English Country Dance

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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, most likely from the Branle, 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 properly be thought of as early Baroque Dance rather than Renaissance Dance. There are references to dances with some of the same names as those in 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.

The reconstructed dances are somewhat similar in form, usually being for sets of two, three, or four couples, consisting of a verse-and-chorus structure. The three "verse" sections tend to involve processing up and back in the first verse; siding in the second; and arming in the third. However, this is at best a general guideline.

There is also the Morris dance, (originally Moorish) 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 Practchett, and accounts of the Helston Furry Dance, and the Padstow May Dance.

Some English country dances

From the Carolingian dance book:

  • Chestnut
  • Dargason
  • Gathering Peascods
  • Grimstock
  • Heart's Ease
  • Hyde Park
  • If all the world were paper
  • Jenny Plucks Pears
  • Mage on a Cree
  • Parsons Farewell
  • Picking of Sticks
  • Rufty Tufty
  • Upon a Summer's Day

External Links