English Country Dance
PCD holds English Country Dances on the second Saturday of almost every month. Please check our Calendar of Events on the home page for variations to this schedule and a printable version of it. It's important to check regularly, since there are some months without an English Country Dance.
English country dancing is an ancestor to modern contra dancing, and there are many similarities between the two dance forms. Most English country dances take place in a long column of couples, just like contra dancing, but English country dancing includes a wide variety of other formations, such as smaller sets of 2, 3, or 4 couples, and dances in circle and square formations. Many of the figures found in contra dancing are based on figures from English country dancing, so it’s easy to make the transition from contra dancing to English country dancing. The music used for English country dances features a wide range of moods, tempos, and time signatures, including reels, jigs, slip jigs, triple time and waltz time dances. Because of this great variety, the music and the dances may be lively, boisterous, elegant, romantic, energetic, driving, or stately. An evening of English country dancing provides contrast in formations, the tempo of the dances, and the mood of the dances.
Historically English country dancing was danced with various steps and fancy footwork, but the step used for modern English country dancing is a smooth walking step. Take a look at the following videos for a good sense of what it's like to come to an English country dance.
(ECD description written by Sue Dupré)
Video 1 Courtesy of Michael Dyck
Video 2 Courtesy of Whyy
More About ECD
Schedule of Events
Helpful Hints and Etiquette
History of English Country Dancing:
English Country Dance was the primary form of social dancing in England and America in the 1600's, 1700's and early 1800's. Jane Austen loved English country dancing; a movie based on a Jane Austen novel would not be complete without a scene featuring English country dancing. George Washington was passionate about dancing; it was a mark of an educated and cultured person in the 18th Century to dance well. During the 19th Century, a craze for couple dancing (polkas, waltzes, mazurkas, galops, and more) swept English country dancing from the social dance scene. But, in the early 1900s, folklorist Cecil Sharp led a rediscovery of English country dances from old manuscripts, and now English country dancing is danced around the world. The dances we dance in the 21st century include reconstructions of historic dances, but our dance programs now also feature many lovely modern compositions.