General Folk Dancing Terms

Caller - The person who gives the instruction (i.e. calling) the dance.

Set – A group of couples. The numbers vary according to the dance.

The Formation - The position from which the dance is started. There are many different formations, the most common being :-

Circle - A circle around the room with the lady on the right of her partner.

Sicilian Circle - Couple facing couple and each group of 4 making a larger circle around the room. Sometimes two couples face two couples to make a double Sicilian circle.

Square - A 4 couple set with each couple on the side of a square with the lady on the right of her partner.

Longways - Where everyone faces their partner to make 2 long lines with the men on the caller’s right and the lady on the caller’s left. The set may have any number of couples, but for some dances may have a fixed number such as 3, 4 or 5 couples.

Beckett Formation - In a longways set,each couple faces another couple across the set, men have their lady on the right.

Hands Four–This is a command for people to make rings of four from the top of a longways set. The purpose is to identify the nearest couple to the top of the set in each four (who become the 1st couples) and the couples farthest from the top (who become the 2nd couples). Sometimes hands 6 or 8 may be used for special dances - see also Triple minor below.

Progression - Many longways sets will have started off with ‘Hands Four’. The progression will be for each 1st couple to move down the set to a new 2nd couple and each 2nd couple to move up the set to a new 1st couple. When a couple reach either end of the set they normally stand out for one turn of the dance. If it is "Improper", couples should change sides with their partner whilst standing out.

Proper and Improper - A proper dance is one as described in ‘Longways’ above where all the men are on one side of the set and all the ladies on the other. An improper dance is where alternate couples (or as instructed) have crossed over with their partners in a ‘Longways’ set.

Triple minor - Some longways sets work with 3 couples dancing together rather than 2 couples. In this case the caller will have started with ‘Hands Six’ rather than ‘Hands Four’. With this type of dance the progression will be different, don't worry just listen to the caller





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