Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

The Muxa Reel

In Scottish Country Dancing, The muxa reel is an elegant, but undeservedly rare, 16-bar Figure named after The axum reel which originated in the Strathspey, The Axum Reel. Just as The axum reel is a derivative of Parallel, Reverse reels of four in a 4 Couple, Longwise set, The muxa reel is a derivative of Parallel, conventional Reels of four; one Dancer in each Reel Exchanges places with a Dancer in the other Reel, a new pair Starting every two bars but taking four bars to complete the Exchange. The muxa reel follows exactly the same path as The axum reel but in the reverse direction, hence the name; it could be called the The reverse axum reel but The muxa reel is shorter and avoids having the name for a derivative Figure qualified by reverse when the basic Figure is not. The Travelling step appropriate to the tempo of the dance is used throughout.

The path of The muxa reel as shown in the diagram below has the Dancers as they Start the Figure at bar 9 of The Russian Fly; with these Starting Positions, the Dancers are already in the correct, evenly-spaced (in time) Positions of The muxa reel in the idealized form and so no initial adjustment of the repeated, two bar element of the Figure is required.

The Muxa Reel.
Arrow heads show the Positions of the Dancers at the end of the two bar phrase.
The emboldened line shows the modification to the paths of the Parallel Reels of four;
the medium-weight line shows those parts of the Parallel Reels of four which are unchanged.

Like the basic Reels of three or more, Schiehallion reels and many others, this Figure has all the Dancers on the same, overlapping path, spaced (in time) two bars apart. This means that, from each Position, the next two bars are a repetition of the previous two bars but performed by the Dancer who has just arrived there; as a corollary, an inexperienced Dancer need only know which Dancer s/he has to follow.

At the beginning of each two bar Phrase in the idealized form of The muxa reel, four Dancers are in 1st and 4th couple's Places, two are at the midpoint of the Reels just Outside the Men's and Ladies' Side lines and two are left shoulder to left shoulder on the Centre line between 2nd and 3rd Positions. Then, in detail, the full form of The muxa reel consists of:

Bars 1-2
Giving right shoulder to Start and Finishing Facing as did the Dancer who vacated that Place at the beginning of the 2-bar Phrase,
from 1st man's Place, as though in a Reel of four on the Men's Side line, Pass the approaching Dancer Finishing halfway between 2nd and 3rd man's Places and just Outside the Men's Side line Facing Down While
from 4th lady's Place, as though in a Reel of four on the Ladies' Side line, Pass the approaching Dancer Finishing halfway between 2nd and 3rd lady's Places and just Outside the Ladies' Side line Facing Up While
from 1st lady's Place, Pass the approaching Dancer and Dance Across the set Finishing on the Centre line Below 2nd Position While
from 4th man's Place, Pass the approaching Dancer and Dance Across the set Finishing on the Centre line Above 3rd Position, left shoulder to left shoulder with the Dancer from 1st lady's Place While
those Starting from the midpoint of the Reel just Outside the Men's and Ladies' Side lines continue on the path of that Reel of four Finishing at the End While
those Starting from the Centre line Dance Across the set Finishing at the right-hand End of the Reel which they are joining.

Bars 3-4
all repeat bars 1-2 from their new Positions;

Bars 5-6
all repeat bars 1-2 from their new Positions;

Bars 7-8
all repeat bars 1-2 from their new Positions;

Bars 9-10
all repeat bars 1-2 from their new Positions;

Bars 11-12
all repeat bars 1-2 from their new Positions;

Bars 13-14
all repeat bars 1-2 from their new Positions;

Bars 15-16
all repeat bars 1-2 from their new Positions, finishing as at the beginning of bar 1.

At the end of the half form, all are diagonally opposite their Starting Positions.

Since The muxa reel is a modification of Parallel, Reels of four on the Sides, one would expect each Dancer to follow an unmodified path so far as is possible. Those leaving 1st man's Place and 4th lady's Place cannot for 4 bars because they are Crossing The set to take up the other's Position in the other Reel of four; in any 2-bar Phrase, the remaining four Dancers should follow the unmodified path, precisely.

The Phrasing is not quite as even as in the basic Reel of four. For example: from 1st man's Place, the tempo is as in the basic Reel for four bars; from 4th man's Place, which that Dancer has by then reached, the path is slightly longer for the next four bars and so the pace must be slightly quicker. Essentially, it is the emboldened part of the path in the diagram above which requires the higher speed.

Note that The muxa reel could be described as having a path joining 1st lady's, 2nd man's, 1st man's, 3rd man's, 4th man's, 3rd lady's, 4th lady's and 2nd lady's Places and then back to 1st lady's Place again. Although this is a useful and quite accurate description of the path, it is not correct to imply that each of these segments should take two bars; as is clear from the diagram below for The axum reel which is closely similar, that would result in grossly uneven Phrasing since, for example, the distance along the path from 1st lady's to 2nd man's Place is more than twice that from 2nd man's to 1st man's Place.

It is likely that, in some future implementations, the Dancers will Start from Places in the Side lines; if so, an initial two bars of adjustment will be required, similar to that shown in the diagram below for The axum reel. A final two bars of adjustment will also be required if they are to Finish in their Starting Places.

The Axum Reel, Bars 1-2.
Arrow heads show the Positions of the Dancers at the end of bar 2.
An unshaded symbol shows the position of the Dancer in the Reverse reels of four and in The axum reel;
a lightly shaded symbol shows the position of the Dancer in the Reverse reels of four which does not also occur in The axum reel;
heavily shaded symbols show the initial Positions, in the sidelines, of those Dancers who are not in the ideal Starting Positions for either form of Reel.
The emboldened line shows the modification to the paths of the Parallel, Reverse reels of four;
the medium-weight line shows those parts of the Parallel, Reverse reels of four which are unchanged;
the broken line shows the adjustment required in the first two bars to get the Dancers to their evenly-spaced (in time) Positions; this adjustment is exactly as that required in the basic Reverse reels of four.


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