Back to back
Facing another person, move forward passing right shoulders and
fall back to place passing left. May also start by passing left and
falling back right.
A single backward step.
Face and give hands right to left and left to right.
Cast off is to turn outward and dance outside the set.
Cast up (or down) is to turn outward and dance up (or down) outside
Dancers face each other as directed (i.e., face partner or face
along the line) and pass each other alternately right/left/right a
stated number of times (i.e., 2, 3 or 4 changes of a hey). Usually
done without hands, the circular hey may also be done by more than
two couples facing alternately and moving in opposite
directions-usually to original places.
Slippingstep to right or left as directed.
In a ring, move to your left; in a turn single, turn to your
In a duple minor or two-couple set, the dancer diagonally opposite,
i.e, 1st man and 2nd woman 1st woman and 2nd man.
The exact opposite of clockwise: in a ring, move right; in a turn
single, turn to your left.
Cross hands Face and give left to left and right to
Cross with another dancer passing right. Cross over one couple is
to cross as above and go outside below one couple, ending
Four steps forward (or back), closing the feet on the fourth
Figure of Eight
A weaving figure in which dancers pass between two standing people
and move around them in a figure 8 pattern. A full figure of 8
returns the dancers to their original positions; a half figure of 8
leaves them on the opposite side of the set from their original
positions. In doing this figure, the man lets his partner pass in
front of him.
Lead or move in the direction you are facing.
Two dancers move around each other in a circular path facing
outward or towards the center as directed.
Hands are given to corners diagonally across a set and dancers move
in the direction they face. Three hands across: two dancers join
hands, third dancer places his/her hand on top.
Hands three, four, etc.
The designated number of dancers form a ring and move around in the
direction indicated, usually first to the left and back to the
A weaving figure in which two groups of dancers move in single file
and in opposite directions (see Circular hey and Straight hey).
The person you are standing beside.
The person you are facing.
Change places with another dancer by moving forward; pass is by the
right shoulder unless otherwise indicated.
Two dancers face, give both hands, and change places as a couple
with two adjacent dancers. One pair moves a double toward the right
wall, the other to the left wall. In this half-poussette, couple
pass around each other diagonally. To complete the poussette, move
in the opposite direction. Dancers end in original places.
Right and left
This is like a circular hey, but dancers give hands as they pass
Two steps in any direction, closing feet on the second step.
In a Straight hey for three, the first dancer faces the other two
and passes right shoulders with the second dancer, left shoulders
with the third, the other dancers moving and passing the indicated
shoulder. On making the last pass, each dancer makes a whole turn
on the end, earing right if the last pass was by the right
shoulder, left if the last pass was by the left, and reenters the
figure returning to place. Each dancer describes a figure of 8
In a Straight hey for four, dancers face alternately, the two in
the middle facing out. Dancers pass right shoulders on either end
and weave to the end opposite. If the last pass at the end was by
the right, the dancer turns right and reenters the line by the same
shoulder; vice versa if the last pass was to the left. Dancers end
in original places. Swing A turn with two hands, but moving
faster and making more than one revolution.
Turn two hands
Face, give two hands, and make a complete circular turn to place,
clockwise unless otherwise indicated.
Turn by right / left
Dancers join right (or left) hands as directed, move forward quite
around, separate, and fall to place.
Turn in four steps, clockwise (i.e., to your own right) unless
From English Country Dancing, An Introduction, Notes gathered
from friends and edited by Daniel Siegel, on the occasion of the
75th birthday of the Country Dance and Song Society. Published by
the Fourth Wednesday English Country Dancers, Kensington, Maryland,
1990. These definitions are based on Cecil J. Sharp's in The
Country Dance Book, parts 2 & 6. If you'd like more information
and diagrams of some of these movements, see the introductions to