Jack-a-Lent

Jack-a-Lent is an English Country Dance. It was published by John Playford (website) in 1651 in The English Dancing Master. It was interpreted by Cecil Sharp (website) in 1922 and published in The Country Dance Book (Part 6). It is a proper 3 Couple Longways dance. There is no progression in this dance. The dance lasts 304 bars. It is in the key: E Minor.

Playford writes:
Lead up a D. forward and back That again First man change places with the 2. wo. turn S. change with the last man, and turn S. After lead up the wo. Do the like to every cu. doing the same

Lead up as before First Cu. cross over, fall into the 2. place, cross again, fall into the last place All do this Change

Lead up as before First cu. go under the 2. cu. arms, the last come up under the first, this forward and back to your places, cast off Every cu. do this Change

Lead up as before First cu. go down and turn each the last, then each the 2. Cast off, every cu. doing the same

Lead up as before Set and turn S. That again

First man turn the last wo. and to his place again
First wo. as much with the last man
The first on each side go down to the last, take them by both hands go once and a half about and stay below, the 2. turning his own All do this Change

Sharp appears to have reorded parts V and VI.

The "Jack-a-lent" (Jack of Lent) was an English tradition up into the 17th century. It was a straw effigy, made on Ash Wednesday, symbolically tortured during Lent and burnt on Palm Sunday (or perhaps Easter itself). I'm not sure why.

The animation plays at 120 counts per minute. Men are drawn as rectangles, women as ellipses. Each couple is drawn in its own color.

I.A11-4Up a double and back
5-8Up a Double, back (again)
I.B11-4Top man change with middle woman, both turn single
5-8Same man change with bottom man, both turn single
I.A21-4Up a double and back
5-8Up a Double, back (again)
I.B21-4Person in W1's place change with M2's place and both turn single
5-8Then change with person in W3's place and both turn single
I.A31-4Up a double and back
5-8Up a Double, back (again)
I.B31-4Person in M1's place change with person in W2's, both turn single
5-8Change with person in M3's place, both turn single
I.A41-4Up a double and back
5-8Up a Double, back (again)
I.B41-4Person in W1's place change with M2's place and both turn single
5-8Then change with person in W3's place and both turn single
I.A51-4Up a double and back
5-8Up a Double, back (again)
I.B51-4Person in M1's place change with person in W2's, both turn single
5-8Change with person in M3's place, both turn single
I.A61-4Up a double and back
5-8Up a Double, back (again)
I.B61-4Person in W1's place change with M2's place and both turn single
5-8Then change with person in W3's place and both turn single (all back home now)
II.A11-4Up a double and back
5-8Up a Double, back (again)
II.B11-41s cross go below as 2s lead up
5-81s cross again go below as 3s lead up
II.A21-4Up a double and back
5-8Up a Double, back (again)
II.B21-42s cross go below as 3s lead up
5-82s cross again go below as 1s lead up
II.A31-4Up a double and back
5-8Up a Double, back (again)
II.B31-43s cross go below as 1s lead up
5-83s cross again go below as 2s lead up
III.A11-4Up a double and back
5-8Up a Double, back (again)
III.B11-2Top couple dive under the middle couple, arch over the bottom
3-4Top couple dive under the middle couple, arch over the bottom
5-6Top couple dive under the middle couple, arch over the bottom
7-8Top couple cast to bottom, others lead up one place
III.A21-4Up a double and back
5-8Up a Double, back (again)
III.B21-2Top couple dive under the middle couple, arch over the bottom
3-4Top couple dive under the middle couple, arch over the bottom
5-6Top couple dive under the middle couple, arch over the bottom
7-8Top couple cast to bottom, others lead up one place
III.A31-4Up a double and back
5-8Up a Double, back (again)
III.B31-2Top couple dive under the middle couple, arch over the bottom
3-4Top couple dive under the middle couple, arch over the bottom
5-6Top couple dive under the middle couple, arch over the bottom
7-8Top couple cast to bottom, others lead up one place
IV.A11-4Up a double and back
5-8Up a Double, back (again)
IV.B11-8Top couple leads down, mirror turn the bottom couple half way, then the middle couple with the other hand, then cast to bottom, others leading up
IV.A21-4Up a double and back
5-8Up a Double, back (again)
IV.B21-8Top couple leads down, mirror turn the bottom couple half way, then the middle couple with the other hand, then cast to bottom, others leading up
IV.A31-4Up a double and back
5-8Up a Double, back (again)
IV.B31-8Top couple leads down, mirror turn the bottom couple half way, then the middle couple with the other hand, then cast to bottom, others leading up
V.A11-4Long 1st corners two hand turn
5-8Long 2nd corners two hand turn
V.B11-8Top couple leads down, two hand turns the bottom couple once and a half, top couple stays, others move up
V.A21-4Long 1st corners two hand turn
5-8Long 2nd corners two hand turn
V.B21-8Top couple leads down, two hand turns the bottom couple once and a half, top couple stays, others move up
V.A31-4Long 1st corners two hand turn
5-8Long 2nd corners two hand turn
V.B31-8Top couple leads down, two hand turns the bottom couple once and a half, top couple stays, others move up
V1.A1-4Up a double and back
5-8Up a Double, back (again)
VI.B1-4Partner set and turn single
5-8That again, set and turn single

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. The interpretation is out of copyright, and is in the public domain. My visualization of this dance is copyright © 2021 by George W. Williams V and is released under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

This website is copyright © 2021,2022 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.