Picking Up Sticks

Picking Up Sticks is an English Country Dance. It was found in the Lovelace Manuscript (written somewhere around the 1640s) and later published in The English Dancing Master. It was interpreted by Cecil Sharp in 1916 and published in The Country Dance Book (Part 4). Found in The Playford Ball. It is a proper 3 Couple Longways dance. There is no progression in this dance. It is a USA dance. The dance lasts 136 bars.

The Picking of Stickesappears in the Lovelace Manuscript with the parts in a different order. The Lovelace version is not a USA dance, each part is preceded by two up a doubles (there is no siding nor arming)

Playford writes:
Lead up all a D. forwards and back · That again : First man change places with the 2 wo. then with the last man : Lead up as before, then the wo. change as the man did, every cu. doing thus.
Sides all · That again : First cu. slip down between the 2. they slipping up, then the 2. slip down and the 1. up ·: All this again, the last cu. crossing over below, go up and cross above, fall to your places :: Then the four last slip, and the first cu. cross about
Sides all · That again : The we. standing still, men going the Hey between them, the last man going about the middle wo. Do thus three times over, then go quite round all the we. to your places ·:·: We. as much

This dance includes two mirror sheepskin heys, which are too complicated to explain in the animation. The Playford Ball points out that this is not not a true hey, as half the people in it are not moving. The ones moving weave around the stationary ones.

The first "hey" is by the men around the women.

1st man leads the other men above and outside of 1st woman, then inside of the second woman, and outside the third and loops around her.

When the 3rd man (last in the line) reaches the 2nd woman he no longer follows the other two, instead he loops around and then outside her.

At this point the line of men is in a different order with the 3rd man in the lead, followed by 1st man and 2nd man at the end.

The 3rd man, followed by the 1st dances inside 1st woman, then loops above and around her.

When the 2nd man reaches the 2nd woman he does not follow the other two, but loops around her.

Now the line's order is 2nd man, 3rd man with the 1st man last.

The 2nd man, followed by the 3rd loops outside and below the third woman.

The 1st man now loops the 2nd woman.

Now the line's order is 1st man followed by 2nd followed by 3rd.

The first man followed by the others loops around the 1st woman to cast all the way around the set back to places.

Then the women do a mirror image "hey" around the men.

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

An online description of the dance may be found here.

The dance contains the following figures: USA, set, hey (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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I do not have a publication date for the dance and not know whether it is under copyright or not. 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 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.