ENGLISH COUNTRY DANCE FOR FUN
The series which was held on Sunday afternoon in the Spanish Ballroom at Glen Echo Park has ended. English Country Dance For Fun will resume in Phoenix, AZ some time in 2014. Watch this space or sign up for my newsletter (see below) to get an announcement.
"I just wanted to say thank-you for holding the classes on Sunday. I am a rather clumsy person, and I have tried dancing before and was very discouraged afterwards that I would be able to ever dance at all. Your welcoming attitude to very awkward beginners like myself helped me to see that while I will never be Ginger Rogers, I could still get out on the dance floor and have some fun. Thanks for that. It means more than you might imagine."
dancers are welcome
dances are all taught and called
don’t need to bring a partner, just a pleasant attitude
ordinary casual clothes – layers are good as you can get warm, even
with the climate control
wear comfortable, clean soft-soled shoes to protect the floor
ENGLISH COUNTRY DANCE
(ECD) - All you (n)ever wanted to know!!Jane Austen did it.
George Washington did it. So can you!
Providing gentle mental and
physical exercise, ECD is now considered to be one of the best
alternative health solutions there is. The monthly series is
intended to be light-hearted and fun and is specifically geared towards
new dancers and dancers of other dance forms such as contra or
swing. Michael Barraclough will teach and call the dances.
In addition to his 4 years of calling in the US, he has 40 years of ECD
dancing, teaching and calling experience in England.
ECD is the predecessor of
Irish, Scottish, square and contra dances. If you are familiar
with any of these, you will find ECD easy to pick up. Of all
these, English has the greatest variety of shapes, figures, moods and
music, making for a very pleasant and sociable form of exercise.
The pace varies from slow and elegant to lively and vigorous. The
movement style is the dance walk (walking in time to the music, with a
light step and elevated carriage). So, if you can walk and know
the difference between right and left, you have much of the basic
knowledge you'll need to do English Country Dancing!
ECD is a social and
interactive form of dance – we are all dancing with each other, and
there is a warm level of acceptance and relaxation because there is
flexibility about personal expression and style. It lets us dance
without some of the problems or constraints of other forms of dancing
and is a wonderful way to ease into dancing if you think you can’t
dance. It's also a great alternative for people who don’t have a
regular dance partner or who don’t want the pressure of typical couples
dancing. You are encouraged to dance with lots of different
partners and newcomers can be paired with experienced dancers so they
can rapidly gain skills and confidence.
People enjoy ECD for many
reasons - romantic, sumptuous, flowing music - easy steps &
satisfying figures - the joy of dancing together - dignified flirtation
- a genuine community connection - stimulation & relaxation at the
same time - the grace and elegance with which you glide as you dance -
and lots more. At times, you simply get swept away as you become
one with the music. Many people love the beautiful patterns created as
you dance and weave. Some people describe it as a meditation in
motion. You will also find a pleasant camaraderie, interacting
with a variety of people of all age groups, various personalities,
backgrounds, etc. There's an indefinable quality to English
Country Dance that makes it energizing, mesmerizing, and just plain fun.
The music is beautiful -
haunting tunes that make the heart swell. Some dance tunes are taken
from old ballads and political satire; others come from classical music
and operas. This gives English country music tremendous variety;
sometimes sweet and melodic, sometimes melancholy, and sometimes
absolutely driven with a pulsating beat.
The leader, or 'caller',
teaches each individual dance. Before each dance, dancers learn
the dance by walking through the steps and formations, following the
caller's instructions. These are sometimes augmented with
demonstrations by experienced dancers in the group. After the
walk-through, the music begins and the dance is prompted by the caller,
so that each figure and movement is called in time to the music - you
don't need to rely on your memory alone to know what to do. Some
dances can be as short as 1 minute. Others can last up to 10
minutes. No special clothing is needed, other than clean shoes
that won't skid or stick on a wood floor and women usually prefer to
wear skirts or dresses.
ECD has its origin in the
16th Century English court and was popular in England and America in
the 1600's, 1700's and early 1800's. If you've seen any of the
recent Jane Austen movies then you've seen this sort of dance.
However, ECD is not the obscure relic you might think it to be. This
traditional form of dance has been around for four hundred years and
it's still thriving today. These days ECD is danced by all manner
of people, from royalty to the man in the street; to all manner of
music, from string quartets to electric rock bands!
[Thanks to all the many internet authors whose words I have
'stolen' and crafted together. I hope that I have not given any
offense. Please let me know if you would rather I did not use
your words. MAB]