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Maypole Dance on May Day

May Day, May 1st, also called Beltane (Bright Fire) by the Anglo-Saxons, notes the beginning of the growing season. Circle dancing or a Maypole Dance, - or May Pole dance as it is also written - joins us hand-in-hand in a group celebration of joy, merriment and thanksgiving!

Music, rhythm instruments or singing are all appropriate accompaniments.

The tune to "Three Blind Mice" is fun to use!

I have choreographed this circle dance or its variation of Maypole Dance so the action changes every 16 counts. The number of counts can be adapted to the music or song, to coincide with the end of a phrase.

No dance or musical training is necessary; loose clothing is best and shoes are okay.

Just a memory: when I was growing up in the middle Atlantic states the girls wore white dresses with full skirts for the Maypole Dance.

Circle or Maypole Dance

To begin, participants stand shoulder to shoulder, about 2 feet (60cm) apart, facing center, in a large circle.

If you are going to dance around a Maypole have one long streamer per person attached at least head high on the pole. When dancers come into the center in part A. each person picks up a streamer and takes it back out to the edge of the circle, holding it in their right hand, (or if a loop has been added to the end of the streamer it can be slipped on the right wrist), for the rest of the dance.

If you use streamers, it is best not to move in and out of the circle till the very last part of coming into the circle a final time, then dropping the streamers and moving backward to the full circle for the closing.

Sequence of steps

A. Hold hands and raise arms while walking forward to the center 4 counts; still holding hands and lowering arms walk backward 4 counts. Repeat sequence to equal 16 counts. When arms swing forward look up, and look down as arms come down.

B. Continue to face center, holding hands, while moving to the right in a counter-clockwise direction. Count 1. right foot steps or slides to right side with a bent knee. Count 2. left foot slides to meet it and both legs straighten. Continue in this way for the remainder of the 16 counts.

C. Continue to face center, holding hands, while moving to the left in a clockwise direction. Count 1. left foot steps or slides to left side with a bent knee. Count 2. right foot slides to meet it and both legs straighten. Continue in this way for the remainder of the 16 counts.

D. Repeat A.

Repeat the sequences as often as desired to fit the music or song. Skipping is fun to substitute for the movement clockwise and counter-clockwise in the circle.

A nice ending is to stay in the circle, facing in, still holding hands while enjoying the after-tones and some moments of silence in thanksgiving for the arrival of another summer!

Note: If you would like to see a Maypole dance, order the ballet "La Fille Mal Gardee." The video also includes a clog dance.

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Article by Susan Helene Kramer

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