strathspey Archive: Circassian or Sicilian

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Circassian or Sicilian

Message 11286 · Norman BETT · 18 Mar 1998 18:03:51 · Top

Hello

Here's something that has been puzzling me for some time: When I first heard
the name `Circassian Circle' I was playing solely for Scottish Dancing in
Scotland. Since then I have played for all kinds of `English Dance' and some
American. In England the term Circassian Circle is used to describe a single
circle, usually a large one, with dancers facing inwards and holding hands. The
formation of couple facing couple round the room is known as a Sicilian Circle
in English dancing; possibly in American too. The Scottish version is like the
English Sicilian. Which is right, if any? Do these formations have any
relationship to the supposed country of origin ? Perhaps the Scots version
should always be called the Scotch Circle (although unfortunately there is a
specific dance of that name - as I'm sure you all know!)

Norman Bett

Mr Norman Bett
2 Blinco Grove, Cambridge CB1 4TS UK

My email address is: norbet@clara.net
Home telephone number: 01223-248988
You can fax me at this number if you give me a call first.

Circassian or Sicilian

Message 11290 · SMiskoe · 19 Mar 1998 00:40:17 · Top

I don't know all the history about Circassian vs Sicillian Circles but in the
US the couples facing couples around the room is always called Sicillian
Circle. The figures danced may vary from one evening to the next. They will
always be 24 bars of something then ending with forward and back, forward and
pass through to the next. It's often used as a way to warm up the crowd and
teach while dancing if the crowd has lots of beginners. If you have two
couples facing two couples you are in Portland Fancy formation and that
doesn't have as many variations as Sicillian Circle. Again it ends with
forward and back, pass through. My feeling is that a good tune will travel
and become rooted in other places and the same goes with a good dance.
There are a fair number of Scottish dances that are similar to English and a
number of contra dances that have Scottish or English roots.
Cheers,
Sylvia Miskoe, Concord, NH USA

Circassian or Sicilian

Message 11294 · Anselm Lingnau · 19 Mar 1998 10:15:18 · Top

Norman BETT <norbet@clara.net> writes:

> In England the term Circassian Circle is used to describe a single
> circle, usually a large one, with dancers facing inwards and holding hands.
> The formation of couple facing couple round the room is known as a Sicilian
> Circle in English dancing; possibly in American too. The Scottish version
> is like the English Sicilian. Which is right, if any?

The couple-facing-couple-round-the-room arrangement has been known as a
`Circassian' circle in Scotland for a while. In the 19th century
`Circassian circle' was a generic term for any dance making use of that
arrangement, not only the dance that we today call C. C. (Sorry for not
giving a reference for this, but my books are all at home.)

I'm not aware of traditional Scottish dances in the large-circle,
everybody-looking-inwards arrangement that the English call Circassian;
if they exist then at least the RSCDS apparently hasn't deigned to
publish any yet (although there are modern Scottish dances that use a
large circle).

> Do these formations have any
> relationship to the supposed country of origin ?

Judging from tune names such as Persian or Chinese Dance and from the
names of formations such as Allemande or Espagnole, I'd be surprised if
that was the case :^) Another case in point is the Waltz Country Dance
which, way back when, used to be known as the Spanish Waltz.

Anselm
--
Anselm Lingnau ......................... lingnau@tm.informatik.uni-frankfurt.de
Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement.
--- Jim Horning

Circassian or Sicilian

Message 11305 · Bryan McAlister · 19 Mar 1998 22:32:27 · Top

In article <980318165948.n0000316.norbet@mail.clara.net>, Norman BETT
<norbet@clara.net> writes
>Hello
>
>Here's something that has been puzzling me for some time: When I first heard
>the name `Circassian Circle' I was playing solely for Scottish Dancing in
>Scotland. Since then I have played for all kinds of `English Dance' and some
>American. In England the term Circassian Circle is used to describe a single
>circle, usually a large one, with dancers facing inwards and holding hands. The
>formation of couple facing couple round the room is known as a Sicilian Circle
>in English dancing; possibly in American too.
This is also done in Scotland and is called the Circassian Circle
however I believe it should more correctly be called the Flirtation
>The Scottish version is like the
>English Sicilian. Which is right, if any? Do these formations have any
>relationship to the supposed country of origin ? Perhaps the Scots version
>should always be called the Scotch Circle (although unfortunately there is a
>specific dance of that name - as I'm sure you all know!)
The other version where two couple sets form round th room is I
also called the Circassian Circle, I learned this version at school in
the fifties but have never seen it done since that time. The round the
room version is quite common at ceilidhs.

I have heard they are all part of a larger set of dances (like the
Lancers and Quadrilles) but have never had time to check this out or
find any of the other parts

Bryan McAlister B. Arch RIBA ARIAS MaPS, Linlithgow,Scotland
Web page http://www.bryanmac.demon.co.uk
/\
_ _ / \
_/# #\__^__/____\_
__IIIII__#__IIIIII_________

Circassian or Sicilian

Message 11332 · Maghi King · 22 Mar 1998 18:05:12 · Top

I've danced in Ceilidhs (in Skye) where Circassain Circle was the all
facing in version, which is also what you get in the Occasionals
booklet, I think.

Maghi

Anselm Lingnau wrote:
>
> Norman BETT <norbet@clara.net> writes:
>
> > In England the term Circassian Circle is used to describe a single
> > circle, usually a large one, with dancers facing inwards and holding hands.
> > The formation of couple facing couple round the room is known as a Sicilian
> > Circle in English dancing; possibly in American too. The Scottish version
> > is like the English Sicilian. Which is right, if any?
>
> The couple-facing-couple-round-the-room arrangement has been known as a
> `Circassian' circle in Scotland for a while. In the 19th century
> `Circassian circle' was a generic term for any dance making use of that
> arrangement, not only the dance that we today call C. C. (Sorry for not
> giving a reference for this, but my books are all at home.)
>
> I'm not aware of traditional Scottish dances in the large-circle,
> everybody-looking-inwards arrangement that the English call Circassian;
> if they exist then at least the RSCDS apparently hasn't deigned to
> publish any yet (although there are modern Scottish dances that use a
> large circle).
>
> > Do these formations have any
> > relationship to the supposed country of origin ?
>
> Judging from tune names such as Persian or Chinese Dance and from the
> names of formations such as Allemande or Espagnole, I'd be surprised if
> that was the case :^) Another case in point is the Waltz Country Dance
> which, way back when, used to be known as the Spanish Waltz.
>
> Anselm
> --
> Anselm Lingnau ......................... lingnau@tm.informatik.uni-frankfurt.de
> Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement.
> --- Jim Horning

--
Please note my new e-mail address (old address was king@divsun.unige.ch)
Maghi King | E-mail: Margaret.King@issco.unige.ch
ISSCO, University of Geneva | WWW: http://issco-www.unige.ch/
54 route des Acacias | Tel: +41/22/705 71 14
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