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April 30, 2008


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Fascinating! Thanks for this post--I had no idea.

By the way, I love the photo of you to the right "Susan on the Dance Floor". I don't know that I've ever seen you in your mid-19th century attire.

Interesting! Might you be willing to take on "siding" at some point?

I am annoyed that there wrinkles on the skirt in that picture, but I don't photograph well in general and was pleased to run across any picture where I don't look deranged. I think you're the first person to notice it.

Siding as in "Sharp siding" vs. "Shaw siding"? It's been done, but I could do it again. I think Shaw is correct for historical dance, if a simple answer will do.

That, and anything else you might be able to add. I've heard other discussions about this; I'd like to hear yours. If there's already a version from you online, a link will suffice. Thanks!

(I have to confess a fondness for Sharp siding. It just seems more elegant and swoopy, especially in dances like Childgrove.)

I don't have anything against Sharp siding, I just call it changing sides. :) I think anyone who argues for Sharp siding on historical (as opposed to aesthetic-for-modern) grounds needs to explain how it is distinguished from changing sides. FWIW, they'd also be arguing with Sharp himself, who by the end of his life was convinced he'd screwed up but was unable to get his followers to change their habits.

I'll try to get around to this sometime. And maybe something on the "gypsy", which is a move that sends me 'round the bend. The bad bend.

Very interesting. I had no idea there was ever a style of casting where one doesn't turn around -- after all, that flip is often (nowadays) considered to be the fundamental difference between a cast and any other kind of move.

I will be looking forward to your remarks about the gypsy; I don't know too much about that figure in historical context.

Hmm...should we start calling "right-shoulder Roma"? :D

Anent Marnen's comment: We've got an assortment of MECD where you "cross and cast", which is really "cross, stay facing out, continue down the outside." So there are flipless casts all over (eg, Midnight Ramble, Emperor of the Moon, etc, etc.)

However, when we slip up the middle or down the outside (in MECD), we call it out specially, as in "The Round" (but that's from pre-1752, so it _should_ be called out specially).

Great thanks for this post!
I am from Ukraine, were we have our balls in XIX-cent. style. In three month will take place a next ball about J. Austen's books, that's why I read a Wilson's books now and try to understand his descriptions about steps and figures in English regency CDs.

I think, I understand how to dance his Side step (Yes, I agree, it must be like Double Kemkóssy or Irish Sevens); Back Step (Minor Kemkóssy); Scotch setting step (Single Kemkóssy).
I understand how to dance a Chassé, Jeté and Assemblé…
But I don't know how to dance the Cast off Step. Maybe, it must be slow turning step…

Can You publish the description of a casting off step from "A Treatise on Dancing"? I want to read it.

And one more question: do You reconstruct the "Lead outsides" figure?

Thanks and sorry for my English.

[Note from Susan: the question about "lead outsides" is answered in a following post; click here.]

Hi Oleksiy,

Don't worry, your English is fine. Saltator's casting off step is not very clear: left foot to second, hop once, right foot to third, left to third in front, right to third in front.

There's no indication of how much music this takes or what rhythm it is danced in. There's also no indication of whether it's the sort of casting off where one turns or the sort where one merely angles slightly backwards to get behind the line of dancers ready to slide down sideways. Given that the turning version existed in England in the 1810s but the sideways slide version existed in the late 18thc, it's hard to say what Saltator intended in America in 1802, but I lean toward the idea that it is intended to turn. Because of these ambiguities I haven't worked extensively with the step. My tentative reconstruction uses a sort of modified glissade:

(upbeat) slide left foot to second
1 hop on left foot, bringing right raised behind (sissone)
2 assemblé with right foot in front (or possibly a jeté)
3 jeté onto left foot in front
4 assemblé with right foot in front

This works well if it's a turning step - the slide moves you toward the top of the set (take it at a slight angle to start the turn) and then the assemblé-jeté-assemblé sequence can be used to turn. It works less well if one isn't turning; the repeated placing of the foot in front makes it hard to get even the slightest backward motion! An alternative version that might work better if one is simply trying to move slightly behind the line of dancers for a sideways slide down the set would be:

(upbeat) slide left foot to second
1 hop on left foot, bringing right raised in front (sissone)
2 jeté onto right foot behind
3 jeté onto left foot in front
4 assemblé with right foot in front

One would use the first jeté to get some backward motion and dance the last two steps basically in place. But I don't think it's meant for this; I think it's meant to turn.

Some people reconstruct the glissade step as being done in the rhythm "one and" instead of "and one", which would suggest a rhythm for these sequences of: 1-and-2, 3, 4 instead of my and-1, 2, 3, 4. I don't think this is correct, myself (concluding a step on anything but a strong beat feels very unmusical and doing a hop followed by the leap of a jeté or assemblé in the same quarter-bar feels very stuttery to me), but the sources are ambiguous, and in any case this is not a pure glissade. A slide-hop on "1-and" does feel better than slide-close on "1-and" -- the hop could be interpreted as a temps levé leading into the following step, if it were more a sliding than a leaping jeté -- so I'm still open to the idea.

And, of course, there's also the ever-present possibility that Saltator screwed up his notation and one or both of the "in fronts" should have been "behind" instead -- I've expanded it out into plain English, but his original notation uses only single letters ("R.f.3.B.") and strikes me as highly vulnerable to mistakes and printing errors.

So, basically, I don't have a definitive reconstruction and I'm not sure it's possible to come up with one unless we find another source with a more useful description of the step.

"Lead outsides" is another figure in which we have contradictory sources and versions (Dukes vs. Wilson) in which the sequence and even the length of the figure vary. I avoid using it because I can't come up with a solid way to put steps into it. I'll try to do a post on it at some point, though I can't guarantee a time frame since I'm extremely busy!

Hi, Susan!
Thank You very much for Saltator's description and for your interpretation.
I'll try to understand and dance it.

About lead outsides, I saw one figure in Liven Bart's reconstruction of Juliana. I think, it must be "lead outsides", but never read its schema in old manuals:

2nd G. start from Ladies side:

L1 G2 L3

G1 L2 G3

2 bars: G2 lead outside L2 with one chassé, jeté, assemblé.
2 bars: they dance balancé or set (glissé to the right (top), changement, glissé to the left (down), changement)
4 bars: go to places with one chassé, jeté, assemblé and balancez.

Hi Oleksiy,

That's not any version of Lead Outsides that I've ever seen; none of them start improper and they end with a turn. But I'd rather not get into something on this thread that doesn't pertain to casting off; unrelated questions should go into the Question Thread at the top of the blog and I'll get to them when I can.


By the way, about a cast off: in the US Congress' Library You can see figures of the French Anglaises (1765-1780???) (Anglaises is an English longways in the European countries - France, Russian Empire, etc.). One of them - 7me Anglaise de la Reine, among other figures contain cast off two couple and cross (3rd figure on the diagram) in another style - with turning to the bottom (G to the right and L to the left).

Some other figures, (turn corners, for example) has a different variants too.

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