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The Society of Folk Dance Historians (SFDH)

English Dance Terms
By Tom Kruskal, 1973

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Tom Kruskal


  1. Skip Change of Step: This is similar to the Scottish Skip of Step but is flatter in style. It is often referred to as a "flat threesome step."
  2. Rant Step: This is the step of the North of England, mainly Northumberland and County Durham. It is similar to a polka step but is more vibrant and is danced to 4/4 reel tunes. Hop L (ct uh), touch R toe, heel close to floor (ct 1), hop L (ct &), change to R ft (ct 2). Repeat starts with hop on R ft.


  1. Balance or Set: Step on the R ft, then L and R, small and rhythical (cts 1, & 2). There is no exaggeration of the second two steps. Repeat starts with L.
  2. Arming: Ptrs crook R arms at the elbow and turn once around (8 cts). Repeat with L arms (8 cts). This is done in "Playford Dances" such as Nonesuch.
  3. Siding: Exchange places with ptr, face-to-face moving in a CCW arc (4 cts). Retrace steps on return to place (CW arc). This is a courtesy movement so keep eye contact with your ptr.
  4. Hey: A dance figure in which three people are active and describe on the floor the pattern of a Fig of 8 consisting of two loops, one loop made CW and the other CCW. All three dancers go around the Fig of 8 in the same direction as in "follow the leader." The Hey may begin by passing either R or L shldrs depending upon the dance.
  5. Cast: This is a movement usually used for progression. Ptrs turn away from each other – usually M L and W R.
  6. Slip: Step L to L side; bring R up to L, heel to heel, taking wt. Repeat exactly. Step may also be done to R side, beginning with R.
  7. Turn Single: Turn in place with four steps, usually CW unless otherwise specified.
  8. A Double: Four steps in a specified direction, as in "forward a double."
  9. Back-to-Back: As in American square do-sa-do, pass ptr by R shldr and L shldr back to place.
  10. Basket Swing: For two couples – the M takes hands behind their ptrs backs, W rest hands on M shldrs. For three people – M has his arms around back of W, W near hands on M shldrs and the other hands around each others backs. The step is R ft slightly in front and a buzz swing is used.


Used with permission of the author.
Reprinted from the 1973 University of the Pacific (Stockton) Folk Dance Camp syllabus.

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