Branle de la fosse aux loups

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

Region detail Alsace.
Formation Open circle. V-hold.
Dance Structure Sequence repeated throughout the music. Optional variation.
Music Structure 6 beats/bar, 2 counts/bar, 8 bar phrases,
Music Speed 120 counts/min (360 beats/min).
Source Sally Fletcher (who got it from Roberto Bagnoli) in online dancing in 2021. Arm details from Roberto's Stockton Folkdance Camp 2014 notes.
Name translation Branle [a type of dance] of the wolfpits.
Music recommendation 'Branle de la fosse aux loups' from the album 'Le grand saut' by 'Tribal Jâze'.

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. Better than these notes, use Roberto Bagnoli's notes.

A sequence of common French steps with continual arm swinging. It is the music which makes it distinctive & fun as there is a very funky folk-jazz arrangement of it by 'Tribal Jâze'.

I don't recommend you use these notes to learn it from. There are far more comprehensive notes by Roberto Bagnoli readily available online as part of the Stockton Folkdance Camp collection. He collected the dance in person from its indiginous area and those notes include much more on the background & the timing. I mainly wrote these notes up just to help me rehearse the dance & as quick reference.

The music is officially in 6/8 time but each step, touch or lift takes 3 beats so I naturally treat it as 2 counts per bar & have written as such below (other than in detail of the arm timing). The recommended music track is 4:15 min long. To reduce it to a typical UK International dance track 3 min length, it needs 10 repeats removed. I found that removing repeats 3 to 12 inclusive left the major musical variations intact & had a seamless join for the minor variations (whereas, for example, 4 to 13 failed on that a drum riff differs).

Style: Low flat steps, not bouncy. Arms straight (the swings are slower forwards than backwards).


Summary: Start with the melody.

About 8s. Start with the melody.


Summary: Gravevine L starting L side, R across infront. (L side, R close, L side, R close touch), mirror. (L in place, R lift infront), mirror. Arms swing forwards (1 count) & back-backwards-down (1 count) throughout.

Start Facing the centre of the circle. Weight on R foot.
1 L to the side.
2 R across infront.
1 L to the side.
2 R across behind. (Bars 1-2 comprise a Grapevine step.)
1 L to the side.
2 R close.
1 L to the side.
2 R close withought weight transfer.
5-6 Repeat bars 3-4 in mirror image (R side, L close, R side, L close touch.)
1 Step on L in place.
2 Lift R leg infront with straight knee. It is only about 20 cm infront & close to the floor, not a big lift.
8 Repeat bar 7 in mirror image (R in place, L lift infront).
Start Vertically down in V-hold.
1 Swing arms forwards to about 30 deg from the vertical. Arms remain straight.
2 Swing arms back to vertically down (this has to be faster than when they were going forwards), continue moving them backwards to slightly behind then return them forwards to vertically down.
2-8 Repeat bar 1 7 more times (i.e. keep swinging the arms throughout).

Turning variation

Summary: Travelling turn acw 360 deg instead of Grapvine.

Done if & when the leader calls. Typically not done often.

Replace the Grapevine of bars 1-2 with 4 walking steps (starting L ft) turning 360 deg in total. During this travel as far cw around the circle as one would have done in the Grapevine. Hands are released at the start of the turn, remain arms down without swinging & hold taken again at the end of the turn.