American Style Square and Contra Dance Moves


Steps –a purposeful walk

Allemande – allemande left your corner means turn your corner person with the left hand.

Do si do (back to back) With the person facing you, walk forward 2 steps passing right shoulders, step to the right and walk backwards to place.

Grand chain – In a square set, face partner and pass partner giving right hands. As you let go take the left hand of the person coming towards you and pass them by the left. Continue passing right and left, men anticlockwise, ladies clockwise, until told to stop. A wrong way grand chain goes in the opposite direction.

Weave the ring - a grand chain without hands.

Ladies Chain – With 2 couples facing, the ladies give right hands to each other and pull by and give left hand to the opposite man’s left. The man puts his right arm around the lady’s waist to turn her around so that the 2 couples are again facing across the set with the lady on the right of the man. Repeat back to place.

All 4 Ladies Chain or Star Chain– Similar to a ladies chain but in a square set the 4 ladies go into the centre making a right hand star and go half way round and the opposite man chains them out.

Right and Left Through – This starts with two dancers facing another pair. You change places with the one you are facing giving right hands as you pass, then turn to your neighbour and change places with them giving left hands, ending up holding left hand and both facing into the set. As you finish the left turn the man can put his spare right arm round the lady’s waist for a courtesy turn.

Courtesy Turn – Used at the end of a Ladies Chain and Right and Left Through. It is simply when the man (already holding her left hand) puts his arm round her waist to help her complete the turn. She can give him her right hand to hold by putting it palm out on her right waist. Note, a courtesy turn leaves both dancers facing the same direction.

Box the Gnat – Offer right hands, change places with the lady going under joint raised arms and turn to face each other still holding right hands.

California Twirl – Starts with a couple facing in the same direction holding inside hands (man’s right, lady’s left). They raise their held hands, she turns left and walks under the arch to his place while he moves forward and turns right and moves into her place. The couple end up facing in the opposite direction from where they started.

Flutter Wheel – Similar to a ladies chain, but swaps the men over instead of swapping the ladies. Start with two couples facing, the ladies do half a right hand turn, collect the opposite man’s right hand in her left, and then complete the turn taking him back to the ladies’ starting side of the set.

Pass Through – Simply walk forwards past the facing dancer passing right shoulders.

Petronella Turn – In a ring of four dancers, you balance in and out and then move one place to the right round the ring, turning a single to the right as you move.

Square Through Two Hands – Facing couples give right hands and pull by, turn in one quarter then give left hands and pull by but do not turn. This leaves you facing the right direction for the next move.

Square Through three, four or five hands. – Start as above, continue to give alternate right and left hands up to the number instructed, turning in one quarter after each pull by until the final pull by after which you do not turn.

Star Through – Starting with a man facing a lady, the man holds up his right hand (like a policeman facing traffic) and holds up her left so they touch palms. Each moves forward, the man turning right after passing her and the lady turning left after passing under their joint raised arms. The couple ends up holding inside hands both facing the same direction.

Turn Contra Corners – If you are the middle person in a 3 couple longways set, opposite you from right to left is your first corner, your partner and your second corner. The middle couple right hand turn just over half way, then left hand turn their first corner, right hand turn partner about three quarters then left hand turn second corner and return to place. This move also occurs in longways contra sets in which case the corners find they are needed as first and second corners for different dancers.

Grand Square – The call is usually ‘sides face, grand square’. Ask for a demonstration.

Pass the Ocean – Starting with two couples facing, the ladies do a quarter left hand turn, keep hold while their partners walk forward to just pass their partner, turn a quarter right and take right hand with their partner to make a line of 4 dancers facing in opposite directions.



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