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The Black Nag

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John Playford Information: A dance.

First described in John Playford's "The English Dancing Master" (4th edition), 1670, this dance has proved to be popular for over 300 years. They just don't make 'em like they used to.

Translation: A specified female horse, the color of the coat of which absorbs light of all wavelengths in the visible spectrum.

Pronunciation: thuh BLAHK-NAHG

Other names: Black Nagg

Region: England

Meter: 6/8

Formation: Three couples in line, one behind the other, facing top. Women to men's right, R hands joined.


6-8 If there's an introduction: Acknowledge partner with a bow if you're a man; curtsy if you're not.
1.   Forward and back a double, and slipping.
1-2 Walk forward 4 steps onto: R ft, L ft, R ft, L ft (cts 1,4,1,4). Close feet on last step.
3-4 Repeat action of bars 1-2, walking backwards.
5-8 Repeat action of bars 1-4.
9-10 Couple 1 joins both hands across and dances 4 slip steps toward top (cts 1,4,1,4).
11-14 Couple 2 does likewise, then couple 3.
15-16 All let go hands and turn once CW in place with 4 walking steps.
17-24 Repeat action of bars 9-16, couple 3 sliding toward bottom, then 2, then 1.
2.   Siding and slipping. With footwork of part 1:
1-2 Change places with partner, passing L shoulders and looking at partner continuously.
3-4 Repeat action of bars 1-2, passing R shoulders.
5-8 Repeat action of bars 1-4.
9-10 First man and third woman change places, leading with R shoulders and passing back to back.
11-12 First woman and third man the same.
13-14 Second man and second woman the same.
15-16 All turn once CW in place.
17-24 Repeat action of bars 9-16, all returning to places.
3.   Arming and heys for three.
1-4 Hook R elbows with partner and circle once CW with 8 steps, returning to places.
5-8 Repeat action of bars 1-4, hooking L elbows and turning CCW.
9-16 Man 1 faces bottom; men 2 & 3 face top. Dance "hey for 3" as shown, starting by men 1 & 2 passing R shoulders. Use skipping step (step-hop) throughout.
17-30 Similarly, women dance the "hey for 3", just a little bit faster than the men.
31-32 All turn once CW in place with 4 steps and bow or curtsy as gender dictates.
Repeat. Repeat all from beginning.
Note: This dance is so short, that some folks repeat it twice more, each time with a new head couple.



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