The Fine Companion

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Introduction

The Fine Companion is round country dance in the first edition of Playford's English Dancing Master (1651).



The Formation

Round for eight, with the Follows to the right of their partners.


The Dance

There are six different parts to the dance:


Part 1 (32 counts)

In and Out (8 counts): Take hands eight and go four steps into the center and four steps back out.

Set and Turn Single (8 counts): Facing partner without hands, step side right, close left without weight, side left, close without weight, and turn solo in place by walking around a small clockwise circle with four steps. (The modest step close style of the set is one of the few pieces of footwork explicitly described in the source, although you'll very often see it replaced with a more energetic leaped triple step, or sometimes even a pas de basque, today. You'll also see some communities dance it as single left, single right, and turn counterclockwise, but the majority do right, left, clockwise.)

Repeat In and Out (8 counts)

Repeat Set and Turn Single (8 counts)


Part 2 (32 counts)

Leads In, Follows In (8 counts): Leads alone go In and Out, then Follows alone go In and Out. Leads go in on the first four counts, and out on the second four. Follows go in on the second four (as Leads are going out), and go out as the Leads start the next figure.

Leads Circle (8 counts): As the Follows are going out, the Leads go in, take hands, and circle left eight steps back to place.

Follows In, Leads In (8 counts): Just like the first eight counts, but the Follows go first, then the Leads.

Follows Circle (8 counts): As the Leads are going out, the Follows go in to circle left.


Part 3 (32 counts)

Side Right (8 counts): Approach partner with four steps, ending right shoulder to right shoulder, then back away four steps. (This is the historical style for siding, although you may also see some people do it with the more dynamic "Cecil Sharp" style of siding, in which you trade places and then trade places back home. In a modern context, either is fine, as long as you and your partner/community agree.)

Set and Turn Single (8 counts)

Side Left (8 counts): Approach partner with four steps, ending left shoulder to left shoulder, then back away four steps. (Or do the Cecil Sharp styling, if that's your community's preference.)

Set and Turn Single (8 counts)


Part 4 (32 counts)

Heads In, Sides In (8 counts): Couple at bottom and top (Heads) take hands with partner and go In and Out, then couples at left and right (Sides) go In and Out. Heads go in on the first four counts, and out on the second four. Sides go in on the second four (as Leads are going out), and go out as the Heads start the next figure.

Heads Circle (8 counts): As the Sides are going out, the Heads go in, take hands, and circle left eight steps back to place.

Sides In, Heads In (8 counts): Just like the first eight counts, but the Sides go first, then the Heads.

Sides Circle (8 counts): As the Heads are going out, the Sides go in to circle left.


Part 5 (32 counts)

Arm Right (8 counts): Taking right arm with partner, walk eight steps clockwise around each other to place. (Many different styles are seen for arming including: touching forearms, linking elbows, holding forearms, or holding hands, low or high. The only real requirement is that you and your partner/community agree on how you're going to do it.)

Set and Turn Single (8 counts)

Arm Left (8 counts): Taking left arm with partner, walk eight steps counterclockwise around each other to place.

Set and Turn Single (8 counts)


Part 6 (32 counts)

Follows Circle the Leads (16 counts): Leads meet and stand back to back in the center while the Follows circle left around them, then everyone falls back to places.

Leads Circle the Follows (16 counts): Follows meet and stand back to back in the center while the Leads circle left around them, then everyone falls back to places.


The Music

Here is a nice tune for dancing The Fine Companion, although it's unfortunately too short to dance the whole thing through. At least it will enable you to get a sense of what it sounds like:


Sources


© 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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