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The most common ones, anyway.

Folkdance formations
........what happensDancing in squares

SQUARE SETS have 4 couples standing on the sides of an imaginary square  with two head couples and two side couples.

Three couple sets are in straight lines or circles each couple numbered from the top as a 1, 2 or 3. After each turn of the dance their numbers change.

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A pleasant exercise of the body bringing into use
both mind and muscle
directing physical
energy into a rhythmic pattern”     Pat Murphy

A Longways set

 In this situation, on reaching the end of the set couples have to change sides to go back as a different number.

A further variation of this formation is a triple minor set where couples are grouped in rings of 6 from the top and within each minor set of 6 there is a first, second and third couple.

If the longways set is turned into a circle it is called a sicilian circle  and no one ever gets to the end!

It’s not very straight but it’s

The English Folk Dance and Song Society, however have dozens of affiliated groups of enthusiastic dancers throughout the country who keep the tradition alive and thriving and still continue to write hundreds of new dances in traditional styles.

If you come along to an evening to see what it’s all about you will find a “caller” who walks the dance through to familiarise people with it, explain any moves that are not understood and then calls the moves as the music plays. We dance in everyday clothes and shoes that give slightly on the floor so as to be able to slip and still grip; trainers which grip the floor strongly and cause a strain on joints are not recommended.

Etiquette is important

The top of the set is normally nearest the music.

In longways proper formations dancers stand in a double row with ladies on one side and men on the other. Partners are opposite each other. The couples are numbered by taking hands in groups of four starting at the top of the set. In the groups of four all the couples nearest the music are called first couples and the others are the second couples. In a longways formation there are therefore  groups of four people all down the set. As the dance progresses the first couples move down the set as the second couples move up. When a couple get to the end of the set they normally stand out one turn of the dance. When the time comes to join in again the couples change numbers to move in the opposite direction.

A variation of this formation is a longways improper where either the first or second couples are “improper” ie. Standing on the other side of the set so when looking at the set men and ladies alternate along each line.

MOVES.  The newcomer to folk dancing will soon pick up the various moves that are involved. With insufficient space to show them all here we recommend you visit: