English Country Dance
English Country Dance is the common name for dances propagated by John Playford and later his sons and other heirs in the book titled The English Dancing Master (later renamed to The Dancing Master). This style of dancing evolved in England, and eventually spread to France and Germany and later to the New World, and even Australia. Bush dances such as Strip the Willow are included in later editions of The English Dancing Master.
It was published in 1651 and is theoretically outside of the SCA period but is commonly done in the SCA anyway. English Country Dance can be classified as early Baroque Dance rather than Renaissance Dance, although it is not clear that the dances in The English Dancing-Master are more closely allied to most Baroque dances than to Renaissance dances. There are references to dances with some of the same names as those of Playford before 1600, although from the description of a couple of these it is clear that the dance was significantly different from those later printed by Playford.
Many of these dances are somewhat similar in form, often being for formations of two, three, or four couples, often consisting of what many modern teachers call a verse-and-chorus structure. The three "verse" sections are typically leading forward and back or circling two doubles around in the first verse, sides in the second, and arms in the third. However, this is at best a general guideline.
There is also the Morris dance, (originally Moorish) reputedly brought back during the Crusading period, danced by small groups of men, bearing bells, sticks, handerchiefs and the like, and frequently alleged to have been linked to certain English pagan traditions. See (mundanely) the works (passim) of Terry Pratchett, and accounts of the Helston Furry Dance, and the Padstow May Dance.
Some English country dances
- Del's Dance Book, contains many English Country Dance reconstructions with their music.
- Transcription of the first edition of The English Dancing Master.