Common Figures

Once To Yourself

All dances begin with the musician running through the tune to allow the dancers to get a feel for the tempo and rhythm. The A-music is played through once (unless the foreman requires any significant adjustment of the speed) with the dancers stationary, facing up with their arms by their sides. The dancers come in on the last bar with two plain capers and an anacrucis hop which almost invariably leads on to...

Foot Up And Down

The dancers remain in position throughout this figure: there is no horizontal movement in any direction. Two double steps are performed facing up, followed by a galley through 180° and two capers. The whole set is now facing down. Another two double steps are performed in this position, followed by another galley, this time through 270° so that the dancers are facing across the set.

The final two plain capers and anacrucis hop are used, if necessary, to turn into position for the next movement of the dance (usually the chorus).

The odd-numbered dancers begin on the left foot, the the evens on the right. The footing follows from this start - the galleys turn out of the set, and the second pair of double steps is performed with the footing opposite to the first (outside foot leads throughout).

Foot Down And Up

This figure is identical to the Foot Up And Down except that the dancers face down for the first pair of double steps and up for the second. The figure is always performed with the set reversed (that is, after a corner-crossing movement), so the individual dancers begin on the same foot as they did for the Foot Up And Down earlier in the dance.

Half Gyp

The dancers begin facing across the set. Keeping in line along the set, the dancers cross over to the opposite side of the set using one double step. The double step starts on the left foot and the dancers pass their opposites by the right shoulder. Most of the movement happens on the first beat, and the dancers begin to drop back slightly on the hop.

The dancers do not cross behind each other. A second double step is used to travel backwards halfway across the set. The hop is used to turn left into a galley. The first step of the galley is strongly emphasised and brings the dancer back to the start position. Two plain capers are performed facing across the set once again.

The second half of the figure is the mirror image of the first: starting on the right foot, the dancers pass by the left shoulder and return to place with a galley to the right.

Whole Gyp

Again the dancers start facing across the set. Starting on the left foot, they pass by the right shoulder on a double step and begin to turn clockwise around each other. Each pair of dancers should remain quite close together, almost touching right shoulder blades.

A second double step begins with the odd-numbered men facing down the set and the evens facing up. This double step continues the circling movement, bringing each dancer to a position about eighteen inches nearer the middle of the set than his starting position. At this point the odd-numbered dancers should be facing directly up the set, and the evens should face straight down. All galley through 270°, using the first step of the galley to spring onto the start position. This is followed by two plain capers.

The second half of the figure is the mirror image of the first. The dancers et off on the right foot, circle anticlockwise, and galley right.


On the preceeding anacrucis the dancers all turn left to face clockwise round a circle. Numbers three and four have to move a small way out of the set to make the figure circular. Starting on the left foot, the dancers do two double steps to take them about one-and-a-half places around the circle. Care must be taken to keep the spacing even and the circle round.

All galley left to face anticlockwise, followed by two plain capers. Two double steps, starting on the right, bring the dancers back into the set position. All galley right to face across the set. The figure ends with two plain capers.


Like the other figures, the hey is in two parts, the second being a mirror image of the first. However, the Hey movement is often used as part of the chorus of a dance, and when this happens the two halves may be separated by some other movement. Sometimes the chorus contains only one half of the hey: a whole figure intervenes before the other half is done.

The stepping for one Half Hey is: a pair of short sidesteps, two shuffle backs and two plain capers. The hand movements in the sidesteps are modified, the arm being raised almost vertically rather than going out af 45°.

The preceeding anacrucis is either a hop or a feint step, depending on the position in the set: different dancers start on different feet. Numbers 1 and 2 start by moving up the set, and 5 and 6 move down and turn out. Some anticipation of any turning motion is placed on the anacrucis. All dancers lead with the foot that is in the direction of travel.

On the first short sidestep, numbers 1, 2, 5, and 6 continue to rotate so that they finish the step with with 1 and 2 facing up and 5 and 6 facing down the set. All these dancers will have turned through 450°. At the same time, they follow afigure-of-eight path, 1 and 2 travelling towards the bottom of the set and 5 and 6 travelling up. 1 passes in front of 5, 2 in front of 6. Meanwhile, 3 and 4 reach the top of the set and turn out.

1 and 2 should be almost shoulder-to-shoulder at this point, a little way below the centre of the set, facing up. They do the second short sidestep almost on the spot, dropping back a little on the hop. 5 and 6 should be in a similar position, facing down. The second short sidestep is used to bring them as close together as possible, facing the top couple and about two feet from them. 5 and 6 also begin to move backwards on the hop. 3 and 4 continue to circle outwards and then move back into the set, stopping a small distance nearer the centre of the set than their start positions.

All dancers then drop back to form up the (reversed) set using two shuffle backs. 1, 2, 5 and 6 should dance the first shuffle facing up or down the set and the second facing across. The Half Hey finishes with a pair of plain capers. If a second Half Hey is to follow, all dancers will have to put in a feint step to change feet.

The other Half Hey is the mirror image of the first. The dancers that started at 1 and 2 turn out and up, passing in front of 5 and 6 who turn out and down. 3 and 4 always turn to follow 1 and 2.

All set dances end with either a Half or Whole Hey (the rule being that f the chorus containd a Hey, the dance finishes with a chorus, if not a Whole Hey figure is danced to end the dance). At the end of a dance, the figure is slightly modified. Instead of turning to form a small ring, facing inwards, on the second double step, the dancers turn only until they face up, and then do four plain capers (getting into position on the first), and holding the show position for four beats after the music has finished.