A Barn Dance Repertoire
by Thomas Green
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A Year in the Life of a Penguin

Author:  Thomas Green
Formation: Set dance, 5 or 6 couples, fun dance
Difficulty:  1
Style:  English
For 5 (or 6) couples in a ring, partners side by side.  Start by numbering the couples, and warn them to remember their numbers because they'll be in a different order next time.  It doesn't matter where couples find themselves in the circle as long as they know when it's their turn.

Penguins have four seasons in their year, as follows.

A1: Courtship : 1's strut across the ring and back, bisecting it into two pairs of couples.  (In a 6-couple set, the 1s and one of the couples beside them - whichever one feels that its turn has come.) As they go they do penguin courting, whatever they think that might be - any suitable struts or gestures or penguinish pecks and cooing.  Meanwhile the two couples on each side do a four hand reel as fast as they can.  (If a reel is too hard, do something else! Star right and left or a Lady Penguins' (Henguins?) Chain).
A2: Rushing For Nests: with your partner, but with couples in any old order, everybody form a ring and squeeze in for 4 steps, out for 4 steps, in again, and stamp twice (that's your nest).
B1: Mating: Everyone face your partner and do penguin balances: 8 short quick jumps, feet together, left and right (i.e.  twice the speed of the usual balance); then swing your partner.
B2: Surviving the Winter: huddle into a compact group, ones outside pushing their way in and ones inside shuffling along to let them (possibly grudgingly).

Then reform the ring and 2s become the active couple, wherever they happen to be in the ring.

It's an exceedingly squashy, huddled-up dance during the B section.  A dance for an exuberant crowd.  I have been known to award prizes for the best penguin courtship display in A1 (Penguin biscuits, naturally).

Music:  jigs or reels