The annotated New Mrs Arrowsmith

An architypal eCeilidh dance; loads of movement, loads of room for improvisation. The original dance was for 32 bar hornpipes but there is a variation which works for 48 bars.

The Dance ...

It's a square set, four couples arranged with one with their back to the band and one facing them (they are the head couples) and couples looking across the room (they are the side couples)


Head couples join hands.

  • Head couples join hands and dance forward towards each other and back.
  • Dance forward each other again, drop hands with their partner and turn to dance with their 'opposite', out under the arms of the side couples. (The 'opposite' is the person who was dancing towards you...). Cast out and back to place.


The side couples do the same:

  • Dance towards each other and back, dance towards each other, cast out under the arms of the head couples and back to place


The second part of the dance is a Moving star, something more complicated to describe than do...

  • The women dance forward and do a Right Hand Star, going just three quarters of the way round. They then hold their left hand out to do a left hand turn with...
    • This would be with a different man except that the men cast out and dance a quarter of the way clockwise round the outside of the set.
    • The women are moving clockwise in the Right Hand Star and the men are moving anticlockwise...
    ... so the left hand turn is with your partner.
  • The women go back into the middle for another 3/4 Right Hand Star, the men cast again and move their 1/4 and they meet their partner with a left hand turn again.
  • Ditto for the third and fourth times and everyone is back to their places.

If you feel you are drawing lines on the floor rather like a spirograph, you are probably getting it right. Everybody is moving all the time and and you just have to trust that, as you head to your place, your partner will also be magically heading towards it.

For the men, when you are doing the left hand turn with your partner and have made sure they are heading into their right hand star, you are naturally turning for the cast out. It is angular momentum. It just flows. Enjoy it :-)

And then once you've got the figure right, you can start throwing in some variations.

Variations: Mixing it...

The dance lends itself to variations. It is possible, depending on the music to have deliberately short forward and back in the A1, just go one bar in and one back, then you have time to squeeze in a swing when you get back home. (Quite possible to the Chalktown tune, maybe not for others...)

An alternative is to do a right and left through (in the place of the forward and back)

Swapping places

In the Moving Star, in the left hand turn, instead of the man putting the woman back into the star, turn a little faster, go one-and-a-half times round and swap places. It is then the man who puts his right hand into the star and the woman does the cast round to the left.

The 48 bar version ...

For the 48 bar variation (from Fee Lock), there is a grand chain at the beginning with the rest of the dance the same. 48 bar tunes have A, B and C parts.


  • Grand chain halfway round and a swing with your partner, continue the grand chain to get back home. If you've danced Joe Taylor's Hornpipe, you'll have met the Grand Chain


  • Heads step in, & out for 4, split. Cast back and out, round through the sides' arches (as described above)
  • Sides do the same.


  • Ladies' star chain 3/4 way while men cast back round 1 place to meet their partners. Repeat to home.

More information: Origins...

  • Composed by Gordon Potts in 2000, calling for Hekety.
    Richard Arrowsmith had got married to Jess Gleaves and Jess graciously let Gordon borrow her new name for the dance


  • Chalktown's Clint and Long Sutton Flood (for a very relaxed 32 Bar version)
  • Whapweasel's JWJ (32 Bar)
  • Ticked Pink's Strawberry-flavoured Hornpipe (32 Bar)
  • Peeping Tom's Dumb Post and Skylark (32 Bar)
  • Asha's A Fistful of Garlic, Pete Lockwood (48 bar)

See also...