Heinäsirkka, Heinäsirkka, tanssi täällä humppaa


English Title Grasshopper, grasshopper; you dance the Humppa or St. Urho's Humppa.


Heritage Freshly fermented.
Category Group dance.
Motivation and application Celebratory.


Type Humppa (2/4).


Function Group dance.
Footwork Exhuberent.
Specific steps Original Turkey Trot style Humppa
Formation A crowd of individual dancers, who might form couples at times.


Little is preserved of the writing of the great St. Urho.  Even the dates of his life are disputed.  So to reconstruct the methods of the Saint who rid Finland of plagues of grasshoppers, it was necessary to delve into the product he saved, the output of the Vinyards of Finland.

After long and careful study; it was determined that St. Urho himself studied the grasshopper just as carefully.  He studied their eating the grapes, and the side to side motions of their jaws.  He studied their song, made by rubbing their legs together.  And he studied their flight, flapping wings along their backs.

When he imitated these actions, as described below, the grasshoppers would fly away and leave the Finnish Vinyards alone.  This strategy showed promise, but had two major problems.

Grasshoppers with broken wings, many, could not fly.  So they stayed, reproduced like mad and ate the grape leaves anyway.

Also Finland's neighbors, Sweden and Russia, were not happy to see the vast clouds of grasshoppers flying out of Finland onto their fields.  And both had large enough armies to express their displeasure in significant ways.

St. Urho was not easily discouraged.  And the short war was soon over, as those grasshoppers had eaten too much to leave food for many soldiers.  St. Urho added a study of hopping to his work, but never got the grasshoppers to hop far enough away to save any vinyards.

Then, in a burst of genius, he realized that there is dance, the Humppa, which is almost as much fun as mating, which could distract the grasshoppers enough to keep the grasshopper population in check.  Success!  The grasshopper no longer eats Finnish grape leaves.



1 - 4
A.  Eat Grape leaves:

With your wrists beside your face, rhythmically imitate the side to side chewing of a hungry grasshopper.  Grasshoppers move only their necks when they eat.  If you add footwork, you exhibit bad table manners.

5 - 8
B.  Sing:

Stand on one foot, whichever can best carry a tune, and rub your free foot against your leg, singing like a grasshopper.

9 - 12
C.  Fly:

Hands on hips; flap your elbows like grasshopper wings.  If you accidentally flap your way into a neighboring country, be peaceful and don't eat too much.

13 - 16
D.  Hop:

Hopping four times on both feet at once, bounce over and get close to a partner.  Get close!  No, that is not close enough, get closer.

17 - 32
E.  Original Turkey Trot style Humppa:

Turkey Trot Hold: Man L hand holds Woman R, arm straight down pumping back and forth as the couple steps.  Man R arm and woman L behind the partner's back hugging as tightly as possible, without getting slapped, anyway.  Lean forward into each other from the waist, only the shoulders and upper chest touch.

Humppa Step: Man L foot forward in any safe direction, woman R foot backward.  Step, step, step, pause and reverse, step step, step, pause and reverse, repeat until the music makes you hungry for more grape leaves.

You might keep the same partner through the whole dance.  Or the dancers might do it as a scramble style mixer.

Should the humppa tune you select have a phrasing that does not fit these counts, or the dancers refuse to let go at the end of the couple portion; the leader yells "I'm hungry" to direct the grasshoppers back to the main course.

This dance was cooked up after Carla & Al's 2004 St. Urho's party in Rochester Washington.  It was tested on unsuspecting dancers at a hambo workshop at the Mountaineer's Snoqualmie Lodge on Feb 28, 2005.  The whole rigamaroll was practiced at a Katrilli rehearsal at the Swedish Cultural Center March 13, 2005 and inflicted upon the public at the Skandia Folkdance Society dance on March 18, 2005.

In spite of the obvious elegance of this dance, it is still being done.  In 2009 a video of the dance being done in 2007 was downloaded to youtube.  It probably took a while for anyone to decide they dared to have this seen by the general public.  The band was named Kotona, Randy Howard on bass, Kris Johansson on fiddle, Pat Spaeth on accordion, Bjarne Jacobsen on guitar and Chris Barnes playing the harmonium that once was in the officer's lounge on the battleship USS South Dakota.  Neither Kris nor Chris is really visible on the stage.  Pat McMonagle, the dance ahem composer, dances in a light purple shirt, beard, balding head and suspenders.

Copyright © 2005 Patrick McMonagle Heinäsirkka, Heinäsirkka, tanssi täällä humppaa

You may freely distribute this document provided you agree to retain this copyright notice and mention the web site www.folkdancing.com.