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Dance Cribs by Eric Ferguson

Eric has graciously made available his collection of more than 1.500 cribs for use in the DanceData web frontend, and while these have been available for some time to logged-in members of the my.strathspey site, they are now part of the standard data set shown for each dance (that has a crib, anyway). In dance lists, there is a little icon (imgi=???) which indicates that there is a crib available for that dance.

Our only condition is that you tell us about any place where a description has errors, is unclear, ambiguous or incomplete. Eric and I (Anselm) will do our best to improve the cribs, but errors still subsist. We will be most grateful if you can help us get rid of them. (In effect, Eric worries about the content and I about the presentation, so if there are any misformattings on the web pages I get to sort them out, while it is Eric’s job to take care of the actual cribs themselves.) There is a button near each crib which will help you to prepare a correction, which I shall vet and forward to Eric as required.

Here’s some more of Eric’s prose concerning his crib collection:

These cribs/cues are intended for “fair use”. In some countries this may nevertheless infringe copyright. Any crib will be immediately removed on request of the copyright holder.

About These Cribs

I (Eric) aim to make these cribs “Correct”, “Complete”, “Clear” and “Concise”, so that one can dance correctly from the crib alone. For teaching please use the original descriptions with all supplementary information (RSCDS Manual, TACnotes, discussions on the “Strathspey List”, etc).

You may use these cribs as you wish, but I feel strongly that for a dance, just as for all works of art, it is disrespectful to omit the name of the deviser, even on a crib sheet.


Some abbreviations that are not immediately evident have been highlighted in bold below. Abbreviations may change between versions. I welcome suggestions for improving the system of abbreviations.

1- (etc)
Bar numbering. If no second bar number is shown, it is an 8-bar section
separates 2-bar sections (but many older cribs still use a “,”)
separates 4-bar sections.
[bar n] or [n]
number of the bar (instant of time)
{n bars} or {n}
duration = that number of bars
1C, 2C, 3C, 4C, 5C, …
1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th , 5th … couples
1M, 2W
1st man, 2nd lady/woman, (As the RSCDS uses Woman, we use W; L always means Left).
1M(1W) instruction down(up)
shorthand for 1M instruction down while 1W instruction up (used for “meanwhile” figures)
1pl, 2pl, …
1st, 2nd, … place.
1plx, 2plx, …
1st, 2nd, … place on opposite side
1cnr, 2cnr
1st, 2nd, corner “person” or “position” is added when needed.
3cnr, 4cnr
Partner’s 1st, 2nd corner
All those dancing, not all those in the set
RSh, LSh
right and left shoulders
clw, cclw
clockwise, counterclockwise = anticlockwise
Left, Right, Nearer and Both Hands
easy hand, EH
the evidently most convenient hand
Left, Right, Nearer and Both Hands Joined
lead vs dance
Strictly, “lead” means RHJ, “dance” NHJ. older RSCDS texts use “lead” for both; the correct formation is sometimes in doubt. Some cribs still have this ambiguity.
(2C up)
2C step up
(2,3,4,1) or (to 2,3,4,1) (etc)
indicates the order of couples in the set at that point.
x indicates couples on opposite sides
Back to Back as a position
dance BtoB
Dance Back to Back (the figure)
Balance in Line (i.e. setting in line; dancers facing alternate ways)
Circle_n_ (n=3,4,6,8,etc)
n hands round ; always starts to the left unless specified otherwise
advance and retire
turn 1st corner RH, Partner LH, 2nd corner RH, Partner LH
right hands across, left hands across
Rights and Lefts.
Diagonal R&L
(1C change places RH with 1cnr positions, LH on sides, RH with 4cnr positions, LH on sides)
Set and Link (for two or three)
Highland Schottische (setting step, poussette)
Double Triangles
Double Double Triangles (in a 5C set, above and below)
Set “H&G”
Set to Corners and Partner
Reel3 (Reel4)
Reel of three, (of four) (only one reel)
Reels3 (Reels4)
Reels of three, (of four) (two or more reels at the same time) (not yet put into all the cribs)
6-bar reel of 3 (only one reel)
6-bar reels of 3 (two or more reels at the same time) (not yet put into all the cribs)
Figure of eight
Double figure of 8
Grand Chain
Ladies’ Chain
Men’s Chain
4-bar figure: 1M&1W, each with two others, dance Hands Across (R, L or Mirror)
Pas de Basque
promenade hold
## (in brackets in italics)
added for clarification only

(Comments on the crib or the dance are added when needed as a final line.)

Most cribs are arranged in 8-bar phrases. That makes it much easier to “see” and remember each 8-bar phrase as a “chunk” of information. The signs | ; | subdivide the phrase, where necessary, into 2-bar bits.

The sign is used “+” for those dancing a figure together, and “&” or “and” when two individuals/groups/pairs/dance the same figure simultaneously (eg: 1C+2C & 3C+4C RHA). Not all cribs follow this convention yet.

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You see things, and you say »Why?« But I dream things that never were, and say »Why not?«
– George Bernard Shaw