Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

Pelorus Jack

Scottish Country Dance Instruction

PELORUS JACK (J8x32) 3C (4C set) Barry Skelton RSCDS Book 41

1- 8 1s cross RH and cast 1 place (2s step up 3-4), 1s dance RH across with 3s. 1s end with Man facing his 1st corner with his partner behind him
9-16 1s dance Alternating Tandem ½ reel of 3 with 1st corners to face Man's 2nd corner, 1s dance Alternating Tandem ½ reel of 3 with 2nd corners
17-24 1s dance Alternating Tandem ½ reels of 3 with Ladies' 1st corner (pstn), 1s dance Alternating Tandem ½ reel with Ladies' 2nd corner (pstn)
25-32 1M followed by partner dance into LH across with 2s, 1s retain LH and ½ turn to own sides and 2s+1s+3s set

(MINICRIB. Dance crib compiled by Charles Upton, Deeside Caledonian Society, and his successors)

Pelorus Jack
Barry Skelton RSCDS Book 41
Jig 8 x 32 bars 3 Couple Repeat 4 Couple Set Longwise Set

  1-4   1s cross by the right and cast;

  5-8   1s3s right hands across, finishing with 1M, followed by 1L, facing 1M's first corner;

  9-10 1s (as one person) giving right shoulders, dance the first half of a half diagonal reel of 3 with first corners, 1M making a large loop so that 1L can overtake him, finishing both facing inwards;

11-12 1s (as one person) dance the second half of the half diagonal reel of 3 with 1L leading, finishing facing 1M's second corner;

13-16 repeat bars 9-12 with second corners and with 1L leading and making a large loop so that 1M can overtake her, finishing facing 1L's first corner position;

17-20 repeat bars 9-12 with 1L's first corner position, finishing facing 1L's second corner position;

21-24 repeat bars 13-16 with 1L's second corner position, finishing with 1M leading;

25-28 2s1s left hands across;

29-30 1s turn by the left to own sides, finishing in 2nd place;

31-32 2s1s3s set on the sides.

(MAXICRIB. Scottish country dancing instructions compiled by Reuben Freemantle)

Keith Rose's Crib Diagrams

Dance Instruction Videos

Pelorus Jack - Scottish Country Dancing Instruction Video

Dance Information

This dance, Pelorus Jack, was named after a Risso's dolphin that was famous for meeting and escorting ships through a stretch of water in the Marlborough Sounds, nearby Pelorus Sound, near Cook Strait, New Zealand, between 1888 and 1912.

Pelorus Jack was usually spotted in Admiralty Bay between Cape Francis and Collinet Point, near French Pass, a channel used by ships travelling between Wellington and Nelson.

This dance features a set of alternating tandem half-reels (or heys) where two people act as one but swap who leads at the reel ends, this has now become known as a Dolphin Reel.

Pelorus Jack was approximately 13 feet (4 m) long and was of a white color with grey lines or shadings, and a round, white head. Although its sex was never determined, it was identified from photographs as a very uncommon species in New Zealand waters, Risso's dolphin, Grampus Griseus.

Pelorus Jack was first seen around 1888 when it appeared in front of the schooner Brindle when the ship approached French Pass, a channel located between D'Urville Island and the South Island. When the members of the crew saw the dolphin bobbing up and down in front of the ship, they wanted to kill him, but the captain's wife talked them out of it. To their amazement, the dolphin then proceeded to guide the ship through the narrow channel. And for years thereafter, he safely guided almost every ship that came by. With rocks and strong currents, the area is dangerous to ships, but no shipwrecks occurred when Jack was present.

In 1904, someone aboard the SS Penguin tried to shoot Pelorus Jack. Despite the attempt on his life, Pelorus Jack continued to help ships. According to folklore, however, he no longer helped the Penguin, which shipwrecked in Cook Strait in 1909.

Following the shooting incident, he became protected by Order In Council under the Sea Fisheries Act on 26 September 1904. It is believed that Pelorus Jack was the first individual sea creature protected by law in any country.

Jack was last seen in April 1912. There were various rumours connected to his disappearance, including fears that foreign whalers might have harpooned him. However, research suggests that Pelorus Jack was an old animal; his head was white and his body pale, both indications of age, so it is likely that he died of natural causes.

A chocolate bar was named after Pelorus Jack and he is also the subject of a number of Pelorus Jack - Songs.

A famous fish there used to be, called Pelorus Jack
He'd always swim far out to sea, when a ship came back...
(P. Cole)

Oh Pelorus Jack, he did his best,
to keep mankind on his side...
(J. Donoghue)

There is also a piece of music named Pelorus Jack, a March by Alexander Owen, written for Besses during the Bands first World Tour (1906-1907).

Pelorus Jack has also featured in many publications, including the cover of the Christmas issue of the 1910 London News, and in 1911 James Cowan wrote a book about him.

Barry Skelton's Introduction To Pelorus Jack - Information Video

Pelorus Jack, The Dolphin - Information Video

Risso's Dolphins - Information Video

Pelorus Jack - Risso's dolphin making waves, black and white, 1911
Pelorus Jack, Photo Taken By Capt. C. F. Post, Of The N.Z. Govt. SS Tutanekai, 1911

Pelorus Jack - Risso's Dolphin
Risso's Dolphin Like Pelorus Jack

Dance information licensed under this Creative Commons Licence 3.0.
Text from this original Pelorus Jack article on Wikipedia.
Text from this original Risso's Dolphin article on Wikipedia.
Upper image copyright original uploader Neil916 at English Wikipedia. (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
Lower image copyright Mike Baird.

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