The Filing Anomaly

Set formation

This dance was written after Lisa Heywood and Grace Jackson asked me if any dances had been done in a line of squares where the heads and sides progress from one set to the next (which they coined "squontra"), and then challenged me to write one.

This dance is called "The Filing Anomaly" because I'm still not sure whether it should be with my contra cards or my square cards!

The setup is a line of squares – effectively a one-dimensional grid square, although it's single progression (grid squares are almost always double-progression to avoid end(/perimeter!) effects.  Each couple has a shadow couple that they progress with, and I decided I wanted them to swap roles each turn. Progression-wise it's more related to a Mescolanza (4 facing 4) set, although that formation is never actually reached.

If anyone else wants to try writing a squontra, note:

  • If you're going to swap heads and sides each time (which I think works best), you don't want the head and side roles to be too dissimilar, because you want to be able to stop the calling at some point.
  • This is primarily a contra – people should be kept moving, unlike many square dances!
  • You ideally want to get interactions with your partner, opposite and corner each time through, which can be challenging to fit in 32 bars. This formation is probably a good candidate for 48 or 64 bar dances.
A1 Men left hand star halfway (3)
Swing opposite (5)
A2 Star promenade halfway (i.e. keep arm round partner and men form left hand star) (4)
Men break: all 4 ladies' chain across to partner (4)
B1 Do-si-do corner (4)
Heads pass through up and down to meet a new couple coming in the other direction; if they reach the end of the set they turn around with a California twirl (2)
Sides meet, facing across (2)
B2 Unless you've just reached the end, balance the ring and petronella roll to the right one place, finishing facing partner (2)
Partner swing and finish facing the middle of a new square set (or end couple if your shadow couple has just reached the end) (4)

The appearance of a new square set is quite magical, but requires some thinking to work out what's going on! When a pair of couples reach the end, they face each other as opposing head couples for the next turn, with no side couples. The dance works for 2 couples, and then a new square is formed during the next progression.

Bob Isaacs recommended I switch the do-si-do for all 8 into the middle and back to people can find their bearings again; if the floor isn't that experienced then this is a good idea.  You lose the corner interaction but increase the success rate, which is probably a good tradeoff!