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Folk Dance Federation of California, South, Inc.

Basic Steps for Bourées
By Germain and Louise Hebert

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Louise and Germain Hébert Bourrées [boo-H(r)AYS] are the "real" French dances. The origins are unknown, though they are widely spread on French territory, especially in the Centre, Massif Central, Auvergne, Rouergue, Limousin, and, of course, Berry. In Berry, bourrées are danced in a very sober style – no gesture with hands (as in Auvergne), men carry most of the typical style with his knee action, which is strictly forbidden for women, who dance in a very delicate way.


I.   PAS DE BOURRÉE (bourrée step). 3/8 or 2/4 meter.

Starting on L ft, step fwd with the full wt of the body touching the ground and bend both knees (ct 1); step-close on ball of R ft, straightening knees slightly (ct 2); step on ball of L ft, straightening the knees slightly (ct 3).
Repeat, starting with R ft.

Note: All steps should be well kept "under" the body and close to the ground.


II.   AVANT DEUX [ah-vahn DOO] (fwd and bkwd).

1.   Avant-deux droit (straight move for two dancers)
Two dancers face each other (four feet apart).

1st meas: Both starting with L ft, dance one bourré step fwd and meet your opp on R shldr. (Note: The first step is a large one.)
2nd meas: Dancing on the spot, do one bourée step if you are a W, M bend both knees on the 1st ct of the meas.
3rd meas: Move bkwd with one bourrée step, starting with L ft.
4th meas: Do one bourrée step in place.

2.   Avant-deux épaulé (épaulé – shldr)
This figure takes 4 meas, like the straight avant-deux. It is frequently used in "bourrée croisée." Two dancers face each other.

1st meas: Starting with L ft, take one big step twd each other, turning 1/4 turn to L (ct 1); step on R ft close to L ft (ct 2); step on L ft in place (ct 3). This brings ptrs R shldr to R shldr.
2nd meas: Step on the R ft and at the same time throw L ft sdwd L (ct 1); step on L ft (ct 2); step on R ft near L ft (ct 3).
3rd meas: Step on L ft in place, beginning a 1/4 turn to R (ct 1); step on R ft in place (ct 2); step on L ft, near R ft (ct 3). This brings ptrs face to face.
4th meas: Step on R ft diag R bkwd, beginning a 1/4 turn to R (ct 1); step on L ft across R ft (ct 2); step on R ft in place (ct 3). this brings ptrs pointing L shldrs twd each other. If step is repeated from this pos, a 1/2 turn to L is made on ct 1 of meas 1.

Note: For teaching purposes, avant-deux épaulé can be started with L shldr pointing to opp dancer. When the steps are mastered, dancers should remember that all types of avant-deux start facing the opp dancer.

3.   Epingle à cheveux (hairpin or U-turn)
This is a variation of the "avant-deux épaulé" and takes 4 meas.

1st meas: Repeat meas 1 of "avant-deux épaulé."
2nd meas: Repeat meas 2 of "avant-deux épaulé."
3rd meas: Take a fast 3/4 turn on L ft (ct 1); step on R ft near L ft (ct 2); step in place on L ft (ct 3).
4th meas: Repeat meas 4 of "avant-deux épaulé."

4.   Avant-deux du Haut Berry (Avant-deux from Upper Berry)

1st meas: Starting with L ft, large step fwd (ct 1); scuff R heel fwd (ct 2); hop on L ft (ct 3)
2nd meas: Cross R ft over L ft (ct 1); step on L ft a slightly bkwd to free R ft (ct 2); step on R ft near L ft (ct 3).
3rd meas: Move bkwd with one bourrée step, starting with L ft.
4th meas: Do one bourrée step in place. There is a great emphasis on the first step.


III.   CROISEMENT [craws-meh] (crossing over). 4 meas.

1.   Croisements du Bas-Berry (Crossing over, Lower-Berry)

1st meas: Repeat meas 1 of "avant-deux épaulé."
2nd meas: Step sdwd R on R ft, changing place with your ptr (ct 1).
3rd meas: Take a 3/4 turn CW on L ft (ct 1), step on R near to L ft (ct 2); step on L ft in place (ct 3).
4th meas: Repeat meas 4 of "avant-deux épaulé."

2.   Croisement du Haut Berry (Crossing over, Upper-Berry)

1st meas: Starting with L ft, pivot 1/2 turn CCW "around" the opp ptr (ct 1); step on R ft in place (ct 2), step on L ft in place.
2nd meas: Step on R ft in place, throwing L ft sdwd L (ct 1); step on L near to R (ct 2); step on R in place (ct 3).
3rd meas: Move bkwd with one bourrée step, starting with L ft.
4th meas: Do one bourrée step in place. There is a great emphasis on the first step.


IV.   BRANSILLER [brahn-cee-LAY] (yell out)

These steps are done on the spot and are used as transition between "Avant-deux" and "Croisement." Basically, they are "pas de Basque" or "bourrée steps" cone on the spot.

1.   Moving L

Steps for M are done very neatly, crossing on the second ct.

Step on L sdwd L (ct 1); cross R over L (ct 2), step on L ft in place (ct 3).
Reverse.

W do not cross on second count; they do it on each side.

2.   Upper Berry Style

M and W do not cross on 2nd ct.

Note: These steps need 2 or 4 meas depending on the dance. The last step becomes a preparatory move for crossing over. This anticipation characterizes the whole style.


V.   LATERAL BOURRÉ STEP: AUVERGNE STYLE

Moving L

1st meas: Large step on L to L (ct 1); step on R next to L (ct 2); step on L to L (ct 3).
2nd meas: Step on R across in front of L (ct 1); step on L to L (ct 2); step on R next to L (ct 3).

Moving R

1st meas: Step on L across in front of R (ct 1); step on R to R (ct 2); step on L next to R (ct 3).
2nd meas: Large step on R to R (ct 1); step on L next to R (ct 2); step on R to R (ct 3).

Note: In some areas, people begin with the R ft, and all the ftwk is reversed.


V.   LATERAL BOURRÉ STEP: AUVERGNE STYLE

Moving L

1st meas: Large step on L to L (ct 1); step on R next to L (ct 2); step on L to L (ct 3).
2nd meas: Step on R across in front of L (ct 1); step on L to L (ct 2); step on R next to L (ct 3).

Moving R

1st meas: Step on L across in front of R (ct 1); step on R to R (ct 2); step on L next to R (ct 3).
2nd meas: Large step on R to R (ct 1); step on L next to R (ct 2); step on R to R (ct 3).

Note: In some areas, people begin with the R ft, and all the ftwk is reversed.


VI.   STAMPING PATTERN: AUVERGNE STYLE

These steps are for M and serve as punctuation at the end of a musical phrase. W do the bourre steps during those two meas. Each dancer develops his own way of stamping.

1st meas: Step on L (ct 1); step on R next to L (ct 2); hold (ct 3).
2nd meas: Stamp L taking wt (ct 1); stamp R, swinging L ft in front of R (ct 2); hold (ct 3).

Note: Stamping is not done all the time. At certain occasions, it will be omitted.


Used with permission of the author.
Reprinted from the 1969 and 1997 University of the Pacific (Stockton) Folk Dance Camp syllabi.