The Devil's Dream - Burchenal

The Devil's Dream - Burchenal is an American Country Dance. It was published by Elias Howe in 1858 in The Complete Ball-Room Hand-Book, Boston. It was interpreted by Emma Burchenal in 1918 and published in American Country Dances. It is an improper duple minor longways dance. The minor set lasts 32 bars.

Note: There is a playford dance with this name. This is not it.

Howe writes in 1858:

Form in sets of six couples First couple down the outside (foot couple up the centre same time) back first couple down the centre back and cast off (foot couple up the outside and back at the same time) — ladies chain first four — right and left

Burchenal writes:

Formation: Longways for six couples, men in one line, and women in the other.
Before beginning the dance the man and woman of the head couple only exchange places
(1-4) Head Couple down the Outside, Foot Couple up the Centre
(5-8) return
(9-12) Head Couple down the Centre, Foot Couple up the Outside
(13-16) return and heads cast off
(1-8) Ladies' Chain
(9-16) Right and Left

Burchenal makes it clear that this dance is a duple minor dance with the old-style of starting a dance (that is, only the first two couples are active at first with more becoming active as the first couple reaches them).

This dance is unusual in that the Foot (bottom) couple is partially active.

Burchenal uses the term "head couple", but since the movements of the "head" couple are integral to the progression I think she must mean all the active 1s.

She makes it clear that the "foot couple" is the last couple in the set, and not the second couple. So there is an inconsistancy here. She does not explain what happens when the foot couple is an active 2 -- however, since the 1s above them will be casting down, they must move up.

The animation plays at 120 counts per minute normally, but the first time through the set the dance will often be 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.

A1-81s down outside, take a peek, come back, as bottom couple promenades up the center
9-161s promenade down the middle, turn, come back and cast off as 2s move up, while the bottom couple goes up the outside, takes a peek and comes back (possibly coming back to the 5th position)
B1-8Ladies' chain, over and back
9-16Right and left four, over and back

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.

If you wish to link to this animation please see my comments on the perils of youtube. You may freely link to this page, of course, and that should have no problems, but use one of my redirects when linking to the youtube video itself:

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The dance itself is out of copyright, and is in the public domain. The interpretation is out of copyright in the US, but I'm not sure of other jurisdictions. My visualization of this dance is copyright © 2022 by George W. Williams V and is released under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

This website is copyright © 2021,2022,2023,2024 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.