Dances by Peter Foster

Sicilian Circles

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Last modified 29 March 2009

Here are some dances that are in Sicilian circle formation (couple facing couple around the room). Feel free to try them out. See also my contra/square dances. Comments are welcome - email

Star Surprise

Peter Foster July 2006
Sicilian Circle (contra style dance)
Music: 32 bar reels
Level: Medium-Easy
A1 (8) Right and left
  (8) Ladies chain and stay in the ladies chain hold
A2 (8) Promenade with this person around the set, gents passing left shoulders to start (some are promenading anticlockwise around the outside, some are promenading clockwise around the inside). After 5 or 6 steps, all turn (as couples) to face the centre! (Couples on the inside need to do an extra half turn to face the centre, everyone finishes with the woman on the right)
  (8) In two circles, everyone to the middle and back
B1 (8) Single file march the other way (outside clockwise, inside anticlockwise). When you get back to your partner, take their right hand in a handshake hold. You will automatically form right hand stars (the "star surprise")
  (8) Right hand star once around
B2 (8) Everyone swing neighbour, finish facing across
  (8) All swing partner, finish facing original direction

There are several contras (e.g. Enid's Delight) where you march around the set and take neighbours hand to make a star. I wanted a dance where you took your partner's hand to automagically form a star. I had to bend the dance into a sicilian circle to make it work.

Instructions are in contra form. That is, the right and left is across only (half right and left) and the ladies chain is a half ladies chain. Also, the swings should be in ballroom hold and the swing finishes with the woman on the right.

Waving Around

Peter Foster 1989
Formation: Sicilian Circle
Music: 32 bar reels
Level: Easy-Medium
A1 (8) Circle left
  (8) Half ladies chain
A2 (8) Star left
  (8) Star right (hands across star)
B1 (8) Half ladies chain
  (8) Circle right
B2 (16) Dip and dive past four couples, couples facing clockwise make the first arch

The dip and dive is the principal figure in the dance "Waves of Tory". Since in this dance the dip and dive is around the room, it seemed reasonable to call it "Waving Around".

Diane's Waltz

Peter Foster April 1997
Formation: Sicilian Circle
Music: 32 bar waltzes eg Planxty Fanny Power, Planxty Irwin
Level: Medium
Figures in parentheses are the number of bars
A1 (2) Advance, drop partner's hand, face partner, take inside hands on the side
  (2) Retire (away from partner)
  (2) Advance, drop hands, take partner's hand again, face opposite couple
  (2) Retire (with partner). Everyone is now home
A2 (4) Right hand star
  (4) Half ladies chain
B1 (4) Left hand star
  (2) Gents turn left hand one quarter (which is not very far) while ladies cast right and take partner's right hand in a line of four in balance in line formation (lines are like the spokes of a wheel)
  (2) Balance in line (ie rock forward and back)
B2 (2) Let go of partner, gents turn left hand three quarters, ladies move clockwise one quarter, again take partner's right hand, ready for another balance in line (ladies may join left hands to make a large circle around the room)
  (2) Balance in line
  (4) Take partner in ballroom hold and waltz on to a new couple

Written for my wife

The June Waltz

Peter Foster June 1989
Formation: Sicilian Circle
Music: 32 bar waltzes eg The June Waltz (I'll put it up in abc format soon...)
Level: Medium-Easy
Figures in parentheses are the number of bars
A1 (2) With neighbour, right hand turn halfway
  (4) Right hand star once around
  (2) With neighbour, right hand turn halfway to return to place
A2 (2) With partner, left hand turn halfway
  (4) Left hand star once around
  (2) With partner, left hand turn halfway to return to place
B1 (4) Half ladies chain, retain ladies chain hold
  (4) Half promenade to change places with the other couple
B2 (4) "Half gentleman's chain" ie gents cross left hand, turn partner right hand
  (4) With partner, waltz on to a new couple

Written for my mother.

Hit The Deck

Peter Foster February 1989
Formation: Double sicilian circle, ie 2 couples facing 2 couples around the room. It is probably better as a double contra, ie 4 facing 4 in columns.
Music: 40 bar jigs in 10 bar phrases (which pretty well limits it to the Wee Cooper 'O Fife set of tunes).
Level: Medium
Note that each of the four major phrases of music contains 20 counts rather than the usual 16
A1 (8) Centre 4 people left hand star
  (4) All change with partner right hand
  (8) New centres left hand star (do NOT change with partner again)
A2 (4) All 4 ladies advance, take hands ready for a balance in line
  (4) Balance in line
  (4) Gents advance while ladies retire
  (4) Gents balance in line
  (4) Gents retire
B1 (8) All circle left halfway, finishing on the other side
  (4) All pass through (right shoulder) to original side
  (8) Swing partner, finish facing across with ladies on right Couples will have changed places within their lines
B2 (20) Rights and lefts with the opposite couple for 5 hands to progress to a new line of 4

One of my favourite Scottish Country dances is "The Wee Cooper O' Fife". It is very unusual in that the dance (and tune) are in ten bar phrases, rather than the usual eight bar phrases. I wanted to try my hand at writing a dance with this phrasing: it is certainly interesting trying to fit "normal" moves into 20 counts.