The Prisoner

The Prisoner was written by Andy Anderson of the Red Stags, “based on descriptions of straight-line dances from the Leominister area.” This is a simple but vigorous dance for 6, with a unique twist to the sticking.

Source: Reconstructed in 1987 by Andy Anderson (Red Stags). Taught to the Hounds in 1992 by James Allwright (Red Stags). The “Hey” in “There and Hey and Back” was added by the Hounds in 1995. (See also original notation from Red Stags)

Video: September 21, 2008 – 2nd of two dances, starts at about 2:24 into the video.

Tune: The Rights of Man (traditional) as A(AB)4 (A=sticking, B=figures).

X: 60
T:The Prisoner
T:Tune: The Rights Of Man
H:Alternate tune for this dance: Off to California
Z:abc-edited-by Bill Owens June 16, 2014
GA |(3BcB (3ABA (3GAG (3FGF | EFGA B2 ef | gfed edBd | cBAG A2 GA |
(3BcB (3ABA (3GAG (3FGF | EFGA B2 ef | gfed Bgfg | e2 E2 E2 :|
ga | babg efga | babg egfe | d^cde fefg | afdf a2 gf |
edef gfga | bgaf gfef | gfed Bgfg | e2 E2 E2 |]

Variants: The Hounds have practiced a double-long-stick version of this dance. The right hand stays the same. The left hand clashes in the same sense (forehand or backhand), but has the opposite stick position (up vs down). Both hands remain at about the same level.

Formation: A line of 6, each with one long stick.

Sequence: Once to Yourself, Chorus, Out and Swing, Chorus, There and Hey and Back, Chorus, Hey in Line, Chorus, D into Ring.


  • F=Forehand high: hold the stick near its bottom, clash forehand, then drop the stick down.
  • B=Backhand low: hold the stick near its top, clash backhand, then raise the stick up.
  • The rhythm is “clash-drop-step-hop-clash-raise-step-hop”.

Pair up in the line. While stepping, strike F B F B with your partner, then turn over your right shoulder to face a new partner and repeat. Those on the ends of the line cast off to their right and dance to the middle of the line in time to do the second F B (perpendicular to the line for the first two pairs and in the line for the last pair). Repeat the sticking a total of four times to get back to place.

Out and Swing: Dance out to your left, and turn over your right shoulder to face back into the set. Approach your partner at the centerline of the set, transferring your stick into your left hand. At the beginning of the phrase, reach around your partner's waist with your right arm and swing, ending back in place.

There and Hey and Back: All face the center of the set. Each group of three moves as a unit, passing the other group by right shoulders. At the middle of the phrase, the “lead dancer” turns back to the right to start a whole hey for three. At the end of this hey (in the middle of the next phrase), everyone faces the direction from which they came and as a unit (with a new “lead dancer”) passes the other group by right shoulders.

Hey in a Line: Do a hey for 6 in your line, beginning by passing right shoulders.

D into Ring: Everyone faces the music, then the dancer closest to the musician leads the line around to the right to form a ring. Dance in a circle for a while, then lead off.

Note: Many teams use Off to California for this dance:

T:The Prisoner
T:Tune: Off to California
H:Used as tune for Red Stags Morris dance "The Prisoner"
((3DEF) | G>FG>B A>GE>D | G>Bd>g e2 e>f | g>fg>d e>dB>G |1 A>BA>G E2 :|2 ((3ABA) G>F G4 |]
g>fe>g f>e d2 | e>de>f e>d B2 | g>fg>d e>dB>G | A>BA>G E2((3DEF) | 
G>FG>B A>GE>D | G>Bd>g e2 e>f | g>fg>d e>dB>G | ((3ABA) G>F G3 |]