Read this first!
Here follow some general notes on style and things-that-we-are-always-supposed-to-do-the-same:
The most important thing of all to get right is the stepping: enthusiastic and correct stepping by all is what makes a merely competent side into a great one. So read on…
The stepping for all dances except Spotty Banana and Dilwyn is single step with a pronounced backwards and forwards kick of the free leg.
Always left foot lead for everything.
The first step of any movement is nearly always the biggest – i.e. surge into each figure.
The stepping must be large and exuberant, emphasised and flamboyant, or more simply, give it welly! If you don’t finish a dance fighting for breath and dripping with sweat then you haven’t been doing it properly.
All dances apart from Crooked Billet, Dilwyn and Lizzie Hall, start with a Left and Right foot stamp on the last bar of the OTY.
Whenever changing from stepping to standing, the last two bars of the stepping are: …LhRhLRL– where the final RL means stamp on the right and left (exception is Stripy Cat chorus). Do not do this at any other time.
When not using the stick, it should be held in the right hand, sloped over the right shoulder. The left arm should not be simply kept still by your side but used to emphasise and add power to the stepping.
The odd straight line now and again would be nice… Please?
There are three imperatives for dancing out, which are, in order:
- To have fun.
- To entertain any audience.
- To get the dances right.
Preferably, however, please try to do all three!
Crossovers / Shoulders:
After crossing over passing Right shoulders always turn Right to face back in with a sharp turn on step 5.
After crossing over passing Left shoulders always turn Left to face back in with a sharp turn on step 5.
Back to back:
In any figure called back-to-back, one side of the set dances (or stands in Sheepskins only) on the spot while the other side does back-to-back around them, thus: Surge across set on step 1, round back of partner and into line on his other side on steps 2 and 3, step 4 on the spot still in line, 2 steps backwards back to place, 2 on the spot.
In any figure called Dozy-Doe, all dancers do a back to back around their opposites, so there everybody moves together.
Always turn out into a Rounds. A rounds at the end of a dance can finish with out-and-in, in-and-out, or lead-off-into-the-pub-following-number-1, depending on what is called.
Most dances use slow, lazy, dotted hornpipes. Feel is given by pushing and pulling the rhythm jazz-style, ie bringing a note in slightly after or slightly before where it’s written. Nothing at all is played as written. Well-known tunes are recognisable, but have had most of the hard bits and fast changes beaten out to give room for rhythmic development.
There is a noticeable reggae feel to a many of the tunes, with the first note in a bar de-emphasised (or missing entirely) and emphasis on the third: “(one)-two-THREE-four”.
The net result of all this is near impossible to write down, but provides the basis for the distinctive Hook sound.
The approach also tries to get away from the “play-it-through-once-then-do-it-again-louder” style of Morris by introducing rhythmic development, improvisation, counter melodies and accompaniment. Notes are often missed out for emphasis, and not all players play all the time (revolutionary, eh?)
In its full form, the Hook Eagle Wall of Sound consists of 4 melodeons, clarinet, trombone, banjo, fiddle, tambourine and various other things you bang. But no drum, because it’s unnecessary and makes rhythmic development near impossible.