Birthday Girl

[Full notes] [Summary notes] [Other dances & the source code]

Dance Structure (A + B) repeated throughout the music.
Formation Circle. V-hold & W-hold.
Alternative names 'Birthday Girl' is the original name.
'Birthday Boy' was sometimes used for male birthdays.
'Birthday Dance' is a neutral name some re-teachers used.
Music Structure 4 counts/bar, 4 bars/phrase.
Music Speed 120 counts/min.
Choreographer Mary Mindham.
Music 'Moreninha Linda' by Tonico e Tinoco.
Source Done many times with in Ipswich with Mary present, written down from such a session in 2008 & confirmed from a casual video from 2012.

Disclaimer: Mistakes are quite likely in the notes and no guarantees are made as to accuracy. There may be other versions of the same dance or other dances with the same name. Music may differ, particularly in speed, introduction and duration, between performers. The division into parts, bars & counts might not be standard. These notes of the dance are freely distributable (under GPL or CC-by-sa) in so much as the note's author's contribution but the choreography and/or collection were by other people and so their copyright might apply to the dance itself. Better than using notes, go to a dance class where it is taught.

A catchy jolly carefree summery party dance of common steps to upbeat Brazilian music. Often done in UK Circle Dance groups for birthday celebrations.

It was the second choreography by Mary Mindham. Unlike most such choreographers, she was not a group leader or touring teacher but a dancer in others' groups (the same ones in Ipswich, UK, that I've been in) yet both dances went 'viral' in popularity! Originally the title referred simply to the fact that she first came across the music when she was given it on a compilation CD for her birthday. However the combination of the name with the jolly music with easily followable steps (being deliberately a combination of common Circle/Israeli/Balkan ones) meant it soon got adopted as a birthday celebration dance and it is as that it entered the Circle Dance distribution network.

I've come across it in many places, often with the person leading it not knowing where it came from, the name changed (to 'Birthday Dance'), the origin history lost and/or the steps changed (e.g. W-hold throughout, the Cherkessia not merged with the turn or the Slip Backs replaced step-kicks). Almost always the name of the music is lost or accidentally replaced with the name of the particular compilation album ('Sertanejo' published by Millennium) Mary originally found it on. Of course such changes are natural for the folk dances (at least before videos on the WWW). That is my main reason for writing this dance up - to give dancers who want to know the origin, the original steps and how to find the music that information.

Style: Happy, carefree, jolly, lively, party.


Summary: Start with singing.

1 phrase of 4 bars. Start when the singing starts

Part A.

Summary: V-hold. Grapevine starting R side & L across infront. Pas de Basque x 2. Turn 360 deg cw in 4 steps merging into 2 x Cherkessia.

Start Facing the centre of the circle. Weight on L ft. V-hold.
1 R to the side.
2 L across infront.
3 R to the side.
4 L across behind. (This bar comprises a Grapevine step.)
1 R to the side.
& L close.
2 R in place. (With the previous 2 steps, this comprises a Pas de Basque.)
3-4 Repeat counts 1-2 in mirror image on the opposite feet (L R L Pas de Basque).
Turn 360 deg cw.
Feet R.
Arms Release hold.
2 L.
3 R.
Feet L across infront.
Arms Sweep L arm across infront to emphasise the crossing step.
Feet R in place.
Arms Return L arm to casually by side.
2 L to the side.
Feet R across infront.
Arms Sweep R arm across infront as bar 3 count 4 but in mirror image.
Feet L in place.
Arms Casually move to W-hold.

The steps of bar 3 counts 3-4 plus bar 4 counts 1-4 comprise 2 Cherkessias (a Cherkessia is side, across infront & in place). This feels natural & is easy to follow but can be confusing to count in retrospect as one expects 4 steps for the turn & 3 for each Cherkessia (leading some people to squeeze in the Cherkessias by doing them quick-quick-slow or slow-quick-quick like Pas de Basques). The subtle trick is that the last 2 steps of the turn are also the first 2 steps of the first Cherkessia. A similar trick is used in Tsadik Katamar, a ubiquitous classic Israeli folk dance, but there the first step of the first Cherkessia is shared with a preceding turn & the last step of the second Cherkessia is shared with a following sway.

Part B.

Summary: W-hold. Triple-step x 2 in. In place & lift across infront, mirror. Slip-back x 4 out. Repeat the lifts.

Start Facing the centre of the circle. Weight on L ft. W-hold.
1 R forwards.
& L close.
2 R forwards. (With the previous 2 steps, this comprises a Triple-step.)
3-4 Repeat counts 1-2 mirror image on opposite feet. (L R L forwards Triple-step.)
1 R in place.
2 L lift across infront.
3-4 Repeat counts 1-2 mirror image on opposite feet. (L in place, R lift across infront.)
1 R backwards while swivelling the L ft on its ball turning the heel inwards (a bit like passing a football). (In Cotswold Morris dancing this step is called a Slip-back.)
2 Repeat count 1 in mirror image on opposite feet (L Slip-back).
3-4 Repeat counts 1-2 (R & L Slip-backs).
4 Repeat bar 2 (R in place & L lift across infront, mirror) but now done at the original circle diameter position rather than when moved in towards the centre.