which Wilson uses for setting in a country dance in one of his manuals, and which is easy to make travel forwards. But it's very unusual to set in one direction and not the other; setting is generally symmetrical, and while there might be forward motion, there generally is not any net motion sideways once the full move is complete.

On the instructions:
1. Two Minor Kemkossy steps in one bar is entirely possible; it's not even difficult! Each of them takes half a bar.

2. Yes, one Single Kemkossy is not a lot of travel time, though I can get a good four feet of travel out of it without much trouble, which will do much of the crossing. I don't think the initial move to the right takes the couple fully out of the set, nor does the move across have to take the couple all the way out on the ladies' side. Wilson is emphatic in one of his notes that the figure is done across the dance rather than outside the set.

I don't much like shorting the turn to only three bars; that leaves only two chassé steps for a full turn, which is awkward to accomplish; takes the figure off the music; and makes the first part (before the turn) impossible to accomplish in only four bars, which is important, since the figure sometimes appears that way!

The other obvious way to do the first part of lead outsides would be with four chassé steps - one to move forward, one to move diagonally out on the gentlemen's side, then turning and moving straight forward across the set to the ladies' side, then either turning and moving forwards or simply dancing backwards to the center for the turn. I experimented with this version a few years ago and felt that it was too much the gentleman guiding the lady around inside the set while he hardly got to move at all. It also ignores the "set" direction in Complete System for the crossing move, though since that only appears in one source one could decide it's not critical.

There's no perfect or definitive solution to the Wilson lead outsides, but I still think the one I described is the best to be had unless a more helpful source comes to light.

I'm glad you enjoyed the post; thank you for motivating me to write it!

to use the pas de basque, which Wilson uses for setting in a country dance in one of his manuals

In which one? I don't remember. He used pas de basque in quadrilles like balancez steps, but setting and balancez are not identical.
Unfortunately, Wilson distinguish between quadrille's and CD's figures and steps.

I asked about pas de basque as setting step for Fabio Mollica (he is Italian historical dance teacher), he wrote me: I think dancers fell free to use the step they want. The RSCDS pas de basque has not historical foundament. It was developed from Miss Milligan and his school in the early XX centuty.

But if you have any information about use this step in CD's, publish it, please!

Wilson uses the pas de basque as a setting step in a country dance in the manual L'Assemblée, which is from either 1818 or 1819 (I don't have it in front of me).

And Mollica is incorrect; the pas de basque has a firm historical basis. It is described in the Scottish manuscript Contre Danses à Paris, parts of which date to 1818 and the rest to the 1840s. It is extremely close to the modern RSCDS version as well as to descriptions of the pas de basque in the mazurka (which also dates back to the early 1800s). Miss Milligan certainly didn't make it up!

You don't understand me because of my badly English :( Sorry.
Fabio wrote about the using of pas de basque as setting step in British CDs.
Of course, this is really, indisputably truth XIX cent. step. We know and dance it in mazurkas, quadrilles etc. and have many descriptions of this step.
But even in late scotch manual it proposed like setting step for ladies and heretofore I haven't mentions about using pas de basque in English Regency CDs. If You have some information, it is wonderful news!

Yes, it is documentable for English Regency country dancing in the late 1810s; see my previous comment. Sorry for the misunderstanding!

So how did diamonds come to be for women and circles for men?

It was just Wilson's choice. There were a variety of symbols employed in the various efforts to notate set dances over a couple of centuries.

I'm really interested in this post, sorry for getting here so late!

I've been reading another source, the 1764 "Country Dancing made Plain & Easy" by a London dance master calling himself "A.D.". This work describes two further figures that are relevant to this discussion: "Lead out at the sides" and "Lead out to the Walls". Leading to the sides is similar to the Dukes#1 figure, it starts in a progressed position and involves a figure eight outside between the men, in at the ends, and outside between the women, then home. Leading to the walls is superficially similar to Wilson's "Lead to the Outsides" figure, though it's different in the details. They're likely to share a common ancestry.

I suspect that these two completely different figures have both been shortened to 'Lead Outsides', and then conflated (by Wilson's "ignorant copyists") to the confusion of all.


Just FYI, I've found another variant of Lead Outsides in a 1779 manuscript by Thomas Straight. He uses it in a dance called "The New Parliament". In this variant it's the first figure of the dance, and used before progression. He describes it as follows:

"1st Lady take hands with the 2nd & 3rd Gent: foot it to the side of the Room; at the same time the 1st Gent take hands with the 2nd & 3rd Ladies & foot it to the opposite side of the Room. Meet in two threes & foot it to each other."

He doesn't actually call it "Lead Outsides", but it's clearly a variant of the Dukes #2 figure: http://library.efdss.org/images/dancebooks/fullsize/2277g0008.jpg .

Nicely spotted (though it' "The New Academy" on that link).

The dance figures next to it are equally interesting for the phrasing of "allemande half round to the right and foot it. Ditto to the left and foot it", which is a variant I don't recall seeing before.

Thanks for the link!

For the third bar of your reconstruction, you say:

"1b Dance sideways all the way across the set to between the top and bottom women"

"For footwork, I would use the following:" ...

"dance across the set to the women's line with a Single Kemkossy, starting right foot"

Since the dancers are moving sideways in the third bar, I would think that they would need to be facing each other and using mirror-image feet at that point. Is that what you intended?

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