Dance Tips

  1. "Improve your dancing and enjoy it more", by Anthony Stone offers clear counsel on the basics of country dancing, the key elements of which are:.
    1. Listen to the beat
    2. Dance to the music
    3. Give weight
      1. An excellent demonstration of these three elements can be seen in George Marshall's introduction to contra dancing
    4. Dance with the other people in the set
    5. Dance on your toes
    6. Don’t rely on the caller
    7. Anticipation
    8. Spatial Awareness
    9. Eye contact
    10. Make the dance flow
    11. Shoes for dancing
    12. Learn the language
      1. Elements of English Country Dance by Hugh Stewart is a good guide
    13. Steps
      1. See:Judi Rivkin's animations of figures 8's and heys and DanceKaleidoscopes. animations of 50 English dances.
    14. The Swing
    15. Enjoy your dancing
Becoming Jane
Becoming Jane
Pride and Prejudice: Mr Beveridge's Maggot
Pride and Prejudice
Jack's Maggot @ Lennox Assembly
Jack's Maggot @ Lennox Assembly
Phillipe Callens teaching and calling Somerset Square at Lennox Assembly
Somerset Square
Geud Man of Ballingigh
Geud Man of Ballingigh in Princeton
George Marshall into to contra
George Marshall: Intro to contra

English Country Dancing (in our village)

Partners and Patterns

  1. All English Country Dancing is done with a partner. We follow the custom of changing partners between each dance.
    1. So, even if you attend by yourself, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to dance throughout the evening.
      1. It is perfectly acceptable for women to ask men to dance, or for two people of the same gender to dance together.
        1. It is a matter of courtesy not to accept a request to dance after you have refused someone else.
        2. Beginners will do better partnered with an experienced dancer.
      2. Most experienced dancers will be flattered to be asked to dance by beginners.*
    2. When you have found a partner, always join in the set at the bottom of the line.
  2. Enjoy yourself, bow to your partner when the music stops, and thank him/her for the lovely dance.
  1. Each dance has its own music and patterns, but almost always you will progress along the line of dance either toward the music or away from it.
    1. When you reach the top of the line (the end of the hall where the musicians are located) or the bottom, you will wait out one round (sometimes two) of the dance and then begin to progress in the opposite direction from the one you had before.
    2. During the dance, you'll dance with your partner, and also with all the other dancers as you move through the patterns of the dance.
  2. Eye contact is characteristic of English Country Dance.

Callers and Cues

  1. The caller generally teaches the dance, step by step, while the dancers walk it a couple of times through with the music.
    1. Listen carefully and quietly to the caller's instructions, even if you already know the dance.
      1. Ask questions before the dance begins if there is something you don't understand.
        1. Once the dance begins, the caller leads the dancers through the required movements by announcing each new move just a fraction of a beat before it must be performed.
        2. Cues can also come from other dancers' hands and arms.
      2. When we turn another dancer with one or both hands we use enough mutual resistance to achieve a balanced tension ("giving weight"), so that the timing and direction of the turn is satisfying.
    2. Experienced dancers will also give you cues by their body language, so it is important to keep looking at your fellow dancers, especially your partner.
  2. Those helping should never grab, push, or pull other dancers in the set. Hold out the appropriate hand, use eye contact, or just use a gesture or a quiet word to help others out.

Tunes, Timing, Relaxing and Returning

  1. Beautiful and varied music is one of the greatest pleasures of English Country Dance. Some fast, some slow, some romantic, others rollicking, the tunes help the dancers keep pace with the music. We match our steps to the beat of the music. If we fall behind, we don't try to catch up, but seek to begin the next movement in time with the music and the other dancers. Often callers will point out "recovery" positions especially when a dance is challenging. All of us were beginners once and everyone (beginner or not) makes a mistake now and then. Don't panic or apologize - just relax, smile and try to get to the right spot with your partner for the next figure.
  2. You can expect a dozen dances or so in an evening with a break for refreshments and socializing midway and a waltz both just before the break and at the end of the dance.
  3. Come again. (Your second dance evening at LCD is free?. Each time you return you'll become more familiar with the dances -- and we will look forward to seeing you!

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Last updated on 11/05/2016.