Folk Dancing

A folk song is typically passed from mouth-to-mouth (or, more frequently, heart-to-heart), interpreted and extended during each repetition. True to the folk song tradition, I record these as I remember hearing (or altering) them a quarter-century ago.

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Johnny O

All join hands as you circle the ring
Stop where you are, give your partner a swing
Swing that girl behind you.
Swing your own, if you have time to.
Allemande left with the sweet corner maid.
Do-si-do your own.
They we'll all promenade with the sweet corner maid
Singing O-Johnny-O-Johnny-O.

The Shear

In the early seventies, this song fomented tension between otherwise good friends Chip Buckner and Al Ross. Chip insisted on Anglicizing all unfamiliar syllables. Al insisted that every unfamiliar syllable began with an "sh" sound. The following is Chip's Anglicization. In his version, the song is about a race of Nordic demi-gods, the "Taban", sometimes referred to in the plural as the "Tabana". The presence of all the Taban caused cheering among the shepherds and miners. (I just made that up.) Al would end each line or the chorus with "is shi-shirrah", which makes no more sense than my version.

[1] Sing a song of gladness, sing a song of cheer
There's no need for sadness for all Taban is here
[2] Oh, swing your picks and axes, raise your voices all
March onward, march onward as we go through the hall

[3] Oooooooooh

[4] Shear shear shear shear all Taban is here, hurrah!
[5] Shear shear shear shear all Taban is here, hurrah
[6] Tabana, Tabana, [7] all Taban is here, hurrah
[8] Tabana, Tabana, [9] Taban is here hurrah.

[9] Oooooooooh


[1] The song/dance begins with a pair of people holding hands in the middle of a larger hand-holding circle. The inner group walks clockwise. The outer group moves counterclockwise.

[2] The groups reverse directions.

[3] Each person in the center circle moves to the outer circle to find a partner, traditionally of the opposite sex. Each member of the new pair puts his left hand on his partner's left shoulder. The "oooh" continues until all the inner people have found partners. Younger campers sometimes take a VERY long time to commit themselves.

[4] The partners hop and swing their inside legs in time with the music. Shear (forward), Shear (back), Shear (forward), etc.

[5] Put right hands on right shoulders. Repeat [4].

[6] Remove hands from shoulders. On each of the ba's of "Tabana", hop backwards and clap.

[7] Step forward. Lock right elbows with partner and walk/skip clockwise (i.e., swing your partner).

[8] Repeat [6] and [7] using the left elbows and proceeding counter-clockwise.

[9] The partnerships move to form an inner circle. The outer circle closes.

Continue until the inner circle is larger than the outer circle. Start over.


[1] Tzena, [2] tzena, [3] tzena, [4] tzena, [5] can't you [6] hear the [1] music playing in the village square
Tzena, tzena, tzena, tzena, can't you hear the music playing they'll be dancing there
Tzena, tzena, join the celebration, There'll be people there from every nation
Dawn will find us dancing in the sunlight, Dancing in the village square

Alternative practice/functional lyric (introduced by Chip Buckner)

Jump kick jump kick over behind
Jump kick jump kick over behind

Form a "can-can" line.

[1] Hop (unentangling your feet, if necessary)
[2] Kick the right foot forward.
[3] Hop
[4] Kick the left foot forward.
[5] Step to the left, but not too far because you have to ...
[6] Cross your right foot behind your left foot

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