Appendix A:

Explanation of Dance Holds

By Gordon E. Tracie
Founder and Director,
Skandia Folkdance Society and Skandia Music Foundation

Open Position

As a matter of course, in all of the individual couple dances presented here, the W is on the M's R when the couple is facing LOD.

Firm Handhold

In individual couple dance:  M's R arm is over the W's L arm, joined hands palm-to-palm, held snugly.  Free arms are loose at sides.

In a closed ring or broken circle:  Each dancer's R arm is over L arm of dancer directly behind.  The L hand's fingers are held tightly in closed R hand of dancer ahead.  Elbows are bent at a right angle.

Note:  This dance hold is a very old one, found in Faroese and Norwegian ballad or song dances (a form of chain dance), and known in Norway as the tunga taket ("the firm grip").

Shoulder-waist Hold

In closed position, W's hands are on or near M's shoulders.  M's arms are around W's waist, hands held comfortably on her back.  Partners should not "lean back", but pull out from the waist enough to establish solidity.

In open position, W's L hand is on M's R shoulder.  M's R hand is on the R, or far side, W's waist.  Couple facing in LOD.

Waltz Hold

In closed position, M's R arm is around W's waist.  W's L hand is on M's R shoulder.  M's L and W's R hands are joined palm-to-palm with arms extended so there is only a slight bend in the elbows.

Waltz Hold Variant used in some Norwegian and Danish dances:  as above except that M's L-hand palm grasps over the top (back) of W's R hand, curling his finger under the outside of her R hand to hold her fingers, both palms facing down, with arms extended so there is only a slight bend in the elbows.

Basic Polska Hold

A closed position.  M's R arm is around W's waist, M's L hand is on W's upper arm just below her shoulder.  W's L arm is on M's upper arm, and W's R arm is on the inside of M's L arm, with her R hand just below M's shoulder.  Partners are slightly to the L of each other.  M's R foot is between W's feet.

Hambo Hold

Same as Basic Polska Hold except that M's L and W's R hands are holding partner's arm just above the elbow (not just below the shoulder).  Partners are not quite as close to each other so the position presents a more "rounded" look.

Baltic Hold or Mazurka Hold

Same as Waltz Hold Variant above except that M's L hand, holding top and fingers of W's R  hand, is placed on M's L hip, with hands still joined, fist-style (rather than extended at side).


Copyright © 1997 Skandia Music Foundation Scandinavian Dance Holds
You may freely distribute these notes provided you agree to retain this copyright notice and mention that recordings for dances using these holds are on the Viking Skandia CD, available from