What is English Country Dance?

English Country Dance is a form of social folk dance, originating in Renaissance England.  It is the precursor of several other folk dances, including contra and square dance.

Most commonly, the dances are in long ways sets and progressive. Multiple sets of pairs form two long lines, pairs travel along the lines, meeting new pairs and repeating the series of dance figures a number of times. Each dance is prompted by an Instructor.   The dancing is friendly and the atmosphere is informal.  If you’ve seen a Jane Austen film, you’ve seen English Country Dancing. Wonderful new dances and tunes are being written all the time; this includes the work of some of our talented instructors!

Class dress is casual and comfortable, with shoes (NOT street shoes) for dancing on a wooden floor. On special occasions (biannual Ball and yearly Holiday Dance), some dancers dress in costume. This is an added bonus but not mandatory as many dancers prefer regular attire.

What did English Country Dance look like 200 years ago?

Here are some examples: