First couple cross over inside below second couple (4); Up on the outside and turn partners to places (4); First couple down the centre, back and cast off (8); First lady swing second gent (4); First gent swing second lady (4); Right and left (8).
The earlier instructions from the two manuals by Howe are virtually identical except that he describes the second move as “up on the outside swing partner to place”, a distinction I will address below, and the swings of the first lady/second gentleman and first gentleman/second lady as “quite round”.
(Seventh in a series of posts discussing and analyzing the Swedish dances. The first post may be found here.)
While never a prominent format, the Swedish dances became enough of a success to outlast their originator. In the second edition of his Companion to La Terpsichore Moderne (London, c1830), dancing master J. S. Pollock, “Professor of Dancing, late of Paris” gives figures for many of the unusual country dance formats originating in the late 1810s and early 1820s, among them three different sets of figures for Swedish dances.
Pollock describes the Swedish dances as being suited to either a lady between two gentlemen or a gentleman between two ladies, though his instructions are invariably for the latter configuration. His diagram suggests a set of trios all of the same configuration. Interestingly, Pollock explicitly states that “no change of places is to be made either at the top or bottom of the same,” meaning at the ends of the set. This means that a right-hand dancer going down the set would become a left-hand dancer coming back up, a minor complication which Pollock was either indifferent to or regarded as a feature.
Pollock’s three dances, each thirty-two bars in length, are not given associated tune-names, only numbers, consistent with his descriptions of other types of dances. Any tune of the proper length might be used. My reconstructions are as follows:
No. 1 8b Hands six round and back again 8b The two top ladies and opposite gentleman cross right hands around then left hands back 8b The other three the same 8b All six advance and retire and pass through
No. 2 8b All six advance and retire twice 8b The top two ladies and opposite gentlemen hands three round and back 8b The other three the same 8b All six advance and retire and pass through
No. 3 8b Hands six round and back again 8b Top gentleman swing the lady opposite on the right with his right hand, then the lady opposite on the left with his left 8b Bottom gentleman the same with the top ladies 8b All six advance and retire and pass through
Reconstruction notes The issues of reconstructing passing through in Chivers’ Swedish dances were discussed in my second post in this series. For Pollock’s Swedish dances, one could use either version, but I lean toward the simpler one without the taking hands or the setting after passing through. Those details appear to have faded with Chivers; I have never seen them elsewhere, and they seem a bit elaborate to be simply assumed.
Pollock opens his second dance with “All six advance and retire”, but to fit the music, it must be done twice. Chivers was also inconsistent about mentioning this in his instructions.
A notable characteristic of Pollock’s dances is their use of figures which distinguish between the top trio (nearest the head of the set) and bottom trio, a distinction never made by Chivers. His third dance is also the earliest appearance I have found of the center dancer interacting with diagonal opposites in sequence (right-hand opposite then left-hand opposite).
The next appearance of a Swedish dance that I have found is in manuscript form in Scotland about a decade later, in Frederick Hill’s Book of Quadrilles & Country Dances &c &c., dated March 22, 1841. Hill gives both a small diagram and the note “Requires two Gentlemen to one Lady”, followed by a single set of dance instructions:
The first Lady turns the Gentleman opposite on her right with her right, & then the Gent on her left with her left. The second or opposite L turns the Gent opposite in the same manner and retires to her place. Six hands full round _ advance & retire change sides.
The instructions appear to be simply a slight variation on Pollock’s third dance above, with the genders reversed and the hands six round altered to move only one direction then placed later in the dance:
8b First (top) lady turns right-hand opposite gent by right hands, then left-hand opposite gent by left hands 8b Second (bottom) lady does the same 8b Hands six and circle completely around to the left 8b All six advance and retire, then pass through
This produces a thirty-two bar dance. For the pass through (“change sides” in the mansucript), I would have the dancers simply pass through by right shoulders.
It’s also possible to interpret Hill’s instructions as implying that the two ladies move simultaneously rather than sequentially, producing a twenty-four bar dance as follows:
4b Each lady turns the right-hand opposite gentleman by right hands 4b Each lady turns the left-hand opposite gentleman by left hands 8b Hands six and circle completely around to the left 8b All six advance and retire, then pass through
This is noticeably livelier, with four dancers moving at any given moment during the first eight bars of the dance, and suggests an interesting choreographic link with another dance. Variations on the idea of both center dancers interacting simultaneously with their right and then left opposite diagonals are also the most characteristic figure of the mid-century American dance called the Rustic Reel (as described in a previous Kickery article), a twenty-four-bar trio-facing-trio dance found in American dance manuals as early as 1841. While the Rustic Reel’s descent from the Swedish dances was always suggested by its unusual trio format, Pollock and Hill’s instructions provide the most compelling evidence yet that the American dance is a very close descendent of the earlier English genre of Swedish dances.
I have a bunch of small events and workshops this month before I take my brief winter break. This is a particularly good month if you want to enjoy some waltzing -- I have waltz events in New York, Connecticut, and Boston!
I am also available for private lessons in Connecticut (New Haven or Middletown) generally, and in New York and the Boston area on specific dates.
Here's a quick list with links for more information:
Big Apple Waltz Holiday Party ~ Friday, December 16th ~ New York City DJ'ed waltz evening 8:30-11:30; beginner lesson (cross-step) 7:45-8:30; special mid-dance sequence dance lesson (Tango Waltz)
Jane Austen's Birthday Dance ~ Saturday, December 17th ~ Cambridge (Boston), Massachusetts Afternoon dance 2:30-5:30 with country dances, quadrilles, waltzes. Beginner-friendly; steps and dances taught. Costumes encouraged!
Holiday Waltz Party ~ Saturday, December 17th ~ Cambridge (Boston), Massachusetts DJ'ed waltz evening 8:00-10:30; beginner lesson (cross-step) 7:30-8:00; special mid-dance sequence dance lesson (Tango Waltz)
Private lessons (email me directly if you would like to schedule a private lesson) New Haven & Middletown, Connecticut -- generally available New York City -- December 10, 11 (morning only), 15 (daytime), 16 (daytime) Boston -- December 18
Coming in 2012: Regular monthly waltz & Regency-era lessons in New York City Victorian balls in Connecticut on February 4th and March 24th Waltz workshops in Boston (January 22nd) and Providence (March 11th) and more!