Cornish Folk Tradition: Songs Music Dance and Associated Customs
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Cornish Dance:Six Hand Reel / Plethen a Hwegh

The six hand reel recorded below is a working example of the 'folk process' in action. Roger Harrison had seen this version called the ‘Cornish Six’ called at Barn Dances and folk dance clubs throughout Britain as well as in Cornwall. He first saw it called at the Wadebridge Folk Weekend in the mid seventies. It was sometimes called 'the Cornish Way' an interesting pun as the Cornish for six is 'Hwegh'. A number of attempts were made to track down its source but met with no success, until a chance meeting with John Searle, a folk dance caller living just outside Truro, provided the answer. He had composed the dance in the fifties and noted with interest the different variations as they returned to him!

A “six hand reel” appears several times in the records of Cornish dance but never with any detail. It was noted by Sharp from Mr Luke in connection with the Grampound furry dance in 1913, the recorder of Looe Old Cornwall Society identified it as one of the dances performed at the West Looe May fair and there is a reference in the Cornish Magazine to six hand reels and other old fashioned dances being done until the fiddler was unable to hold his bow by the end of the evening.

Formation:The dance begins with three couples in a line, lady on gentleman's right.
Steps 'One two three hop' step throughout. Sorn-Howlek
Bars  
1-5 All take four steps forward
5-6 All take one step to right and one to left.
7-8 Drop hands and turn half way round to face in the opposite direction.
9-14 Repeat bars 1 – 6.
15-16 Turn to face partners (remaining in a line).
11-32 Reel of six, on the last bar the gentlemen turn the ladies under their right arm to form a long ways set.
33-36 Right hand turn with partner.
37-40 Left hand turn with partner.
41-44 'Do si do' with partner.
45-48 Two hand turn with partner.
49-56 Head Couple down centre and back.
57-60 Head cast to bottom, all follow.
61-64 Head couple form an arch, all dance through to finish in line.
  Repeat twice more
  Tune: Sorn Howlek / Sunny Corner Any 32 bar reel played twice, or 64 bar reel would be suitable but this dance does provide an opportunity to use popular Tea Treat tunes of the late 19th Century and suggested tunes is Kornel Howlyek / Sunny corner from Dunstan’s collection of Tea Treat tunes. Midi
     
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