The Dance Niche
With Emphasis on English Country Dance
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- English Country Dances
sponsored by the Folklore Society of Greater Washington (fsgw.org)
- Washington Spring Ball — is conducted annually in May, absent cancellations due to the Covid endemic. Find info about balls at fsgw.org on the
Annual Events page.
- View Compilations of dances called
Info on English Country Dance
— scroll for more (contra,
resources — links for music / videos / instructions)
Ann Arbor Council for Traditional Music and Dance (AACTMAD, Michigan) offers English country dancing as well as contra, swing and fusion ("A kaleidoscopic of dancing across a broad spectrum of styles . . . old favorites . . . and new. 'It's like dim sum for your feet!'") AACTMAD offers one of the few remaining Dawn Dances — dance 'till dawn. Also has links to dances in northwestern Ohio.
English country dance in
The Country Dance Society, Boston Centre, sponsors dances, dance camps, and produces publications and recordings.
Notable is their series,
The English Country Dance Collection,
which endeavors to make available recordings of English country dance music which can
be used for dancing — they are recorded at dance tempo. The series, recorded on CDs, features Bare Necessities; fifteen CDs were available in May, 2015.
Booklets of instructions for dances are available to accompany a few of the CDs. The Boston Centre also posts a calendar of English country dances in Massachusetts on the CDS-Boston Centre web site.
Cecil Sharp House, home of London's
English Folk Dance and Song Society. See also more on Southwestern England under
Central Illinois English Country Dancers.
In Delaware, the Dover English Country Dancers meet on the second Saturday of most months.
Dress is casual except at balls when eighteenth century attire is worn. The group also sponsors occasional square and contra dances.
Durham, North Carolina's Sun Assembly English Country Dancers meet on 2nd
and 4th Thursdays and sponsor an English Dance Fest in March.
Florida — Snow Birds and others may want to track-down ECD in Florida. Dance Web Florida
has a comprehensive listing of English country dances around the state, including ECD in Gainesville where the "Gods" dance on Monday nights.
Germantown Country Dancers — ECD near Philadelphia.
New York City Area:
Chatham, New York, located near the Hudson River between NYC and Albany, is the location of the
Columbia County Dance Series. Callers from the New York and New England areas
are featured during their dance season which typically runs from May through October.
New Jersey — south and north:
"Northern" Virginia English Country:
- Organized in the Summer of 2008, The Leesburg Assembly conducts monthly dances
on Saturdays. Check the Leesburg Assembly web site for current venue info — they moved from the Clifton area to Reston, VA, in March, 2011. The dance is convenient to D.C. Metro Area dancers.
- The Piedmont Regency Dancers dance monthly in Upperville. Dances are conducted in
at Trinity Episcopal Church, 9114 John S. Mosby Highway (Rt. 50), about 40 miles west of the Washington, DC Beltway (I-495).
Canada / Overseas
- Webfeet provides links to dances in Europe and England as well as the USA; a very comprehensive listing appears, including non-US / Canada links appear on the Rehoboth Contra Dance page.
- ECD / Contra in Canada listings
- Canada, St. John's, Newfoundland:
The St. John's English Country Dance Group meets at St. James Church on Elizabeth Avenue on Tuesday evenings. In 2015, sessions began on September 15, continuing through early December. Classes run from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., with a break at 8:30. Instructors are Noreen MacLennan and Martin Mulligan, accompanied by a pianist, violaist and violinist (2). Cost is $5. Beginners are welcome through mid-October. Contact: email Noreen MacLennan,
. The St. John's ECD group has also started a
- Scottish Country Dance classes are also conducted on Mondays at 7:00 p.m. in the Wesley Church on Patrick Street. There is also a vibrant music scene in St. John's with live music and jams in pubs on Duckworth and Water Streets in downtown St. John's. Lively Irish music can be heard most nights of the week.
- ECD in France? I've not found ECD groups in France. However, such a reference appeared on the ECD mailing list in December, 2014. The reference is to
"English Country Dancing & Danses anciennes de l'époque des Stuarts . . . et romans de Jane Austen!"
American Country Dances On Line: look-up a dance and review the calls.
Ball Room Blum: April and Jerry Blum have a marvelous ball room as part of their home in Adelphi Maryland. Watch their
Facebook page for events. April serves as the president of the Folklore Society of Greater Washington (FSGW, as of 2014); both April and Jerry are devoted dancers and selflessly serve our folk community.
Find places to dance:
In addition to links provided elsewhere on this page, compilations are sometimes helpful to dancers looking for a place to kick-up their heels.
- Canada: Toronto Contra Dance; in addition to regularly scheduled dances, they have special events
— check them out under the DANCES drop-down at the top of the web page. The drop-down also includes links to other dances in and outside of Toronto.
- The Country Dance and Song Society —
links to organizations by state / Canadian Province
- The Dance Gypsy, for dancers who get around
- "Contra Dance / Contradance in the United States, Canada, and the World"
- The National Dance Grid, maintained by Ted Crane, lays out dances by day of the week and Location.
- Bristol, well,
near Bristol: check-out this site for info on dance from folk in THORNBURY, including
"Playford, Country, Cotswold Morris, Garland and Sword Dancing"), with links to other folk-dance sites
- Halsway Manor (National centre for the folk arts) described as having a community aspect similar to Pinewoods in a beautiful historical setting. Americans frequently
join dance / sightseeing tours that include dancing at Halsway.
- Henry Morgenstein and his wife, Jacqui, organize
"Dance Ventures" (weekends, dance tours, etc.) in various venues around Great Britain.
Some may know Henry from his having organized the "Between the Bays" dance weekend in Michigan. He also writes essays about dance and reflections on life. Look for them as links on his home page.
- The Wiltshire Folk Association lists both contra and English country dance events for southwestern England, including an announcement for an English country dance ball in BATH
- Festivals (attendees orgainze their own accomodations):
- Set & Turn Single provides listings of English, contra, other forms of dance as well as festivals and other events
at various locations in England
leads one to several locations for ECD, "American" contra dance, English Barn Dances, "contra waltzing," and polkas. John Sweeny has a wealth of info on this web page.
- Hawaii — fold dance all over the world, including Hawaii.
- New England Folk Festival Association (NEFFA) has an annual folk festival (huge) and
links to dances and events in New England
- New England Contra Dances
- Seattle Folk Dancing — comprehensive listing of many types of folk dancing
- Gender-role free info is provided by Lavender Country and Folk Dancers
Tips on dancing with beginning contra dancer, compiled by Jonathan Sivier, are also worthy of the ECDer's attention.
What is contra dance? Gary Shapiro explains. Bob Stein's lists dances by location — by
state as well as in Canada and other locales.
Reproductions of Dance Manuals, circa 17th to early 20th century.
Cracking Chestnuts — originally
appeared as a series of columns on dance in the CDSS Newsletter. David re-published the material with David Millstone as a book, Cracking Chestnuts: The Living Tradition of American Contra Dances. Includes 17 classic New England contras, with tunes,
the original articles from the CDSS Newsletter, and additional material. An appendix contains 20 additional dances and essays
on calling and related material. Available in 2011 in the
CDSS Bookstore for $20.
Bare Necessities: a premier English country dance band
has produced several CDs, both for listening and dancing. They have undertaken a significant
project, in cooperation with Boston Centere: recording a set of CDs being produced expressly for
dancing, a valuable source for those who do not have the luxury of local musicians versed in ECD music (see
Benefits of dance recognized for years.
Laws of Etiquette in 1836.
Enjoy weekend and week-long dance get-a-ways at a dance camp. Try events sponsored by the Country Dance and Song Society CDSS and other organizations at
Pinewoods and other camps.
weekends are conducted on Memorial Day each year and include contra and swing dancing.
Other excellent venues for dance and music camps include the Swannanoa Gathering
in the Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina and
Augusta Heritage Center, Davis and Elkins College, Elkins, W.Va.
In the mid-west, the Bloomington Old-Time Music and Dance Group sponsors Sugar Hill, camping and dancing at Lake Monroe
— near Bloomington, Indiana. Established just a few years ago, the
River Rendezvous weekend, in July, is held in a restored dance
hall (with A.C.) in the rolling hills of eastern Ohio near Coshocton (convenient to I-70). In the Southwest, check-out Dance in the Desert near Tucson.
Czech Republic Dance Tour. Read about a Dance Tour of the Czech Republic in an article written for the CDSS Newsletter
(164 kB; this article orignially appeared in the CDSS Newsletter, Fall, 2011). The tour was conducted in October, 2010; it has been repeated bi-yearly with a tour scheduled for 2014. Both tours were led by American dance teacher David Millstone and Czech organizer, Jan Pumpr, of
Dvorana Dance, Prague, CZ.
Hawaiian treasure trove:
Contra Dancers of Hawaii sponsor contra dances and
their Home Page includes links to other venues in Hawaii as well as a
collection of contra dances, e.g., such chestnuts as
Money Musk and
with midi files of the music that goes with the dances.
Under the rubric of 'mixed links,' even hamsters dance!
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Folk Groups and Societies, Other forms of dance, etc.
- Tucson: Contra dances are sponsored in Tucson by the Tucson Friends of Traditional Music. They also sponsor Dance in the Desert, usually
held on the second weekend in November at the Triangle Y Ranch Camp, located at 5,000 ft. in the northern foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains. The camp is north of Tucson, near Oracle — home of the Biosphere.
- Phoenix: the Phoenix Traditional Music & Dance
sponsor contra dances, usually on 2nd Saturdays and 4th Fridays of the month.
has also started English country dances in Phoenix, conducted twice monthly at last check. Peg has also initiated a new experience,
Dance on the Edge,
"Combining the love of dancing with the joys of camping."
- Other: Check the home pages of the above groups for links to dances in Cottonwood, Flagstaff and
Prescott, as well as the May Madness dance weeekend.
Folklore Society of Greater Washington.
Annapolis Traditional Dance Society.
Arden Folk Dance Gild, Arden, Delaware — between Wilmington and Philadelphia
Baltimore Folk Music Society — song and dance, including ECD on Monday evenings. Dances are usually held at St. Mark's-on-the-Hill, 1620 Reisterstown Road.
Bellingham (WA) Country Dance Society holds contra dances on first Fridays and third Saturdays of each month with some fifth Saturday dances.
- Canadian Social Dance Events (contra, Irish, English, . . .)
- Canada-wide index — contra and other
- Toronto / Ontario
- English country dancing in Toronto, Ontario, with the Toronto English Country Dancers (TECD).
- On the south shores of Lake Huron / Georgian Bay, the
Lord Grey's English Country Dance Society dances monthly (check to see if there are
dances in the summer months). The group started in 2013 and has an "Apple Blossom Weekend"
in May. They dance in Clarksburg, Ontario which is ~2.5 hours NW of Toronto.
- Other venues: ECDs are also held in several other towns in Ontario. Search at cdss.org.
- Maritime Provinces:
- Halifax Contra Dances —
- Nova Scotia —
- SRDFNS: Square & Round Dance Federation of Nova Scotia. There are many dance-related links on this page, including a Calendar of Events, etc.
- Calendar of events, contra, concerts, etc.
- Vancouver / British Columbia:
- Vancouver County Dance (British Columbia) sponsors contra dance and music events, including the
Raincoast Ruckus and Chehalis dance weekends. Chehalis was formerly held in September at a coastal camp, reached by ferry, north of Vancouver.
The dance is back at
Cehalsis Healing House (the "Sts'ailes Lhawathet Lalem Healing Retreat Centre")
near Mission, BC (70 km east of Vancouver; 125 mi north of Seattle).
- Vancouver English Country Dance promote ECD in the spirit of Jane Austin. Their site includes links to other, related dance sites in the Vancouver area.
- Contra dances are also held on Vancouver Island by
Victoria Contra Dance, and Nanaimo.
- British Columbia's Victoria English Country Dance Society (VECD) gets together on a weekly basis. They say on their web site that they "dance in longways sets,
circles and squares . . . 'old' dances from the 18th and 19th centuries and 'new' dances in the English style created in the 20th and 21st centuries." VECD sponsors balls, e.g., the
"Turn of the Tide," March, 2009
- Dance on Mayne: Contra, English and
Scottish country dances are conducted on Mayne Island, a small island betweent Vancouver and Victoria, BC
Country Dance and Song Society: a society of societies and individuals. The
CDSS web site includes links to folk groups (CDSS affiliates),
listed by state, a calendar of events (national in scope),
and interesting articles
from previous editions of their Newsletter.
England: The Chippenham Folk Festival is sponsored by the Chippenham Folk Festival Association.
The Festival is on the river Avon in rural Wiltshire. Look for more under Wiltshire, above.
Florida: Dance Web Florida provides state-wide listings of current events for contra dancers as well as for
Ceilis, Scandi, International, and Scottish dancing.
Frederick, MD Contra Dances: Mid-Maryland Folk Arts Council
Friday Night Dancers: contra dances every Friday night at Glen Echo Park's
Spanish Ballroom, Glen Echo, Maryland.
Illinois has the Urbana Country Dancers which sponsors contra dances and other events, year-round.
Lewisburg, PA. Countryside Contra Dancers — they are about 60 mi north of Harrisburg (link updated 3/7/09 — hope it works for you).
Lloyd Shaw Foundation: dedicated to the preservation, restoration and teaching of the folk dances of America,
the Foundation sponsors dance camps, at several locations in the U.S., featuring varied styles of folk dance. It supports the folk community by
custom-cutting folk dance CD's, selling teaching kits for teacher's
elementary as well as recreational dancing, and provides seed money for new dance events.
NEFFA, the New England Folk Festival Association, has a multitude of activities,
not the least of which is the annal the NEFFA Festival, also known as the New England Folk Festival.
New Hampshire / Maine — The New Hampshire Old-Time Country Dance
group hosts the annual Star Hampshire Music &
Dance weekend off the coast of New Hampshire at the
Star Island Retreat and Conference Center
Philadelphia: Opportunities for enjoyment of folk dancing and music abound in the Philadelphia / Delaware Valley area: The Folk Dance Council of the Delaware Valley lists a wealth of opportunities in the
Seven Day Guide to Folk, Swing and Traditional Dancing In and Around Philadelphia.
North Carolina is a hot bed of contra (and other forms of) folk dance. In the Chapel Hill area,
the Triangle Country Dancers" meet on Fridays to dance contras. Asheville and environs is a well-known dance mecca in the
Smokey Mountains. Find dances in the Asheville region at the Old Farmer's Ball: see links in the side bar on their restructured home page.
People (dancers and musicians alike) rave about contra dances, hosted by Harvest Moon Folk Society, at the
River Falls lodge. Just across the border, south of Asheville, the "lodge"
is a funky, old building "renovated" by local volunteers.
Princeton Country Dancers — Contra and occasional ECD.
Shepherd's Town, W. Va.: Shepherdstown Music & Dance
Swarthmore College Folk Dance Club: ECD, Contras, Scottish, &c.
- Contra dances in the Charlottesville area are listed at Central Virginia Contra Dances for Charlottesville and nearby areas such as
Greenwood and Staunton. The Greenwood dance is held in a community center with a fine wood floor in the rolling hills a few miles west of Charlottesville.
- The "Norfolk Folk Dancer" reports on dance events in southwestern VA,
including the "Seven Cities of Southeastern Virginia," e.g., Newport News, Norfolk, Williamsburg, VA Beach.
- Richmond Virginia's Traditional American Dance and Music
Society sponsors contra dances and special dance events.
- Williamsburg Heritage Dancers — a community based club that meets weekly on Tuesdays. They have an annual George Washington Ball, for which many dress up; weekly dances are casual.
- Other south western VA dances: Contra with the Blue Ridge Country Dancers
in Floyd and in Blacksburg.
- Morgantown Dance sponsors the
June Moon Dance Weekend just outside of Morgantown, continuing In the spirit of the former "Balance and Swim." In its second year (2010), the dance was held in an outdoor dance pavilion in a rustic setting in the woods. Many dancers tent-camped on-site. Hosts went our of their way to tend to the needs of dancers and had great
line-up: Ron Buchanan called mind-bending contras and squares and Gaye Fifer called
great contras. Music was provided by the Contrarians and the Groovemongers.
- Shepherdstown Music & Dance sponsors dance and music events, including monthly contra dances,
Morris dancing, folk music concerts, and an annual hammered dulcimer fest. Check-out their Upper Potomac
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Dance Instruction and Other Resources
Dance graphics from Library of Congress
On-line copies of
Dance Instruction Manuals — ca. 1490 to 1920. This remarkable collection has been updated to include over 220 manuals with reproductions from the originals plus transcribed full-text versions.
Digital Collection of Dance Music | Other collections.
- The Dancing Master 1651–1728 An Illustrated Compendium is an athoritative, annotated source for the orginal, first edition of John Playord's dances. Thanks to Robert Keller for compiling the document and to
CDSS for hosting.
- Maintained by The British Library, details about the on-line
collection, which includes rare, unique editions, are at
Early Music Online.
- Barnes: THE authoritative compilations of English country dance tunes are contained in Barnes editions I, II, & III, with edition I having been published under the name of Peter and III under Kate Barnes. The books are available from
Canis Publishing. On line, The Barnes Book of english country dances tunes
Database, is under construction as of this writing (Jan, 2020). This resource includes tunes, dance instructions, and other useful material.
CDSS Online Library includes the following:
- Cracking Chestnuts
- Sheffield Collection
- Bolton Collection
- Sannella Annotated Bibliography
- Roy Dommett's Morris Notes Online Edition
- Colin Hume maintains an extensive collections of
dances & tunes, linked from his
- Cecil Sharp English Country Dance Tunebooks — available at
Lark in The Morning Free Music Library.
Videos: Members of the Lambertville (PA) Country dancers have put together a
master list of links to ECD videos on the web. The site has links to over 2,000 videos for recordings of hundreds of different English country dances.
- A National Library of Congress collection includes a reproduction of a 1698 edition of Playford's
The Dancing Master
- A painstakingly transcibed version of the first edition of Playford's book appears on Carnegie Mellon's web site,
The English Dancing Master (1651).
- Scott Pfitzinger has compiled a remarkable collection, The Playford’s Dancing Master: The Compleat Dance Guide.
The guide includes all of the dances in all the editions of the English Dancing Master and includes indices for number of dancers, figures used, time signature, etc."
- Eric Pratezel maintains an on-line facsimile of Playford's
The English Dancing Master at
Playford 1651 link (fast Internet connection advised). The page includes links sheet music scans and songs, some in MIDI format. Eric notes that the tunes contained in his reproductions may not be historically accurate but are "playable."
- Even more: NEFFA's
compilation of links, including ECD, ceilidh and barn Dances, a BIG collection at the College of William and Mary (expect some overlap and
redundancies between sites).
- The Round, a Cambridge University English Country Dance Club, has a wonderful site, with links to:
- An extensive list of EC Dances, with calls: Palmer's Pocket Playford, and
- The Round Band Book of Playford and other popular dance tunes.
- Elements of ECD (Description of ECD movements, e.g., "arming." Definitions extend to movements in other forms of dance, e.g., contra).
- Pat Shaw, Choreographer, musician, dancer and researcher, collected numerous English country dances. The Pat Shaw Legacy Group has compiled an extensive list of his dances, including instructions. See the list
- Historic Dance and Tune books are available in the extensive, on-line,
Vaughan Williams Library.
- ECD in the Netherlands: Antony Heywood's ECD page, which includes a searchable database
of dances with info on original sources and instructions (calls) for the dances.
- The English Country Dance Mailing List: Alan Winston maintains a great site devoted to English country dancing, including ECD "mailing list," which functions like a "listserv"
(click for instructions) for folks who have an avid interest in ECD; supported by the Country Dance and Song Society
Cecil Sharp Diaries.
Sponsored by the
Country Dance and Song Society, the
diaries from America by Cecil Sharp
are on-line at the efdss (English Folk Dance and Song Society).
travelled and lectured on folk music in Americia and is well known for his collections of folk music from in Appalachia.
Read more about background on the digitization of the collection, dedicated to the memory and contributions of
John M. ("Jack") Langstaff, and underwritten by
The Ithaka Foundation,
The Langstaff family and William L. Ritchie.
Michael Barraclough's Resources
Michael Barraclough, caller of English Ceilidh, English country, and contra dance forms, has put together useful resources which include,
- Dances instructions for dances by:
- Victor Skowronski
- Charles Bolton.
- Dances by others, e.g.,
- Pluck Me A Fig, by Anna Rain
- The Detour, by Sharon McKinley
- Michaels' interpretations and reconstructions of dances by others
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