the cumberland

halfmoonsingleover
Half Moon Sword (New York) perform Single Over at Sidmouth International Folk Festival
 

Notation

This is a dance for six people. I describe the dance as done by the Carlisle Sword team, so I refer to each dancer as "he" throughout. Please emend to "she" as appropriate. For more background to this dance see other pages. Anyone wishing to learn and perform the dance should contact Mike Jensen
The swords used by the Carlisle team are 36 inches long, tapering from 3/4" to 1/2" wide, and are hardened and tempered chrome stainless spring steel. The handles are cast aluminium, string-wound, with two brass ferrules. The point of balance is twelve inches from the handle end. Swords are held in the right hand. At the beginning of the dance the hilt is at waist level with the point resting against the right shoulder.
The music is a slip jig (9/8), and several different tunes have been used: The Foxhunter, The Rocky Road to Dublin, The Peacock Followed the Hen, Another Jig Will Do, The Butterfly, Johnnie's Gotten a Wife, and Fig for a Kiss.
The 9/8 time signature has an important influence on the dance. Each bar of  music has three triplets, and each phrase of the tune occupies two bars. That means there are six foot-falls in each phrase of music: and the figures of the dance have to be completed in six paces, or multiples of six.
The step is a smooth fast walk, almost a lope. The foot-falls resemble a racing walker's heel-and-toe movement: the heel lands first, then roll forward onto the toe. The thrust is forwards not upwards - no bouncing; knees are kept slightly bent and act as shock absorbers so that heads remain steady. The dancers should appear to flow over the ground; even at slow speeds there should be a lilt - dancing not walking.
The figures are: Clash; Shoulders; Ring; Single Over; Double Under; Back Lock; Release; Rolls; Low and High Clash; Double Over ("Last Figure"); Over Your Own Sword; Running Doubles; Nut.
The movement used to fill up the music in and between figures is a clockwise circling in a hilt-and-point linked ring - indicated here as Walk for n.
 

The Dance

The Clash
The dancers come on in single file in reverse order - #6, #5, #4, #3, #2, #1 - and form a ring moving clockwise. As soon as the ring is formed, each dancer in turn, starting with #1, raises his sword. He does this on the beat, so that all the swords are raised in two bars of music - six beats - to form a high basket thus: #2 sword rests against #1, #3 against #2 etc. Walk for six.
At the beginning of the next phrase #2, #4, and #6 clash their swords against the other three, which remain still to keep the basket. The clash should be precise rather than violent, with swords moving a few inches. They clash on the beat twelve times, with the other three joining in on the last beat.

Shoulders
Each dancer lowers his sword onto his right shoulder, with his right elbow pointing into the circle so that the arm is parallel to the ground. He takes the point of the sword in front of him - #1 takes point of #2, etc - and holds it level with the shoulder of that person so that it is parallel to the ground. This takes six beats. Walk for six.
Each dancer lifts his sword over his own head to rest on his left shoulder: takes six beats. Walk for six.

Ring
Lifting the swords back over their heads the dancers open out into a hilt-and-point ring with swords at waist level: six beats. Walk for six.

Single Over
#1 lowers his sword. To do this he takes a half-pace forward into the circle. #6 (who holds the point of #1 sword) turns 180o right shoulder back and takes a half-pace backwards to be alongside #1 facing the other dancers. They bend and lower the sword between them with the ends of the sword in front of their shins. #6 raises his right arm as high as possible to allow the next move.
#5 raises his left arm and steps over the lowered sword, he turns right around #1 and, keeping his left hand high above the heads of those following goes clockwise back to place. #4, #3, and #2 follow him in order over the lowered sword, and passing under #6 sword, which is held high, back to their places. When they have all gone through, #1 and #6 straighten and step back into the ring.
The timing for this is: sword lowered on beat 1, #5 steps over on beat 4, #4 steps over on beat 7, #3 on beat 10, #2 on beat 13, #1 and #6 step back into place on beats 16-18. Finish the music by walking for six. The four dancers who step over the swords do so on alternate feet: #5 on L, #4 on Rt, etc. (Total 24 beats)  This figure is performed six times, each sword being lowered in turn.

Double Under
#1 raises his sword. To do this he stops and turns to face across the circle; #6 does the same. Standing the length of the sword apart, they raise it above their heads. They stand for 3 beats.
#3 and #4, also working as a pair turn to face across the circle. They step forward under #1 sword, and, raising the sword between them (#4 sword), turn away from each other through 180o, going under their own arm, and, keeping the sword high, go back to their places.
#2 and #5 follow #3 and #4 respectively, working as a pair. The swords they hold stay low.
Starting to move on beat 4, #1 and #6 take their high sword across the set, turn in towards each other (180o), lower the sword and go back to place. (Total 12 beats)
This figure is performed six times, each sword being raised in turn.

The Back Lock
After Double Under the circle closes up, each dancer releases the sword-point he is holding, and put the swords to form a low basket.
The dancers give a single low clash on beat 1, and each immediately passes his sword behind the back of the person to his right. At the same time he reaches inside the right arm of the person to his left for the sword point coming behind that persons back: from the next-but-one person to the left. They take the swords over their heads to make a lock. #5 lifts the lock to display it. Throughout this figure and the next the dancers maintain their circling motion.

Release
#5 turns the Lock over as he lowers it. Each man takes the handle in front of him (on beat 1) and takes the point next-but-one to the left (on beat 4). They break out the lock and turn 180o right-shoulder-back to face outwards, and as they do, begin to circle counter-clockwise.

Rolls
At a given signal, the dancers form two files: #1 facing #6; #2 facing #5; and #3 facing #4. At the same time each dancer releases the point he is holding and swings his sword in a high arc to his partner. They are going to work in pairs for the Rolls, linked by the pair of swords between them.
#1 and #6 are at the top of the set. In six beats they turn away from each other, swing their swords over their own heads and those of #2 and #5  and change places with them. At the same time #2 and #5 go to the top of the set under #1 and #6 swords, then turn away from each other and roll under their own swords. #3 and #4 turn to the bottom of the set, turn away from each other and roll under their own swords.
In the next six beats #1 and #6 turn away from each other, swing their swords over their own heads and those of #3 and #4 and change places with them. At the same time #3 and #4 move up the set under #1 and #6 swords, then turn away from each other and roll under their own swords. #2 and #5 turn to the bottom of the set, turn towards each other and roll under their own swords.
In the next six beats, #1 and #6 turn to the bottom of the set, turn towards and then away from each other and roll under their own swords.  #2 and #5 turn away from each other, swing their swords over their own heads and those of #3 and #4 and change places with them, while #3 and #4 go to the top of the set under #2 and #5 swords, then turn away from each other and roll under their own swords.
The figure continues in this way. #2 and #5 complete their move to the bottom of the set, rolling over #1 and #6 who start coming back towards the top; #3 and #4 roll under their own swords.
Next #3 and #4 start to move down the set, rolling over #1 and #6 who complete their move back to the top, while #2 and #5 roll under their own swords.
Finally, #1 and #6 turn to the bottom of the set, turn towards and then away from each other and roll under their own swords, while #3 and #4 complete  their move to the bottom of the set, rolling over #2 and #5. (Total 36 beats) Do all that again.

Low and High Clash
At the end of the Rolls, each dancer releases the sword-point he is holding and makes a low basket; walk for twelve. Then a single clash on beat 1, and swing the sword in a big arc in front of the body into a high basket (12 beats).  A single clash on beat 1; then place swords on shoulders and grasp point of sword in front as at the start of the dance (six beats); then immediately lower swords into a hilt-and-point ring (six beats). Walk for twelve.

Over and Over
#1 and #6 turn in to face across the set; #3 and #4 do the same.
#1 and #6 lower the sword between them, move towards #3 and #4, and keep moving forwards. #3 and #4 move into the set also, step over #1 sword on beat 4, and keep moving forwards. #2 and #5 follow #3 and #4 respectively. (Six beats)
#2 and #5 step over #1 sword on beat 7 (beat 1 of the next phrase of music). At the same time, #3 and #4 turn 180o inwards towards each other and lower #4 sword between them. #2 and #5 keep moving forwards and step over #4 sword on beat 10. #1 and #6 stand up, turn 180o inwards towards each other to make their way back across the set, with #1 sword held across their bodies in front of them. (Six beats)
#1 and #6 step over #4 sword on beat 13. Everyone is now back in their place, and the hilt and point ring is re-established. (Six beats) Walk for six. (Total 24 beats)
This figure is repeated only twice more: first with #2 and #3 lowering #3 sword between them to begin; and then with #4 and #5 lowering #5 sword between them to begin.

Over Your Own Sword
#6 bends low and lowers the point of #1 sword. In his first two paces #1 turns 180o right shoulder back. On beat 3 he hops on his left foot, and swings his right foot over his own sword. On beat 4 he steps on his right foot. On beat 5 he hops on his right foot and swings his left foot over his own sword, spinning through 180o as he does so. On beat 6 he takes a big step forwards (in his original direction) and bends to lower the sword point in his left hand for #2 to follow suit. (Six beats)
Each man does this in turn.

Running Doubles
#1 and #6 raise #1 sword between them. #3 and #4 turn to face across the circle and step forward under #1 sword. Raising the sword between them (#4 sword), turn away from each other through 180o, going under their own arm, and, keeping the sword high, go back to their places. #2 and #5 follow #3 and #4 respectively, holding their swords low. #1 and #6 take their high sword across the set, turn in towards each other (180o), lower the sword and go back to place.
So far this is like a snappy version of Double Under, but now they do it again, with #1 and #6 again raising #1 sword between them. They keep repeating the movement until the Nut is called.

Nut (Lock)
After #3 and #4 have passed under #1 sword they turn 180o left shoulder back and bring their swords over their heads. #2 and #5 have followed them, turn left shoulder back to face into the circle and bring their swords over their heads. #6 does the same. #1 has to wait for all this to happen, then spins 360o right shoulder back and brings his sword over his head. Everyone should now be facing into the circle with hands crossed right over left: point over hilt. Keep the circle moving round as fast as possible.
To make the sword lock, each man pushes his sword handle under the sword point held by the man on his right, and slightly lifting the sword point in his own left hand. He now takes the two swords in front of him and ensures that they lie parallel to each other in the lock.
#1 raises the Nut and spins to display it to the spectators: the other dancers scatter in all directions as quickly as possible.

cumb scatter
Carlisle Sword scatter from the nut (in front of the Old Town Hall, Carlisle, Cumbria)
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