Style, Steps and Holds

All dances start on the right foot unless specified otherwise (i.e. right foot down on beat 1).
These instructions therefore assume a right foot start - if starting on the left foor, swap rights and lefts.
Similarly some holds have right and left handed versions, of which only the former is given here.

A brief public health announcement:

  1. Never land on the heel of your foot. It will very quickly wreck your knees and back. The ball of the foot should take the initial impact, after which it is safe for the heel to fall to the ground. Some people have found Sorbothane inner soles to be very helpful.
  2. By taking the load of each step with the ball of the foot a lot of strain is put on the muscles. It is therefore even more important than in other Morris dance forms to warm up before dancing and cool down afterwards.

Single step
All moves are done to the single step unless specified otherwise.

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 3
Upbeat(Or beat 8 and a half for the excessively pedantic).
Raise right arm and leg as in figure 1.
This should be a positive motion, indicating your intention to dance.
1Forcefully move from the position in figure 1 to that in figure 2.
The emphasis is on the downwards rather than the upwards motion. It helps to think of pushing the ball of your foot down to the ground with your fist. If you like, you can think of a rod connecting the two. Hands should be loosely clenched in a fist. The left forearm and lower leg should be vertical, the left upper leg horizontal and the left fist at eye level. The head and back should be straight, not hunched up, and the right leg and arm should be straight also.
Figure 3 demonstrates a bad single step.
Hop on the second half of the beat.
2Return to the position in figure 1 and hop.
3-Repeat 1-2 for as long as necessary.
Raise arm quickly ("punch the air") ending with straight elbow and arm slightly off the vertical (about 30°) as in figure 5. The arm should be pulled down just as positively when dropping the salute.
Both raising and dropping the arm should be done with the fist moving in a straight line, as opposed to "windscreen wiper" effect of keeping the arm straight during the movement.
Try to avoid sticking your thumbs out in the fist.

When finishing standing end the last hop in the standing position as in figure 4. This is done by finishing on both feet on beat 8 and a half.
Feet should be slightly apart, arms by sides, face facing forwards. The dancer should be undistracted by other dancers, the audience, a running nose etc. This can look really good if done right.

Figure 4
When ending the dance in a hoy, end as in figure 5 (as for standing but with both arms saluting - see below) and shout "hoy" at the same time (the second half of the last beat). Keep this position until the lead off starts.
Figure 5
On the beat (always beat 15) firmly stamp your right foot on the ground without moving your left foot. Usually followed by a dramatic (!) wait on beat 16. Used in Green Fingers.
End position is as for standing.
Stamp step
Arms by sides.
UpbeatIf coming from the standing position or another stamp step raise right leg deliberately into the air.
1Stamp with right foot.
2Stamp with left foot next to right foot. Prepare for next step.
Sometimes this step is combined with a turn, in which case the turn is done during the first step, to be facing in the new direction during the second step.
Triple stamp
Arms by sides.
1AStamp with right foot.
1BStamp with left foot.
2Stamp with right foot. Prepare for next step.

Zig-zag step
Arms loosely by sides throughout.
Figure 6
1Spring onto the right foot, moving forwards and to the right. Legs are loose; left knee is not raised too high as this would collide with the other dancers! Hop on second half of the beat.
2Spring onto the left foot. Hop.
3-Repeat 1-2 for as long as necessary.
Polka step
Arms are always doing something, usually shoulder hold.
Legs are loose, much like zig-zag step.
1Step onto the right foot, then left in the second half of the beat.
2Step onto the right foot again, then do a small hop on the second half of the beat.
3-4As 1-2 with left and right reversed.
5-Repeat 1-4 for as long as necessary.
This is more of a run-run-run-hop than a leap-leap-leap-hop, with a fairly high lift of the knee on each hop.
Sidestep right and left
Arms loosely by sides unless otherwise engaged.
1Step to the right, then bring the left foot alongside and step on the left foot.
Legs should be loose; do not raise your knees.
2Step to the right again, then do a hop on the right foot on the second half of the beat, lifting the left knee up.
3As beat 1 with left and right reversed.
4Step to the left again and hop, lifting your right knee and arm on the upbeat (4B) to prepare for the next step.
Drop step
Arms loosely by sides unless otherwise engaged.
This should be a fairly relaxed move, largely equivalent to an English Ceilidh step-hop, capable of making noise on a proper stage without excessive effort.
This step is always performed on the spot.
1ADrop onto the right foot, bending the right leg and swinging the left leg behind.
1BHop on the right foot, straightening the right leg and swinging the left foot forward.
2As beat 1 with left and right reversed.

Shoulder hold
Place both hands on partner's shoulders, with loose elbows.
Bend arms slightly when turning in this position and straighten again when stepping on the spot or moving straight.
If standing beside your partner, put only the closer hand on his/her shoulder instead.
Hands on shoulders in line
Place hands flat on the shoulder blades of the people next to you in the line.
(Saluting) stomach hold right
Put right arm round waist of partner as in figure 7 (shown with salute).
If stated, salute with left hand, dropping the salute at the beginning of the first beat not in stomach hold.

Figure 7
(Saluting) waist hold
Put arm round partner's waist as in figure 8.
If stated, salute with free hand, dropping the salute at the beginning of the first beat not in waist hold.

Figure 8
Right wrist hold
Take hold of partner's right wrist in right hand.
Right arm hold
Cup partner's right elbow in right hand (no thumbs!).

Dances in Detail Copyright 1998-2017 Gog Magog Molly.