Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

Snakes And Ladders (Downey)

Scottish Country Dance Instruction

Snakes And Ladders 32 bar Strathspey for 4 couples Rod Downey The Golden Bear Collection
A 32 bar Strathspey for 4 couples in a longwise set.

1-4 All take hands and advance and retire.
5-8 1C and 2C, 3C and 4C set and link. 1M and 4W finish facing out.
9-12 All dance a modified LS snake pass (perhaps "Python Pass"). To wit, describing for first and second couples, the other couples are analogous, but dance up the ladies side. 2C follow the track of 1C (keeping it square-ish to define the figure although it makes sense for the trailing couples to dance more inside of the set), and 1L following 1M, 1M dances down the men's side, outside of the 3C and 4C, across below 4th place, across to 4th ladies position, up one place on the ladies side and then across to 3M's place and face out. At the end of bar 12 1C will be in 3rd place and 2C in 4th; with 3C in first place and 4C in second.
13-16 Repeat the modified snake pass but with the right shoulder, and this time 1C dance up.
17-24 Reels of four in the sides, 1C giving RS to 2C, and 4C right shoulder to 3C.
25-28 1C, 4C turn LH 1½ times.
29-32 1C, 3C turn RH once.

(Dance crib compiled by the deviser Rod Downey, Johnsonville SCD Club Tutor)

Dance Notes

Having now taught this dance I moved it from the beginning of the book (easier dances) to late in the book (harder dances).

The central figure seems hard for people to visualize, and requires strong steps. I would practice the figures for all couples. This makes the dance quite fragile.

Also the dancers must ensure that they finish the reels by the end of bar 24 before the 1½ turns.

(Dance notes by the deviser, Rod Downey)

Dance Information

Also see the dance Snakes And Ladders (Murray) by Evelyn Murray.

This strathspey, Snakes And Ladders (Downey), was devised on 8/4/2020, whilst at home in Lockdown for Covid-19, and following a long discussion on the Snake Pass movement on the Strathspey mailing list.

The recommended tune is "Donald Maclean's Farewell to Oban" by Archibald McNeill and a good recording is for the lead tune of "Leaving Benbecula" in the "Craigievar Dances" by Nicol McLaren and The Glencraig Scottish Dance Band.

Acceptable alternative tune is Miss Janet Laing's Strathspey by Nan Main, and David's Cunningham's recording for Book 22 is a good recording.

Else choose a traditional Strathspey which is steady and has well-defined 4 bar phrases.

(Dance information from The Golden Bear Collection Of Scottish Country Dances, reproduced here with the kind permission of the deviser, Rod Downey)

Snakes and ladders is a board game for two or more players regarded today as a worldwide classic, which originated in ancient India as Moksha Patam, and was brought to the UK in the 1890s.

It is played on a game board with numbered, gridded squares. A number of "ladders" and "snakes" are pictured on the board, each connecting two specific board squares. The object of the game is to navigate one's game piece, according to die rolls, from the start (bottom square) to the finish (top square), helped by climbing ladders but hindered by falling down snakes.

The game is a simple race based on sheer luck, and it is popular with young children. The historic version had its roots in morality lessons, on which a player's progression up the board represented a life journey complicated by virtues (ladders) and vices (snakes).

Snakes And Ladders
Snakes And Ladders

Published in The Golden Bear Collection, reproduced here with the kind permission of the deviser, Rod Downey.
Dance information licensed under this Creative Commons Licence 3.0.
Text from this original Snakes And Ladders article on Wikipedia.
Image copyright Auckland Museum, Creative Commons Licence 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

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