The folkdance has different structures by which the dancers get more or less in touch with everybody else in the ballroom.
Here below the terms and different types of dances in Danish folk dance are shortly reviewed. For more information you can see Danish folk dance examples with description of dances including animation figures on my website from 1999: http://www.lavigne.dk/oldfolkdance.
Man and wife dance together in all the dance. You dance as couples one after another anti clockwise around in the ballroom along the wall, in the line of dance. That is like in folk dance. Or the dancers are all over the ballroom, and you find a spot where to dance, and you don’t move far from this spot, as in more modern dance, also in cha cha cha etc. Couple dance has the advantage that you maybe dance with your favourite partner, and that your partner is not left alone without a dance partner. Free couple dance gives the possibility to select your special dance figures, and have different figures among the couples.
Mixer dance - dance in a big circle - everybody together.
We change partners with whom we then dance for a while. Until everybody again at the same time change partners, e.g. by walking in a big common chain in a big circle in the ballroom along the wall. In this way we learn the dance steps and figures from each other and get to know each other.
Quadrille dance = square dance - 4 couples
Much used figure in folk dancing. You dance with your own partner and with other in the quadrille. You stay in the quadrille and get into contact only with the 3 other couples. For the dances we have composed here we can only select the dance figures that fit with the quadrille structure. We have the variation part called figures (with “mill” etc.), while the other parts of the dance are repeated dancing the same with the same persons 5-6 times, happy recognition.
2 couples dance in 2 lines
2 couples dance together for a while. Then the couples move to meet a new opposite couple and dance with them. You dance couple dance with shifting other partners for a short while but end up keeping your own partner throughout the dance, (and for commencing the next dance). I use this dance type rather often.
3 couples dance
Like the quadrille dance, but with only 3 couples (instead of 4). I have included only one dance of this type, a cha-cha-cha, with the possibility of changing to new combinations of 3 couples over and over.
Country dance = line dance in 2 lines
In a true country dance = line dance the gents stand at one side and the ladies at the other side in the simple good type of line dance. I have only included one line dance here, with cha-cha-cha and it has a more complex system.
Folk dance has some terms and structures:
Couple dance: in the line of dance
Start position: couples stand after one another in the line of dance along the wall of the ballroom, Lady to the right of the Gent, ready for walking forward anti clockwise (counter clockwise). You dance as a couple in that line of dance, with natural turns = right turns and reverse turns = left turns.
All the dancers stand in a big circle in the line of dance, holding hands, Lady (L) to the right of her Gent (G). Walking in the circle you start walking to the left, clockwise, and then the other way if included in the description. The steps are often common walking steps, starting on the left foot.
A quadrille dance = square = 4 couples, or 3 couples dance, or 2 couples dance, often start with a circle, which is then a small circle, very small circle for 2 couples, the small narrow circle line of dance for couple dance and for chain.
Chain = grand right and left
You stand e.g. in the big circle G, L, G, L … The Gents turn ¼ to the right, the Ladies turn ¼ to the left to face each other and you give your right hand to your partner. Then you walk forward, G clockwise and L anti clockwise, passing to the left of your partner. Then you give your left hand to the next you meet and pass to the right of him/her. This continues as long as this part of the music, ending in getting a new partner to have couple dance with. The chain (= grand right and left) often is with walking steps. By chain in a quadrille and especially in 2 couples you turn sharply, and the chain usually ends by your own partner.
Participants: 2 couples: own couple and the opposite couple (in quadrilles, in 2 couple dance, in country dance). You give your right hand to the opposite (G to opposite L) and walk to the opposite place, here you turn to face your own oncoming partner giving partner your left hand, and turn into the place in opposite corner of your start corner.
Variation figures: mill, waist clasp circle
We have variation figures in quadrille dances, i.e. the part that varies by repeating the dance e.g. 6 times.
We have a mill for the 4 ladies and next time for the 4 gents, first 1-hand mill the 2 hand mill.
We have waist clasp circle (basket of 8) with all 8 dancers, with gents’ arms around the waist of ladies and ladies’ hands on shoulders of gents.
We have these variation figures only in a couple of sailor dances here, so for further information I refer to the general folk dance description (e.g. my website of 1999 dance of week 13).
For the sailor dances here (seaman dances), the music for dance in couples with basic steps and figures is usually made so that it note for note corresponds with the steps to ease the learning, which e.g. means the shift of time signature from 4/4 to 6/4. For the simple walking steps in circle and chain these considerations are not so important giving the possibility of more complex music.