We had already been taught "Jenny pluck Pears" and "The Spanish Gypsy". After about a year I was beginning to give up hope of learning the other dances when the Lochac Dance Manual came out with "Rufty Tufty". Shortly afterwards we were taught "Upon a Summer's Day" both at the college dance classes and the CREMS (Canberra Recorder and Early Music Society) Renaissance dance classes. A few weeks later two interpretations of "Grimstock" were taught. Since both these interpretations underwent some changes I saw how the interpretation process worked.
At about the same time a friend managed to get me a copy of Playford's "The English Dancing Master". So with tape, book and the indulgence of the St. Aldhelm dance classes we began to interpret more dances.
This manual assumes some knowledge of dance as done in Lochac. I have not tried to explain all the steps and formations completely. Where necessary I have resorted to using diagrams to show the movements. In these diagrams I have followed the convention used by Playford in his "Dancing Master" i.e. the astronomical sign of the moon for men and the sun for women.
I have split the dances into choruses and verses to help you remember them. Here I am using "everyone doing the same thing" as the meaning of chorus. Most of the country dances have as a first part two sets of two doubles followed by a Verse. Next come sidings and a Verse, followed by armings and a Verse.
The verses may be the same throughout the dance, as in Upon a Summer's Day, or they may be similar - one time the men do the verse, the next time the women dance it. They may also be variations on a theme - e.g. the "mirror hay" in Grimstock - or they may be totally different, as in some of the progressive dances.
It is also assumed that steps follow the left, right, left, right pattern associated with walking.
A single left forward means step forward on the left foot and bring the right foot up beside it.
A single left is denoted by SL, and a single right is denoted by SR.
A single left forward means: step forward onto your left foot; bring the right forward past the left and take another step; bring the left forward past the right and take another step; bring the right up beside the left.
A double left is denoted by DL, and a right double by DR.
A left arming means take right arms and starting on your left foot walk around your partner.
If you are losing which foot the next step after the armings is on, try doing this as a set of two doubles, DL, DR, instead of the eight steps. This variation looks and feels right in some dances.
If the dance is fast or you have lots of energy, spin your partner as fast as you can. Just remember to get back to your places at the right time for the next step.
If the dance is fast the doubles are not quite completed. Instead of ending with the feet together flat on the floor. The last foot is not placed flat but only the toe hits the ground. This makes it quicker to start the next step. It also gives the doubles a "bob" instead of a rise as in other dances.
A left set and turn single means - left single, right single, left turn single.
Do a double to your partner's place. Your head should be turned to face your partner all the time. Turn your body only on the last step. Repeat this to get back to your place. In a left siding you pass by the right shoulder when moving to your partner's place, and by left shoulder when returning to your own place.
A left turn single means turn over your left shoulder. Your left hand stays still and you go around it.
"Turn your own right" means take your partner's left hand and walk, or double (usually two doubles), around them starting with your right foot.
"Turn your corner left" means take your corner's right hand and walk, or double, around them starting with your left foot.
The hands can be held low as if walking hand in hand, or high like palming.