The annotated La Chapelloise

You can consider La Chapelloise as the French version of the Gay Gordons; you dance in a circle, sometimes forwards, sometimes reversing, watching out for your toes, changing partners. A really rather lively dance and a very good way to get to know everybody...

The Dance

You need a partner, you'll dance with them the first time through and maybe get to see them again sometime later, and you join in what should become a large circle on the dancefloor. If you are dancing the 'man's role', you'll head to the inside of the circle and you are both facing anti-clockwise round the room. That fits, the 'man' has his lady on the right hand side as is the normal way of doing things and you are looking at the back of the heads of the couple in front of you...

A: Three steps forward round this circle....

.... The music gives you 'four steps', so sometimes you see writeups that say take four steps round the circle, however you need the time to turn. You turn individually not as a couple, letting go of your 'inside hands', turning halfway so you are looking back the way you came, and finding the hand of your partner again
  • ... and turn on the fourth step

You are not changing direction you are moving even through you've turned round. You continue with four steps backwards and you've found your partner's hand again....

Now you can change direction and head back where you came...

  • Forward again....
  • .... as before, three steps forward and turn on the fourth .... there's a variation possible here
  • Again, you are not changing direction - you continue four steps backwards

Leave a little gap between you at the end of this movement - you are going to need that space to spring sideways into....

B: Spring together, apart and cross over....

You are side-by-side, facing anti-clockwise, with a gap between you and there's just a little tension in your arms as you are going to...

  • Spring sideways, lightly and delicately together... make it close but not onto any toes.
  • Spring sideways apart again, not letting go of hands...
  • Spring together again but with the aim of changing places, the man 'slips' sideways to the outside of the circle and but holds his left hand out for the lady to catch hold of as...
  • The lady does a full turn while getting to the inside of the set; it's more of a spin, letting go of the man's right hand while passing and grabbing the offered left...

You are a little way apart again, facing anti-clockwise, with the lady on the inside and the man on the outside...

  • Spring lightly together and apart again, still not letting go of hands...
  • The man lifts his arm to make an arch and turns toward the inside of the circle...
  • The lady ducks under the arch, well she's making half the arch with her right arm, and steps out to the outside of the circle.
    .. and the man continues into the inside of the circle.

You are moving into the other person's place except that you are dancing with a different person, (it's mixer) the lady moving back one place round the circle, and the man looking for the 'next' lady.

You still facing anti-clockwise, man on the inside, new partner on the outside and you start again...

Variations

There's a flourish possible on the turn when heading back, the man lifts his arm when taking the ladies right hand and lets her turn clockwise underneath. This leaves you nicely in place for the spring together...

More information: The Music...

It's done to 16 bar jigs, all quite light, quick and snappy. The sort of thing that keeps you on your toes...

  • You might find bands who play with a heavy arrangement on the beat. If you find yourself marching during the A music, the band may be leading you astray.... (A good thing to remember if you are looking through YouTube for videos of the dance)

See also...

The French Wikipedia entry, Chapelloise, flags it as originally Scandi with the name Aleman's Marsj (Allemannsmarsj), becoming La Chapelle-des-Bois when arriving in France in the 1930's, and La Chapelloise in the 1970's

In contrast, the German Wikipedia (and the English entry has followed this), flags it as being brought from the US to Scandinavia (and being given the name All American Promenade, or APP), with it originially deriving from the Gay Gordons.

  • Called Gigue in Belgium, and Xampanya in the Catalan region, the latter being to 32 (rather than 16) bars and has the movements doubled (so it has two A's, and the spring together and apart happens three times before the lady ducks under the arch)

Occasionally appears as the Progressive Gay Gordons. The moves are the same but you'd dance the A part with left hands, hand in hand, in front of you and the man holding his right arm up as if to rest his hand on the woman's right shoulder but really she has her right hand there and he is holding that (described as a Varsouvienne hold)