Peter Rogers Country Dance Index, 3rd Edition (1986)
Dancing Across the Pond by Robert M. Keller, Margaret Keller Dimock and Anne Keller Geraci: 362 Original Country Dance Figures, 191 with Music, ms or Printed
Cracking Chestnuts: The Journey
In March 2004, a group of 22 callers met in Syracuse, NY, for a day of dance and discussion about classic contra dances. This workshop inspired the “Cracking Chestnuts” column in the CDSS News (2004-2007), authored by Syracuse caller David Smukler, with occasional history-related columns by David Millstone.
In 2008, CDSS published Cracking Chestnuts: The Living Tradition of Classic American Contra Dances, a book based on the News series, describing 17 dances in detail, and arguing for an inclusive approach to contra dancing, one which embraces the newer and older dances alike.
Meanwhile, David Millstone has been collecting video of chestnuts for years (see SDHP), and he and David Smukler agreed that video of the 17 dances in the book, plus the 20 in its appendix, would be a valuable learning tool for callers, and an important historical collection.
On March 2nd, 2013, the Syracuse Country Dancers held another Callers’ Gathering focused on chestnuts, and used the occasion to collect footage of additional dances. After months of editing, videos of all 37 dances (including multiple versions of some dances) in the Cracking Chestnuts book are presented below. The book, Cracking Chestnuts, is available from the CDSS Store.
David Smukler, David Millstone, Lynn Nichols, Micah Smukler, Pat MacPherson, Mary Wesley, Nils Fredland, CDSS, and the Syracuse Country Dancers all had a hand in creating this video project. Various videographers were also involved, as well as many callers and musicians who care enough to keep the chestnuts thriving. And, of course, we appreciate all the dancers who appear in these videos, happily dancing “chestnuts,” the classic contra dances of New England!
~ Pat MacPherson, Editor, CDSS
So Why Are They Called Chestnuts?
David Millstone, co-author of Cracking Chestnuts, did some research.
Webster’s New World Dictionary (1970) defines ‘chestnut’ as something old and familiar, as in a very familiar story, piece of music, etc. that is too often repeated. David Smukler, author of Cracking Chestnuts opined, correctly, that the term was somehow connected to the seminal albums of New England Chestnuts by Rodney and Randy Miller.
Rodney Miller wrote, “I have a letter from Joan Pelton dated Jan. 9, 1980… Here is a part of it.”
Dear Roddy and Randy,
I have spoken with Randy at length about a proposed record of New England “chestnuts” (meaning the dances that are still danced in N.E. that have become traditional. Whatever traditional means).
Aha! Joan Pelton founded Alcazar Records in 1977. Their first release was Yankee Ingenuity’s Kitchen Junket. Alcazar’s third and fourth releases were the two volumes of New England Chestnuts. In the 1970s Joan was playing for dances, which is where she met Randy Miller. Randy commented, “She’d lean over while a dance was being taught and she’d say, ‘Boy, that’s an old chestnut!’ in that inimitable style she had.”
This is an edited version of an article that first appeared in CDSS News, #169, November/December 2002. To read the entire article, click here.
Cracking Chestnuts Videos
The book Cracking Chestnuts includes seventeen dances described in detail, as well as an appendix with twenty more dances.
Click the name of a dance to see both a video clip and dance directions that are synchronized to the video. Information provided below each video includes: where and when the video was created, caller, musicians, tune, and (sometimes) additional notes.
Chorus Jig (3 versions)
Chorus Jig (triple minor)
Chorus Jig (Concord Scout House)
Devil's Dream (2 versions)
Devil's Dream (Ebchester)
Hull's Victory (4 versions)
Hull's Victory (2004)
Hull's Victory (2005)
Hull's Victory (2009)
Hull's Victory Ed Larkin Dancers
Lamplighter's Hornpipe (2 versions)
Lamplighter's Through the Ages
Money Musk (7 versions)
Money Musk (first Money Musk Moment)
Money Musk (Dudley Laufman)
Money Musk (Ed Larkin Dancers)
Money Musk (Swallowtail Dance Weekend in Becket, MA)
Money Musk (Bayou Dance Weekend in Houston, TX)
Money Musk (Ted Sannella's timing)
Money Musk Compilation
Petronella (3 versions)
Petronella (no clap)
Petronella (bird's eye view)
Petronella (Ed Larkin Dancers)
Sackett's Harbor (2 versions)
Sackett's Harbor (Fayetteville)
Sackett's Harbor (RPDLW)
The Young Widow
Appendix: Twenty More Chestnuts
Beaux of Oak Hill
The Boston March
Elegance and Simplicity
Fisher's Hornpipe (2 versions)
Fisher's Hornpipe (alternate version)
Green Mountain Volunteers
Lady of the Lake (2 versions)
Lady of the Lake
Haymaker's Jig (a variation of Lady of the Lake)
Lady Walpole's Reel
My Heart's Desire
New Century Hornpipe (2 versions)
New Century Hornpipe
New Century Hornpipe (alternate version)
Portland Fancy (2 versions)
Portland Fancy (done as a Sicilian Circle)
Portland Fancy (48-bar version)
Speed the Plough
Ways of the World
About This Resource
CDSS published Swing the Next, Ted Sannella’s book of contras, squares, triplets and circle dances, in 1996. This annotated bibliography was in the original manuscript but was not included in the final book.
*Items marked with an asterisk are available in the CDSS Store. Other items may be available online elsewhere – we have included links where possible.
Annotated Bibliography from Ted Sannella’s book Swing the Next
“The popularity of New England country dancing in recent years has led to the publication of numerous books on the subject. The majority are collections of dances with explanatory notes. Others deal with the techniques of calling, making dance music, or dance administration, while an increasing number of publications focus on dance history. A few books include most or all of these subjects.
From my extensive personal library, I have selected those publications that I feel are most useful to callers, musicians, and dancers. These are the ones that I recommend for the purpose of collecting dances or tunes, improving dance, musical, or administrative skills, widening one’s perspective beyond current dance interests, and doing scholarly research. I give a brief subjective annotation for each listing with no apologies for my personal biases.” ~Ted Sannella
Aldrich, Elizabeth. From the Ballroom to Hell: Grace and Folly in Nineteenth-Century Dance. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1991.
A fascinating study of dance, manners, and music in the nineteenth century. A dance-focused cultural history of that century is followed by an exhaustive anthology of excerpts from etiquette and dance manuals of the period. This work concludes with two bibliographies, one alphabetical and one annotated.
Armstrong, Don. The Caller/Teacher Manual for Contras. Los Angeles, CA: Sets in Order, American Square Dance Society, 1973.
A collection of 101 contras with calls and tips for callers. The dances vary widely in type and complexity and include some Sicilian circles and some in Portland fancy formation. Intended for club callers who are more familiar with squares.
Butenhof, Ed. Dance Parties for Beginners. Mack’s Creek, MO: The Lloyd Shaw Foundation, 1990.
A one-night stand handbook of 100 easy dances intended to supply club callers with pertinent advice and material for use with beginners. Includes many squares and novelty dances as well as a few contras and folk dances.
Callens, Philippe. Keep on Swinging. Lovendegem, Belgium: Anglo-American Dance Service, 1992.
A fine collection of 24 New England-style squares, contras, circles, and triplets. The same material is written in both English and Flemish.
CDSS. GEMS: The Best of the Country Dance and Song Society’s Diamond Anniversary Music, Dance and Song Contest. Northampton, MA: The Country Dance and Song Society, 1993.
A diverse collection of American and English dances and tunes including some by several of the most talented dance choreographers and music composers on the current scene.
Dalsemer, Bob. New England Quadrilles and How to Call Them. Baltimore, MD: The author, 1985.
A modest guide to calling New England style squares. Included are 12 contemporary dances and 12 examples of introductions, middle breaks, and endings.
Dalsemer, Bob. Smoke on the Water: Square Dance Classics. Baltimore, MD: Traditional Caller Productions, 1989.
This companion booklet to a cassette tape TC123 (with calls) and TC124 (without calls) contains the words, directions, and music for ten of the most popular singing squares.
Dalsemer, Bob. When the Work’s All Done: A Square Dance Party for Beginners and Old Hands. Baltimore, MD: Traditional Caller Productions, 1990.
This is a companion booklet to the cassette tape TC125 (with calls) and TC126 (without calls). It contains ten dances presented in the approximate order that Dalsemer would use them in a program at a one-night stand. Each dance is clearly described and accompanied by appropriate music.
Dart, Mary McNab. Contra Dance Choreography: A Reflection of Social Change. Hamden, CT: Garland Publishing, 1995. Available in the CDSS Online Library.
I highly recommend this book to all serious callers. It is an excellent study of the contra dance scene circa 1992 focusing on the substantial influence that choreography has had on the activity.
Fix, Penn. Contra Dancing in the Northwest. Spokane, WA: The author, 1991.
This book contains a comprehensive history of square and contra dancing in the Northwest United States, a series of essays about dancing events, advice to leaders, dancers, and musicians and a section containing 33 fine contras written by Fix along with 14 appropriate tunes. An extensive listing of contra resources in the Northwest completes this interesting and useful book.
Gaudreau, Herbie. Modern Contra Dancing. Sandusky, OH: Square Dance Magazine, 1971.
A collection of 50 contras written by Gaudreau, the first advocate of “equal” contras. At a time when the dancers in a contra line were either active or inactive, Gaudreau composed these “busy” dances that didn’t require those designations. His intention was to attract club dancers but the dances were so well contrived that they quickly caught on with traditional contra dancers as well. By far the most popular dance in this collection is Becket Reel. The book is out of print; however, most of the material in it was culled from Gaudreau’s monthly “Contra Corners” column in the New England Caller, published from 1995 to 1967, and now archived at SDFNE.
* Gunzenhauser, Margot. The Square Dance and Contra Dance Handbook. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 1996.
A comprehensive guide to American country dancing. An interesting overview of the square and contra dance scene in the United States, by an American now living in Denmark, it includes an insightful discussion on calling techniques, dance music, programming, dancing style, and related subjects. There are 54 dances in a variety of formations including squares, contras, and circle mixers. Each dance is explained thoroughly with diagrams as necessary and many are accompanied by easy-to-read music. This is an English revision of the book, first published in 1988 in Denmark.
Gunzenhauser, Margot. Square Dancing and Contra Dancing at School. Virum, Denmark: Square Dance Partners Forlag, 1991.
An assortment of 44 well-chosen dances in square, contra, or circle formation for use with children. A section on teaching tips and an illustrated glossary are included in this attractive loose-leaf binder. A special bonus is the inclusion of six instrumental cassette tapes with twelve very usable tunes or medleys of contra dance length.
Harris, Jane A., Anne M. Pittman, and Marlys S. Waller. Dance A While, 7th edition: Handbook of Folk, Square, Contra and Social Dance. Minneapolis, MN: Burgess Publishing Co., 1950 and further editions in 1955, 1964, and 1968; New York: Macmillan College Publishing Co., 1978 and 1988; Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon, 1994. Buy at Amazon [Tenth edition] This impressive tome (551 pages in the 7th ed.) is used as a textbook in colleges of physical education, and a more complete recreational dance book would be hard to envision. In the 1994 edition the contra section includes a nice mix of 35 dances, including many of the classic contras, as well as a good selection of those by contemporary composers.
Hinds, Tom. Dance All Night. Arlington, VA: The author, 1989.
A collection of 30 original contras, squares, and circle dances. Hinds displays some interesting choreography in a number of unusual dances.
Hinds, Tom. Dance All Night II. Arlington, VA: The author, 1991.
A second collection of fine dances written by Hinds. Thirty-five contra, square and circle dances including many that I have added to my repertoire.
* Hinds, Tom. Dance All Night III. Silver Spring, MD: The author, 1992.
Thirty-one more original contras and squares illustrating Hinds’s choreographic skill.
Holden, Rickey, Frank Kaltman, and Olga Kulbitsky. The Contra Dance Book. Newark, NJ: American Squares, 1956; Lovendegem, Belgium: Anglo-American Dance Service, 1997.
A compilation of contras and progressive circle dances from available American literature between 1850 and 1953. A good source for many of the old “chestnuts” and for bibliographical references and alternate dance titles.
Hubert, Gene. Dizzy Dances. Columbia, MO: The author, 1983.
A collection of 50 “contemporary dances in the traditional style” written by Eric Zorn, David Harris, or the author. Included among 39 contras, nine squares and two circle mixers are several real gems.
Hubert, Gene. Dizzy Dances Volume II. Columbia, MO: The author, 1986.
A collection of 27 very fine dances written by Hubert including five contras from his first book. Hubert exhibits a composing style that produces smooth flowing dances. Many dances from this volume are in my repertoire and three of them are in Swing the Next.
Hubert, Gene. More Dizzy Dances Volume III. Greensboro, NC: The author, 1990.
A third collection of interesting dances composed by Hubert. Forty-three New England style contras, squares, and circle mixers including many unusual ones that are best suited for experienced dancers.
* Jennings, Larry. Zesty Contras. Cambridge, MA: New England Folk Festival Association, 1983.
A vast collection of 480 contras, triplets, and New England style dances in other formations is preceded by an informative and provocative text which tackles every aspect of calling, producing, and making music for a successful contra dance series. The concise coded dance transcriptions are full of useful information for those who make the effort to study them. Many of the dance descriptions include variants of the original, bringing the grand total to well over 500.
Kaynor, David. Calling Contra Dances for Beginners by Beginners. Montague Center, MA: The author, 1991; Revised 1993.
An interesting book, written in conversational style, in which Kaynor discusses his philosophy and techniques for involving new dancers and offers suggestions for new callers and musicians. Sixteen simple dances are included.
* Keller, Kate Van Winkle and Ralph Sweet. A Choice Selection of American Country Dances of the Revolutionary Era 1775-1795. New York, NY: The Country Dance and Song Society, 1975. Revised Northampton, 1993. Out of stock.
Twenty-nine progressive longways dances from five hand-written manuscripts dating from 1775 to 1795. Each dance is carefully described with a proper tune, so that it can be performed in the style of the period. A useful glossary is provided.
* Linnell, Rod and Louise Winston. Square Dances from a Yankee Caller’s Clipboard. Norwell, MA: The New England Square Dance Caller, 1974. Reprinted by NEFFA, 2002.
A collection of 63 dances (mostly squares) by this master caller. All but a few were composed by Linnell who had a talent for choreography. Included are the five Rod’s Quads, cleverly devised double quadrilles that awakened many to Linnell’s choreographic skill. This book was finished by Winston as a labor of love from sketchy notes found on Linnell’s clipboard at the time of his sudden death in 1966.
Marks, Joseph E., III. America Learns to Dance. Brooklyn, NY: Dance Horizons republication of a work published by Exposition Press, New York, 1957.
An excellent historical study of dance education in America before 1900. This scholarly work delves into the subject chronologically with sections on dance education in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries and includes extensive citations for each period.
Melamed, Lanie. All Join Hands: Connecting People Through Folk Dance. Montreal, Quebec: The author, 1977.
A collection of 48 folk, square, contra, and novelty dances with several singing games and a thoughtful discourse on the subject of dance leadership.
* Mills, Bob. All Mixed Up Revised Edition: A Guide to Sound Production for Folk and Dance Music. Belle Mead, NJ: The author, 1994; Revised 1996.
A handy reference for all who deal with sound reinforcement at dances. Basic information plus solutions to common amplification problems are given. A removable insert is included to provide the most important tips in a convenient form.
* Morrison, James E. Twenty-Four Early American Country Dances: Cotillions and Reels for the Year 1976. New York, NY: Country Dance and Song Society, 1976; Revised 1996.
A collection of dances from the late 18th century as found in handwritten and printed manuscripts. Each dance is notated in its original wording and then described using modern terminology and accompanied by a specific tune. A glossary is provided to help with unusual figures.
Page, Ralph and Beth Tolman. (see Tolman, Beth and Ralph Page)
Page, Ralph. An Elegant Collection of Contras and Squares. Denver, CO: The Lloyd Shaw Foundation, 1984.
Over 60 of Page’s favorite dances are described in great detail. Included are most of the old “classic” contras as well as many of the contras and squares written by “contemporary” composers between 1940 and 1980. All this and 53 good tunes as well!
Page, Ralph. Heritage Dances of Early America. Colorado Springs, CO: The Lloyd Shaw Foundation, 1976.
Written to coincide with this country’s bicentennial, this is a collection of 25 contras dating from 1788 to 1808 (defined by Page as the “so-called Revolutionary War era”) plus one that is a combination of two dances from that period. These elegant dances, found by Page in old manuscripts, are described with the words from these documents and then translated into modern dance terminology. Because of Page’s research, dances such as British Sorrow, The Market Lass, and The Young Widow were resurrected from obscurity.
Page, Ralph. The Ralph Page Book of Contras.London, England: The English Folk Dance and Song Society, 1969.
This collection of 22 contras was compiled as a written record of the dances taught by Page during a 1966 tour of Great Britain. The dances are equally divided in number between the earlier (mostly triple minor) contras and those written by modern composers. Also featured are 44 fine tunes including 20 written by Page. (Also see Tune Books)
* Parkes, Tony. Contra Dance Calling: A Basic Text. Bedford, MA: Hands Four Books, 1992.
A very complete guide to calling New England contras. In part one, Parkes discusses the theory and practice of calling, including chapters on calling and teaching techniques, dance selection, and working with music. Part two deals with basic moves and dance routines in great detail and includes 18 dances with both directions and calls. A well-written glossary wraps up this valuable addition to any caller’s library.
* Parkes, Tony. Shadrack’s Delight and Other Dances. Bedford, MA: Hands Four Books, 1988. Out of stock.
A fine collection of 43 square, circle, and contra dances written by Parkes. All of the dances are characterized by interesting flowing sequences. A companion demonstration tape (HF101) is available with Parkes calling each dance at least twice through.
* Parkes, Tony. Son of Shadrack and Other Dances. Bedford, MA: Hands Four Books, 1993.
A second collection of 42 fine square, circle and contra dances written by Parkes. As expected, this sequel to Shadrack’s Delight is full of usable dances.
* Roodman, Gary M. Additional Calculated Figures, Vol. 2, 2nd edition. Binghamton, NY: The author, 1992. Revised, 2005.
A second collection of Roodman’s unusual dances. Fifteen English and American dances of which six are New England-style contras, three in four couple whole set formation. Suggested music for each dance is included.
* Roodman, Gary M. Calculated Figures. Binghamton, NY: The author, 1987.
An interesting collection of Roodman’s dances: three English and nine New England style, some in unusual formations. Suggested music for each dance is included.
Sannella, Ted. Balance and Swing. New York, NY: The Country Dance and Song Society, 1982; Revised, 1990. Out of Print.
A collection of 55 New England-style squares, contras, and triplets, mostly by the author, with appropriate music for each dance and a comprehensive glossary. Every dance description is followed by detailed notes giving tips for dancers and callers, and background information about the dance. A historical text relates the development of Boston area square and contra dancing from colonial times to the present. (Also see Tune Books)
* Sannella, Ted. Swing the Next. Northampton, MA: The Country Dance and Song Society, 1996.
A second collection of 80 New England-style squares, contras, and triplets, and circle dances by the author and others, with appropriate music for each dance and a comprehensive glossary. Every dance description has detailed tips for dancers and callers, and background information about the dance. Includes a special chapter on “Assessing Choreography.” (Also see Tune Books)
Tolman, Beth and Ralph Page. The Country Dance Book. Guilford, VT: The Countryman Press, 1937. Reprinted by A.S. Barnes and Co., New York (undated). Reprinted by The Stephen Greene Press, Brattleboro, 1976. Reprinted by Coles Publishing Co. Ltd., Toronto, 1980.
An anecdotal account of rural country dancing in New England before and at the beginning of the square and contra dance revival of the 1920s and 1930s. Along with historical vignettes, many dance descriptions are given including all of the “chestnuts.”
Twork, Eva O’Neal. Henry Ford and Benjamin B. Lovett: The Dancing Billionaire and the Dancing Master. Detroit, MI: Harlo Press, 1982.
An entertaining account of a little-known side of the famous auto maker, as a patron of country dancing, and of the dancing master he brought from Massachusetts to Michigan to teach dancing to his employees, friends, and local school children. Twork interviews old-timers in the area including relatives of Ford and Lovett to tell the story of the square dance revival in the 1920’s and the impact that these two men had on the resurgence of dance interest at that time.
Whynot, Roger. More of Whynot. Tonbridge, England: Jack Hamilton, [198?].
A second collection of Whynot’s unique dances. Twenty-three squares, contras, and circle dances including some choreographic delights.
Whynot, Roger. Why Not Dance With Me? Tonbridge, England: Jack Hamilton, [198?].
Twenty-four squares, contras, and circle dances composed by Whynot. Some of his more unusual choreographic ideas are included in these dances.
“A large number of books in this category are available. I list only those, from my collection, which I use most often when looking for music suitable for New England style dances.” ~Ted Sannella
Darke, Dennis, ed. Band Call. London, England: The English Folk Dance and Song Society, 1972. Fourth reprint in 1987. A collection of 76 jigs, reels, hornpipes, rants, polkas, schottisches, waltzes, and “handy tunes” with three or four tunes on each 7″ x 9 3/4″ page. Chords are included for each tune.
Kennedy, Peter, ed. The Fiddler’s Tune-Book and The Second Fiddler’s Tune-Book. Oxford, England: The Oxford University Press for The English Folk Dance and Song Society, 1951 and 1954. Reprinted by Hargail Music Press, New York. Re-published in one volume entitled: The Fiddler’s Tune-Book of 200 Traditional Airs: Traditional Dance Music of Britain and Ireland, 1994.
This 5 1/4″ x 8 1/2″ book contains 200 reels, jigs, hornpipes, polkas, schottisches, and waltzes, mostly two on each page. With chords and an index to the tunes.
Marriott, Beryl and Roger, eds. Tunes for the Band. London, England: The English Folk Dance and Song Society, 1976. Revised and reprinted 1980. A selection of 70 reels, jigs, hornpipes, rants, schottisches, strathspeys, marches, quicksteps, and waltzes with three or four tunes on each 7″ x 9 3/4″ page. Chords are included for each tune.
McQuillen, Bob. Bob’s Note Books (No. 1 through No. 15). Peterborough, NH: The author, 1982 to 1994. From Great Meadow Music.
On average, about 100 dance tunes per book with one on each 8″ x 5 1/2″ page (reels, jigs, hornpipes, marches, polkas, waltzes, and more). This prolific tune writer named his tunes for his friends. Be glad he had so many, many, many friends!
Messer, Don. Don Messer’s Way Down East Fiddlin’ Tunes. Toronto, Ontario: Gordon V. Thompson Ltd., 1948.
A collection of 98 easy-to-read reels, jigs, hornpipes, polkas, clogs, and waltzes with two to four tunes on each 9″ x 12″ page. Many of my Canadian favorites are included in this out-of-print volume. It’s worth seeking in secondhand shops.
* Miller, Randy and Robert Bley-Vroman, eds. New England Fiddler’s Repertoire. Peterborough, NH: Fiddlecase Books, 1983. Reprinted in East Alstead, NH, 1986. Revised and reprinted, 2008.
This spiral-bound book contains 168 reels, jigs, hornpipes, and marches, mostly two on each 6″ x 8″ page. A very useful collection of the tunes found in the repertoire of most New England contra dance musicians.
Morningstar, Judi, ed. The Ruffwater Fakebook. White Lake, MI: The author, 1991.
A collection of 117 reels and 52 jigs, all with chords and one or two on each 8 1/2″ x 11″ page. Many fine tunes by the author are included in this spiral bound book of easy-to-read selections. This is part of the repertoire of The Olde Michigan Ruffwater Stringband of which the author is a significant member.
M.M. Cole, publisher. One Thousand Fiddle Tunes. Chicago, IL: M.M. Cole Publishing Company, 1940, 1991.
A mammoth collection of reels, jigs, hornpipes, clogs, and strathspeys with eight tunes on each 9″ x 12″ page. Probably has been used by more fiddlers than any other reference.
Page, Ralph. The Ralph Page Book of Contras. London, England: The English Folk Dance and Song Society, 1969.
Contains 44 fine reels, jigs, and hornpipes with chords, including 20 tunes written by Page. There are four tunes on each 7″ x 9 3/4″ page. (Also see Dance Books)
Sannella, Ted. Balance and Swing. New York, NY: The Country Dance and Song Society, 1982. Revised Northampton, 1990.
A collection of 55 reels, jigs, and hornpipes in easy-to-read format with one tune on every other 7″ x 10″ page. Chords are included and a handy alphabetical tune list is inside the back cover of this spiral-bound book. (Also see Dance Books) Out of Print.
Sannella, Ted. Swing the Next. Northampton, MA: The Country Dance and Song Society, 1996.
A collection of 80 reels, jigs, and hornpipes with chords in easy-to-read format with one tune on every other 7″ x 9″ page. Includes an index of tunes and dances. (Also see Dance Books)
Sloanaker, Jack and Tony Parkes. Square Dance Chord Book and Tune Locator. Plymouth, VT: F&W Records, 1979.
This spiral-bound book is a unique addition to a musician’s library since it has no tunes. It is a collection of chords (only) for 500 common New England square and contra dance tunes. An alphabetical list of the tunes gives references for books and recordings as an aid to locating each melody.
* Sweet, Ralph. The Fifer’s Delight. Enfield, CT: The author, 1964. 4th ed., 1972. Revised 5th ed., 1981.
The original work contains 154 tunes with two or three on each 6″ x 9″ page. The much expanded fifth edition contains 343 tunes and chords for each with three to five tunes on each 8 1/2″ x 11″ page. Both books are spiral bound.
“I feel that, in order to keep abreast of the developing folk process, it is useful to subscribe to a number of international, national, and regional dance periodicals. From many that come to me at regular intervals, I recommend a short list with brief annotations.” ~Ted Sannella
The American Dance Circle. A quarterly publication of The Lloyd Shaw Foundation. Articles of a historical nature are common as are those telling of events sponsored by the foundation and resource materials available from them. Contras and squares are often included. Here is an archive of issues from The American Dance Circle from 1980-2013. New issues available to members. The Lloyd Shaw Foundation, c/o Ruth Ann Knapp, LSF Membership Chair, 2124 Passolt, Saginaw, MI 48603.
American Square Dance. A monthly publication geared to the club square dance movement. A regular “Easy Level” column contains traditional-style squares, contras, and circle mixers and a “Contra Corners” column often includes usable dances. American Square Dance, 34 E. Main Street, Apopka, FL 32703; email@example.com; Squaredance.ws. Archives here.
CDSS News. Quarterly newsletter of The Country Dance and Song Society. Included are contemporary dance, music, and song selections, events calendar and articles of interest to all who participate in English and/or Anglo-American folk dance, music, and song activities. The contra dance movement is well represented in each issue. Available to members, or by request. CDSS, 116 Pleasant Street, Easthampton, MA 01027; firstname.lastname@example.org Archives here.
Contra and Square Dance History. A short-lived quarterly journal edited and published by Michael McKernan. The sub-title of this interesting work explains its nature: “Studies on the Past, Present, and Future of Contra and Square Dances.” In the debut issue (January, 1995), McKernan stated that his purpose is “… to provide callers, composers, organizers, musicians, and highly-involved dancers with accurate, fully documented information on how contra and square dances came to be the way they are now.” The well-written scholarly articles and on-going features are most informative.
The Dance Gypsy. A monthly newsletter featuring a pull-out calendar of contra and folk dance events in northern New England. Articles and letters of interest to dancers are included regularly. The Dance Gypsy, 2518 Sunset Lake Road, Dummerston, VT 05301; email@example.com; The Dance Gypsy website
CDSS is thrilled that the foundational Roy Dommett’s Morris Notes are now accessible online for public use. These notes are a veritable treasure-trove of information that has been out of print since the 1990s. Now with the help of their editor, Dr. Anthony Barrand, the help of Tom Toleno and Dr. Paul Eric Smith, and the permission of Roy’s son, Michael, this incredible resource is once again available.
NOTE: While CDSS is proud to present this resource, it contains sections that are now outdated and offensive, particularly regarding the dancing of morris by women. The Dommett Notes are both an ongoing practical resource and a part of the historical record, so we have chosen to present the work as originally created. Mr. Dommett said he “started as a rebel and [is] now a pillar” and frequently stressed the ever-changing nature of morris dance. His own opinions and encouragement of female morris dancers also evolved over his lifetime, and we hope modern dancers take that spirit of continual learning to heart as well.
Background and Acknowledgements
On several trips to the United States in the 1970s and ‘80s, Roy Dommett became friends with Dr. Tony Barrand and supplied him with several pages of his teaching and research notes made from 1954 – 1985. In 1954, Roy and other members of his family had danced with the Morris in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, one of the three teams in the region of Cotswolds with a continuous history of dancing since the 19th century. Such teams are often referred to and revered as “traditional” as opposed to “Revival” teams that had their origins in the 20th century, especially in the 1950s during a renewal of interest in the Morris.
There was relatively little published information on the history of the dancing and even less documenting the new dances created by groups formed after “the revival”. Because of this and because he was a superlative teacher, Roy was asked to teach many workshops, for example at Halsway Manor in Somerset, a national center for the folk arts. Roy began filming both traditional and revival teams and writing down notations of their dancing. His willingness to acknowledge the validity of new dances as well as documenting the current versions of the dances already published by Cecil J. Sharp was not a popular philosophy among some English dancers. In the U.S., Dr. Tony Barrand adopted Roy’s philosophy as a model and began filming and making video recordings of dancing by his own teams and other American teams who danced at what became known as the “Marlboro Morris Ale”. Roy’s teaching notes became invaluable resources that fed and supported the dancing on both sides of the Atlantic. When the Morris Ring decided to fund the publication of a “Handbook of Morris dances”, the editor Lionel Bacon wrote in the introduction about his debt to Roy Dommett for the information that enabled him to complete the handbook.
In 1979, Barrand went to England to shoot 8mm film of teams recommended by Dommett. While visiting at Roy’s home, Tony was given extra copies of the notes enough to make a collection of approximately 1000 pages covering a whole range of seasonal dance customs including some, such as Border Morris and Garland dancing, for which there was very little published information. Other, perhaps minor dance forms were included in a fifth volume of “Other Morris”. Roy’s notes on these forms of the Morris were largely responsible for a growth of interest in starting teams performing these dances in their home locales.
During a sabbatical year from Boston University in 1986, Barrand organized and edited these into a second edition that followed an earlier version culled primarily from notes on the Cotswold Morris. The second edition became five volumes that were bound as six separate books and issued in a clumsy but convenient photocopy format by the Country Dance and Song Society of America (CDSS). Believing that there were sufficient copies of his teaching notes spread around among Morris teams, Roy expressed some caution about making the volumes available in England. Barrand’s concern was that Roy’s notes were being photocopied and distributed by people who had no idea of their source and so gave Roy no credit. A few, expensive copies were sold but by the late 1990s CDSS decided against continuing the production of the volume.
There it remained until the summer of in 2014 when Tony’s daughter, Olivia Ringsell Barrand, was hired to teach at Pinewoods Camp. For one class, she liked the Jump-Rope Waltz Clog her father had learned from wooden shoe dancer Anna Marley of Rockville, Connecticut and was looking around for other material. She found it in Volume 5 — Other Morris of Roy Dommett’s Morris Notes. Members of her class wanted to purchase copies of the book. There, of course, were none. “Why don’t you,” she said, “put it online?” Olivia’s husband, Bergen Swanson, furthered the idea by scanning all of the original pages used to make the copies of the 1986 edition as PDF files.
Roy Dommett died in November of 2015. His son, Michael Dommett. agreed to Tony’s request for permission to make an online edition on the CDSS web site. A colleague and friend, Tom Toleno, assisted Tony in converting all of the separate notations and articles into distinct PDF files. Another friend and fellow Morris dancer, Dr. Paul Eric Smith, took the PDF files and organized them into an online version of the five volumes.
About Roy Dommett
Roy Dommett (1933-2015), rocket scientist and aeronautical engineer, worked at the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough throughout his career. He was involved with most of the major British missile and rocket projects including Blue Streak, Polaris, Trident and Chevaline. Much of this work remains classified. During the 1980s he played an important role in UK/US technical liaison during the Strategic Defense Initiative. In his spare time Dommett became an internationally recognised expert on Morris dancing, authoring a number of books and lecturing on its history and practice.
On January 22, 1994, the Charlottesville Morris dancing community threw a party in honor of Roy and Marguerite Dommett. The event included, aside from the requisite beer, ale, and stout consumption, Jim Morrison (former Executive Director of the Country Dance and Song Society) calling Kerry sets. At some point Roy and Jim played a few Morris tunes, which accompany the photos in the video embedded here.
Here’s the obituary of Roy that ran in The Telegraph (UK). It contains some terrific archival photos and a video of Roy playing the accordion for Shepherd’s Hey.
Roy Dommett’s Morris Notes, Volumes 1-5
Acknowledgements to Online 2nd Edition (Word document)
Volume 1 Part 1: Cotswold or Wychwood Morris - Background and Commentary
- Roy Dommett’s Autobiography
- Section 1 – History
- How It Began
- The Morris in the Early 19th Century
- The Morris Ale in the Early 19th Century
- Robert Dover’s Olympic Games
- Captain Robert Dover’s Olympik Games
- General Monck, His March, and His Maypole in the Strand
- How Did You Think It Was?
- The Cotswold Morris in the Twentieth Century
- The Cotswold Morris
- Section 2 – Contemporary Morris
- The Morris in a Club Context, The Future of the Morris: A Late 1970’s View
- The Morris Ring; A Possible Viewpoint
- Contemporary Change
- What Has Been Happening To the Morris?
- Who Should Dance the Morris?
- Styles for Clubs
- Some Crisis Points in Morris Clubs
- Common Faults of Women Morris Dancing
- From Folk Dance to Festivals, What Are We Talking About?
- What Form for a Cotswold Competition?
- Section 3 – Costume
- Section 4 – Archiving the Morris
- Section 5 – Characters
- Section 6 – Style
- Section 7 – The Music of the Morris
- Section 8 – Repertoire
- Section 9 – Recent Cotswold Style Dance Ideas
Volume 1 Part 2: Cotswold or Wychwood Morris - Dance Instructions and Notations
- Table of Contents
- Section 10 – The Dances
- The Abingdon Morris
- The Adderbury Morris
- The Ascott-Under-Wychwood Morris – Notations
- The Badby Morris – Notations and Tunes
- The Bampton Morris – Background and Notations (1964)
- The Bessels Leigh Morris
- The Bidford Morris and Tunes
- The Bledington Morris – Notations
- The Brackley Morris
- The Brailes Morris
- The Bucknell Morris
- The Chipping Campden Morris – Background Notations and Tunes
- The Ducklington Morris – Notations
- The Eynsham Morris
- The Fieldtown Morris
- The Filkins Morris
- The Headington Quarry Morris
- Sharp MSS and Schaf, Handwritten Copies
- Kimber Headington Tunes
- Manning MSS Headington Tunes
- Ganiford’s 4:4 Headington Tunes
- Kimber Jig Tunes
- Esperance Headington Morris
- Trafford Pre-Revival Headington Notations
- Carey MSS (RD Handwritten Copy)
- Miscellaneous Correspondence and Notes from Emma Dorothea Herschel and Percy Manning MSS
- Miscellaneous Correspondence (and Notes from Herschel and Manning MSS)
- Letter from RFD to Lionel Bacon MSS
- Morris Dance Tunes from William Kimber
- Kenworthy Schofield MSS
- Oxford University Morris Men
- Headington Quarry At Albert Hall
- The Hinton In The Hedges Morris
- The Ilmington Morris
- The Kirtlington Morris
- The Longborough Morris
- The Lower Swell Morris
- The Noke Morris
- The North Leigh Morris
- The Oddington Morris
- The Sherborne Morris
- The Stanton Harcourt Morris
- The Wheatley Morris
- The Withington Morris
Volume 2: Northwest Morris
- Volume 2 Table of Contents
- Section 1: Carnival Morris
- Section 2: Advice When Starting a Clog Morris Side
- Section 3: Cheshire-and-Lancashire-Style Morris
- Alderly (Cheshire)
- Alderly Edge (Cheshire)
- Altrincham (Cheshire)
- Aston-Under-Line (Lancashire)
- Bollin (Lancashire)
- Church Town (Lancashire)
- Clayton-Le-Moors (Lancashire)
- Clitheroe (Lancashire)
- Colne Royal & Colne (Lancashire)
- Crewe (Cheshire)
- Crewe Works (Cheshire)
- England’s Glory (Knutsford Area Style)
- Failsworth Boy Dancers (Lancashire)
- Fiddler’s Fancy
- Fleetwood (Lancashire)
- Garstane (Lancashire)
- Gisburne Processional (Yorkshire)
- Glassop (Lancashire)
- Godley Hill (Lancashire)
- Goostrey (Cheshire)
- Gorton (Lancashire)
- Hayfield (Derbyshire)
- Hindley (Lancashire – A Circle Dance)
- Holmes Chapel (Cheshire)
- Hardwick (Lancashire)
- Keswick – see also Mawdsley Stage Dance, Road Dance (Cumbria)
- Knutsford (Cheshire)
- Leyland (Lancashire)
- Longridge, Goosenargh, Wrea Green (Cheshire)
- Lymm (Cheshire)
- Lytham St. Anne’s (Lancashire)
- Manley Cheshire (Royton)
- Marston near Northwich (Cheshire)
- Mawdsley, Keykand, Keswick (Lancashire; Cumbria)
- Medlock Edge (Lancashire)
- Middleton & Middleton Junction (Lancashire)
- Milnrow Processional (Lancashire)
- Minden Rose (Hampshire)
- Alton Morris
- The Carnival Dance
- The Cross and Pillory Reels
- The New Cross and Pillory Polka
- The Minden Rose
- Mobberly – see also Keswick (Cheshire)
- Mossley (Lancashire)
- Nelson (Lancashire) – Colne Royal version from Julian Pilling
- Nelson – Marching (Socialist Sunday School)
- Oldfield (Lancashire)
- Oldham (Lancashire)
- Over Peover (Cheshire)
- Piper’s Ash Reel (Yorkshire Chandelier)
- Preston (Lancashire)
- Royal Oak (Lancashire)
- The Royton Morris (Lancashire)
- Runcorn & Widnes (Cheshire)
- Shawforth (Rossendale, Lancashire)
- Stafford (Staffordshire)
- Staybridge – Bently 1950’s and Girls Morris(Lancashire)
- Stockport Carnival (Lancashire)
- Whalley (Lancashire)
- White Thorn
- Wigan Morris and Wigan Processional Lancashire
- Wigton (Cumbria)
- Section 4: Music
Volume 3: Garland Dances
- Title Page and Table of Contents
- Section 1 – General Comments on Garland Dances
- Section 2 – Notations
- The Alton Fight (Minden Rose)
- Bacup Garland Dances (Lancashire)
- The Basque Garland Dance
- The Basque Garland Dance II (Dance for Twelve)
- Blennerhasset Garland Dances
- Brighton Lasses
- The Castle (Shrewsbury Lasses)
- Comington (Fen Nightingale)
- Duke of Lancaster (John O’Gaunt)
- England’s Glory Dance
- Flemish Garland Dances (The Wain and The Rose Bud)
- French Garland Dance
- Garland for Lucy (Magog)
- Green Willow (Fen Nightingale)
- The Hop Pickers (Minden Rose)
- The Hop Wain (Minden Rose cf. The Wain)
- Jane Austen’s Quadrille (Minden Rose)
- Jane’s Garland Dance
- Le Jardiniere (the Gardener) for Eight Couples
- King Pippin Garland Dance (Magog)
- Knots of May (Dommett Handwritten Notes)
- Lancaster Garland Dance
- Lancaster Mayor’s (or Maze) Dance
- Llaregyb Garland Dance (Llaregyb)
- The Normandy Crown (Minden Rose)
- A Provencal Garland Dance from France
- The Quarry (Shrewsbury Lasses) & Quarry Garland
- The Rose (a Garland Dance for 12)
- Sweet Garland Dance (Wessex Woods)
- Wishford Garland Dance
- The Yorkshire Garland (Yorkshire Chandelier)
Volume 4: Sword Dances
- Title Page and Table of Contents
- Section 1: North-Eastern Longsword
- Longsword Dancing in Cleveland – General Background
- Lingdale (Examination of EFDSS film taken c. 1936)
- 1st and 2nd Look at EFDSS North Skelton Film – Jan. 29, 1970
- Grenoside Sword Dance
- Section 2: Rapper Sword
- Section 3: Other Sword Dances – Papa Stour
Volume 5: Other Morris
- Volume Five’s Table of Contents
- Section 1: Reels
- Section 2: Worcestershire and Herefordshire (Border) Morris
- 5 2.0 Worcestershire and Herefordshire (Border) Morris
- 5 2.01 Border Morris Dances
- 5 2.1 Border Morris, First Issue
- 5 2.2 Border Morris, Second Issue
- 5 2.3 Cecil Sharp (1918 #1)
- 5 2.4 Evesham Morris
- 5.2.5 Morris at Melvern
- 5.2.6 Upton on Severn
- 5.2.7 Extra Notes on Border Morris
- 5.2.8 Border Morris Interpretations
- 5.2.9 Comment on Border Morris by Morris Ring
- 5.2.10 Comment by Cawte
- 5.2.11 Tunes from Sharp
- Section 3: Dances of Other Regions
- 5.3.0 Dances of other regions
- 5.3.1 Cadi Ha
- 5.3.2 Dorset Dances
- 5.3.3 Forest of Dean Morris
- 5.3.3b Traveling Morris andthe Forest of Dean Morris
- 5.3.4a Irish Mummer’s Dance
- 5.3.4 Isle of Man Hiring Dance
- 5.3.5 Lichfield original mss
- 5.3.5b Notes on Green Men Lichfield
- 5.3.6 Molly Dancing
- 5.3.7 Somerset Morris
- 5.3.8 Tradition in the South
- 5.3.9 Great Wishford Faggot Dance
- 5.3.10 Steeple Clayton Morris
- 5.3.11 Winster Morris
- Section 4: Newly Composed Dances from Women’s Teams
- 5.4.0 Women’s Teams
- 5.4.1 Newly Composed Womens Teams
- Section 5: Stave and Ribbon Dances
- Section 6: Maypole Dances
- Section 7: Dances with Brooms, Sticks, and Pipes
- Section 8: Clog and Social Dance
- 8.0 Clog and Social Dance
- 8.1 Lancashire Competitive Clog Dance
- 8.2 Sailor’s Hornpipe
- 8.3 Playford and the Country Dance
- 8.4 Late Eighteenth Century Country Dances
- 8.5 Social Dances of Southern Counties
- 8.6 Three from the South
- 8.7 Three from the North
- 8.8 East Midlands Dances
- 8.9 Dances for Use at Sidmouth
- 8.10 Jane Austen Ball
- 8.11 Victorian Scottish Dances
Roy Dommett’s Morris Notes, Volumes 6-10
Introduction to Volumes 6-10 (Word document)
Volume 6: Collected Cotswold Dances
- 6.01 Collected Cotswold Dances – 2nd issue
- 6.1 Cotswold choruses
- 6.1.2 Old Peculiar
- 6.2.1 Ascot
- 6.2.2 Badby
- 6.2.3 Bidford
- 6.2.4 Brackley
- 6.2.5 Brill
- 6.2.6 Ducklington Fleet
- 6.2.7 Ducklington Workshop
- 6.2.8 Ducklington tutorial
- 6.2.9 Eynsham
- 6.2.10 Fieldtown
- 6.2.11 Fleet
- 6.2.12 Headington Quarry
- 6.2.13 Ilmington
- 6.2.14. Juniper Hill
- 6.2.15 Litchfield
- 6.2.16 Litchfield Dances for Fleet
- 6.2.17 Lipley Stoke
- 6.2.18 Noth Leigh & Finstock
- 6.2.19 Sherborne
- 6.3. Threes to Fives
- 6.3.1 Dances for Threes
- 6.4 Dances for Four
- 6.5 Dances for Five and Nine
- 6.6 Dances at 3-5ish workshop
- 6.7. Cotswold-Making up Dances
- 6.8 Skit Morris Dances as seen on TV and Festivals
- 6.9 Skits, Stunts, and Inventions
- 6.10 Some Fun and Skit Dances
Volume 7: Border Morris Material
- Vol 7.01 Title Page
- Vol 7.02 Copyright
- Vol 7.03 Table of Contents
- Vol 7.04 Introduction & Source Material
- Vol 7.05 Index
- Vol 7.06 Historical
- Vol 7.07 Other Morris – Added Comments
- Vol 7.08 Collected Border Morris
- Vol 7.09 Continued Collected Border Dances
- Vol 7.10 Traditional Dances
- vol 7.11 Interpretations – Extensions
- vol 7.12 Shropshire Bedlams – Martha Rhodens – Tupenny Dish
- Vol 7.12.1 Tunes of above
- Vol 7.13 Inventions
- Vol 7.14 Alton Border Morris
- Vol 7.15 Hook Eagles Border Morris
- Vol 7.16 Red Stag’s Border Morris
- Vol 7.17 Tyler’s Men Border Morris
- Vol 7.18 Hook Eagle Morris Men Border Workshop Sidmouth 1996
- Vol 7.19 Simple Dances for a Border Morris Workshop
- Vol 7.20 Simple Modern Border Dance Set for Sidmouth Workshop 1996
- Vol 7.21 Off the Wall
- Vol 7.22 The Mark
- Vol 7.23 Kresala – Two Dances
Volume 8: Other Morris Dances
- Vol 8.0 Title Page
- Vol 8.01 Index
- Vol 8.10 Garland Dance Notations for Church Crookham 1994
- Vol 8.20 Garland Dance Workshop Notation Set
- Vol 8.30 Gardland and Clog Dances
- Vol 8.40 Two Basque Stick Dances Sahatsa
- Vol 8.50 Violet Alford Stick Basque Material
- Vol 8.60 El Baile Del Palo – Guam stick dance
- Vol 8.70 Isle of Man Dances
- Vol 8.80 East Anglian Molly
- Vol 8.90 Stave Dances
- Vol 8.95 Stave Dances- Sidmouth Workshop 1996
- Vol 8.100 Flaming Morris
- Vol 8.110 Under the Greenwood Tree
- Vol 8.120 Dances of Knobs & Knockers Tradition
- Vol 8.130 Some North West Dances
Volume 9: Articles About the Morris
- Vol 9.0 Dommett Articles
- Vol 9.01 What you did not know about the Morris
- Vol 9.02 Beginning a Morris Basic Workshop
- Vol 9.03 The Cotswold Morris Workshop
- Vol 9.04 Do It yourself by Douglas Kennedy
- Vol 9.05 On Playing for the Cotswold Morris
- Vol 9.06 Tweaking Tradition- Cotswold Morris Workshop
- Vol 9.07 Bacca Jigs Workshop by Simon Pipe
- Vol 9.08 Broom Dance Workshops Sidmouth 1996
- Vol 9.09 Sport Injuries
- Vol 9.10 The Sources of our Dances
- Vol 9.11 A Deeper Look at Morris Topics
- Vol 9.12 Influences on the Morris
- Vol 9.13 A deeper look at Morris Topics
- Vol 9.14 New Directions
- Vol 9.15 The Traditions Stylized
- Vol 9.16 Adderbury Sing – Stick
- Vol 9.17 Delivered Longborough talk
- Vol 9.18 Longborough Morris – context of a recovery
- Vol 9.19 Characters – the Cotswold Morris
- Vol 9.20 Roots of Clowning
- Vol 9.21 On Clowning and the Morris
- Vol 9.22 Black Face Minstrels
- Vol 9.23 The Morris Dance in Wales
- Vol 9.24 The Singing Game
- Vol 9.25 Stick Games
- Vol 9.26 Ministry of Silly Walks
- Vol 9.27 The Princesses Royal
- Vol 9.28 Whitsun Ale of Late 20th Century
- Vol 9.29 Robert Dover – Dr. William Brookes – the Olympic Games
- Vol 9.30 Playford and the Country Dance
- Vol 9.31 Custom in Conflict
- Vol 9.32 Whitsun in Oxfordshire in 19th Century
- Vol 9.33 Morris in the South Midlands
- Vol 9.34 Continuing researches into the South Midlands Morris
Volume 10: Transparencies for Morris Lectures Part I
1986 and 2017 editions edited by
Anthony G. Barrand, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus of Anthropology
Dance descriptions and commentary are © Roy L. Dommett and Anthony G. Barrand and are published here with their permission. The text may be printed for your own use, under Creative Commons license (Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike: CC BY-NC-SA). This means:
- you must credit Roy L. Dommett and Anthony G. Barrand and the CDSS Online Library;
- you may print and redistribute the text, and build upon the work;
- all new work must carry the same license, so any derivatives must also be non-commercial in nature
Welcome to the online collection of the collected works of Charles Bolton, which is comprised of Retreads (interpretations of 17th and 18th century English dances) and the nine booklets of Charles’s original dances and tunes.
Charles worked on Retreads from 1985 to 2003. We are presenting the 2nd edition of these booklets, redesigned and rewritten so the presentation is clear, and with revised interpretations in some cases. In addition, we present two previously unpublished dances: Jack’s Health and The Happy Captive.
The booklets of original dances and tunes were originally published 1982 through 2005. The main index can be sorted by booklet name or dance.
All dances are © Charles Bolton and are published here with his permission. The dances and tunes may be printed for your own use, under Creative Commons license (Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike: CC BY-NC-SA). This means:
- you must credit Charles Bolton and the CDSS Online Library;
- you may print and redistribute the dances, and build upon Bolton’s work;
- all new work must carry the same license, so any derivatives must also be non-commercial in nature.
Charles Bolton Biography
Charles Bolton was born in 1928 in the North East of England. His first contact with folk dance was at school but later, when living in London, he and his first wife joined the Harrow Folk Dance Club. He soon realized that he enjoyed calling as well as dancing, and eventually became interested in composing his own dances, which he tried out at the club.
His first dance, Dr. Vincent’s Delight (1983), has proved to be one of his most successful dances. Over the years, he has composed a large and varied miscellany of original dances and tunes.
In addition, he has researched nearly 100 dances from the 17th and 18th centuries, with the object of making these “Retreads” more accessible to dancers of the present day.
The Original Dances and Tunes of Charles Bolton
Charles Bolton is a prolific composer and choreographer for English country dancing. He has published nine volumes of original dances, some with original tunes and some with traditional music.
You may search by booklet name, or by the name of the dance. Each dance is presented with music, and the dance instructions. (Note that in some cases there may be multiple tunes or dances on a page).
Many dances now include music tracks, recorded by Peter Jenkins of Kafoozalum Country Dance Band. Many thanks to Linda Simans for arranging the conversion from cassette tapes; to Colin Hume for entrusting CDSS with the files; and especially to John Cornett for recording, separating, and renaming the tracks.
Click the blue music icons to listen to a tune in your browser. To download a tune, right-click (on a Windows computer) or Control-click (on a Mac), then choose Save File As.
- The Optimist (1982)
- More Optimistic Dances (1984)
- Not All My Own Work (1985)
- More of the Same (1986)
- Courtesy Turns (1989)
- Occasions (1989)
- People and Places (1992)
- What’s New (1995)
- Round Robin (2005)
- For Your Pleasure:
Bolton Original Dances Index
|The Band Wagon||5||5|
|The Edmonton Assembly||5||7|
|Nonsuch Cottage (original)||5||8|
|The Sixteenth of November||5||3|
|Courtesy Turns – Book Cover||5||cover|
|Courtesy Turns – Introduction||5||intro|
|Courtesy Turns – Index||5||index|
|The Ashford Anniversary||4||14|
|The Chairman’s Excursion||4||4|
|The Chairman’s Excursion – cont.||4||5|
|Mrs. Pomeroy’s Pavane||4||16|
|The New Year Rag||4||12|
|New Year Rag – cont.||4||13|
|Nick’s Maggot – cont.||4||9|
|The Plaster Cast||4||10|
|The Plaster Cast – cont.||4||11|
|Polygamy, cont. & Fair Exchange||4||7|
|More of the Same – Cover||4||cover|
|More of the Same – Introduction||4||intro|
|More of the Same – Index||4||index|
|The Felton Rag||2||3|
|Mr. Bolton’s Fancy||2||6|
|Nora’s Christmas Box||2||12|
|A Trip to Hengrave||2||4|
|More Optimistic Dances – Cover Page||2||cover|
|More Optimistic Dances – Introduction||2||intro|
|More Optimistic Dances – Index||2||index|
|Again Sweet Richard||3||5|
|Love and Innocence||3||10|
|Terpsichore – music||3||7|
|A Toast to Gerry||3||4|
|Not All My Own Work – Cover Page||3||cover|
|Not All My Own Work – Introduction||3||intro|
|Not All My Own Work – Index||3||index|
|Beechen Grove’s New Hall||6||10|
|Dr. Vincent’s Delight||6||7|
|A Measure for Margaret||6||6|
|A New Broom||6||11|
|St. George’s Day (The Birthday of the Bard)||6||9|
|Wearside – music||6||5|
|Occasions Cover Page||6||cover|
|The Liberated Ladies||1||5|
|Silver Jig (Bring on the Dancing Searls)||1||8|
|Sue’s Fancy (The Real Needham)||1||9|
|A Trip to Mill Hill||1||6|
|The Optimist – Cover Sheet||1||cover|
|The Optimist – Index||1||index|
|The Beggar’s Delight||7||9|
|The Beggar’s Delight – music||7||13|
|Cannock Chase – music||7||13|
|Hatfield House – music||7||14|
|Lanchester Larks – music||7||14|
|Manton Lane – music||7||16|
|Spring Wedding – music||7||15|
|Stately Manor – music||7||16|
|The Stratford Square||7||7|
|A Trip to Hexham||7||6|
|A Trip to Hexham – music||7||15|
|People and Places – Cover Sheet||7||cover|
|People and Places – Index||7||index|
|People and Places – Music Index||7||12|
|King For A Day||9||4|
|The 16th of November (2nd version)||9||8|
|A Southerly Breeze||9||11|
|St. George’s Day (The Birthday of the Bard) (2nd version)||9||9|
|Round Robin – Cover||9||cover|
|Round Robin – Index||9||index|
Charles Bolton's Retreads
Charles Bolton’s Retreads is a collection of interpretations of 92 English country dances from 17th and 18th sources, the majority from volumes of Playford’s Dancing-Master, plus selections from Johnson, Thompson, Walsh, Burbank, Griffiths, and Kynaston.
Each dance appears with music, the original dance instructions, Charles’s interpretations, and notes on interpretative decisions.
The dances are organized in nine volumes, plus two previously unpublished interpretations. You may search by volume number, by the name of the dance or by its number. The dances are numbered consecutively throughout the volumes, so at the top of each dance you will find an identifier, for example: Retreads No. 6 (for the sixth dance in volume 1 and so on, through No. 92).
Retreads Master Index
In 1982 Ken Sheffield published the first volume of From Two Barns. The plan was to produce a book of ten dances each year for ten years; other activities got in the way, as they tend to do, but ten books were eventually published, the last one in 2005.
Volume 10 includes a short history titled “Why From Two Barns,” which explains the title of the series, and how and why they happened.
The original dances and tunes are presented here as individual PDF files. Dances originally published on two pages are in one PDF file. You may also download an entire volume as one PDF; search for the word Complete along with the volume number under Title.
All dances are © Ken Sheffield and are published here with his permission. The dances and tunes may be printed for your own use, under Creative Commons license (Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike: CC BY-NC-SA). This means:
- you must credit Ken Sheffield and the CDSS Online Library;
- you may print and redistribute the dances, and build upon Ken’s work;
- all new work must carry the same license, so any derivatives must also be non-commercial in nature.
Ken Sheffield Biography
How Did I Get Mixed Up with Folk Dancing?
Apart from the “Music and Movement” programme on the Schools Broadcast, pre-war when I was seven or eight, I was not involved in any sort of dance activity. However at a choir supper, just after the Queen had been square dancing in Canada, the entertainment was a session square dancing run by a gentleman who organized a club in Aylesbury. From then on I used to spend Thursday evenings at this club.
A few weeks later I started off on my old motorbike to go roller skating at Princes Risborough and was obliged to take to a layby by a car on the wrong side of the road. The layby was about two inches deep in white mud which had run down off the Chiltern Hills. Both the bike and I changed colour! Even my black helmet was white!
Returning home to change I found my friend Bob, who had arranged to take his girlfriend, Betty, to a dance at Long Crendon, waiting for me. Unfortunately her mother would not let her go unless her elder sister went as well. He had arranged for me to partner the elder sister. The girls went off on the bus from Quainton to Long Crendon and we took off on the bike.
To Bob’s chagrin it was a folk dance, to 78 rpm records, played on a wind-up gramophone. Shortly after this escapade Bob and Betty split up leaving me with two new activities, which have endured for over sixty years, English folk dancing and, shortly afterwards, a wife.
Since completing the From Two Barns series in 2005, Ken has not been idle; indeed, far from it. While organizing holiday weeks at Halsway Manor over a 20-year period, he and his musician friends, Peter and Susan Swann, worked through some of the approximately 400 tunes Ken found while working his way through original English dance sources. The result is a new publication, still under construction, called The Century Collection, of 107 tunes with associated dances, rarely seen in the last 100 years. When ready for publication, The Century Collection will be published by CDSS.
From Two Barns: Ten Country Dances (mainly from Thompson, Wright and Wilson), compiled by Ken Sheffield
|Another Sweet Richard||Vol 1||11|
|Bath Medley||Vol 1||4|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 1—Complete Edition||Vol 1||complete|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 1—Cover Page||Vol 1||cover|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 1—Foreword||Vol 1||foreword|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 1—Index||Vol 1||index|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 1—Inside Cover Page||Vol 1||inside front|
|New Princess Royal||Vol 1||10|
|Rural Felicity||Vol 1||7|
|Sicilian Dance||Vol 1||5|
|Sun Assembly||Vol 1||9|
|Trusty Dick||Vol 1||3|
|Tunbridge Frisk||Vol 1||1|
|Wright Butter’d Peas||Vol 1||8|
|Youngs Wisdom||Vol 1||2|
|Better Day Better Deed||Vol 2||10|
|Blue Primrose||Vol 2||5|
|Dapper Harry||Vol 2||11|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 2—Complete Edition||Vol 2||complete|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 2—Cover Page||Vol 2||cover|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 2—Foreword||Vol 2||foreword|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 2—Index||Vol 2||index|
|Guardian Angels||Vol 2||3|
|Neals Maggot||Vol 2||12|
|The Old Jubilee||Vol 2||7|
|The Rainbow||Vol 2||2|
|The Ton||Vol 2||1|
|A Trip to Wimbledon||Vol 2||9|
|True Joak||Vol 2||8|
|Bloomsbury Market||Vol 3||9|
|Bob in the Bed||Vol 3||2|
|The Disbanded Officer||Vol 3||4|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 3—Complete Edition||Vol 3||complete|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 3—Cover Page||Vol 3||cover|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 3—Foreword||Vol 3||foreword|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 3—Illustration||Vol 3||illustration|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 3—Index||Vol 3||index|
|Just a Going||Vol 3||1|
|Painted Chamber||Vol 3||1|
|The Recruiting Officer||Vol 3||8|
|Sawney was Tall||Vol 3||11|
|Suggar Candie||Vol 3||3|
|Thomas and Sally||Vol 3||6|
|The Weezle||Vol 3||5|
|Clifton Springs||Vol 4||1|
|Constant Nymph||Vol 4||10|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 4—Complete Edition||Vol 4||complete|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 4—Cover||Vol 4||cover|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 4—Foreword||Vol 4||foreword|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 4—Frontispiece||Vol 4||frontis|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 4—Index||Vol 4||index|
|Half Century||Vol 4||11|
|The London Assembly||Vol 4||7|
|The Mayor and the Corporation||Vol 4||9|
|Neck or Nothing||Vol 4||2|
|Newbury Fair||Vol 4||5|
|North Country Lass||Vol 4||8|
|Princess Augusta’s Tamborine||Vol 4||13|
|The Corner House||Vol 5||10|
|Count Tallard||Vol 5||1|
|East Indian||Vol 5||2|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 5—Complete Edition||Vol 5||complete|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 5—Cover||Vol 5||cover|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 5—Foreword||Vol 5||foreword|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 5—Frontispiece||Vol 5||frontis|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 5—Index||Vol 5||index|
|Huzza My Boys||Vol 5||3|
|Lord Kilmurray’s Delight||Vol 5||4|
|Miss Margaret’s Delight||Vol 5||5|
|Miss Sandie’s Delight||Vol 5||7|
|The Temple of Health||Vol 5||9|
|The White Joak||Vol 5||10|
|Willy’s Rare and Willy’s Fair||Vol 5||11|
|The Black Boy||Vol 6||5|
|The Brickmakers||Vol 6||2|
|Edgworth Bumpkins||Vol 6||cover|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 6—Complete Edition||Vol 6||complete|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 6—Cover||Vol 6||cover|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 6—Foreword||Vol 6||foreword|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 6—Frontispiece||Vol 6||frontis|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 6—Illustration||Vol 6||illustration|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 6—Index||Vol 6||index|
|Milk Maids Bob||Vol 6||6|
|Miss Longs For It||Vol 6||10|
|More Alterations||Vol 6||9|
|The Revellee||Vol 6||11|
|The Scating Dutchman||Vol 6||7|
|The Steel Hoop||Vol 6||8|
|Barbarini’s Tambourine||Vol 7||4|
|Corelli’s Gavot||Vol 7||1|
|The Faithful Swain
|From Two Barns—Vol. 7—Complete Edition||Vol 7||complete|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 7—Cover||Vol 7||cover|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 7—Foreword||Vol 7||foreword|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 7—Frontispiece||Vol 7||frontis|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 7—Illustration||Vol 7||illustration|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 7—Index||Vol 7||index|
|Jack of Both Sides||Vol 7||3|
|Kind and Easey||Vol 7||6|
|The Man From Canterbury||Vol 7||8|
|The Romp||Vol 7||5|
|Smith’s Boree||Vol 7||2|
|Vaughn’s Ramble||Vol 7||11|
|Whirle It About||Vol 7||7|
|Avos Bay||Vol 8||9|
|The British Toper||Vol 8||5|
|Buskin II||Vol 8||7|
|Colonel John Irwin||Vol 8 Supplement|
|Fanny Power||Vol 8 Supplement|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 8—Complete Edition||Vol 8||complete|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 8—Cover||Vol 8||cover|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 8—Foreword||Vol 8||foreword|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 8—Frontispiece||Vol 8||frontis|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 8—Illustration||Vol 8||illustrations|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 8—Index||Vol 8||index|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 8 Supplement—Complete Edition||Vol 8 Supplement||complete supplement|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 8 Supplement Cover||Vol 8 Supplement||cover supplement|
|Lawson’s Frisk||Vol 8||8|
|The Maid of Bath||Vol 8||2|
|Morgan Magan||Vol 8 Supplement|
|The New Allemand||Vol 8||6|
|The Russian Dance||Vol 8||1|
|The Scrutiny||Vol 8||11|
|Blenheim Place—Illustration||Vol 9||illustration|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 9—Complete Edition||Vol 9||complete|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 9—Cover||Vol 9||cover|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 9—Foreword||Vol 9||foreword|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 9—Frontispiece||Vol 9||frontis|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 9—Index||Vol 9||index|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 9—Supplement—Complete Edition||Vol 9 Supplement||complete supplement|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 9—Supplement—Frontispiece||Vol 9 Supplement||supplement frontis|
|Heathcot’s Horse Race||Vol 9||3|
|Longborough 2||Vol 9 Supplement|
|Lord What’s Come to my Mother||Vol 9||4|
|Measure For Measure||Vol 9||5|
|Off With the Mask||Vol 9||6|
|Paddlers Coff||Vol 9 Supplement|
|Queen Anne’s Statue—Illustration||Vol 9|
|Queen’s Square||Vol 9||10|
|The Red Ribbon||Vol 9||9|
|St. James’s Park||Vol 9||8|
|A Trip to Blenheim||Vol 9||1|
|A Trip to Kilburn||Vol 9||2|
|A Trip to Plymouth||Vol 9 Supplement|
|Tumble Down Dick||Vol 9||7|
|Britain’s Glory||Vol 10||4|
|Drapers Gardens||Vol 10||8|
|From Two Barns—Volume 10—Complete Edition||Vol 10||complete|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 10—Cover||Vol 10||cover|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 10—Foreword||Vol 10||foreword|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 10—Index||Vol 10||index|
|From Two Barns—Vol. 10—Photo Illustrations||Vol 10||illustration|
|I Wonder at it||Vol 10||2|
|Man Tiger||Vol 10||10|
|Open All Hours||Vol 10||5|
|Quarter Day||Vol 10||11|
|Shepherds Round||Vol 10||3|
|Soft and Sweet||Vol 10||1|
|Valiant Jockey||Vol 10||7|
|Why From Two Barns?—Essay||Vol 10||essay|