The Origin, Derivation, and Style of the Hornpipe - The Music - Some Changes - The Steps Teaching a Child every nation possesses its own national dance. These measures are typical of the people and country to which they belong, and are quite out of place and incongruous when performed by foreign dancers in foreign lands.
The sailor's hornpipe is the English national dance. It was probably named after an obsolete instrument, of which little but the name is known. A "horn-pipe" was an old wind instrument, so called because the bell, or opening, was sometimes made of horn. So the hornpipe took its name from the instrument to which old-time dancers performed their sprightly measures.
Conspicuous among those dances which claim a distinctly native origin, the sailor's hornpipe is described as belonging "par excellence ' to 6ur clime and race. It is consistent with our national characteristics as a maritime nation that our native dance should be a sailor's dance. Hornpipes and jigs are old favourites in the service; and by no section of the community are they danced with more springiness, joyous activity, or keen enjoyment. The nation of sailors could not desire a more fitting national dance than this nautical measure, with its rousing, invigorating music.
Fig. 1. The first step of the sailor's hornpipe. Though this dance consists of an infinite number and variety of steps, it can be simplified sufficiently for young children. The dance is intended to represent different nautical actions Photos, Martin Jacolette
As an argument for the health-giving properties of dancing - national or otherwise - the hornpipe must be accepted as a practical instance to the point. That famous and intrepid navigator, Captain Cook, proved that dancing was most useful as a pleasant means of keeping his sailors in good health. Voyages, in his time, were accomplished at much greater length, under much less healthful conditions than to-day. But sickness was comparatively rare. When the weather was calm, and the work on a sailing vessel consequently slight, Captain Cook found employment for his crew in dancing. He made them dance on deck - the hornpipe for preference - to the music of his fiddle. The great circumnavigator attributed the freedom from sickness on board his ship to this healthy, invigorating exercise.
Doubtless, the hornpipe in some form is of antique origin; and may have suggested itself to other nations, or existed in past ages. It is conjectured, with much plausibility, that a slightly different form of hornpipe was danced in other countries, usually taking the form of a jig. The dance as we know it was equally popular in Scotland in the eighteenth century, when it was frequently performed to a charming melody called the " Flowers of Edinburgh."
The music written for hornpipes is now in common time, four beats in a bar; and contains two phrases of eight bars each, which are repeated ad lib. Hornpipe music was much written in the eighteenth century, and dates from 1700. The older tunes are in three-two time, the latter in common time. The steps are peculiar, mostly running in sequences of six bars, the two final bars of each phrase being occupied, after almost every step, by the "breakdown." This consists of cuts and stamps, in position, and is typical of this nautical dance.
A child must know a certain amount about dancing before attempting the hornpipe. There are innumerable steps to this dance, which may be augmented or elaborated by the dancer's ingenuity and skill. It is quite possible to teach children of five or six to dance the hornpipe by picking out the simplest steps and simplifying the arm movements, which are somewhat complicated for a baby learner. Little boys are particularly keen to learn the hornpipe, as a rule, when scorning other dances as " girlish." The only way to teach a child is to stand in front of her, and demonstrate the foot and arm movements very slowly, making her follow each one. In this case the teacher uses the opposite foot to the child, and when telling the little one to extend her right foot will use her own left. The hornpipe combines several nautical actions in the cleverest manner. For instance, there is "climbing the ropes," "rowing," "rocking," "hitching up trousers " - or hoisting slacks - and "saluting." These steps can be done by a girl as well as a boy, especially by small girls, who look very graceful in their "seamanly" attitudes. When teaching the hornpipe it is wise to impress upon pupils the necessity to lean well to the right and left when using alternate feet, in order to create an impression of "rocking." Sailors sometimes dance hornpipes on the deck of a boat that is moving, so the extra roll and swing necessary to preserve their balance is very characteristic and effective, and has become an essential part of the dance.
Fig. 2. The second step, "Climbing the ropes" illustrates the action of a sailor climbing hand over hand up a rope. At the end of the movement the breakdown, a distinguishing feature of the hornpipe, is danced
Fig. 3. The third, or "cocking" step, in which movement the pupil should lean well to the right and left when using alternate feet, to create the impression of the roll and swing of a sailor on the deck of a moving ship. The breakdown is not danced in this step
As the breakdown occurs so frequently in the hornpipe, it may be as well to describe it first. When a step has been repeated for the sixth time, with the left foot, the dancer faces the audience, and starts the breakdown. Beat I. Right foot extended sideways with a spring; left hand raised above head. Beat 2. Right foot cut to knee of left foot, with a spring; hand still raised. Beat 3. Left foot extended sideways with a spring; right hand raised above head. Beat 4. Left foot cut to knee of right foot; hand still raised. Beat 5. Left foot dropped behind right in fifth position, with a firm stamp. Both arms folded across chest, and kept well away from body. Beat 6. Right foot stamped in front, in fifth position; arms the same. Beat 7. Left foot stamped behind, in fifth position; arms the same. On beat 8 the right foot, which is then in front, is raised preparatory to starting the next step. The complete breakdown takes eight beats, or two bars
Fig. 4. The fourth, or "rowing," step, in which also the breakdown is omitted. The step represents the action of rowing in a vigorous pantomine
Fig. 5. The fifth step, representing the "hitching up" of the sailor's trousers. The dancer travels in a circle, taking a big spring on alternate feet. The breakdown completes the step of music, which are always the two final bars.
Step i (Fig. 1). First Step. Starting with arms folded, the dancer gives a big spring, cutting her right foot towards her left knee. She then dances the polka step, in a circle, repeating it six times. On reaching her original position, she finishes the step with the breakdown. While turning she should lean to either side alternately.
Step 2 (Fig. 2). Climbing the Ropes. This step is supposed to illustrate a bluejacket climbing hand over hand up a rope. Both hands are raised above the head, the dancer changing them as she changes her feet. This looks as though she was mounting the rope. The step consists of one "cut " taken with alternate feet, the foot being extended and lifted smartly to the opposite knee, while the dancer moves gradually up the room. After six repetitions of the "cuts," the breakdown is danced. The whole step is then repeated with backward progression.
Step 3 (Fig. 3). Rocking Step. Starting with feet in the fifth position, the dancer " rocks " up the room, using each foot during four bars of music. The arms are folded, and one foot is dropped while the other is raised. This see - saw movement pro-
Fig. 6. Step 6. The " Salute," in which the polka step is danced from side to side, backwards, each hand being raised in turn in the salute, which is given with a loose wrist duces a rocking effect. The rocks are then continued in a circle, to left and right, the sailor holding his cap in his uplifted hand, as shown in Fig. 3. The breakdown is not danced in this step.
Step 4 (Fig. 4). Rowing. This step carries the dancer backwards, the breakdown being again omitted. The heel of the right foot is placed forward with a spring, both hands and the body also going well forward, as if bent over an oar. Then the feet are closed sharply together, the hands drawn back to the chest, and the body bent backwards. This is repeated eight times, with alternate feet.
Step 5 (Fig. 5). Hitching Up. The dancer travels in a circle, as in step 1, taking a big spring on alternate feet; and placing both hands alternately in front and behind her. This action represents sailors " hitching up " their trousers. The breakdown completes the step. Step 6 (Fig. 6). The Salute. The polka step is danced from side to side, backwards, each hand being raised in turn in salute. This should be done with a loose wrist, as is the case with all naval salutes.
Step 7 (Fig. 7). Last Step. This step is a repetition of the first step,
Fig. 7. The last step. This is practically a repetition of the first step, danced at double tempo. In finishing it, the breakdown is started, but instead of doing the stamps in position, the dancer turns, springs down on to both feet instantaneously, placing her hands on her bent knees danced at practically-double tempo. In finishing, the breakdown is started.
But instead of doing the stamps in position the dancer turns sharply, and springs down on to both, feet instantaneously, placing her hands on her bent knees (see Fig. 7). This may be varied by turning and springing on to the right foot, with the right hand raised in salute.
Fig. 8 illustrates the stamping steps of the breakdown.
These are but a few of the hornpipe steps, which may be elaborated to any extent. The principal features of this jovial sailor dance of the Sailor Nation are its jollity, its smartness, and the neatness with which the feet and arms are moved. Slovenly, slipshod steps and movements are useless in a hornpipe.
Fig. 8. This illustrates the stamping steps of the breakdown. which takes eight beats, or two bars, of music. These are always the two final bars