Form couples in
No Bordonian dance has had greater repercussions abroad or at home.
On repercussions abroad, the polka was glimpsed, if not totally cannabilised, by many 19th European and American dancing masters. The opening foot work of each Part, though too outlandish to be done quiet like that in polite ballrooms elsewhere, does seem to be echoed in dances such as Zulma Oriental. Part I’s 2 galops and 3 polka turns was later echoed in the Esmeralda II variant and the drop to the knee of Part I is echoed in many cotillion and mazurka figures. Part II’s coup de talon were echoed in the Polish Galop recorded by Gilbert in 1888, while the reversing of each other and the W fleeing is echoed in ‘The Pursuit’ and ‘The Coquet’ – two polkas found in many late 19th century manuals.
On the repercussions at home, there is no dance, indeed no issue of any kind, that has caused more civil dissention, communal division and brought the Bordonians closer to civil war, than the Bordonian National Polka. There was never any disagreement over figures or music. The figures were danced identically in both Nenjira centred west Bordonia and Dudelsac centred east Bordonia, and the dance went equally well to regular length hurdy-gurdy or bagpipe polkas. Everyone agreed on the dance origin and purpose. Though the primary record was long since lost, all agree it was composed in neither the eastern or western end of the valley, but in the capital Terpsichore, by the mid-19th century dancing master Jan D’Honger, at a time when Bordonians were some at risk of loosing their own identity, as foreign political, economic and dance influence started to capture different section of the Bordonian lands and different sectors of Bordonian society. And unify Bordonians it did, filling folk from all walks of life
and all corners of the valley with an enormous sense of common purpose and togetherness, until … people started to argue over which part came first. The good news was that the divide on this issue did not correspond to any geographic, religious or social divide, so the growing contempt people had for those of a contrary opinion did not quickly translate into open warfare, but the bad news was that the dance divided members of the same town district, same village, same workplace, same dance school, same family, and the soon families were splitting, dance schools breaking in two, workplaces becoming dysfunctional and a large sector of the population found themselves on the move. But where were they to move to? A resolution had to be found, and it was decided it would be in the form of a competition to decide once and for all which order of parts worked best – a competition in the form of a dance off. Angry, displaced and aggrieved folk from all over Bordonia descended on the capital, and those who could not squeeze into one side or other of the palace ballroom took to one side or other of the cities central square. In both venues musicians converged on a medley of polka tunes equally suited to the abundant bagpipes and hurdy-gurdies – with the other string and reed players all prepared to play along. When it came to the appointed hour to commence, everyone realised one matter had remained unresolved, who should go first. By that stage however, it was too late. The musicians inside and outside the palace started playing and everyone started dancing the polka in the order they preferred. Dancers almost immediately started bumping into each other. Those dancing the Part II 3 slides bowling over those doing the second Part I point and tap. Those dancing the Part II pursuit were reversing into those doing the Part I kneeling man, those doing the final Part I pivot were skittling those doing the final Part II assemble and fouette. By a third of the way through the set, however, something miraculous started to happen. Dancers started to enjoy the challenge of avoiding each other, and were taking pleasure in doing the chasing coquette around those doing the genuflection, and were enjoying the syncopations resulting from the rising sounds of overlapping steps. In the last third of the dance, people were so enjoying the ordered chaos that they were adding to it by break from doing the bended knee of Part I to chase a passing lady doing the coquette in Part II, and men who should have been pursuing a lady were dropping to their knee before women preparing to orbit someone else. So much fun was had that the overlapping of the two parts became the most requested form for the dance at subsequent balls, and out of this near disaster the Bordonian National Polka was born anew as a unifying force. Years later, when a learned council, considering new manuscript evidence that had come to life, quietly published their findings that Jan D’Honger had originally intended Part I and Part II should be as presented here above, no-one was interested. People at balls were positively disappointed if there were not equal numbers of Part I and Part II starters. Harmony had been restored and the issue was dead.
Has anyone noticed, however, how some people do the final stamp at the end of Part II with two feet and some with one foot? I’ve recently sought the view of some émigré Bordonians on this and they seem to disagree over which is preferable.
(for full instructions, music etc, see Odd Delights)
Form couples in ballroom hold.
Start outside foot, M’s l.f. W r.f.
Dance as many times as will.
Play any 32 bar polka or galop set., but particularly appropriate may be Charles Godfrey’s wonderful 1871/2 ‘The Wind-up Galop’, reproduced in facsimile at the end of this dance entry.
Most curiously, this dance was for a long time the only new dance I had in my ‘bottom draw’ which did not have its own tune. I always intended to get around to writing a tune as a setting for the dance, but then discovered to my amazement discovered on sale a piano score published in London about 1871/2 by Cramer Wook & Co. It was by the leading British composer Charles Godfrey (1839-1919) and was called The Wind-Up Galop. I purchased it, pianist friend Sally Taylor, with her husband Peter on guitar, brought it to life and I had the great fortune to discover that it works perfectly for my dance—whether by itself, or in a medley with such other dances of my creation as the Bordonian National Polka 1 and 2. For more on Godfrey and this score see my entry under Godfrey in Part 5 of Volume IX.
I might now return to the dance. You can literally wind-up your partner then let yourselves tear away. Through a series of hobbled heel-clicks, cross-steps, pirouettes and tumbles in the A part you build up the energy which is then discharged in the B part as an explosively, but eventually fading, direct current of galop.
The inspiration for the click-step-steps in the first four bars of A1 was Elias Howe’s 1862 description of L’Hongoise (2) and for the alternation of ‘grapevine’ roles in A2 from Gilbert’s 1890 Cross Step Polka (although here I’m assuming a quicker tempo than for Gilbert’s dance so have changed his 2 step-hops to just 2 steps and his ‘step-together-step-lift’ to a polka step). The ideas for the recurrent (so to speak) twirling of the women under the M’s l.arm and the reduction from 8 to 4 to 2 galops and then pivot, were simply ideas I worked out as feasible, nicely balanced and neatly making use of built-up momentum while offering appropriate trajectory for that which follows. As many women seem to enjoy turns on the spot, I gave the woman the opportunity to do quick 2 step pirouettes in A1 and a quick 1 polka step turn straight after a 2 step one in A2. I created a more forgiving M’s role, but gave him, after a 1 bar rest, the last quick turn of the A part so that he might be able to use the resulting momentum and trajectory to sweep up the woman with his right arm and drive her off into the B part’s galops.