The Boone Companion

A 16th Century English Country Dance That's in Two Sources but Not in Playford

Daniel de Lincoln (Tim McDaniel), tmcd@panix.com, 31 January 2019

My Current Version

Four couples holding inside hands longways, starting with all facing the presence. Can also be done by three couples.

I use "up" or "top" to mean the head, the presence, the initial facing direction. "Down" or "bottom" means the opposite direction.

Music: Fine Companion works, or anything else that's ((16+16)+(16+16))x3 beats.

The Steps
PartBeatsSteps
V18All lead up a double and back.
8Couple 1 leads down the middle of the set, the rest following them in order, thereby inverting the lines and becoming improper.
8All lead down a double and back.
8Couple 1 leads up the middle of the set, the rest following them, all to their places. All turn to face their partner.
C1AIn this half of the chorus, only lords move; ladies stand still.
4Each lord sets left and right towards his lady == diagonal left single forward, diagonal right single forward, end near the lady.
4Lords double back to place. Small double.
8In two doubles, each lord circles (not do-si-do) his lady starting left (clockwise).
C1BIn this half of the chorus, the ladies mirror what the lords did (swapping left and right); lords stand still.
4Each lady sets right and left towards her lord == diagonal right single forward, diagonal left single forward, end near the lord.
4Ladies double back to place. Small double.
8In two doubles, each lady circles (not do-si-do) her lord starting right (counter-clockwise).
V232All side left. Couple 1 leads everyone down as in V1 except that nobody turns to face the bottom of the set. All side right. Couple 1 leads everyone up as in V1.
C2A4Half-circle left to exchange places with partner. Lords end facing down; ladies end facing up.
12As a set, walk a circle halfway (no hands). Last lord and first lady thereby each lead their sex in a J pattern. So each sex ends on their original side but each line has swapped ends.
C2B4Half-circle right to exchange places with partner. Lords end facing up; ladies end facing down.
12As a set, circle. As in C2A but the other way: last lord and first lady again lead respective J patterns, but in the opposite direction from before. Each dancer ends in their own place.
V332All arm left. Couple 1 leads everyone down as in V1 except that nobody turns to face the bottom of the set. All arm right. Couple 1 leads everyone up as in V1.
C3A16Everyone takes hands in one big circle. Turn the circle left one full turn all the way back to place. Please clap (if time allows).
C3B8Each sex's line takes hands in a circle on their own side. Turn each circle left one full turn all the way back to place. Please clap.
C3C8Top half of the set take hands in a circle, bottom half of the set take hands in a circle. (If three couples, couple 2 splits: lord 2 is in the top but the lady 2 is in the bottom.) Turn each circle left one full turn all the way back to place. No clap.

Acknowledgments

Dafydd Cynhoeddwr, "Two More Lovelace Dances", Known World Dance and Music Symposium 9 - Proceedings, 21-24 June 2012, got me excited about The Boone Companion.

The Dance Guild of the Barony of Bryn Gwlad, journeyman division, indulged me for an hour working this out: interpreting it, realizing what worked physically, opining on what was satisfying: Gwenllian ferch Maredudd, Colin MacNachtan, Sharon of Conway, Thomas of Conway, Perronnelle Charette de La Tour du Pin.

Introduction

I finally got around to looking through the KWDMS 9 proceedings and was immediately struck by Arglwydd Dafydd's article. I like Lovelace and Sloane (and similarly Gresley) because I can more or less read their English, and unlike Italian, I actually know the steps (at least as well as anyone does), so I have a hope of contributing something.

Also, I enjoyed comparing and contrasting Playford, Lovelace, and Sloane. For one thing, one source may help in elucidating another. For another, seeing different versions can give us notions of what they considered reasonable variations.

I was also struck by it because some of my conclusions differed from his.

This is my first version. For TL;DR use, I give my current reconstruction at the top. Below, I attempt to explain all my reasoning and alternatives that I considered, probably at too great a length.

Behind the Music

Neither Sloane nor Lovelace provide music for any dances. I tried searching on the Web for music for The Boone Companion but came up empty. Dafydd's article suggests the Broadside Band's version from Popular Tunes in 17th Century England. It's an out-of-print CD from UK, so I was impatient for its arrival.

When I listened to it, I realized that it was a glorious tune ... for a musical performance. It was not danceable as is.

It was about 30%-40% slower than a good dance pace. The Audacity music-editing tool has an effect for tempo change without pitch change, so it was easy to adjust.

For this dance, the music should be at least ((16+16)+(16+16))x3 beats, where 16 represents 16 beats of either verse or chorus (8+8 works to make a 16, as in this Boone Companion tune). The verses that they danced to might have been 20+20 or 24+24, as discussed under verse 1. The tune should have an intro. The last B can slow down at the end, but the previous 5 Bs must not.

But this performance had AABB, no intro, and the second B slowed down. Most seriously, A starts abruptly, so the first beat hardly exists: splicing to get AABBA... caused A to begin the repeat early. Even after a lot of work, I never managed a really satisfactory edit, but getting pretty close to the tempo turned out to suffice, since I was usually calling during the brief aural spasm that my editing left between adjacent BA.

The Broadside Band's tune sounds like a major-key variant of Fine Companion. I considered just using a danceable Fine Companion or any other existing dance of the same number of beats. But if I get The Boone Companion into the local repetoire, I didn't want to cross-wire people's muscle memory, causing problems if they went to a war or something and tried to do Fine Companion.

So, all in all, I think one should get musicians to record or play this tune or another.

Josef Berger wrote here (28 February 2013, SCA Dance mailing list):

You might try a "boone companion" ballad tune, too:

You gallants, and you swag'ring blades,
Give eare unto my ditty
I am a boone companion, knowne
In country, towne, and city
...

source: A broadside "There's nothing to be had without money" (Roxburghe Collection I, p.400-401), dated c.1601-1640. http://ebba.english.ucsb.edu/ballad/30275/xml.

For the melody, the same broadside mentions: "To a new Northerne tune, or The Mother beguil'd the Daughter."

This tune is given in Chappell's "Popular Music of the Olden Time, a Collection of Ancient Songs, Ballads and Dance Tunes Illustrative of the National Music of England Part One", page 357. http://www.traditionalmusic.co.uk/popular-music-olden-times-1/popular-music-of-olden-times1%20-%200457.htm. It can also be found in Pills to purge Melancholy Vol.IV page 116.

While Playford's "Fine Companion" is twice 8 bars + twice 8 bars in 6/8, this tune, as printed by Chappell, has 8+8 bars in 4/4. Just add repeats to the A and B part and it might work just as well.

Sources

Both Lovelace and Sloane 3858 call the dance "The Boone Companion" with "The".

Dafydd Cyhoeddwr has examined the English country dances in the manuscript called variously Lovelace / Pattricke / Dunn / Church (Houghton Library of Harvard, Manuscript Eng. 1356). There's his main page, transcriptions and notes, and interpretation.

Peter Durham's transcription of British Museum Library Manuscript Sloane 3858 can be seen at http://www.peterdur.com/dance/sloane3858.htm. I will call the manuscript "Sloane".

Lovelace has a first verse, a chorus, and a second verse, and then it stops. Sloane has a standard verse-chorus-verse-chorus-verse-chorus. Dafydd believes that the Lovelace author only wrote as much as needed for a dancer to reconstruct the dance, with "the last instruction is 'like as was done before'." Choruses 2 and 3 were presumably the same as chorus 1. Since verse 1 was doubling and verse 2 was siding, verse 3 must have been the standard arming.

I haven't read through all of Lovelace, but I think Dafydd says that such truncated dances happen only in two places: The Boone Companion and Step Stately, which were on facing pages. If his were a common inference, I think this notation would have been used elsewhere in Lovelace and in other sources. Also, if the arming (third) verse had been omitted for being a natural extrapolation of the first verse, the same logic applies for omitting the siding (second) verse, yet that second verse was included. Contrariwise, if he felt he needed two items to establish a pattern, he would not have omitted any reference to the second chorus. I think "like as was done before" refers only to verse 2 being much like verse 1.

So I suspect that whoever was writing in the Lovelace document simply made an oversight in writing and proofreading. As one dancer here suggested, "He took a couple of phone calls and forgot where he was". Perhaps it was someone unfamiliar with dance who was transcribing from another source, and lost sheets or turned over two pages at once?

Nevertheless, Dafydd may be correct about this elision. Even if so, I like Sloane's two different choruses. I see no a priori criteria for saying that, where the Lovelace and Sloane manuscripts differ, Sloane ought to be ignored.

So I used both manuscripts for as long as Lovelace provides information, and then Sloane for the second.

For ___

Lovelace: "The Boone Companion: 6: or 8:", with the diagram

      

Sloane: "The Boone Companion". He doesn't say expressly how many are to dance this. But I think it's telling that chorus 3 has "first the uppermost foure halfe". I suspect that Sloane was thinking of 8 dancers when he wrote "foure" for half the dancers, then reconsidered that you could do it with 6, and therefore struck it out to replace it with "halfe". If so, the Bryn Gwlad dancers agree: we danced it with 6 people but found that we were often getting to our places before time, so we suspect that the timing works better with 8.

Dafydd: "longways for 6 or 8".

My conclusion: four couples holding inside hands longways all facing the presence. Can also be done by three couples.

Verse 1

Lovelace:
Leade up once and downe agayne,
Then the man shall leade his
woeman through the rest and
there turne her round, and then
leade up that way once, and then
leade her backe againe to her
place the same way, ...

It's clearer to quote Lovelace verse 2 here:
Sides all once, then the first couple
shall dance downe the bottome
againe, and then sides all againe,
and then come up through the
midle to the top, like as was
done before

Sloane:
Lead up: then the
First thorough all
and every man about
single /
Lead up, (the? she? then?) faces the
other way: and the
first back againe &c

Dafydd:

Part 1
Verse 1, Part A
1:Lead up [a double]
2:[Fall back] down again [a double]
3:Man 1 leades his partner down to the bottom of the set
4:Man 1 turns his partner at the bottom of the set and they take their places there
Verse 1, Part B
1:Lead up [a double]
2:[Fall back] down again [a double]
3:Man 1 leades his partner back up to the top of the set
4:Man 1 turns his partner at the top of the set and they take their places there

I agree on the start (the Lovelace source only makes it really clear in verse 2). It starts with leading up a double and then falling back again, and then the first couple processes solo down the middle of the set past all the dancers to take their places as the new bottommost couple. Except I didn't write a solo, q.v.

Second doubling: up or down?

Sloane reads "Lead up, (the? she? then?) faces the other way". I suspect the illegible word is "the" or "their". If "up" meant towards the presence, then they'd be "leading up" by falling backwards, and then presumably doubling forwards. That would be a little unusual but not unheard of in English country dance, but in other dances, Sloane has lots of "fall back" or "fall" with other prepositions. In Sloane, "lead" is always "up" except for taking a contrary to "lead away" and one "leads her through". So I suspect Sloane's "lead" means "double in the direction they're currently facing", which in my terminology is downwards.

Lovelace is less certain. It reads "once [for the doubling up] ... and then leade up that way once". Had it meant "up" as in towards the presence, "that way" might not be included because it would be the same way as usual; and if both doublings were in the same direction, "once" might not be stated twice. I think that, in "that way once", "that way" might refer to direction, leading downwards a double and back again. However, "that way" might instead mean "as you are currently arranged": for example, a few words later, they go home with "the same way". The Lovelace manuscript has other ways to describe leading: Step Stately has "The first couple shall leade upwards, and the second downwards"; Jack Pudding has "you shall leade up, and falle backe twice"; The Picking of Stickes starts with "Leade up twice, and downe 2" (if that's falling back, why not "falle backe"? Or two more leads?); The Fumbling of Jone has "leade her downward through all the rest". I haven't read Lovelace, but just looking at that, perhaps Lovelace's terminology is not consistent.

In sum, the possibilities I see: (1) Both lead up in my terminology, but that leaves Sloane's "faces the other way" atypical and hard to explain; (2) Both lead down, but that would mean that Lovelace used "leade up" here where it apparently used "leade downwards" in other dances, but Lovelace may be inconsistent in terminology; (3) Sloane leads down but Lovelace leads up. I am following my current interpretation of Sloane in leading a double down.

Turning, or modern sense and sensibilities

Lovelace reads "the man ... the woeman ... and there turne her round". Sloane reads "and every man about single". I can only consider this to be problematic. I suspect that their music had more beats at least in the middle, and they inserted a bit of turning to take the extra time, as in Gathering Peascods. The trouble is that "about single" (Sloane) we usually do in 4 beats, but a couple turning (Lovelace) we do in 8. Sloane might have turning while the first couple is dancing down, but Lovelace's "and there" seem to indicate dancing to the bottom and then turning. But certainly the two manuscripts are describing different moves, and as chorus 2 shows, Sloane can use "men" in opposition to "woman" and has no problem giving the men fun stuff to do while the women get bored.

However, the music that we use has only 32 beats for the verse. That allows 8 beats for the head couple to reach the other end, which was reasonable. If the Lovelace turn took even 2 beats, which would be too fast, it would leave only 6 beats for the head couple to make it past 2 or 3 other couples, which would also be too fast. Since Dafydd says he uses this music, I can't support his reconstruction using it: I don't see how a couple can make it all the way to the bottom of a set of 6 or 8 people in 4 beats, and then turn in 4 beats.

So I've reconstructed it as just turning to face down in preparation for doubling down, but I'm open to other notions, like someone composing a new tune.

But my instructions have everybody casting inside the set, as in the start of the third chorus of Chestnut. This is a shameless bow to modern sensibilities. Certainly there are plenty of Playford dances that have the first couple, or even the first man, having most of the fun, but I think there is modern resistance to that. I discussed the sources with the group and notions I had of turning, and we danced it a couple of times with everyone but the lead couple standing still. As a substitute, I mentioned this random notion of casting down the middle, and they went for it like Gollum gutting a trout. Given that Lovelace shows some variation within itself (e.g., arming or turning), and variation between Lovelace, Playford, and Sloane (e.g., even this verse of this dance), I don't feel very bad in using a vaguely similar move from another English country dance.

As an aside, I notice that both of them refer to turning after going to the bottom but neither is explicit about the top. After the doubling (whichever way it goes), the head couple clearly comes home. Neither manuscript calls blatantly for turning at that point. But Lovelace has "leade her backe againe to her place the same way", where "the same way" might including the turning as before. Sloane has "first back againe &c". Had we the original music, it would be more obvious. In any event, people at some point need to turn a little to face their partner for siding. I assume that it's symmetric, that whatever we do halfway through we'll similarly do at the end.

Chorus 1

Lovelace:
... then each
man shall sett to his woeman,
and fall backe, and then goe round
his woeman, then the woemen
shall sett, and doe the like;

Sloane:
The men Sett to the
women, then passse
round about them their
faces the same way:
The women Sett: &c

Dafydd:

Chorus 1, Part A
1:The men set to their partners
2:The men fall back [a double] from their partners
3-4:The men go around their partners [with two doubles]
Chorus 1, Part B
1:The women set to their partners
2:The women fall back [a double] from their partners
3-4:The women go around their partners [with two doubles]

O me of little faith

I found this part particularly exciting because experiment, discussion, and re-reading showed that I was wrong at first.

I first thought that the sources were being imprecise in describing the same things, that the Lovelace text had omitted the do-si-do and the Sloane text had omitted the backing a double. So I specified set forward left, set forward right, double back, do-si-do your partner.

Perronnelle noticed that people weren't quite getting back to their places in time. She asked someone to do-si-do his partner. It took him about 10 or 11 beats, presumably because do-si-do-ing requires walking sideways and backwards. She then asked him to just walk around his partner. This was a standard walking around, facing and walking forward all around. It took him 8 beats or under. Someone pointed out that if the ladies were wearing Elizabethan hoop skirts, it would take longer to circle. I have done the do-si-do in 8 beats frequently enough, but I have the vague impression that I tended to rush. Also, people here were setting forward but not that close to their partner, and then taking a big double back, starting the circling back a step or two.

It hit me that the Lovelace and Sloane texts could well have been accurate and reasonably complete. My hypothesis now is that Sloane's dancers wanted the do-si-do, allowing 12 beats to complete it with ample time and only 4 beats to fill with some setting, but Lovelace's dancers preferred a simpler circling, which is easily doable in 8 beats and therefore leaves 8 beats to fill with the setting and falling back.

"Reasonably complete." The Lovelace version could be read as setting as we usually do it, entirely horizontally, then falling back a double, then circling. I gather that this is Dafydd's interpretation. But then you'd have to double forward twice to start to circle. Perhaps this music, like in the verse, has extra beats, though I suspect not, as discussed in chorus 3, q. v. Regardless, our current music has only 16+16 beats for the chorus, in which there's not enough time to set and then take some four doubles to circle.

But I've noticed Bobing Joe (Sloane) versus Boobin Jone (Lovelace), in which, after some setting, Lovelace's first verse specifies "and fall back" where Sloane's does not. A brief examination doesn't show any obvious reason for Sloane to need 4 extra beats here. So I'm not sure how to tell whether setting always implies falling back.

On the whole, I prefer Lovelace: the uncommon notion of setting forward and falling back, and the safer method of plain circling. The Bryn Gwlad dancers seemed to like that well enough, more than do-si-do. But if anyone wants to follow some interpretation of the Sloane text, I'd gladly do it.

In the most recent times, however, the women tended not to get back to place before the siding is to start. This needs some attention from the dance instructor.

To prevent collisions, there needs to be some convention for which way to go when going around, and ideally for setting here as well. In Bryn Gwlad, when we set and turn twice in a verse, we almost always do the first as left-right and the second as right-left (unless, rarely, there is a dance-craft reason to want to do it otherwise). So that's the convention I specify here, even though each person sets only once. Another way to remember it is that each person sets sideways towards the presence, then away, then circles their partner starting on the side towards the presence.

Verse 2, Verse 3

Lovelace's text ends after verse 2, which reads:
Sides all once, then the first couple
shall dance downe the bottome
againe, and then sides all againe,
and then come up through the
midle to the top, like as was
done before

Sloane's text has a complete dance with both verse 2 and 3:
Sides, the first thorough
and back againe:
...
Armes, and thorough.

Dafydd:

Verse 2, Part A
1-2:Side [left to line up right shoulders]
3:Man 1 leades his partner down to the bottom of the set
4:Man 1 turns his partner at the bottom of the set and they take their places there
Verse 2, Part B
1-2:Side [right to line up left shoulders]
3:Man 1 leades his partner back up to the top of the set
4:Man 1 turns his partner at the top of the set and they take their places there

...

Verse 3, Part A
1-2:Arm [left - take right arms and walk all the way around to the left in two doubles]
3:Man 1 leades his partner down to the bottom of the set
4:Man 1 turns his partner at the bottom of the set and they take their places there
Verse 3, Part B
1-2:Arm [right- take left arms and walk all the way around to the right in two doubles]
3:Man 1 leades his partner back up to the top of the set
4:Man 1 turns his partner at the top of the set and they take their places there

Dafydd and I both think it's clear that verse 1, verse 2, and verse 3 are identical except for doubling, siding, and arming, respectively. (While there's room for debate on the direction of doubling, that can't apply to siding or arming.)

Chorus 2

The Lovelace text ends after verse 2. Dafydd thinks that it's because Lovelace had written enough so that the rest of the dance could be interpolated, so he has all the choruses identical.

I think that's reasoning beyond the evidence. And in any event, I prefer the variety of the Sloane text's three different and interesting choruses.

Sloane:
Men and Women chan-
ge plcaes; and whiles
the men goe abut, the
women they come
to their owne side..
The same againe, and
the men are as they
were before.

So much for my hopes for a nice unambiguous interpretation.

Trying an ultranuanced reading of the Sloane text is a mug's game. After all, this is the same source that has, for verse 2 and chorus 2 of Amy, "Then Changing Women hand in hand; they doe the same: Bur first set, s sides and sett first to their owne, then to the others". Nevertheless, here's my try.

It took me days to notice "the women they come". I don't have a copy of the original, but my current interpretation is that there's a misplaced comma or stray mark, and it should have been

... and whiles
the men goe abut the women,
they come to their owne side..

Without this interpretation, the question arises "the men go abut what or where?". From other uses of "go about" in the Sloane manuscript, it appears to be some sort of circling. Sollibrand: "the man goes about the woman". Bobing Joe: "First woman and Second man hold hands whiles ye other goe about: All hands held, they goe about ...", where Boobing Jone in Lovelace has a somewhat different thing for the first and a star for the second. Except for that Bobing Joe use, the Sloane text always makes it clear where "go" goes. There are examples in English country dance where one sex circles on its own while the other does not, but it's comparatively rare.

The starting position is presumably longways proper. Halfway through, each lady and each lord have to be paired one-to-one, to be able to "change plcaes [sic]" "The same againe". The ladies have "come to their owne side", but that's not said of the lords; they're not "as they were before" until the end. I can see only two ways this could be:

  1. The lords and ladies are proper in their columns, but at least the lords are permuted into a different order.
  2. The lords and ladies are improper: the ladies are in their home column, but the lords are on their rights, two widths right of where they started.

If it's way B, and the lords try to do a full circle around the ladies, they'd have to go the length of a line of four women twice, all within 12 beats with the music I'm using. It's hard enough to do it in 16 beats in Goddesses, and this figure would be much faster than almost anything in this dance. In this case, the ladies would be the only ones for whom "they come to their owne side", but it's not entirely clear what is the referent of "they".

I am more inclined to believe the lords do a J figure (follow-the-leader halfway around the ladies, as in Picking of Sticks) into their original line's position (thereby reversing the line). This results in way A. In "they come to their owne side", "they" refers to everyone, or even just one sex or the other (as the placement of one fixes the other). But the men are not "as they were before" — they have reversed ends — which fits the instructions.

The first time, while the lords did a J figure, the ladies walked 3 steps to their original positions. I suspect that was the original dance move. There's no obvious prompt for them to go across, so it looked awkward when they straggled across at different times. They also said it was very boring.

In later tries, we exchanged and then both of the sex lines did a J figure back into their own lines, clockwise, so the last man and first woman were leading their lines, both lines ending reversed. So the entire effect is an elongated O. The repeat went counter-clockwise, so the last man and first woman led again. The dancers felt this satisfactory. It's a type of circling, as in chorus 3. But it doesn't match the Sloane text (which seems to indicate different movements for lords and ladies), but it doesn't clearly contradict it, and I feel a need to bow to modern sensibilities.

Another thing I tried once with the group:

C2A4Half-circle left to exchange places with partner. Lords end facing down; ladies end facing up.
8Lords only walk in a line like at the end of Picking of Sticks or in verse 2 of Goddesses: last lord leads a J pattern walking back to the lord's side. So the ladies are in their lords' places, and the lords are facing them but with swapped ends. Face partner.
4Each sex takes hands in a line. Lords' line advances a double while ladies' line falls back a double.

This keeps it closer to what I suspect was the original dance, but by having a choreographed move, it adds precision, and it gives the ladies some sense of doing dance steps instead of just moseying. There was instant antipathy to this notion and I dropped it.

Chorus 3

Verse 3 was handled above. The Lovelace text is ended by now, so as I noted, Dafydd has it as repeating chorus 1.

Sloane:
Hands, and then Clap
hands, and first the
uppermost foure halfe
(inserted between these lines:) together and lowermost
take hands and (or come? once?) round
Clap hands againe
and then the men
for and women by
themselves

This actually looks extremely straightforward. I believe "Hands" means all taking hands in a big circle as in Goddesses in Playford. Then halves divide horizontally, then halves divide vertically also as in Goddesses. It's a lovely little study in circling and it's a nicely vigorous ending.

But that's not quite how we do it.

Reordering Sloane: all, then single-sex, then tops-and-bottoms

In several tries, even with 8 dancers, we found that we had more than enough time to do the Sloane manuscript's first part, the hands all -- we generally finished the circle in 12 beats or so without any hurry. But we had to rush to set up and get through the tops-and-bottoms circling.

We had to then rush much faster to get through the single-sex circling -- this is a startling contrast to the rest of the dance, which was pretty leisurely. I think it's because, to start, everyone had to move a position to be able to join hands and start circling. At the end, the circle had to drop a set of hands and move back to a line.

By mistake, I misordered the sequence of circling in discussion, leading someone to suggest that we do it that way. We found that it to be significantly more danceable, though we're still working on the exact styling and timing.

We first do the hands-all. A natural tendency that we now encourage is to form a real circle as we go. At the end, then each sex's line is already in a crescent, so people are already halfway to being in the same-sex circles. Further, as noted, the hands-all takes us in practice some 12 beats, so we can bum a few beats from that to set up for the same-sex circle, the most rushed section. At the end, we do the tops-and-bottoms circles.

After seeing the differences between the Lovelace manuscript and Playford (e. g., swapping verses of Picking of Sticks), and that the Lovelace manuscript sometimes specifies choices (e. g., arming versus half circles, turning as long as one likes, the ladies may then do it if they like, et cetera), I am less concerned with a reordering if it makes it much more danceable. Nevertheless,I will stick to the manuscripts unless there's a major reason not to.

We don't have the timing down well enough to clap yet, concentrating too much on circling, arranging outselves, taking and releasing hands, and such.

Number of beats in the choruses

I had wondered whether a few more beats in the choruses might help the circling in the first chorus, or might help the lords to go around the ladies a full circle in the second chorus. The structure of this chorus makes me think that the choruses' tune has to have been 16+8+8 beats, to make the parts in each of the three choruses end with a musical phrase end. For example, something like 16+12+12 would help circling in the third chorus, but it wouldn't line up with the bipartite first chorus.

Conclusions

The above has plenty of more or less tentative conclusions and room for further reconsideration. I would prefer a recording that didn't have my editing glitches. It might be better to have 8 or 16 extra beats in the verses to accomodate the turns. I'm not at all certain on the second chorus, the one where the lords "goe abut" and the ladies don't. A few aspects stick in the craws of modern dancers.

Nevertheless, I like this dance. It's not a complicated dance. I was able to memorize it easily, which is saying something. I got a positive reaction from local dancers. I hope to develop my conclusions.