Running Set

Rights and Lefts perform Kentucky Running Set which is a form of dance collected in the Appalachians by Cecil Sharp. Subsequently other collectors found more figures and over the years more have been written. To the locals it was just dancing, Sharp named it “Running Set”, possibly from the term “to run a set”, which meant to dance the figure through for each couple in turn. A running step is not used, in fact a brisk, smooth walking step is employed; Sharp said that the dancers appeared to glide as if on wheels. Nowadays Running Set is danced mainly in square sets, but some figures can be danced in “Big Set”, which is similar to Sicilian Circle.

Running Set differs from most other folk dance forms in that there are no courtesy movements and also it is unphrased. In Running Set there are no set dances, just a lot of figures.

In 2006 and 2007 I was the tutor for the Running Set workshops at Whitby Folk Week. Burt Hunter was among my ‘students’ and afterwards he asked if I would teach a group he was hoping to form, I agreed and that was the basis of the group we have today.  After a while, we decided to perform in public and so needed a name. At that time we had four couples and one day we discovered that all four women were right-handed and all four men were left-handed. As “Rights and Lefts” is a chorus figure in Running Set, it seemed a good choice for our name. Later a fifth couple joined us, and yes, she is right-handed and he is left-handed. You can calculate the odds if you want!

Over the years I have collected figures from various sources, you can get them as a Word file or as a PDF. They are sized to print on A6 cards.

You may find this Index useful

You can see Rights & Lefts dancing here.

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