Letter: Set and Turn: to face or not to face?

[ This article appeared in volume 2 of the Letter of Dance. ]

from Miklos Sandorfia

I recently recalled my first disagreement with standard interpretations of dance steps. It was on the "set and turn single" in English country dances and measures. I always wondered why all the reconstructions had couples turning to face each other to do this sequence, then once again resuming their previous direction. While it makes sense in some dances, I have not seen any good reason why this should always be so. (Some dances specifically call for this reorientation, but most do not.) If late English Renaissance dance was indeed highly influenced by Italian dance, as many have hypothesised, then a "set" is perhaps analogous to the common sets of two reprisas or continenzas. Like the set and turn, these may be done with partners facing, if the last step left them that way, or may be done side by side, in which case the partners do not turn to face each other.

Webbed by Gregory Blount of Isenfir (Greg Lindahl) (lindahl@pbm.com)