Virginia Reel



Background: One of the oldest dances enjoyed by the colonists was named after the state of Virginia. The dance was first published in 1685 by Sir Roger De Coverly. 

Formation: A longways dance that uses a contra formation, the dancers are in partners facing each other to form two parallel lines comprised of 6 to 8 sets of partners. Partners closest to the music are the Head partners and the partners at the other end of the line are known as the Foot partners.

Music        X X X X X X               X X X X X X             X= Head partners   X = Foot partners

Music        X X X X X X               X X X X X X


Movements:  Walking, Sliding, Skipping, Do-si-Do, Elbow Swing, Hand through right and left.


Description:

1. Forward and Back.  Partners walk four steps forward toward each other and bow on the 4th step. (4 counts)  Partners walk four steps backward away from each other back to their place. (4 counts)

2. Right Hand Through.
Partners walk forward grab Right hands walk clockwise in a circle and return to their place (8 counts)  [A right elbow swing can be used as a variation]  Or substitute this for a Right Elbow Swing

3. Left Hand Through. Partners walk forward grab Left hands walk counterclockwise in the circle and return to their place (8 counts) [A left elbow swing can be used as a variation}  Or substitute this for a Left Elbow Swing

4. Do - Si - Do. Partners walk forward pass right shoulders take one side step to the right and walk backward passing left shoulders. (8 counts) [An elbow swing can be used in place of the Do Si Do.

5. Head Partners Down and Back. Head partners face each other, perform 8 slides moving toward the foot of the set and 8 slides back to the head of the set. (16 counts) [8 counts down and 8 counts back ]

6. Reel the Set.  Head partners do a right elbow swing (4 counts).  After the right elbow swing, the head partners swing left elbows with the person on the opposite side of the line where they were facing who is next in the line. (4 counts)  Head partners meet in the middle of the parallel lines and swing right elbows (4 counts). Next, left elbow swing with the next person in the line who is on the opposite side (4 counts)  Head partners meet in the middle of the lines and swing right elbows (4 counts). Continue the reel until the head partners have performed the left elbow swing with each person in the opposite facing line, always meeting their partner for a right elbow swing in between.  [The Reel can be eliminated to make the dance less complex for younger children]

7. Slide Back Up. When the head partners get to the end of the line, they slide back up to the head of the line. (8 counts).

8. Cast Off. Also called "Peel the Banana" or "Hit the Highway" or "Strip the Willow". Head partners face the front of the line and all other dancers face the head partner in a single file line.  At the same time, the Head partner on the left turns to the left and walks toward the foot of the line and all dancers follow and the Head partner on the right turns to the right and walks toward the foot of the line and all dancers follow. (16 counts)

9. The Arch.  When the Head partners reach the foot of the line they face each other and form an arch by holding hands raised up high.  The other dancers, now led by the second set of partners, walk under the arch and the second set of partners now becomes the new Head partners and the dance begins again.

11. The dance continues until all partners have had an opportunity to be a Head partner.