KERRY POLKA SETS, Revised Version

Fast polka sets from Ireland

These are contemporary Kerry Sets, in the tradition of the continually evolving Ceili dances at San Francisco Bay Area pubs.

Formation:  Four couples in a square, taking closed dance 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 ("balance"), polka step back to place turning CW one-quarter (2 bars), then a full turning polka to progress to the next place to the right (2 bars).  Repeat for a total of four times.

Done in a small compact set, almost touching the other couples when you balance inward.  Some couples throw their inner arms into the air when they balance back.

Figure 1

Head couples turning polka in toward center, as if to cross over (2 bars).  The gent only travels 1/3 of the way across (not halfway), releases his partner toward his right side on the second bar, to place his partner into the arms of the opposite gent.  Turning polka home with a new partner (2 bars).  The ladies therefore cross over to the opposite side with 4 turning polkas, ending with their opposite partner.

Side couples do the figure.

Heads repeat then sides repeat, to return to original partners and places.

The Body

Figure 2

Grand Star:  All 4 gents Star Left (left handshake with opposite man) promenading with their partners in their right arms, traveling forward with 3 polka steps;  Gents 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, to places, for 8 bars.

The Body

Figure 3

Side couples separate from partners with the gents backing up slightly to the center of the set as their partners back up away from the center, with 2 polka steps, then side couples advance to their partners with 2 polka steps and take closed dance position.
At the same time, head couples polka halfway across the set into the opposite head positon with 4 turning polka steps, passing between the separated side couples.

Heads then separate as sides cross over.

Repeat both parts to return to original places.

The Body

Repeat all three figures, without repeating the first Body.

Reconstruction and choreography of figures 1 and 2 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.  Figure 3 was choreographed by Melissa Enge.

Here is our original third figure, for those who want to know it:

Original 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.

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