Constancy is one of our favorite colonial dances. It combines a good tune with basic figures. For warming up at the beginning of an evening of dances, or sparing mental energy at the end of the evening, it flows naturally and comfortably.
Constancy appears in “The Gentleman & Lady’s COMPANION; containing, The Newest COTILLIONS and COUNTRY DANCES; To Which is Added, Instances of ILL MANNERS, to be carefully avoided by YOUTH of both sexes.”, published by J. Trumbull, Norwich, in 1798.
The original description reads:
Cross hands half round at top, back again, lead down the middle, up again, and cast off one couple, balance six, set and turn your partner quite round, right and left at top.
These directions seem clear, and fit well to the 32 bar tune. There is only one slightly unclear point: in the first B music, the balance would usually be done in two bars, and four bars is sufficient for the two hand turn with partner, which adds up to six bars of figures but eight bars of music. This is easily solved by having the balance six be a double balance. At the Wayside Inn, we like to dance it as a balance forward, back, to the right, and to the left, followed by the two-hand turn.
In modern notation, the dance is:
A1: First and second couples do a right hand star, return by the left hand
A2: First couple lead down, turn individually, return, cast off one place
B1: All double balance, two-hand turn with partner,
B2: First and second couples rights and lefts.
Here is a link to the tune. Press the Get button on the page the link brings you to.
At the Wayside Inn, we use pas de bourrees in dancing this dance, except for the balances. We find they suit the tune particularly well. We’ll discuss colonial footword in general at another time.