SWEETS OF MAY

"Sweets of May" means the pleasure or joys of May and should have a feeling of Spring. The dance is an Irish ceili dance, but uses the square formation. It originally comes from County Armagh in the North of Ireland. This is the version danced in Newcastle, Australia. A slightly shorter version of this dance is contained in Tom Qiunn's "Irish Dances".

Tops and Sides in a square formationFORMATION:

Four couples in square formation: Tops and Sides. Couple numbering is anti-clockwise from first tops.


THE DANCE

INTRODUCTION

All join hands at shoulder height.

1. CIRCLES

All Circle Left [4 bars] + Circle Right + Circle Right + Circle Left

CHORUS

    Promenade Across (Partners join hands in front promenade hold)
    Top couples change places moving sideways with W leading both using 7s and 3s stepping    [2 bars]
    Side couples change places moving sideways with W leading +Tops move to place ready to cross back    [2 bars]
    Tops change back + Sides move to place ready to cross back    [2 bars]
    Sides change back + Tops move to place    [2 bars]
    Advance and Retire (All face into set)
    Top couples advance + Sides move to place    [2 bars]
    Sides advance + Tops retire to place    [2 bars]
    Tops advance + Sides retire to place    [2 bars]
    Tops retire to place + Sides stay in place    [2 bars]

     

    Ring the Bells (All face into set)
    All clap thighs twice + clap own hands together twice    [2 bars]
    Repeat    [2 bars]
    Exchange places with partner moving to partner's corner using 7s and 3s (M right/W left + W passing in front)    [4 bars]
    All clap thighs twice + clap corner's hands twice    [2 bars]
    Repeat    [2 bars]
    Move sideways back to place (M left/W right + M passing in front)    [4 bars]


2. LEAD AROUND

Partners join hands in front promenade hold
Lead around to the right (Anti-clockwise)    [8 bars]
Change direction with push­pull motionLead around to the left (Clockwise)     [8 bars]

CHORUS

Promenade Across / Advance and Retire / Ring the Bells


3. SWING AROUND

Partners join hands crossed in front
Swing around to the right (Anti-clockwise) with seesaw/pivot motion     [8 bars]
Change direction and Swing back to the left (Clockwise)    [8 bars]

CHORUS

Promenade Across / Advance and Retire / Ring the Bells


4. ARCHES (Left first)

Partners join nearest (inside) hands.
Top couples form arch and pass over side couple on their right    [2 bars]
All couples change places with partner W passing under M's raised arm     [2 bars]
Side couples form arch and pass over top couples (back to place)    [2 bars]
All couples move back to place ready for arches in other direction     [2 bars]
Repeat -- top couples over side couple on their right (and back)    [8 bars]

CHORUS

Promenade Across / Advance and Retire / Ring the Bells


5. THREAD THE NEEDLE

All join hands in circle except 1st M and 4th W. First couple form arch.
Fourth W dance under the arch leading the others behind her passing behind 1st W moving to left (anti-clockwise) back to original place. First W turn once anti-clockwise under her L hand joined with partner to reform circle.    [8 bars]
Repeat: Fourth couple form arch while 1st M leads the others through and around to right (clockwise). Fourth M turn clockwise under R hand joined with partner.    [8 bars]

CHORUS

Promenade Across / Advance and Retire / Ring the Bells


6. CIRCLES

All Circle Left [4 bars] + Circle Right + Circle Right + Circle Left


STEPS, etc.:

7s and 3s:

A "Seven" in jig time (2 bars): When moving to the L, hop on (or onto) right bringing left foot up in front, step L to L, step R behind L, step L to L, step R behind L, step L to L, step R behind L. The "seven" may also be done to the R reversing footwork and direction.

A "Three" in jig time: (1 bar), step R, step L, step R. Then the next step is LRL. A "three" may be danced in place or moving in any direction.

A Sidestep consists of one "seven" and two "threes". If the sidestep is danced to the L, the first "three" is LRL, the second is RLR. Note: there is a slight pause before the 7 steps and each 3 step.

These Irish dance steps are done up on the ball of the foot in a relaxed easy style.

Change Places: This movement in the Chorus uses sevens and threes stepping, i.e.

All Gents (moving to the right behind Partner who is moving left to meet Partner's Corner):
hop-2-3-4-5-6-7 (Lt-hop Rt Lt Rt Lt Rt Lt [2Úbars])
+ 123-123 (Rt Lt Rt - Lt Rt Lt [2Úbars])

Ring the Bells: An alternate for the claps in the Ring the Bells part of the Chorus is to use alternate hands on the thighs, and clap partners hands either with hands open with palms facing Partner's Corner, or with hands crossed with palms facing Corner (or alternately crossed/uncrossed)...

1234 1-2 1234 1-2, i.e.
H-r H-l H-r H-l + Clap Clap + H-r H-l H-r H-l + Clap Clap

Abbreviations: H-r = R-hand on R-thigh / H-l = L-hand on L-thigh

 

 

REFERENCE

Quinn, Tom (1997). Irish Dancing. HarperCollins: Glasgow. 430-431.


Updated: 17 January 2005