Thread the Needle ~ Levin is an Appalachian Circle Dance. It was published by Ida Levin in 1928 in Kentucky Square Dances. It is a Custom dance. There is no progression in this dance. The dance lasts 160 bars.
Ida Levin describes an early form of "square dancing" which is actually danced in a large circle. This bears some similarities to the dance which Cecil Sharp called The Running Set 10 years before.
This figure is "Thread the Needle". This is a whole set figure, everyone is involved. Unlike most figures it does not begin with an introduction.
Sharp also describes this figure, only he calls it "Wind up the Ball of Yarn" (with a footnote to say it is also called "Killiecrankie," "The Grapevine Twist" or "Winding the Maple Leaf."
Ida's calls are as follows:
- Thread the Needle
- Swing home, corners too.
- All join hands in a circle and walk to the left completely around. The first gentleman releases the last lady's hand and winds the group as follows:
(Note that the dancers keep their hands joined throughout the figure and that they do not turn under their own arms, that is throw the arm over the head). The last gentleman and his partner stand still and the first gentleman leads the line around toward the center of the circle of the circle and under the last gentleman's right arm. As the line goes under, the last gentleman makes a three quarter turn right and stands with his back to his partner with his right arm over his left shoulder. (He will probably try to bring his right arm over his head, but he must not do so). This end of the line stands, while the first gentleman leads the line around toward the center of the circle and under the right arm of the next to the last lady. As the line goes under, this lady makes a three-quarter turn right and stands with her back to the last gentleman. The first gentleman continues leading the line under the right arm of each person in turn until all are standing with the right arm over the left shoulder.
The first gentleman and the last lady then join hands, and the circle walks forward until the prompter calls, "All Stand Still and Leader Unwind." Then the first gentleman and the last lady release their hold, and the first gentleman unwinds the group as follows: he leads away from the center of the circle, around behind the first lady and under the second gentleman's left arm. As the first gentleman goes under toward the center of the circle, the first lady turns left about (she must not try to put her arm over her head) and finds she has unwound her right arm from around her neck. The first gentleman leads away from the center of the circle again and pushes the first lady backward under the second lady's left arm. As the first lady goes under, the second gentleman turns left about, unwinding his right arm from around his neck. The first gentleman leads around again and pushes the second gentleman under the third gentleman's left arm. As he does so the second lady turns left about. As the line goes under, the first lady follows the second gentleman and the first gentleman follows her. Thus the line is pulled through under the arm of each person in succession, the one standing in front of the person under whose arm they go is the first to go under and pulls the line after him. It will be noted that the first gentleman is always the last to go under. They continue until all are unwound.
- Each gentleman, joining both hands with his partner swings her once around, then joining both hands with the corner, that is, the lady on his left, swings her once around.
The animation plays at 120 counts per minute. Men are drawn as rectangles, women as ellipses. Each couple is drawn in its own color.
The dance contains the following figures: hand turn (allemande), circle (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.
The dance is copyright © 1928 by Ida Levin. My visualization of this dance is copyright © 2023 by George W. Williams V and is released under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
This website is copyright © 2021,2022,2023 by George W. Williams V
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.