So You Think You Can Dance?

Rachel and I have spent the past few weeks observing, participating in, and researching Contra Dance. With all of our posts we thought it would be fun to show how to do some of the more basic Contra Dancing moves, called figures. Here we will show you four figures: Allemande, Do-Si-Do, Balance, and Swing.


An allemande requires two dancers. The dancers stand next to one another about 3 feet apart facing opposite directions. The two dancers then put their palms together and both walk forward while keeping their palms together. This results in the pair walking in a circle. The pair will use either their left or right hand depending on whether it is a left or right allemande.

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A Do-Si-Do also requires two dancers. The pair start facing each other but offset. Both partners then take a step forward, then sideways, then backwards, then sideways again to return to their original position.

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The balance requires two people as well. To do a balance the pair starts facing each other with both hands joined. To start the balance, the dancers take a small step  towards each other. Then the dancers step back and lean away from each other.

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The Swing also requires two dancers. For a swing there is a male and female role. Often females will play the male role and vice versa depending on the number of males and females at the dance. The partners face each other. The male puts his right hand on the left hip of the female, while the female places her left hand on the male’s right shoulder. The free hands are clasped. The partners are slightly offset. To start the swing both partners move forward. Because of the way the dancers are holding each other this results in a circular movement. The swing can be done as slowly or as quickly as the dancers desire.

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