The Cuckoo's Nest is a versatile dance, as it can be done with any even number of dancers from 4 on up. It's done in a circle, and that symmetry allows for some nice figures (that would be unavailable to a rectangular set) as well as makes simple figures look pretty impressive. The “circular bombast” is moderately difficult to get right, but otherwise the dance is easy to learn.
Source: Written in 1998 by Mike Miller (Bassett Street Hounds), having been inspired by a dance of the same name done by Wicked Stix at the 1998 Bluemont Ale.
Tune: Cuckoo's Nest (traditional) as (AB)5 (A=figures, B=sticking).
X:2 T:The Cuckoo's Nest R:hornpipe H:Used for the Hounds dance "The Cuckoo's Nest" H:Tune is the same as the Bampton-style "Binghamton Stick Dance" M:4/4 K:G c>dc>B A2 a2 | e2 e2 d2> c | B>cB>A G2 A>B | c2 d2 A4 :| a2 a2 a2 b>a | ^g2 e2 e3 f | g2 g2 g2 a>g | f2 d2 d4 | c>dc>B A2 a2 | e2 e2 d2> c | B>cB>A G2 A>B | c2 d2 A4 |]
Formation: A circle with an even number of dancers, each with one short stick.
Sequence: Once to Yourself, Chorus, Gypsies, Chorus, Starburst Swing, Chorus, Circular Bombast, Chorus, Six Around, Chorus.
Chorus: Pair up in a circle (so that half the dancers are facing clockwise, half are facing counterclockwise, and everyone is face-to-face with someone). Dance a right-shoulder hey around the circle as follows: Clash backhand-high with the person that you're facing, then begin to pass them by right shoulders. Turn (a quarter turn) right to face each other, clash forehand-low, then move on to face the next person in the hey. Clash forehand-high with them, then begin to pass then by left shoulders. Turn (a quarter turn) left to face each other, clash backhand low, then move on to face the next person. Repeat 3 more times, clashing with a total of 8 people, and ending facing the 9th.
Gypsies: Dance twice through a “figure eight” as follows: Note who's behind you. Pass right shoulders with the person you're facing, growl at the next, turn back (over your right shoulder) and pass by right shoulders again, back to your original place. Now pass left shoulders with the person who had been behind you, growl at the next, then turn back (over your left shoulder) and pass left shoulders again back to your original place. Repeat the entire sequence a second time. (It helps me to think of this as a right-shoulder hey for 3, danced from the middle position - but calling it that confuses some people.)
Starburst Swing: Note who you're facing. Move to your own left. Those moving toward the center of the circle do a left-hand star for 4 beats and then a right-hand star for 4 beats; the others dance out radially for 4 beats and then back for 4 beats. Meet the person you'd been facing, transfer your stick into your left hand, reach around their waist with your right arm and swing for 8 beats.
Circular Bombast: Dance 360 degrees (clockwise) around the person behind you (as if your backs were attached), then pass right shoulders with the next two* people. Repeat a total of four times. Note that everyone's direction of travel during the “pass right shoulders” is the same as their direction of travel during the chorus. (*When we dance this for 4, we only pass right shoulders with one person.)
Six Around: Move slightly to your own right. Dance in concentric circles (inside circle moving clockwise and outside circle moving counterclockwise), clashing backhand high with each person you meet (one per beat) for 6 clashes, then allemande left with the next person you meet, going half way around (so that the inside and outside circles swap places). Repeat, headed back in the other direction, allemanding left back to your original place.