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The Ascott dances DDMM do

  • Country Gardens
  • Highland Mary

Not done nowadays: Mrs Casey, Pepper in the Brandy.
Last updated 11 2 21

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General stuff about Ascott dances

Not many sides do Ascott dances, so there are few videos available. Other sides tend to do hands on cross backs differently and make less of the hey.

Usual stepping sequence:. 2 bars double step (DS), then cross back steps (XB), followed by FtJ (except when galleying half way through common figs). Handkerchief movements are brisk down and up, arms extended, starting from about ear height then smartly down. In feet together jump (FtJ) the hands come up only to top-of-head height, with no preparatory movement.  
The XB footing: start with feet apart (shoulder width), cross your feet, right over left, jumping just enough to do so, return to feet apart (little jump required), cross again, this time left over right, feet together under your body, ready for FtJ. There should be enough of a pause in the music to bring yout foot down after the 2 bars DS and before you cross feet, though you may find it easier if you end the second DS with feet together rather than a hop, ready for the XB 'feet apart'. What do hands do in XB?: On ‘Apart’ hands are held out in front of the body at ear height. On ‘cross’, hands are pulled back horizontally, quickly. If handkerchief dance, hands come back to ears and handkerchiefs flick backwards. If stick dance, hold stick vertically, and don’t pull back so far (or you’ll clout yourself).
At other times stick is held relaxed, at the side of the body, dipping slightly down, moving gently forward and back in the DS
Usual common figures (cf):  OY, Foot up (FU), Half gyp (HG), Whole Gyp (WG), Back to back (BB), Rounds (R)
Other general info:

  • OY is FtJ
  • FU is left foot start, so is the Hey. R is right foot start. HG, WG, BB first half starts left foot, second half starts right foot. At end of FU, after the XB, FtJ ready for df. No foot down figure. FU takes twice as long as you expect!
  • HG Left foot start, crossing right shoulders on 1 bar DS - don’t go too far (not quite across the set). 1 bar DS on the spot, XB to return to place, then galley left, 360°, to face. 2nd half, rt foot start, 2 bars DS as before, XB, and end with FtJ instead of G.
  • WG As HG but 1st bar DS; go a little past partner, then use 2nd bar to turn cw round him, so that you end up next to him, with your back to your place (so all 6 men form 1 line on the midline of the set). Back to place on XB, galley left. Repeat on right (FtJ instead of galley to end).
  • BB sometimes omitted – decision of caller. Like HG, but use 2nd bar DS to move across behind your partner.
  • R Start right foot. Cw round for 3 bars of music, on DS, galley left out of the set, through 180°, back to place for end of dance (which differs according to dance).
  • Hey is actually part of each dance’s df. It’s a variation on the usual pattern of hey, with middles going up each time. Done accurately it looks great, but…
    • Usual stepping: left foot start, 2 bars DS, XB FtJ.
    • Top pair turn out and round, turning to go backwards down the set centre by the time they reach the middle position, by the end of 2 bars of DS. Go backwards down to the bottom of the set on XB. Second half: do what bottoms do in 1st half as below
    • Middles go up the set both times, a bit past No 1 position, then turn outwards, away from each other, and away from the set, still facing forwards, but turning a bit as you go so that you then back into your middle postion place at an angle on XBs, turning to face across with FtJ. Do exactly the same for second half
    • Bottoms, take one long step (left foot start) sideways out of the set, then dance on that spot for the rest of the first bar, no movement up the set. Then, on next bar move fast at and angle into the set, just past the middle position, turning to face down the set (thus facing the top couple) before XB. Second half – do what tops do in 1st half.

About how DDMM do specific Ascott dances

Country Gardens

Stick dance, pattern is OY, FU, df, HG, df, BB, df, WG, df, R.
Df = (sticking and half hey) X 2. Sticking = Odds strike first: wait then hit twice quite quickly (evens hold stick in both hands, horizontal, eye height). Then odds strike (same in reverse). Then in quick succession odds strike, evens strike, odds strike, then high clash. Then half hey. How the sticking fits the music is shown in the picture below, where X represents the 4 beats in each bar of the music (no pauses between each bar, and the middle two beats each consist of two notes O = Odds strike, E = evens strike, and * = the high clash across.

Acott sticking pattern
Dance ends on rounds: normal 1st half: start right foot, dance round for 3 bars, galley left, then stick goes up, down, up, as return to place. Then evens raise sticks eye height and horizontal, odds bring down stick to strike (hardish).

Highland Mary

Handkerchief dance. OY, FU, df, HG, df, BB, df, WG, df, R.

Df = (chorus and hey) repeat. Chorus:

    • All face up both times, staying in line behind the top couple
    • Long, open sidestep left (rt foot behind) in bars 1 & 2 (the half hey brings #5 and #6 to the top for the second half)
    • In bar 1 left upper arm is horizontal (no lower!) and forearm vertical, the fist clenched.  On the last beat of the bar bring the left arm forward and the right arm up to join it for down and up in bar 2
    • In bars 3 & 4 repeat with long sidestep right, ending with left foot in the air.
    • Then half hey.

Dance ends on rounds, coming back in 2nd half, 2 bars DS, 4 capers (hands: down, up, down, up) to face up in set. End with feet together, both arms up, bent at elbow as in df chorus