Below are descriptions of the formations, movements, and steps that make up the displayed dances.
- 1s/1st couple
- In a duple-minor set, the couple closest to the top of the set in each group of four. They progress down the hall.
- 1st/2nd corner
- See corner.
- 2s/2nd couple
- In a duple-minor set, the couple furthest from the top of the set in each group of four. They progress up the hall.
- Allemande right/left
- Take partner's right/left hand and hold firmly about shoulder high, giving weight to the other person, then circle each other back to your own position. May also be done half, one-and-a-half, or even twice around.
- A couple joins closest hands and raises them to form the arch, then move forward (or backward) while the other couple or person passes underneath. Sometimes only the arch moves, or the arch stands still and the others move.
- Arm right/left
- The English version of an allemande, usually done once around and with hooked arms. However Dance Kaleidoscope prefer to join hands down low.
- Back a double
- Walk a double backwards to your original position.
- The English version of a do-si-do.
- Step towards the other person and then back to place. It can be done while holding both hands with that person, or just right hands.
- Balance as couples
- In a ballroom hold, step towards the centre of the set and then back to place.
- Balance the ring/circle/diamond
- Take hands in your set and step towards the centre and then back to place.
- Balance the wave
- In wavy lines or long wavy lines you balance by stepping to the side (usually to the right first) and back (to the left) to place.
- Ballroom hold
- A couple faces each other. The man places his right hand behind the woman's left shoulder, her left hand is on his right shoulder, other arms are extended and joined. The standard hold for polkas, swings and waltzes.
- In your group, move in close with arms behind your neighbour and partner to grasp the arm of your opposite, with your left hand on their right wrist. Then circle as a group.
- Becket formation
- A duple-minor set where couples stand beside each other (woman on the man's right) on the side of the set and face another couple across the set. Becket dances usually progress clockwise around the set, but may have a reverse progression anti-clockwise.
- Bend the line
- From a line of four/five, the middles stop moving and the ends continue on and in to form a circle.
- Box circulate
- Follow single file around your set of four. Those facing across the set move directly across to face out. Those facing out of the set turn to move into the vacated position beside them within that set. Usually combined with balance the wave.
- Box the gnat
- Face the other person and take right hands, then swap positions with the woman turning anti-clockwise under the man's raised arm. Finish facing each other again.
- Broken half hey
- A half hey for four where the one of the pairs that meet in the middle turn each other around and return to their original side.
- Butterfly whirl
- Couples have inside arms around each other's waist and turn as a couple once around on the spot.
- California twirl
- A couple starts beside each other facing one direction, man on the left, woman on the right, and take closest hands, then swap positions with the man moving clockwise and the woman turning anti-clockwise under the man's raised arm. Finish beside each other facing the opposite direction.
- Turn away from your partner and move outside the set to another position (usually around someone to the next position up or down a duple-minor set).
- Catherine wheel
- From couples facing clockwise around the whole duple-minor set, promenade clockwise to come into line with the next couple, star promenade with that couple half-way (women join right hands), to face the opposite direction on the other side of the set, promenade clockwise to come into line with your partner and other neighbour, and star promenade with that couple half-way (women join right hands) back to your original position.
- See grand chain.
- Follow another person or couple around the outside of the set.
- Step forward then bring your feet together, step forward and hop, ready to lead off on the other foot.
- Check right/left
- Check to the right: step forward on the left foot across in front of the right, change weight to right foot in original place, step back on the left to place. Check to the left by reversing the direction and feet.
- Circle right/left
- Take hands around the set as indicated and all dance around in the direction specified (to the left if none given). In English and Scottish dances a slip step is usually used.
- Circular hey
- A weaving motion usually performed by two couples facing each other. Give right hand to your opposite then turn and give left hand to your partner. Continue until back in original place. Some dances only make three changes to effect a progression along the set.
- See box circulate.
- In a square set, the person next to you around the square that is not your partner.
In a duple-minor set, the person diagonally opposite you. 1st corners are 1st man and 2nd woman, while 2nd corners are 1st woman and 2nd man.
- Cosy hold
- The woman stands in front of the man, both facing the same direction. The woman has her arms crossed in front to join her right hand (about waist level) with the man's left, and her left hand with the man's right.
- Cosy line
- From a line of four, the middle couple turn away from each other bringing their joined hands over their heads, while the outer couple, without letting go, turn in and join spare hands behind the others. Everyone ends up facing the opposite direction.
- Courtesy turn
- Part of a ladies chain or rights-and-lefts. The man, with the woman on his right, takes her left hand in his own, while placing his right hand around her waist to hold her right hand. He then turns her half-way around. It helps if the man moves backwards at the same time that the woman is moving forwards.
- Pass by the other person into their position, usually passing by the right shoulder.
A cross up/down combines crossing the set while moving up/down into a vacated position (usually resulting from a cast). The woman crosses in front of the man.
- Cross-hand hold
- With partner join right hands on top of joined left hands.
- Diamond formation
- Start in duple-minor improper formation, then rotate each set of four half a position clockwise to form diamonds down the hall. The women form a line down the centre of the set while the men face each other across the set. 1s are on the upper left of the diamond facing down, while 2s are on the lower right facing up. Diamond dances have a double progression, so no-one is ever out at the top.
- Dip and dive
- A series of arches where couples alternately go over/under other couples along the set. Usually they turn at the ends and continue arching back to place.
- Face the other person and move forward passing right shoulders, then move behind them without turning so that you are back-to-back with them. Continue moving backwards passing left shoulders to return home. The move may also be done in reverse, passing left shoulders first.
- Dolphin hey/reel
- A hey for three where one couple acts as a single unit. Starting from the middle, they hey as one person, but swap the lead at each end of the hey.
- In English dances, move forwards or backwards for two bars, i.e. four steps for reels or jigs, six steps in triple time.
- Double figure of eight
- Four people each dance a figure of eight on the floor, starting from couples facing across the set. One couple crosses up/down the set, while the other couple cast down/up into the vacated positions. The first couple then casts on the opposite side, while the second couple crosses up/down. Continue until you return to your original place.
- Double hey for four
- In a square set, the heads hey for four up and down the set at the same time that the sides hey for four across the set. In the centre form a left hand star to pass the other people. Finish on the opposite side if a half hey, or back where you started for a full hey.
- Double progression
- Each couple moves on two places, instead of the normal one place.
- Down a double
- Walk a double forwards towards the bottom of the set.
- Dublin Bay
- A line of four sequence that moves backwards first, then forwards to place, before individually turning half-way (towards your neighbour) to face the opposite direction, then repeating by moving backwards (opposite to the first time) and forwards again to place.
- A duple-minor improper formation that has an additional person in the centre of each group of four. The middle person does not progress during the dance, but those around them do.
- Duple-minor (proper)
- A dance formation with couples arranged in two lines down the hall. Men stand on the left (when facing the band) and women opposite them on the right. Groups of two couples within these lines dance together. The couple nearest the front of the hall in each group are designated couple 1 and those below are couple 2. The dance involves a progression such that each couple moves on to another and the dance is repeated in new sets of two couples. Couple 1 move down the hall, while couple 2 move up the hall. When they reach the end of the set they must wait out one round of the dance before re-entering as the opposite number. See also improper.
- Fall back
- Walk backwards, usually for a double.
- Ferris wheel
- Couples start facing another couple in a longways set. Each couple moves to their left and promenades clockwise around the large set to pass your facing couple and come up beside the next couple. Then turn as a couple clockwise back into the set to face that couple, finishing one place behind where you started facing your original position.
- Figure of eight
- Pass between two people/couples that act as posts (not moving) to cross the set with the woman passing in front of the man if dancing individually. Turn around that post into your partner's position, come back between the posts, and turn around the other post, back to your original position.
Sometimes done as a half figure of eight in which case you finish half-way through in your partner's position.
- Forward a double
- Walk a double forwards.
- Take ballroom hold with your partner and side step in the direction indicated.
- Gatepost turn
- The dancing couple (1) pass between another couple (2) and take nearest hands with them. They (1) are then turned (moving forwards) around the latter (moving backwards) to swap positions.
- Give and take
- Long lines advance to meet and take two hands with the opposite person. The specified person then returns to their starting place, drawing their opposite with them.
- Glasgow Highlander's setting step
- Step forward on right foot, lifting left foot behind. Step back on left, lifting right foot in hopping position in front. Carry right leg around behind left, and stand on it. Take a short step to left with left foot. Bring right foot in front of left and stand on it. Bring left foot round in front to hopping position. Repeat all that going left on opposite feet.
- Grand chain
- Move around your set alternately taking right hands then left hands to pass by.
- Grand cross
- See star promenade.
- Grand rights-and-lefts
- In a longways set of four couples, the middle four dance a rights-and-lefts, while the end four dance their own rights-and-lefts around the outside, skipping.
- Grand square
- In a square set, each person walks a square in their corner of the set. One pair of couples starts by moving into the centre and then separate out to the sides with their opposite, while the other pair back away from their partner, and come in to meet their opposite. Repeat from new positions to return home.
- Gypsy right/left
- Walk around the other person with right/left shoulders towards each other and back to place. Maintain eye contact with that person throughout.
- Five couples forming an 'H' – two couples on each side facing across the set, and one in the centre facing up.
- Half-ballroom hold
- A couple faces the same direction with the woman on the man's right. The man places his right hand around the woman's waist and she puts her left hand on his right shoulder.
- See star, but just join hands with the person opposite.
- Hands-four, hands-six
- Take hands around the set in a circle of four/six people.
- Head couples
- In a square set, the two couples at the top and bottom of the set. In horseshoe formation there is only one head couple at the top.
- A weaving movement usually done by three or four people. See below.
- Hey for four
- For four people in a line, the middle two (2 and 3) may face out and pass right shoulder with the ends (1 and 4). 1 and 4 then pass left shoulder while 2 and 3 turn around to the right to face in again. Continue weaving while alternating shoulders.
A full hey returns everyone to their starting position, while in a half hey they finish on the opposite side from where they started.
Alternately the middle two people may face each other and start the hey with the ends following and passing by alternating shoulders.
- Hey for three
- For three people in a line (starting right shoulder), the middle one (2) faces one end (1). Those two pass right shoulder, 2 turns around to the right, while 1 and 3 pass by the left shoulder. Then 1 turns around to the left while 2 and 3 pass by the right shoulder. A half hey finishes here, while a normal or full hey repeats the move from the new positions but uses opposite shoulders.
- Your starting position for a movement.
- Horseshoe formation
- Five couples arranged with one at the top of the set, and two down each side facing across the set. As for Levi Jackson Rag.
- Hourglass basket
- In your circle of four, partners are in half-ballroom hold. Men join left hands, and women join right hands above. Then circle left as a group.
- An improper duple-minor set that has all the 1st couples swap places with their partner, so that each line alternates man/woman.
- Inside foot
- The foot nearest your partner, usually the man's right and the woman's left.
- Irish chain
- A different ladies chain. The women cross the set passing right shoulders, turn their opposite by the left 1½, then change places diagonally passing right shoulder.
- Ladies chain
- Within a group of two couples facing each other, women take right hands and pass by, taking left hands with the man opposite who then guides them around in a courtesy turn. End facing the other couple with the ladies swapped over. If the move is "… and back" then repeat the sequence to return to original positions. In Contra dances, the woman is sometimes twirled once or twice instead of being guided around with a courtesy turn.
For all women in a three-couple or square set, they all go into a star right in the centre, then are turned by the next/opposite man, usually in a courtesy turn.
- A couple takes inside hands and moves in the direction indicated, often between another couple.
- Left hand turn
- See Allemande.
- Line of four/five
- Everyone in a duple-minor set forms a line across the hall holding hands and facing up/down as directed.
- Anti-clockwise around the hall.
- Little cast
- Turn away from your partner as in a cast, but just make a small circle and return to place.
- Step on outside foot, bring inside foot up behind the other, then step on outside foot again.
- Long lines
- Take hands up and down the two lines on the sides of the whole set, everyone facing in.
- Long wavy lines
- See wavy line.
- Longways set
- A set that consists of two lines of dancers up and down the hall. Also see duple-minor (proper), triple-minor, and improper. Couples are numbered from the top of the set.
- Lower promenade hold
- A couple faces the same direction (woman on the man's right). The woman puts her left hand down across the man to hold his left hand, then the man puts his right hand down across the woman to hold her right hand.
- Mazurka step
- Step on one foot, then hop twice on the other foot.
- Men chain
- For all men in a square set, they all go into a star left in the centre, then turn right the next woman to face in again.
In a duple-minor set, men cross giving left hand, then right hand to opposite woman and turn half-way.
- The two sides of the set do the same movement but in the opposite direction so that they are the mirror image of the other. Usually an allemande or a hey.
- The person of the opposite sex in your set that is not your partner.
- Nevada twirl
- A couple starts beside each other facing one direction, man on the right, woman on the left, and take closest hands, then swap positions with the man moving anti-clockwise and the woman turning clockwise under the man's raised arm. Finish beside each other facing the opposite direction. A California twirl from opposite positions.
- Open-hand hold
- Take the other person's right hand in your left, and their left in your right.
- The person (usually of the opposite sex) or couple directly across the set from you.
- Move around the outside of your set, usually half-way.
- Outside foot
- The foot furthest from your partner, usually the man's left and the woman's right.
- The person of the opposite sex that you are primarily dancing with. In general partners stand with the woman on the man's right.
- Pass through right/left
- Walk past the other person into their position, passing by the right (the default) or left shoulder.
- Petronella turn
- Move one position anti-clockwise around your group of four, turning ¾ clockwise as you do so.
- In ballroom hold, slide to the man's left, left foot, right together, left away, then hop as you turn clockwise half-way. Then slide to the man's right, right foot, left together, right away, and hop and turn half-way again. The woman does the same but on the opposite feet.
- Polka balance
- In ballroom hold, step sideways into the centre of the set (man's left foot, right together, left, hop) and back to place (starting right foot).The woman does the same but on the opposite feet.
- Pot hooks
- Start facing your partner across the set, with the woman on her neighbour's left. Women do-si-do by the right (wide) but come back to their neighbour's position; while men do-si-do by the left, starting slightly after the women, passing between them, and come back to their neighbour's position. Finish facing your partner across the set but now with the woman on her neighbour's right.
- Progressive hey/reel
- A hey where not everyone starts at the same time, but are progressively included in the hey when the first participants reach them.
- With your partner in the hold from a courtesy turn or a lower promenade hold or a half-ballroom hold, walk together around the set, usually in an anti-clockwise direction.
In a Contra dance you walk together across to the opposite side of your set, passing neighbours by the left and turn as a couple to face in again.
- See duple-minor (proper).
- Pull past
- A pass through but using hands.
- Push-off hey
- A hey for four where the dancers trade places once during the movement by pushing off the opposite person that they meet in the centre. After pushing off they follow the path that the other person would have taken. The movement ends with couples on the opposite side from where they started.
- Quadrille setting step
- A long setting step: step right, together, right and lift your left foot across, then step left, together, left and lift your right foot across.
- See hey.
- Right and left through
- Facing another couple, take right hand with the person opposite and cross. Then face the person beside you in your set, take their left hand and cross. If the move is "full …" or "… and back", you repeat the movements to return to your original position.
In a Contra dance the left hand crossing can be replaced with a courtesy turn or a twirl.
- Right hand turn
- See Allemande.
- Facing another couple, take right hand with the person opposite and cross. Then face the person you crossed with, take their left hand and cross. A half rights-and-lefts finishes there, while a full rights-and-lefts repeats the movements to return to your original position.
- One person in a couple moves from one side to the other of the second person, turning around as they do so, briefly facing the other person. Often the second person slides in the opposite direction to change places.
- Rotary chassé
- Danced in 2/4 time, partners are in a ballroom hold. The man starts moving left foot left, brings his right foot to his left, then moves his left foot left again, while turning clockwise half-way. The timing of the steps is 1, and, 2. He then repeats that starting on his right foot. The woman follows on opposite feet. One complete turn takes two bars.
- See slide.
- Setting steps are done in place or advancing to/retiring from another person. One set is usually to the right and left and takes two bars. The dancer springs lightly onto right foot, steps briefly onto the left then back to the right with a quick change of weight. The move is repeated back to place with a spring onto the left foot.
- Set and link
- Two people with joined nearer hands set right and left, then the person on the left end rolls across to the right, while the other person casts into the vacated place.
- A person that is not your partner nor your neighbour that you keep meeting throughout the dance. The location of your shadow varies depending on the dance.
- Sicilian circle
- A dance formation with couples arranged around a large circle, each facing another couple. The woman stands on the right of her partner. One couple progresses clockwise while the other progresses anti-clockwise.
- Change places with the other person and return to position, passing left shoulders on the way over and right shoulders on the way back. Always keep looking at that person.
- Side (Pat Shaw style)
- Advance towards the other person to stand side-by-side with right/left shoulders almost touching. Then move backwards to place. Maintain eye contact with that person throughout.
- Side couples
- In a square set, the two couples at the sides of the set, i.e. not the head couples. In horseshoe formation or H-formation there are four side couples.
- Single file
- Follow the person in front around your set – follow-the-leader.
- Slice left
- As a couple in a duple-minor set, advance on the left diagonal to meet another couple. Face them directly across the set and back out to new position.
- Step sideways in the direction indicated, moving your feet: step, together, step, together.
- Slip step
- An extended slide, continuing stepping sideways as directed.
- Spanish waltz
- In a circle around the set, step forward and back. Then men pass the woman on their left across to their right, giving them a twirl clockwise on the way. Repeat until back with original partner.
- See swing.
- Square set
- A formation for four couples arranged along the sides of a square. Couples may be identified as head or side couples, or may be numbered individually as indicated.
- Star left/right
- Extend your left/right arm into the centre of your set and hold the others' hands, then walk in the appropriate direction. Usually you move once around and back to where you started the star.
- Star promenade
- Couples take half-ballroom hold with their partner and together star with the other couple – men holding left hands, or women holding right hands.
- Take the other person in a close hold and rotate around each other on the spot, turning clockwise. The hold may be a ballroom hold (the standard in Contra), a cross-hand hold, or an open-hand hold. In Contra, a swing usually ends with the couple positioned on the side of the set facing across the set, with the man on the left and woman on the right.
- Swing through
- From a wavy line, each end couple turns half-way, then the new middle pair turns half-way with the opposite hand.
- Touch the indicated foot to the floor, but don't put any weight on it. Usually the next step is onto that foot.
- Three couples in a four couple set
- A longways set for four couples, that starts with the first three couples dancing. At the end of one sequence, the 1st couple has moved into 2nd place. The 1st couple then leads the dance again, dancing with the 3rd and 4th couples below them. At the end of the second sequence, the 1st couple steps to the bottom of the set and the dance starts again from the top with the original 2nd couple leading.
- A longways set with couples arranged in groups of three couples and numbered from the top. In English dancing the 1st couple progresses down one place to dance with the next two couples below them – their previous 3rd couple who now become 2nd couple, and the 2nd couple from the set originally below them who now become 3rd couple. At the bottom the 1st couple must drop right to the end once they no longer have two couples below them. At the top, each couple waits out two times through the dance before re-entering as a new 1st couple.
In Contra Becket formation, the 1st couple faces down improper, while the other two couples face each other across the set. The 1st couple moves down to a new group of two side couples each time through the dance, while the side couples swap sides as they move up.
- Turn alone
- Turn individually.
- Turn as a couple
- A couple with joined inside hands turns together about their common axis to face the opposite direction – the man moving backwards and the woman moving forwards. In a Contra dance you could also use a California twirl to change direction.
- Turn contra corners
- Performed by three couples with the active one in the middle. Actives turn their partner by the right hand a little over half way. Then turn their first corners (originally diagonally to their right) by the left hand. The actives meet their partner in the centre, turning by the right hand about three-quarters around. Then turn their second corners (originally diagonally to their left) by the left hand. Finally the actives return to place.
- Turn high/low
- A line of three with joined hands, the middle person raises one joined hand to make an arch (high). Invert the line and face the opposite direction by both ends coming in, and the low end going under the arch.
- Turn out
- Make a small loop away (out) from the centre of the set and return to the same position.
- Turn right/left hand
- See allemande.
- Turn single
- Turn around on the spot or in a small circle, usually clockwise.
- Two-hand turn
- Take both hands with the other person and walk clockwise around each other and back to place. A half two-hand turn means you stop when you reach the other person's place.
- Up a double
- Walk a double forwards towards the top of the set.
- Upper promenade hold
- A couple faces the same direction (woman on the man's right). The man puts his right hand behind the woman's back to hold her right hand over her right shoulder. His left hand is across his body to hold her left hand in front at shoulder height.
- Danced in 3/4 time, partners are in a ballroom hold. The man starts moving left foot left, turning a quarter clockwise, brings his right foot to his left, turning further, and transfers weight to his left foot, turning to face the opposite of his original direction. He then repeats that starting on his right foot. The woman follows on opposite feet. One complete turn takes two bars.
When dancing around another couple or the set you progress anti-clockwise.
- Wavy circle
- Dancers join hands around the circle with every second person facing in or out of the circle.
- Wavy line
- Dancers join hands along a line with every second person facing the opposite direction. By default lines are across the set, whereas long wavy lines are the full length of the sides of the set.
- Turn as a couple in the direction indicated.