English Country Dance

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English Country Dance is a form of folk dance. It is a social dance form, which has earliest documented instances in the late 16th century. Queen Elizabeth I of England is noted to have been entertained by "Country Dancing," although the relationship of the dances she saw to the surviving dances of the mid-17th century is disputed. English Country Dance (ECD) was popular well into the Baroque and Regency eras. Whereas several figures common to English Country Dance, e.g. arming and the straight hey, are found in the traditional dances and display dances such as morris, ECD's origins rest among the gentry, first at court, then spreading to bourgeois-London, finally moving into country manors around England.[citation needed]



Published instructions for English Country Dance first appear in John Playford's The English Dancing Master of 1651. This collection was reprinted, revised, and enlarged many times, with a final edition published sometime around 1728. [1] Playford was not the author or choreographer of these dances; he was a music publisher, for whom dance manuals were a profitable sideline. By the early 18th century, other publishers began to issue collections of dances as well; a conservative estimate of the number of dances in the English style published between 1651 and 1810 would run to around 20,000[citation needed]. Most of the dances we have from the 17th and 18th centuries are anonymous, notable exceptions being Nathaniel Kynaston and Thomas Bray. Most of these dance collections, unfortunately, offer little or nothing by way of description of steps; at best, they suggest 'floor tracks.'

English Country Dance was also popular in France. André Lorin visited the English court in the late 17th century and after returning to France he presented a manuscript of dances in the English manner to Louis XIV. In 1706 Raoul Auger Feuillet published his Recüeil de Contredances, a collection of "contredanse anglais" presented in a simplified form of Beauchamp-Feuillet notation and including some dances invented by the author as well as authentic English dances. This was subsequently translated into English by John Essex and published in England as For the Further Improvement of Dancing. Copies of these books may be found online. [2]

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