If you would like to have a short booklet of the Eynsham Tradition as danced by Yateley then click here to download a pdf: YMM_Eynsham_Dances_Pack_Jan_2016

Eynsham is a particularly vigorous tradition and unlike many other traditions the dance is broken into groups of 6 bars rather than 4. The stepping is a standard morris step (1,2,3 hop) but is a closed side step. All dances start with a break comprising hopping on the left leg for six bars while the right leg goes in front of the left leg then out to the right then behind the left leg ending with a kick forward. The right leg is then in the air to start the stepping onto the right leg with the left leg coming up close behind the right. The hands in the break come up to cross over above the head on the first beat then out on the second, on the third they touch the chest and are flung out in front and at 45 deg on the last beat. As the stepping starts they come down by the side then they are flung up to a high stretch above the head for the first bar, fitting into one bar of stepping to come down again to cross over below navel and then up high again for the second bar. This is repeated for the third, fourth, fifth and sixth bars. Some dances have a Gatepost figure where the set opens up into line. In this case if the turn is 180 deg turn down, if it is 270 deg turn up to form the line that rotates round an end into a straight line. Turns to face a different direction are done are on the break and are smart.

As a guide to performing the dance take a look at the following video:

KEY: FU – Foot Up, FD – Foot down, BB – Back to Back, Spts – Spots, WR – Walk Right, IO – Dance In and Out, Cst – Cast, UIL – Up in Line, UITL – Up into Line, WH – Whole, Hey, Cnr – Corners, AU – All up, DIS – Down into set, DITL – Down into Line


Dance Sequence Distinctive Figure Comments
Eynsham Morris, Eight man dance FU, FD, (CNR, SPT, BB,)x2 WR, IO None. A fairly straight forward Eynsham dance featuring most of the main Eynsham figures. Finish in circles sometimes hoisting a guest or dancer.
Figure Eight FU, WH x 2, FU, Spts, FU, Cst, FU, UITL The whole hey is the figure that gives the dance its name and must be large and showy, Cast figure. Standard figures mainly except the cast. This is done sharply, 1 bar to line up with first pair, 1 bar on the spot, 1 bar to line up with back pair 1 bar on the spot, 1 bar to drop into line as other 4 dance up and 1 bar on the spot in set. Repeat for each couple. In the Hey the bottoms face out 45° before dancing.
Maid of the Mill IO, Cnrs, Spts, Round Houses, WR, IO 1st corners is a back to back with maid between, round houses odds face maid as they dance round her evens dance round set. Start in set and open to circle when music starts. Walk round is a spiral in, break, then spiral out into circle, dance in then out dance in lift maid, watch where your hands go: 2 & 4 place shoulders under maid to provide solid lift while gripping knee!
The Poacher, “Three Eynsham laddies” Song, FU, FD, BB, The poacher figure, WR, IO The poacher figure: 2 and 5 dance to meet as do 1 & 3 and 4 & 6 , 2 bars to meet 2 on the spot 1 to pass left and 1 to get back into set. Then dancers in position 1 and six meet as do 2 & 4 and 3 & 5, same sequence to end in set. Finally the first sequence is repeated, followed by a crossover back to place. Two important points. The poacher figure described here is done so using dancing positions not individual dancer position numbers. When dancing to meet the set must be formed up on the diagonal before dancing to form set up in original line. A way to remember perhaps. Based on starting position and Eynsham corners. 1st CLL, 2nd RRC Mdl RCL: R=turn right, L=turn left. C= corner.
The Keeper, “Jackie Boy” Song, FU, FD, The Keeper fig, BB, The Keeper fig, Cnrs, The Keeper fig, Spts, The Keeper fig, Dance round. Dance in and turn out. The keeper is different from normal stepping in that it is done to 4 bars of music. Dance forward to meet and break on 4 1,2,5 and 6 then continue and pass left shoulder and 1 meets 5 and 2 meets 6. 3 and 4 rotate clockwise and back out to form a set at right angles to starting set. In the dance round make it showy then on the break, dance in, break, turn left and dance out to end facing audience with showy break then hats off and grab some dosh off the crowd.
The 20th of September, 8 men in a line facing up.“Height of Alma” Song, dance 6 bars DIS, Swagger up Swagger down, wheels x 2, BB, the Alma figure, break down and out, UIL Swagger is normal stepping with exaggerated swagger left then right. Wheels is a round in 4, right first. The Alma figure: 3,4,5 & 6 meet left shoulder in middle facing anti clockwise, 1,2,7 & 8 form up large star, 1 and 8 move forward, 2 and 7 fallback dance 6 bars break dance 6 bars into set. This again is showy so pay attention to the Alma and your position, it needs concentration.
Cock of the North FU, FD, Cnrs, BB, Cocky, Spts, WH,WR. IO Cocky figure: 1 and 2 cast out to dance forwards down outside of set to form in behind 5 & 6 for 4 bars. Meanwhile 3,4,5,&6 stand still for 4 bars then starting right foot all dancers walk forward and break. Repeat for 3 & 4 and 5 & 6.
Feathers FU, Fe, BB, Fe, Cocky, Fe, WR, IO A pleasant more gentle dance. Feathers figure is 1,4 & 5 dance round right while 2, 3 & 6 come into middle and dance left facing in. Set is formed up after one dance round when 2, 3 & 6dance round while 1,4 & 5 go in to meet Pay special attention to the large circle of three in the feathers figure. Remember to always turn out when going outside in feathers figure.
The Pheasant Plucker FU, R in 2, BB, R in 3, cast R in 2,WH R in 3,WR, IO A very vigorous dance with lots of rounds. Make sure that you keep with other pairs or triplet in hands around. Rounds are done in pairs, left hand first for two rotations then right hand. For round in threes No 3 moves to 1 and 2 while 4 moves to 5 and 6. Cast is danced by moving pair for all 6 bars.
Jockey up. Finishing dance, start in line facing up. Dance 6 bars, DIS, FU, FD, DITL, UIL dance off weaving Watch lines they are long and concentration is needed. This dance will often follow Figure Eight or the Alma.
Shambles (the Eynsham Stick Dance) FU, DIS, Walk Across, 1-stick, Hey x 2, Walk Across, 2-stick, Hey x 2, Walk Across, 3-stick, Hey x2, UIL The Walk Across is very pronounced, banging stick butt at each pace for 4 steps across and clash partner backhand on 5h then clash floor in front on 6th then turn to clash with partner tips forehand/backhand/forehand; then repeat whole process back to place. Sticking chorus (1, 2 or 3) with emphasised up-and-over clashing of next stick. Hey figure involves clashing either forehand or backhand with each person being passed; 5 & 6 start facing down into the hey Emphasis needed on stick banging while walking across the set. Exaggerated stick raising for sticking chorus. Clash in the air during Hey if not passing by someone!