Hambo is, although mostly referred to as a Swedish gammaldans, a type of polska.
The hambo dance uses eight bars, and contains four elements, namely dalsteg for two bars, walking steps for one bar, entering/quitting the hambo turns for one bar, and hambo turns for four bars.
At the first beat of every bar the knees are softly bended (curtsying). That applies for both the leader and the follower
The hold is a one sided hand hold during the first three bars, the leader´s right hand holds the follower´s left.
The free hand is then kept on the own waist , or, in the social. dancing environment, commonly hangs loose.
In the hambo turns, a standard double sided dance hold is used.
For each eight bar sequense of the music, the following is repeated:
Right hand hold
1:1 Footstep left forwards
1:2-3 Left foot weight transfer to footpad, right leg and foot stretched diagonally forwards above left foot, with toes tight above the floor
Left hand hold
2:1 Footstep right forwards
Right foot weight transfer to footpad, left leg and foot stretched diagonally forwards above right foot, with toes tight above the floor
1:1 Footstep right forwards
1:2-3 Right foot weight transfer to footpad, left leg and foot stretched diagonally forwards above right foot, with toes tight above the floor
2:1 Footstep left forwards
2:2-3 Left foot weight transfer to footpad, right leg and foot stretched diagonally forwards above left foot, with toes tight above the floor
3:1 Footstep left forwards
3:2 Footstep right forwards
3:3 Footstep left forwards
3:1 Footstep right forwards
3:2 Footstep left forwards
3:3 Footstep right forwards
4:1 Footstep right forwards and slightly to the right with knee flexion
4:2 Footstep left forwards and to the right (preparation for turn towards follower and to rotate)
4:3 Complete turn towards follwer, establish duplex hold, turn on left sole
4:1 Footstep left forwards, body turns slightly to the left
4:2 Wait!! The right sole is tapped immeadetly to the left foot. The body follows the leader´s clockwise rotation
4:3 Duplex hold. Footstep right forwards and to the right, rotation
:1 Footstep right forwards and to the right with knee flexion. The body turns with a constant
speed, a significant portion of the rotation is by turning on the sole
:2 Footstep left, and then transfer of weight to the left sole
:3 The right foot is moved to the left foot, eventually tapping floor but without transfering weight. The body turns with constant rotation, the turning is mainly on the soles.
:1 Footstep left forwards with knee flexion. The body turns with a constant speed all the time
:2 Turn on left sole, the right foot is moved to the side of the left and is tapped to the floor without transfer of weight
:3 Footstep right forwards/slightly to the right, with continued rotation. The turn is partly performed in the hips, knees and ancles
Completion by footsteps right, left, right. This is the mirroring of the follower´s steps in bar 4. The rotation slows down and the duplex hold is ended and passed to a single-sided hand hold
The follower continues to turn but slows down at the end. The double hold is passed to a single-sided hand hold
In hambo, as in most other traditional Swedish dances, it is preferable with a fluent move forwards in the dancing direction.
The forwards move should be about the same for dalsteg, turns and when gathering.
The first beat in each bar might invite to flexing the knees, depending on the style of the music.
Hambo variants should preferably use the same style (with flexing and movement) as the standard hambo.
By alternating the variants the dance becomes more varied.
The hambo music is sometimes slow and soft, sometimes brisk and lively. At the higher paces variants from other gammaldans such as Gubbstöt, can be used, while the slower melodies might invite to use some steps from polskor.
Some decades ago the so called Stockholmshambo was quite common. The hambo music was by then mostly played at a considerably higher pace compared with today.
The dancers, at least in the Stockholm area, did then quite often skip the knee flexing, thus making the dance less demanding.
On bar 8 the leader lets the follower´s hand slip from his shoulder over his arm and down to his right hand. This is achieved by the leader making one turn clockwise on bar 8, while the follower makes a normal end of the turn. On the first beat on bar 1 the leader will then be positioned to the left of the follower, headed forwards and with her left hand in his right in the face level.
From this position the leader makes three turns under his own arm during the first three bars, keeping the knee flexing and forwards movement. At the last part of the third turn he positions himself in front of the follower and goes directly into the normal hambo turns.
The follower uses the same steps as in normal hambo. If preferred, the dalsteg can be replaced by walking steps.
The variant can not easily be lead, but hopefully the follower will use her normal steps and keep her normal position, as she does not get any signals to do something else.
It does however sometimes happen that the follower tries to lead the turn and/or take a position in front of or to the left of the leader, blocking his attempt to dance into a position in front of her.
If this happens the variant has to be quit and replaced by something else. If this happens, you might consider to give the follower a hint to stay at your right side while you are turning.
This variant can be simplified by just turning during the first two bars.
Establish a double sided low hand hold on the first beat of the first bar, and start to dance around each other counter-clockwise with six walking steps or polskeförsteg, starting with the left foot. The opening has to be resolute, but after that there is plenty of time. On the third bar the normal hambo is resumed. Keep the knee flexing on the first beat in each bar all the time.
The follower´s steps can be the leader´s but inverted, alternatively just walking steps for each beat at the same spot.
The variant is led by using a double hand hold from start of the variant.
As the follower likely expects to use dalsteg forwards at beat 1, the leader has to start the variant promptly.
Caution: As the steps are danced around each other they do not use a forwards movemen. Thus this variant is generally suitable only for the two very first bars of a melody, when other dancers have not yet started their dance. If the melody starts without preludes, it is necessary to be alert and watch the musicians.
On the other hand, sometimes other dancers dance their dalsteg without any forwards movement. If so, the variant can be used more freely.
A normal polska bakmes is also very handy to use in hambo. It works just as well if the leader or the follower takes steps on each beat while the other takes steps on beat one and three. The attached video link shows an example of this.
You can freely choose to start the bakmes when you want, e.g. directly after the turns or after the dalsteg.
This variant starts on bar 8, by making one and a half turn clockwise on three steps, right-left-right for the leader, left-right-left for the follower.
Then the dance continues with rundpolska for almost three (alternatively 4) turns (left-together-right for the leader, together-right-left for the follower). On 3:3 (alternatively 4:3) the rotation slows down when the leader keeps staying on his right foot for one extra beat. The follower does the same, but on her left foot.
This will lead to that the next step will be a normal hambo turn step. The normal hambo will thus be resumed from the first beat in the following bar.
Try to keep the hambo knee flexing style on beat one also when dancing the Rundpolska, although it is a little more tricky to bend on the opposite knees.
There are some alternatives for this variant.
The first alternative starts with the follower on the "wrong" side, that is to the left of the leader.
This position is achieved by the leader taking the follower´s left hand with his right in a wide and open hold in the waist level, keeping his left arm around the follower´s waist, and with the follower on his left side headed forwards.
From this position the variant is danced as follows:
The remaining beats (4-8) are danced as in normal hambo
The variant can also be opened by the leader turning.
In this case the leader starts by turning counter-clockwise under his own arm, while the follower takes one dalsteg from her normal position.
On bar 2 the follower makes one clockwise turn.
On bar 3 the leader makes one and a half turn counter-clockwise, and dance into a closed hold with the follower, starting the hambo turns from there.
Start out using waltz counter-clockwise, one turn for two bars. This will lead to that the hambos turns will be started on bar 3, one bar before the normal hambo turns begin. Opening the variant in this way will make the leading simple, as you will already be turning counter-clockwise with your partner with a closed hold.
Once the counter-clockwise hambo runs smoothly, an alternative is to start the turns on beat 4. One way to do so is to use two normal dalsteg. Then on the walking steps the leader leads the follower distinctly forwards and into a half turn counter-clockwise so she stands with her back in the dancing direction, directly in front of the leader.
This lead needs to be distinct - but not too distinct! Otherwise the follower might continue with an extra counter-clockwise turn on her own.
During the turns the leader´s left foot is kept to the left of the follower´s right. So far I am used to not move my right foot to the side of my left on beat 2, but rather keep my right foot above the floor behind me.
When the turning feels comfortable, the hambo can be danced using only counter-clockwise turns right through the dance.
Try to keep the knee flexing on beat one also when dancing hambo counter-clockwise.
The following variants can replace the normal dalsteg:
At the end of the entrance to the turns on bar 3, the leader minimizes the distance to the follower, and at the same time makes a deep bend in the knees. At the same time, the leader puts his right arm around the follower´s waist. At the first beat of bar 4, the leader lifts the follower by stretching the knees. Then the leader continues with his normal hambo turn while the follower is getting to the ground. Thus the lift becomes an element of the first turn. The follower hopefully take part in the lift by also bending her knees and then jump off - but do not rely on this if it is the first time the follower is exposed to this surprise.
The follower can eventually improve the impression of the lift by lifting the feet behind her. This can also improve the stability if the lift is high.
A warning! Do NOT try to lift by using your own back and waist - this might lead to a significant risk for injury of your back! This risk is particularly high if the follower is not prepared to assist with the lift. If the follower do not expect the lift and do not support it, it will be low and the strain might be more pronounced.
On the other hand, the follower seems to easily anticipate the lift if she has been exposed to it previously. If so it will run much smoother.
As there is a turn at the same time as the lift, it is somewhat difficult for the leader to assist the follower with the landing. Do for this reason not strive for doing the lift higher than can be combined with a fluent dance and a resilient landing.
Strictly speaking, this variant does not contain any of the Swedish bugg dance. But as I have not found a better title, I use it anyway. A more adequate description is perhaps a one sided pancake turn.
The variant can easily be combined with the variant with dalsteg behind each other, further explained below.
I believe this variant was created as a result of a mistake - wrong hand hold, with the leader´s left hand holding the follower´s left after the dalsteg. There are several ways to achieve this position, here is one explained:
Leader: At bar 8, stop turning when having the back in the dancing direction, using three small steps, the last of them backwards. At the same time, take the follower´s right hand with your left, at waist height and not too close to your body. The follower is now headed forwards, the leader backwards.
During the first bar the leader and the follower dance around each other counter-clockwise using three steps. The leader´s steps are left-right-left to a direction forwards, the follower right-left-right to direction backwards.
During the second bar the follower continues around the leader´s back to the right side, while the leader takes his steps on the same place. At the end of the bar the leader takes the follower´s right hand with his right, still keeping the left hand hold over his own left shoulder. The leader´s steps are right-left-right, the follower left-right-left.
This results in the follower being placed to the right of the leader, both headed forwards, with the left hands over the leader´s shoulder, the right hands to the right of the leader.
This double hand hold is then kept until bar 8, and also during the following two bars in the next variant.
During bar 3 and 4 the follower spins counter-clockwise around her own shoulder, and at the same time one turn counter-clockwise around the leader. Both the leader and the follower takes one step on each beat. The leader does not turn at all. When the follower dances around the leader´s back on bar 4 the leader has to take his steps moving only sideways.
Thus it is needed to move twice as fast forwards on the odd bars, to keep the same average speed as other dancers. The leader moves significantly forwards on his first step (left), then stepping right-left, at the same time as the follower spins. At the same time he moves sideways in the opposite direction to the follower, to make her turns easier.
Bars 5 and 6 are danced in the same way as bars 3 and 4.
Bar 7 is danced as bar 3. On bar 8 the leader dances right-left-right in a small bow counter-clockwise to a position behind the follower and leads at the same time the follower so she is positioned in front of him, both headed forwards.
This part has to be danced rather actively by the leader. The double hand hold is kept, with the left hands to the left of the couple, the right hands to the right.
Make sure that the characteristics of the hambo is kept, with forwards movement and knee flexing.
From a video recording we found we used another opening:
At the end of the preceding variant, the leader continues to spin on his own one more turn clockwise using three steps. This will lead to that the leader and the follower will exchange position. This can also be used as a nice variation where leader and follower temporarily exchange steps. But in this case the leader uses his left hand behind the follower´s back and turns her in front of him self one turn clockwise. During this turn the hand hold is released, and the leader dance left-right behind-left to the left and forwards.
On bar 2 the couple will be headed as normal for the second dalsteg, however with the leader´s arm behind the follower to stop her move. After the second dalsteg the leader leads the follower forwards and in front of himself, and takes with his left hand the follower´s left when she passes him.
After this he leads her around his own back during the next bar, and takes her right hand with his right when she has passed his back. From this position the same variant as described above can be danced, although with one less turn as two more bars have already been used.
From the ending position in the previous bugg variant, both the leader and the follower take their first dalsteg to the left. As this is opposite to what the follower is used to, the leader has to be distinct when leading the step to the left. The double hand hold makes this job easy.
The next dalsteg is then danced to the right for both the leader and the follower. Before that the leader moves to the right side of the follower behind her back, and take his dalsteg on the right side of the follower.
Before the third bar the leader then change back to the left side of the follower. On the third bar the leader dances forwards to the left of the follower, and it is not until now the hand hold is released. After this the remaining bars until bar 7 is danced as in normal hambo.
On bar 8 the leader has to be very clear and distinct to make the follower move to a position in front of the leader. This can be done using the right palm against the follower´s back. The same hand hold as when this variant started is then established.
On the first beat of the next bar the dalsteg are once again taken behind each other, but this time starting to the right. As the follower can not see what the leader is doing behind her back, the steps must be clearly felt by her through the contact in the hands and possibly arms.
This can be tricky, for this reason it might be a good idea to combine the now described variants a few times, so the follower gets a chance to anticipate what might come.
The next dalsteg is then consequently danced to the left of both the leader and the follower. The hambo turns are then danced counter-clockwise.
As the leader stands to the left of the follower, and on just two bars shall pass behind her back, pass her on her right side, make a half turn counter-clockwise, take a closed hold, and then together with the follower turn at least half a turn counter-clockwise to a nice position for starting the hambo turns, the leader has no time for hesitation.
On the first bar (right-left-right), the leader moves behind the follower´s back and pass her on her right side, at the same time releasing the hand hold, and starts his own counter-clockwise turn, at the same time taking the follower´s right arm with his left hand.
On the second bar, (left-turn on left-right) the leader continues turning counter-clockwise, establishing a closed hold of the follower and then continues the turn together with the follower half a turn counter-clockwise, step to the right foot, and is thus ready to start the hambo turn counter-clockwise on the left foot. The leader has thus before bar 4 already made one turn counter-clockwise.
The follower´s steps during the first bar after the dalsteg is right-feet together-left.
The variant is then ended by dancing hambo counter-clockwise to bar 8 or continuously. I find it easier not to to move my right foot to the side of the left when dancing hambo counter-clockwise.
In the video below, the counter-clockwise turns are abandoned,caused by tip shaped dance floor
Dance with knots is something that I mostly associate with the Swedish dance bugg, but a similar dance can be used in many contexts, e.g. for schottische and hambo. In the bugg dance, my feeling is that the knot variant is danced without much forwards movement. But in the gammaldans the forwards movement is needed if you want to avoid to get unfriendly glances on the dance floor!
Obviously in the hambo dance the footsteps in the beats need to be modified. Similarly with when dancing bugg to waltz music, the footsteps are on beat one and three, while beat two also contains body movement, but without any footsteps.
There are several ways to establish the knot, an example can be found in the attached video below.
On bar one the leader leads the follower in front of him without changing the hold, while he takes three steps more or less at the same place. On bar 2 the leader use the bakmes step, while the follower spins two turns clock-wise, to a position headed forwards and with the couple side by side. The hand hold is best shown on the attached video.
From this position the couple dance bakmes side by side, keeping the knot hold. This continues until beat 7, where the winding up begins. This can also be achieved in several ways. The attached video shows a variant where the follower spins two turns counter-clockwisse under the leader´s arm. The video also shows an example of how to finish the variant.
A note regarding this video and all others shown in this page: The dance floor used in these examples is very limited in space and with a tip triangular form, which in some cases makes it more or less impossible to keep the continous flow forwards in the dance. Whenever possible, I prefer to keep a forwards movement all through the dance.
Last updated: Oct 19, 2014