Ninepins as called by Ted Sannella

First off-topic post — squares. But far from the last.

One of many projects that I’ve been working all-too-slowly on is helping with the reconstruction of the 1988 Ralph Page Legacy Weekend syllabus. Tapes of many of the sessions have been discovered — I’ve been transcribing some, and filling in gaps for the untranscribed. One of the most interesting dances, which probably won’t be put in verbatim in the final syllabus, is Ted Sannella’s interpretation of Ninepins.

Ninepins is a fairly stock traditional dance, a square with a fifth man in the middle, where there’s a bit of partner changing and silliness. But take a gander at where Ted takes the concept:


The Walkthrough

“Okay, keep your sets please. And could (we) have an extra man in the middle of every square? .. Extra man in the middle of every square. Ralph Page loved to do a Ninepin, and that’s what we’re going to do now.”

“Okay, now do we have any set without an extra man in the middle? Every set has five gentlemen and four ladies — okay? Well. What a situation. We have five gentlemen vying for the attention for four ladies. What could be better, ladies? The object of this, in case you’ve never danced a Ninepin before — it’s sort of halfway between a dance and a game — is to get a partner, ladies, and hold him as long as you can, and stay within the figures that are called. And gentlemen, you try to avoid being in the center. You try and avoid being in the center.”

“Now, for instance, let’s just do a for instance. Allemande left your corner …. right to your partner, grand right and left. Get in there, ninepin. Give your hand to somebody and get into the grand right and left. Keep going, keep going, keep going, Swing! Promenade, promenade to the ladies place. To the ladies place. And if you’re slow, you probably are the new ninepin. Either you’re slow or you’re unlucky. Okay. Great. Okay.”

“Let’s go back to original places and give everybody equal share. (Unintelligible.) Let’s get the original ninepin in the middle. As Ralph used to say, ‘Most anything is fair in this dance.’ Be polite, but don’t be non-aggressive. That’s not a contradiction. Okay.”

“And the promenade will always be to the lady’s place. The promenade will always be to the lady’s place. Ralph always said that you can always tell during his dance who the married people were. They didn’t have any trouble getting partners.”

“Square your sets. The dance itself is sort of made up as I go along.”


The Calls

" - Bow to your partner. - Bow to your corner.
Bow to the ninepin, all the way around - - - -
First lady swing the ninepin - - - -
- - - - Second lady swing the ninepin
- - - - Third lady swing the ninepin
- - - - Fourth lady swing the ninepin
- - - - - Keep swinging -
- - - and everybody promenade - -

How about that? Did we get a new ninepin already? - - - -
- - - - To the lady's place. Heads go forward
and back - - Side ladies forward and back
- - - - - head ladies chain
Go ahead ninepin, grab one of them - -  chain 'em back
- - - - - side ladies chain
- - - - - chain 'em back, don't let them get away
- - - - swing your corner - -

- - - - Next corner allemande left
- - - promenade.. that person - -
- - - - - to the lady's place -
- - - - head couples forward and back
Side couples forward and back. Head couples right and left through
Sides right and left through. Heads right and left through
Side couples right and left through. - - Head ladies chain.
- - Side ladies chain - - Head ladies chain

Side ladies chain - - Heads go forward and back
- - - - Swing your corner - -
- - - - Swing your next corner -
- - - - Promenade - -
- - Ninepin to the middle this time - - -
- - - - Allemande left on the corner
And right to your own. Grand right and left, everybody,Everybody go round the land.
Keep going, keep going, keep going, keep going, keep going

Keep going ... Swing! Swing! Swing! Swing! - -
- - - - Promenade, now promenade all.
- - - - - - - -
- - - - - - Ladies to the center and back
- - - - - - Gents to the center and back
- - Ladies to the center and circle around the ninepin
- - - - - - - -
And the other way back, the other way back - Swing! Swing! -

- - - - - - - -
- - - - Promenade - Promenade all
- - - - - - - -
- - - - - Gents to the center and back
- - - - - Ladies to the center and back
- - - - Gents to the center and circle
five, circle five to the left - - and the other way
back, the other way back. - - Swing! Swing! -

- - - - - - - -
- - - And take your corner, promenade your corner
- - - - - - - -
- - - - Allemande left your corner
And a right to your own, grand right and left - - - -
- - - Swing - - - -
- - - - Now swing your corner - -
- - - - Next corner allemande left

Go once and a half around, swing the next corner. - -
- - - - - -  Swing the opposite
lady across from you - - - - -
- - And promenade your corner - -
- - - - - - - -
- - - - - Now ladies to the center
- - and back. And gents to the center with a right-hand star.
Five hands right-hand star, - - and a left hands back.

- - Keep the star, pick up a lady with an arm around
- - - - - - - -
- - Now the inside out and the outside in, reverse that star
- - - - - - - -
And the inside out and the outside in, the other way back - -
- - - - And the ladies roll back one
- - - - Keep the star going - -
- - - - And the ladies roll back two

- - - - - - - -
- - - - Now the gents back out with a double turn
Go two and a half times - - - - -
- - The ladies are in, the ladies are in - -
- - - - - - - And the ladies back out
We've got a double turn, go twice and a half - - - -
- - - - - - - -
And the ladies roll back once - - - - -

Now swing that lady behind you - - - -
- - - - Promenade, promenade all
to the ladies place - - - - - -
- - - - All join hands and circle around
the ninepin - - - Get closer, closer, closer, -
closer, closer, closer - Swing! Swing! Swing!
- - - - - - - -
- - And promenade your corner - - -

- - - - - - - -
- - - - Allemande left your corner -
Allemande right with your partner - Allemande left on the corner
- Right to your partner, grand right and left around the ring.
- - - - - - Keep going, -
keep going - - Keep going, - - keep going -
Keep going - , swing the next - - - -
- - - - - - and promenade

Promenade, around you go, promenade and don't be slow
- - - - All join hands, go into the middle
- - - - - - And one more time
- - - - And swing your partner, swing with your own
- - And somebody swing the ninepin also! - -
- - - - And promenade. Now you know where
and I don't care - - - - - -
And take that lady off the floor and thank him too."
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