Fast polka sets from Ireland

Formation:  Four couples in a square, taking closed waltz position with partners.

The polka step is a fairly smooth leaping two-step, without a preliminary hop, but there are many regional style variations, and a traveling pas de basque in polka time is also seen on occasion.

The Body
Polka step leaning into the center, polka step back to place, full turning polka to progress to the next place to the right.  Repeat for a total of four times.
Done in a small, compacted set, almost touching the other couples when you balance inward.

Figure 1
Head couples turning polka in toward center (2 bars) then the man flings his partner into the arms of the opposite man.  Turning polka home with a new partner.  Side couples do the figure.  Heads then sides repeat, to get your partner back.

The Body

Figure 2
Grand Star:  All 4 men Star Left (left handshake with opposite man) promenading w/ partners in their R arms, traveling forward with 3 polka steps;  Men back out and ladies wheel in on the 4th polka;  Ladies Star Right home (right handshake with opposite lady) still in the arm of their promenading partners.  Ladies wheel out on the 4th polka.  All couples polka around the set for 8 bars.

The Body

Figure 3
All 4 ladies Grand Chain across by giving Right Hand Star in the middle, to cross over to the opposite man (2 bars).  Forearm-turn your opposite partner (2 bars).  Ladies Grand Chain home (Right Hand Star in the middle - 2 bars).  Men give left hand to your original partner and hold L hands high, letting ladies pass behind his back (2 bars).  At the last moment, lower L hands to take right-in-right hands, crossed over left-in-left hands.  In this crossed-hand position, do a turning polka all the way around the set for 8 bars.

The Body

Repeat all three figures.

Reconstruction and choreography by Richard Powers, based on what he observed and danced in Ireland, supplemented with polka set descriptions by Larry Lynch, Tracey Powers, Pat Murphy and others.

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