The Branle Double is an easy circle dance described in Arbeau's Orchésographie (1589).
An open or closed circle of dancers (Arbeau mentions both) with hands joined.
Everyone dances the same steps together, although individual dancers can decide to vary the steps within the basic pattern if they choose, as described below.
A double to the left followed by a double to the right, as follows: step side left (1), close right toward left with weight (2), step side left (3), close right to left without weight (4). Then repeat opposite, traveling to the right with a step, close, step, close, with right, left, right, left (5, 6, 7, 8). (Note that counts two and six are closes "toward" the leading foot rather than "to" it. While the difference isn't large enough to matter to most recreational dancers, Arbeau does define these two steps differently.)
The steps of the first half (the double to the left) are slightly larger than the steps of the second half (the double to the right), to make the dance slightly progressive, either in a clockwise circle, or following the lead of the leading dancer (at the left-most end of the chain).
Optional Variation: If a dancer wishes, they can replace the final two steps (step, close without weight) of the right-footed double (counts 7, 8) with three small leaps onto the right foot, left foot, and right foot, raising the free foot slightly in front on each leap (7-and-8). Be sure to travel the same amount as you would in a usual 7, 8 to keep up with the circle, and do the variation surreptitiously to avoid interfering with your fellow dancers' ability to dance their chosen footwork.
Here is a nice tune for dancing the Branle Double:
© 2020 Nick Enge
For more, see our two books on dancing:
Waltzing: A Manual for Dancing and Living (2013) by Richard Powers and Nick Enge,
and Cross-Step Waltz: A Dancer's Guide (2019) by Richard Powers and Nick & Melissa Enge.
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