Flowers of Edinburgh - the Expanded Edition
Dance formation: triple minor longways
Music: 2/4 timing, Major key
A1: 1st couple skip a figure eight down through the 2nd and 3rd couples
A2: 3rd couple skip a figure eight up through the 2nd and 1st couples
B1: 2nd couple heys for three with other couples, 2nd lady up and 2nd man down
B2: While all two hand turning, perform a pousette progression
The goal in rewriting this dance was to add a level of difficulty and a layer of interest to a rather insipid and insignificant dance. Having recently been made aware of the triple minor formation, I immediately selected that as the beginning point for the expansion. After all, the more people there are involved, the more people there are needing to be aware of what's going on and performing their part!
The beginning of this variation is fairly similar to that of the original in that both begin with figure eights. However, while the original starts with only one person at a time doing the figure eight, in this version everything is done with at least two people at a time. The first couple jumps right in to the figure eight together, crossing in the middle with the lady going first as usual. They separate; the lady passes the 3rd man by the right shoulder, goes around the back of both men, and passes the 2nd man on his left to meet her partner and cross in the middle again before completing the figure eight on the ladies' side and returning to her original place. Meanwhile, the 1st man is doing the same thing, with a few minor differences due to his coming from the opposite side.
In the second part of the A music, the 3rd couple skips the same type of figure eight up through the group - crossing in the middle, looping around one side, crossing again, and looping around their own side to end in place.
The beginning of the B music marks a slight change; the 2nd couple, rather than doing the same thing the others have done, instead begin two separate hey for threes. These are essentially expanded figure eights themselves, and thus are entirely in keeping with the style of the original dance. As said before, the 2nd lady skips up and passes the 1st man by the left shoulder to begin her hey for three with the 1st couple; the 2nd man does likewise, moving down and passing the 3rd lady by the left to start off his hey for three with the 3rd couple. With the heys completed, everyone ends in their home place.
For the all-important progression, everyone will begin by taking both hands with their partner and two hand turning to the right (clockwise). The 1st and 2nd couples will change places counterclockwise, still two hand turning, moving in opposite directions (1st couple to the man's side, 2nd to the lady's) in order to avoid collisions; meanwhile, the 3rd couple may two hand turn in place. With the 2nd couple in their progressed position, they merely two hand turn in place while the 1st and 3rd couples make their exchange. This is done in a similar manner to the first, except that this time the movement will be clockwise, with the 1st couple heading to the lady's side and the 3rd moving to the man's. This entire portion will resemble the sort of pousette in the "heddle" portion of the Danish dance Weaving. As I do not know what this move is properly titled, I am calling it a pousette progression.
Clear as mud, no? :)
Now, with regards to the ends. This is where things get tricky, and I'm going to admit right away that I am fairly lost in this area. Having danced only one triple minor thus far, I do not have enough experience to know the following for sure, but I believe that most (if not all) triple minors have the 1s progress down only one place, not two. This means that the 2s and 3s must switch roles each round. I myself find this aspect rather difficult to keep track of, and even slightly irritating at times. Therefore, I wanted to write this version in such a way that the 2s will remain 2s and the 3s will remain 3s all the way up the set. This has been accomplished by the pousette progression. However, this arrangement does bring up another issue: what about the people who are out on the ends?
Supposing we start with nine couples, there will be three sets dancing for the first round. The 1s all progress down two places, leaving one 1st couple out at the bottom and a 2 and 3 out at the top. This is fine; it is to be expected. On the second round, we have two sets dancing while the three aforementioned couples are catching their breath or chatting briefly or something of that sort. All is well. The 1s progress down two places again, leaving two couples out at the bottom - but now there are four couples out at the top. Obviously, three of these couples will be able to begin dancing for the third round, but it will not be the three closest to the top. The couple that was previously the 3rd will enter as a 1st, leaving the couple at the top (formerly a 2) to wait for a second round of the music before joining in again. This is not necessarily a problem, but could potentially lead to some confusion, since the common expectation is to wait out one round before jumping right back in again. Now, then, there are two sets dancing the third round; the 1s progress down two places, sending a 1st couple to join the two former 1s at the bottom, thus completing their set, and sending a 2 and a 3 to the top to complete the set of the former 2. All three sets are now dancing the fourth round, as any mathematician (or dancer!) would expect!
Now, this is going to sound really odd... but... even though I've just written this modified dance... I've already thought of an embellishment. :) It occurred to me, why have the groups of two couples out at the top just stand there? If we're going to complicate things, why not go all the way? So, I wrote up a plan for what could be done if the inactive foursome is desirous of still more motion! It is essentially irrelevant to the workings of the remainder of the dance, and thus is optional - to do it or not is determined by the foursome themselves.
A1: 1st couple skips a figure eight down through the 2nd couple, ending in place
A2: 2nd couple skips a figure eight up through the 1st couple, ending in place
B1: Beginning with partner, four changes of a circular hey (rights and lefts without hands)
B2: Couples two hand turn around each other counterclockwise, ending in place
When done this way, I suppose the dance would be called Flowers of Edinburgh - the Extended Expanded Edition!
So - what do you think? Is this an improvement over the original Flowers of Edinburgh? Do you have ideas on how this could be further altered to make it still better? Please comment with feedback - I'd love to hear it!
Also, if any of you wish to try this thing out and see if it actually works with real people, that would be great! Thus far all the testing has been on paper, and I'm interested in finding out if it's actually doable! :)
Finally, for the sake of including a picture of some sort - and because I myself am fond of "behind the scenes" sorts of things - here's the "drawing board" paper I wrote up while arranging this dance. Like nearly everything I write, it is in extremely small print and far too wordy... :)
These little 8-by-5-inch pages don't even take into account the computation involved for the whole "what happens on the ends" issue, which was only resolved by drawing several hundred little figures in progression diagrams all over a 17-by-21-inch sheet of paper! :)