About English Country Dance

What is English Country Dance?
English Country Dance is a form of social dance done with partners in different set formations (long or short lines, circles,squares, etc.), and is a predecessor of square and contra dances. Delightfully obscure, yet very accessible, ECD is, most of all,heaps of fun and is filled with "magic moments."
Where can I see it?
English Country Dance takes place in communities around the world, at regularly-scheduled events, special events, as part of folk festivals, in literature, on stage and in films. ECD has recently been seen in film versions of Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" and "Persuasion." Agnes de Mille "borrowed" a classic dance for her choreography in the original stage version of "Brigadoon." This site presents schedules and links to ECD on the West Coast and beyond. The Country Dance and Song Society is a national organization for many ECD groups.

Music in English Country Dance
Most communities on the West Coast are blessed with wonderful musicians who play for the dances. The music for ECD is always very melodic and hummable; the tunes are intrinsically tied to the dances. Many of the tunes come from composers including Purcell,Handel and Grainger, as well as other traditional, folk, classical and contemporary sources.

The Verbal Language of English Country Dance

English Country Dance has a lovely vocabulary of its own, though many of the terms have crossed over to and from New England contra dances, squares, and Scottish Country Dance. For many of the most-frequently used calls, here is a list of terms, courtesy of Country Dance * New York.

In addition to the vocabulary of ECD, the style in the dance also adds to its enjoyment and beauty. CD*NY also has created "The Way We Dance" with some thoughts about the look and feel of ECD.

What to Wear

For regularly-scheduled events and festivals, dress is usually casual, though most ladies choose to wear dresses or full skirts. While some dances may be romantic or stately, others can be quite rollicking or bouncy. Most important is your footwear -- we recommend soft, leather-soled non-street shoes. Athletic footwear can stick to the floor, discouraging smooth, comfortable movement.

Dress at special events and balls tends to the festive end of the spectrum. Attire can range from period costume to black-tie to kilts to generic festive, or not.

Do I need to come with a partner?

No. While these dances are done with partners, in various formations, our tradition encourages dancing with many different people. Bring yourself, and dance with old and new friends. And bring friends, too.
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