British Sorrow

British Sorrow is an American Country Dance. It was published by Saltator in 1807 in A Treatise on Dancing and on Various Other Matters which are connected With That Accompishment. It was interpreted by Ralph Page in about 1950. Found in Cracking Chestnuts. It is a proper Triple Minor dance. The dance lasts 32 bars.

To my mind this is more like an English Country Dance that happened to be written in America than a modern Contra Dance, but the book of traditional contra dances, Cracking Chestnuts claims it as a contra. Triple Minors are rare in modern contras, as are casts, and there is no partner (nor neighbor) swing. On the other hand a title like Britiſh Sorrow might seem a little to chauvanistic for an English Country Dance.

According to Cracking Chestnuts the stars should probably be hands across, but modern contra stars can also be used.

The "Cast Off" looks like a gate where the 1s go forward and the 2s back up. Arms may go behind the other person's back, or not be used at all.

The "Right and left four" call would probably have meant "four changes of rights and lefts" in 1807, but the term came to mean the modern "Right and left through" twice. Ralph Page suggests a modified figure without taking hands:

The two couples pass through, passing partner right shoulder to right shoulder in 4 counts, then with the active man and inactive lady going forward and the active lady and inactive man backing up the sides do a gate (or courtesy turn) without hands. And then repeat back to original positions.

The animation plays at 120 counts per minute normally, but the first time through the set the dance is slowed down so people can learn the moves more readily. Men are drawn as rectangles, women as ellipses. Each couple is drawn in its own color, however the border of each dancer indicates what role they currently play so the border color may change each time through the minor set.

The dance contains the following figures: circle, cast, lead, hands across (and probably others).

If you find what you believe to be a mistake in this animation, please leave a comment on youtube explaining what you believe to be wrong. If I agree with you I shall do my best to fix it.

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The dance itself is out of copyright, and is in the public domain. I do not have a date for the interpretation, so it may be under copyright. My visualization of this dance is copyright © 2020 by George W. Williams V and is released under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

This website is copyright © 2021 by George W. Williams V
Creative Commons License My work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Most of the dances have more restrictive licensing, see my notes on copyright, the individual dance pages should mention when some rights are waived.