NISD title

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 Australia. Some instruction manuals show  different combinations of the figures version – usually with a subset of the figures shown here. See Tom Quinn'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 (or, more relaxed – just join hands slightly raised!)

1. CIRCLES

Using 7s & 3s steps – All: Circle Left [4 bars] + Circle Right + Circle Right + Circle Left

CHORUS

Promenade Across (Partners join hands in front promenade hold)
Top couples: Promenade across (Gents passing right shoulders) changing places and turning to face back across [2 bars]
Side couples: Promenade across turning to face back [2 bars]
Tops: Promenade back [2 bars]
Sides Promenade back [2 bars]
Tops Advance/Sides Advance/Tops Advance/Sides StayAdvance and Retire (All facing into the set)
Top couples: Advance + Sides: Wait [2 bars]
Sides: Advance + Tops: Retire to place [2 bars]
Tops: Advance + Sides: Retire to place [2 bars]
Tops: Retire to place + Sides: Wait [2 bars]
Rings the Bells/Change/Ring the Bells/ChangeRing 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 & 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 with 7s & 3s (M left/W right + M passing in front) [4 bars]
Tops Across/Sides Across/Tops Back/Sides Back


2. LEAD AROUND

Partners join hands in front promenade hold
Lead around to the right (Anti-clockwise) [8 bars]
Change direction with push­-pull motion (turn in towards your partner)
Lead 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 (Right 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 left (and back) [8 bars]

CHORUS

Promenade Across / Advance and Retire / Ring the Bells


5. THREAD THE NEEDLE

All join hands in circle except 1st Top M and 2nd Side W. First couple form arch
2nd Side 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: 2nd Side couple form arch while 1st M leads the others through and around to right (clockwise).
2nd Side 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.:

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

Sidestep 7s & 3s: - Consists of one 7 and two 3s. If the sidestep is danced to the L, the first three starts hopping R and stepping in place L behind R, R in front of L, L behind R and the second three starting hopping L, etc.

7s: in Jig Time - (2 measures) When moving to the L, hop L (count 6 of preceding measure)
Step R behind to L (ct. 1, 2), step L to L (ct. 3), step R behind L (ct. 4, 5), step L to L (ct. 6)
Step R back of L (measure 2, ct. 1, 2), step L to L (measure 2, ct. 3), step R behind L(measure 2, ct. 4, 5).
The 7 may also be done to the R, reversing footwork and direction.

3s: in Jig Time - Hop L (count 6 of preceding measure)
Step R behind (ct. 1, 2), step L (ct. 3), step R (ct. 4). Next step starts hopping R and stepping L, R, L.
A 3 may be danced in place or moving in any direction.

Change Places: This movement in the Chorus should use travelling steps, but some dancers use 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 [2 bars])
+ 123-123 (Rt Lt Rt - Lt Rt Lt [2 bars])

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 hands with the person you are facing in the Corner position, i.e. (own thighs + right hands) / (own thighs + left hands), or even with 2 hands alternately crossed then 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.