What is English Country Dancing?
English Country Dancing is a form of folk dancing from England that can be dated as far back as 1480. The most common form of English Country Dancing is in “longways sets” where men and women face one another in long, straight lines and perform figures. They were more complex than simple peasant dances, but weren’t so complicated that only the idle aristocracy would have the time to learn them.
English Dancing Master by John Playford, c. 1651
The oldest instructional book of English country dances was written by John Playford in 1648. Some of the dances from Playford’s “English Country Dancing Master” are still danced today.
The Regency Era & Jane Austen
Jane Austen’s novels were set in the regency time period of English history (between the Georgian and Victorian eras.) At this time, English Country Dancing was at its height amongst the landed gentry and balls were of common occurrence.
In recent years, films originating from Jane Austen’s novels have reintroduced the dances of the Regency Era to popular culture.
Sense & Sensibility
Pride & Prejudice
Expansion to America
With the rise of immigration to the New World, English Country Dancing was brought to America amongst the settlers and were popular in the colonies.
English Country Dancing gradually faded during the 19th Century with the introduction of cotillions, quadrilles, polkas, and waltzes to America’s ballrooms.
Modern English Country Dancing
In the 1970s, English Country Dancing continued its resurgence with the preparations for America’s bicentennial. Local dancing groups sprung up all over New England. Since then, groups like the Country Dance and Song Society have continued to provide resources for an ever-growing ECD Community. Local dancing groups are springing up all over – there may even be one in your own backyard.
What Are YOU Waiting For?
English Country Dancing is for all ages and skill levels!
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