Many dances are choreographed for 3 couples in a 4-couple longwise set. Often in class there are only 7 couples around. How does one do a 3-couple dance in a 7-couple set?

(Question asked by Sergey Kargapoltsev in the SCD teachers group on Facebook.)

asked 22 Mar '12, 12:01

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anselm ♦♦
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edited 22 Mar '12, 12:18

Put a 3-couple set at the top and a 4-couple set at the bottom. On the 2nd, 4th, 6th, and 8th turns of the dance, the 3-couple set at the top »borrow«, as 4th couple, the couple at the top of the 4-couple set who would otherwise be standing waiting for their turn as 1st couple in their set.

Some important points to note:

  • The borrowed couple must be aware that immediately after the end of their »loan« to the top set they need to start their turn as dancing couple in the bottom set.
  • Couples in the top set never progress below 3rd place, i.e., where at the end of their second turn as dancing couples they would usually slip to the bottom they simply stay put. This means that the original 1st couple gets two bonus turns at the end, where 4th couple would otherwise be the dancing couple.

Here is the same thing in pictures, for each turn of the dance. A, B, C are the couples in the top set; a, b, c, d are the couples in the bottom set. The couples in brackets are dancing together:

  1. [ABC][abc]d
  2. B[ACb][acd]
  3. [BCA][bcd]a
  4. C[BAc][bda]
  5. [CAB][cda]b
  6. A[CBd][cab]
  7. [ABC][dab]c
  8. B[ACa][dbc]

This procedure is often called »beg and borrow«.

(With input from Alexandra Shadrina, Jette Rossen, Andrew Timmins and Norma Briggs.)


answered 22 Mar '12, 12:12

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anselm ♦♦
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Sometimes for the last time through the 1s stay in second place (or slip to 3rd place; the roles are often similar enough that it doesn't matter), but the 2s, as new top couple, lead the final time through. That way the extra turns get shared more evenly (and the couple standing out are those in 4th place).

The other way is the way Reelers (6C sets) and English Country Dancers ('longwise for as many as will') dance. Every third couple (e.g. 1s & 4s) starts leading the dance, and continues doing so until they run out of people, then slips to the foot. Everyone else alternates the 2s' and 3s' parts, moving up the set (which is actually what we do in 4C sets anyway). With some dances (mostly older, traditional ones where you're not dancing with more than one of your corners at once) you can continue dancing even if you've only got one couple below you (and start dancing a turn earlier at the top, provided you remember not to progress that time through, or you end up continuing to have only one free couple between you and the next set of 1s…) - just treat the one who is not your partner as both 1st and 2nd corner. Reelers call this 'doubling'. To give everyone the same share of leading, you'd need the music played twice per couple in the set.

Overall I think the SCD method above is better value - both methods have complicated bits (borrowing from the set below, not-stepping-down vs. counting the free couples or doubling), but the SCD method has less standing out.


answered 19 Sep '12, 13:30

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Asked: 22 Mar '12, 12:01

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Last updated: 19 Sep '12, 13:30

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