strathspey Archive: Double figure 8

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Double figure 8

Message 46411 · Patricia Ruggiero · 19 Oct 2006 02:00:59 · Top


I've been searching my shelves for any pertinent information. Here's what I
have (so far).

"St. Martin's Lane" (triple minor longways)
Tune composed by Henry Purcell for his opera "The Virtuous Wife."
Dance published in Playford, 1696 to 1728; and in Walsh, 1718 and 1731

The version being done today in ECD was reconstructed and published by
Christine Helwig and Marshall Barron in the Country Dance and Song Society
(CDSS) News, #80, Jan-Feb 1988. The same version was later published in
"Purcell Playford and the English Country Dance" by Helwig and Barron
(Playford Consort Publications, June 1995).

In neither publication are the original instructions given.

Here is the reconstruction:

Bars 1-2: M1 casts into middle place (M2 moves up)
Bars 3-6: M1 and W3 2-hand turn once around
Bars 7-8: M1 casts up to original place (M2 moves down)

A2: W1 repeats A1

B (19 bars)
Bars 1-2: 1s lead down between 2s (2s move up the outside) and face 3s;
Bars 3-8: 1s and 3s "go the figure through" (begin with 1s crossing down
between 3s as 3s cast up the outside); 1s end in middle place, facing up;
Bars 9-14: 1s and 2s "go the figure through" (begin with 1s crossing up
between 2s as 2s cast down the outside); 1s end in middle place;
Bars 15-19: All turn partners two hands once around.

Helwig says, in the CDSS News, that:
"The interpretation of 'go the figure through,' or 'hey double for four' is
based on a diagram in Pemberton's 'An Essay for the Improvement of Dancing,'
London, 1711, which shows the middle couple crossing from a line of four
abreast. In that diagram, the outside couple simply crossed after them in
starting this figure. However, in working with dancers (first in New Haven,
later at Pinewoods), I have found that all have liked to cast into the
figure from the outside places -- and hence this interpretation."

I'm uneasy about the use of "or" to pair "go the figure through" and "hey
double for four." It's not clear to me whether it's Helwig who treats them
as the same figure, or Pemberton. I'd feel more confident of the existence
of the double fig 8 if I could see the Pemberton diagrams myself.

I'd also like to learn more about this "hey double for four." A hey for
four would begin with the 1s facing the other couple for the first pass,
rather than crossing through the middle as in a figure 8.

I'm sorry that this information seems only to cloud the matter, rather than
clarify it.


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