English Country Dance (ECD) is a type of folk dance that has been around since the 16th century. You’ve probably seen English Country Dance if you’ve ever seen a period production of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice or Sense & Sensibility. Dancers perform to a wide variety of music and use a variety of dance styles in this dance form, which is known for being both sprightly and majestic. Although English Country Dance appears to be difficult, it is actually quite simple (and enjoyable) to learn.
The origins of English Country Dance can be traced back to 16th century court dances. French court dances, as well as earlier versions of gentrified dance in England, influenced these dances. The dances and music would have gradually spread out into the countryside, where they would have been performed in rural manors and later at festivals, beginning with the gentry who attended court dances. English Country Dance was popular during the Regency period, when Jane Austen’s famous and widely adapted novels were written.
A group of people is required to perform English Country Dance. The group may form lines, circles, or squares depending on the dance. The group starts dancing as soon as the music starts playing. Some dances are “called” individually, with a caller indicating the next step to take. Other dances have a set of calls that people can follow without needing a caller, allowing them to concentrate on the dance and the music.
Because it encourages interactions with a large number of people, many people consider English Country Dance to be a social dance. People switch partners as the dance progresses, and traditional conversation takes place. During its heyday, the dance was also associated with social events, and modern English Country Dance is often performed in conjunction with festive occasions and conferences, with some participants dressing up in period costume and participating in other reenactment activities. English Country Dance is also entertaining to watch, though you risk being drawn in exuberant dancers.
Many communities offer lessons as well as group gatherings and festivals for those interested in learning English Country Dance. Many English Country Dance societies encourage people to just show up at a regular meeting because the dance is simple to learn. A small fee may be requested to cover the cost of renting a space and paying for live music, and most people dress casually, though they are welcome to dress up. English Country Dance, as well as its offshoots such as square dancing and morris dancing, can be enjoyed people of all ages.