The Steps And Other Common Movements

Double Steps

The stepping pattern to fit one bar of music is left-right-left-left or right-left-right-right. Consecutive double steps start on alternate feet. The first double-step of every figure (except the Foot-Up-And-Down, the rare Foot-Down-And-Up and the Hey) always starts on the left foot for every dancer. In the Foot-Up-And-Down and the Foot-Down-And-Up the odd-numbered dancers (not the positions they find themselves in) begin on the left foot, and the even-numbered dancers begin on the right.

The step is performed with the legs kept straight but not rigid. In other words, no effort is made to bend the knee and the spring comes from the ankle. The free foot is allowed to drift slightly forwards. The strongest movement is on beat 1, with a secondary emphasis on beat 3. Beat 4 (the hop) is an unaccented anacrucis to main rhythm, flow and momentum leading into the next step (which may be a double step, but, of course, need not be).

The body should lean slightly backwards throughout the step, and the weight of the body should fall entirely on the toes and ball of the foot throughout. The heel should never bear any of the weight. The toe should never be pointed.

The hand movements are down-and-up. The hands are taken up to about head height with the arms at 45° to the vertical and to the direction the dancer is facing. The hands reach their maximum height on the anacrucis, with a flick of the wrist to extend the handkerchieves upwards. Note that this implies that the hands should reach this position on the anacrucis before any double step, no matter what the previous step may be. The hand movemens of other steps such as plain capers and sidesteps must therefore be modified on their final anacrucis when they lead into double steps.

The hands are brought down on the first (strong) beat. The essence of this movement is a steady pull, not a snatch. The hands are brought down to a position ony very slightly to the rear of the body, and no effort should be made to flick the handkerchieves backwards.

The final anacrucis of a double step sequence is used to place the hands in position for the next step. The hands are not placed high and snatched down quickly when the double step is followed by a half caper, as performed by most revival sides.

Plain Capers

The plain caper consists of a spring from foot to foot. The movement is at half the speed of the double step; that is, the feet should land twice in each bar.

The legs perform a sort of back-pedalling motion. Preparatory to the plain caper, on the preceeding anacrucis, the dancer should have all his weight on one foot, with the free leg extended slightly forwards and the free foot off the ground. The free foot is the foot on which the first caper is to be made - if the dancer is to caper on the left foot he must start with his left foot in the air. The spring off the ground is assisted by bringing the free foot up and back in a circular motion. The knee is allowed to be bent. The foot that was bearing the dancer's weight is brought up close to the back of the thigh as the body attains its maximum height.

As the dancer descends, this foot is kicked through low. The leg reaches its maximum forward extension as the dancer lands on the foot that was originally free, on the first strong beat. Subsequent capers repeat the process on alternate feet, landing on the first and third beats of each bar.

The hand movements are small circles performed at hip level. The hands are brought down and forward, reaching the furthest forward as the foot hits the ground, with some emphasis; the hands are brought up and back slightly more gently. It should be stressed that the movement should be small: all the movement should come from the wrists, with no movement of the elbow and shoulders being necessary.

The plane of the circle should be about 45° to the direction the dancer is facing.

Plain capers are usually performed in groups of two. As with the double step, the final anacrucis is used to place the hands in the correct position to begin the next step. A small hop is usually included in this position as well, to maintain the flow of the dance. Sometimes however, instead of a hop a feint step must be taken to change feet

To end every dance, a sequence of four plain capers is used. On the third step, the hands are brought together in front of the chest and on the fourth, the hands go out to the show position, which is the same as the highest position that the hands reach in the double step. The final show position, with all the weight on one foot should be held for the length of two bars of the music (a count of four strong beats).

Half Capers

The half caper consists of a strong spring off the left foot on the first beat landing on the right foot on the third beat of the bar. A hop on the right foot on the fourth beat constitutes the anacrucis for the next movement.

In more detail, the sequence of foot and leg movements are as follows. The proceeding anacrucis is a hop or feint step on the right foot which maintains the dancer's momentum. On the irst beat of the bar the dancer steps onto the left foot and drives himself upwards off it. This upward surge should be extremely energetic. As the dancer springs upwards, and to assist in achieving the upward movement, the right leg is swung forwards. Ideally the right leg should extend horizontally in front of the body at the height of the movement. The knee should not be bent. The right leg is brought down as the dancer descends, and the left leg moves slightly forwards.

The dancer lands on the right foot with the left foot off the ground and slightly forwards. As well as having an upward emphasis, the strong movements of the plain caper tend to move the dancer forwards. If a sequence of stationary plain capers is being performed, the anacrucis hop is often used to provide a compensatory backwards movement.

The hand movements are simple: the movement starts with the rms extended out to the sides and very slightly to the rear of the body, with the hands at waist level. The elbows should not be stiff. The hands make a sweeping movement to come together in front of the forehead with wrists together. The hands should reach this highest point (not that it should be no higher than head level) as the dancer reaches the highest point of the spring. As the dancer begins to descend, the hands are taken back to the start position.

In several of the dances the form of the plain caper is modified slightly. These slight variations are dealt with in the descriptions of the individul dances.

Short Sidesteps

The stepping of the short sidestep is almost identical to that of the double step. However, there is a sideways motion on the first beat of the bar. If the first step is with the left foot, then the movement - usually a distance of about two or three feet - is also to the left.

Ducklington sidesteps are open sidesteps. That means that the body does not rotate during the sidestep movement.

Only one hand moves at a time. If the movement is towards the left, the left hand is used. The hand starts in front of the face. On the anacrucis it is moved downwards about six inches. On the strong beat the arm is extended in the plane of the body with the hand at head level, and the wrist is flicked outwards. The hand that is not moving is kept by the side.

Long Sidesteps

The long sidestep movement takes two bars of music. The stepping for a long sidestep to the left is left-right-left-right/left-right-left-left, with strong emphases on the first beat of each bar and secondary emphases on the third beat of each bar. The steps are performed in the same way as double steps: the legs are kept straight and the free leg drifts slightly forwards, and so on. On the first beat of the sequence there is a sideways movement of about two or three feet. Long sidesteps are open.

The hand movements are identical to those for the short sidesteps; the complete hand movement is performed once for each bar.

Quite commonly the anacrucis at the end of a long sidestep sequence has to be a feint step to change feet instead of a hop.

Galleys

The galley is the step used most often to rotate the body. If the turn is to the left, the weight is on the left foot throughout; a turn to the right takes place wth the weight on the left foot.

The preceeding anacrucis is a hop or feint step on the foot which is to be the free foot throughout the movement. From here, the dancer springs (slightly forwardds, usually) and turns to face the desired dirction. The free foot (the right foot if the galley is to the left) is swung round in the direction of travel. The free foot is kept low at this stage - only a few inches off the ground - and it makes an arc of a circle whose radius is between eighteen inches and two feet.

The dancer lands on the first beat of the bar, and springs off, maintaining the rotation of the body. The free foot continues to be brought forwards and is smoothly brought up into a position with the thigh horizontal and the knee bent. The ankle is kept bent: the toe must not be pointed downwards. Ideally, the toe should point slightly outwards.

The dancer lands again on the third beat, hops, and lands on the fourth beat for an anacrucis hop. During these two beats the free foot makes two small circles about the size of a plate (the first somewhat larger than the first). The heel is brought back towards the weight-bearing knee in these circles. The free thigh remains horizontal: all the circular motion is generated at the knee.

Most of the rotation of the body should occur on the initial anacrucis and on the first strong spring. The final two hops should be used to adjust the position. If the dancer has to turn a long way around (as happens, for example, in the Half Gyp), an anticipatory rotation may have to begin before the anacrucis.

The arms are kept in the same position throughout. The elbows are held close to the sides of the body and the forearms are extended horizontally. The wrists are turned upwards, which ensures that the shoulders are held back.

Shuffle-backs

Shuffle-backs are used to travel backwards. The movement is simple and undemonstrative, consisting of a hop on each foot. The stepping pattern for one bar of music is left-left-right-right or right-right-left-left. There are minor emphases on the first and third beats, but there is no efort to make any vertical motion.

The heel of the free foot is swung across in front of the weight-bearing foot. The toe of the free foot should ideally remain on the ground: it certainly should not be lifted off the ground deliberately.

The arms are kept in the position used for the galley throughout the movement.

Squash-beetle Capers

Properly called a 'Full Caper', and performed to music played at half the normal speed, the 'squash-beetle' is so known because of its characteristic stamp on the second beat. The movement takes four beats of the slowed music: the first two beats are unemphasised, with the climax of the movement being an energetic spring, landing on the fourth beat.

Usually the first squash-beetle is performed with the weight on the left foot on the first beat. A sequence of squash-beetles will have the footing reversed on alternate capers.

The preceeding anacrucis should leave the weight on the right leg, with the left foot slightly off the ground and forward. On the first beat, the dancer steps a small distance backwards, taking all his weight onto the left and swinging the free right heel across in front of the left foot. The right toe should not leave the ground.

The dancer now lifts himself up onto the ball of his left foot using only the movement of the left ankle. The right foot is lifted off the ground but there is no movement of right hip, knee or ankle. On the second beat, the dancer drops back down, bringing the right foot into sharp, momentary contact with the ground. Throughout these two beats the arms are held in the position used for the galley.

The dancer springs off the left foot and lands on the right, with the left slightly forward, on the third beat. During this spring, the arms are gathered in preparation for the next movement. They are slightly extended and begin to move up and back in a very small circular motion.

The final movement is a very energetic spring from right foot to left, landing on the left foot on the fourth beat with the right foot forward. The arms are swept down and forward at full stretch, continuing in a large circular movement up in front of the body, the hands meeting in front of the face. The arms are brought backwards as high as possible. When the dancer lands on the fourth beat the arms should be extended sideways.

Notice that the position that finishes the squash-beetle - weight on one foot with the free foot slightly forward - is exactly the position needed to begin another, with the stepping the reverse of the first.

Upright Capers

All the steps mentioned in the preceeding sections were included in the collected Ducklington dances. The uprght capers have been devised by the revival side, mainly to provide an extra chorus in corner dances that would otherwise finish with the set the wrong way around. The music is slowed as with the squash-beetles and the relative emphasis is the same: the climax is an energetic spring landing on the fourth beat. The arm movements are also identical to those of the squash-beetle: the galley position for the first two beats, then the gather, and the final large sweeping circles.

Usually the first upright caper is performed with the weight on the left foot on the first beat. A sequence of upright capers will have the footing reversed on alternate capers.

The preceeding anacrucis should leave the weight on the right leg, with the left foot slightly off the ground and forward. On the first beat, the dancer steps a small distance backwards, taking all his weight onto the left and swinging the free right heel across in front of the left foot. The right toe should not leave the ground. This initial movement is identical to that of the squash-beetle.

The dancer then makes a small spring, landing on the second beat with the weight fairly evenly balanced between the feet, bringing the right foot around and close behind the left heel. The dancer should land with the right toe touching the ground to the left of the left heel, the feet being as close together as possible.

Another small spring is used to bring the feet together, and to gather for the large spring that concludes the movement. The dancer lands with feet together on the third beat and makes a strong leap, landing on the fourth beat on the left foot with the right foot forward.

Rest position

When not actually dancing (for example when corner movements are going on), the dancers should stand with feet together and hands on hips. This does not apply to the 'once-to-yourself' run-through of the tune at the start of the dance, when the dancers should stand with their arms by their sides.

Show Position

At the end of dances, and in the middle of dances when coming to rest, dancers should hold a show position briefly (for a count of four at the end of a dance, and for a count of one when it occurs within the dance). The position has the arms in the highest position reached in the double step, the weight on one leg (the actual leg determined by the previous stepping), with the free leg slightly forward. It is permissible to rest the free heel on the ground to aid balance (if it is done discreetly) at the end of the dance, when the show position is held for quite a long time.