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! For a polka version of a Maypole Dance click here or for a sashay - sliding - circle dance click here.
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 - I remember dancing a Maypole dance in white outfits at Mt.Vernon Square in Baltimore. It was a hot day, but with flowers blooming all around we had fun, and then we enjoyed popsicles from a display stand selling cotton candy, popcorn and ice cream!
Skipping Circle 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. Turn to face right, dropping hands and skip 16 counts in counter-clockwise direction.
C. Change directions keeping in circle shape and skip 16 counts in clockwise direction.
D. Repeat A.
Repeat the sequences as often as desired to fit the music or song. Sashaying is a fun to substitute for the movement clockwise and counter-clockwise in the circle.
A nice ending is to stay in the circle, facing in, and join 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" in VHS format. The video also includes a clog dance.
La Fille Mal Gardee - VHS
Circle Dancing Homepage
For offline reading
Meditation Lessons for Adults
More than 70 offerings, from guided meditation techniques to on-the-go stress relief and relationship meditations interspersed with verse, and a section of special occasion prayers. 114 pages.
Article and photo credit Susan Helene Kramer