[SCA-Dance] Evolution and dating of ECD

Peter Durham (Trahaearn ap Ieuan) trahaearn at live.com
Tue Mar 11 13:34:58 EDT 2008

Greetings from Trahaearn!

Sharp observes this in 1927 in his introduction to the Country Dance Book
(part 2 page 8):

Be this as it may, The English Dancing Master was the first collection of
its kind published in this country; and, as it held the field unchallenged
for upwards of half a century, it contains all that is now known respecting
the forms and figures of the Country Dance in the latter half of the
seventeenth century.
Now this was in fact a critical moment in the history of the Country Dance.
It was a transitional period during which two important, though by no means
unrelated, developments were in progress. In the first place, it coincided
with the decline from popular favour of the older forms of the dance, the
Rounds, Squares, Longs-for-four, six or eight performers, and the gradual
evolution of that form which eventually superseded them, and was known as
the "Longways for as many as will." This process may be traced in the
successive editions of "The Dancing Master." In the first edition, for
instance, out of 104 dances only 38, that is, a bare third, are Longways
dances; in the seventh edition, which represents chronologically the middle
period of the publication, more than half-116 out of 208-are of this type;
while of the 918 dances contained in the three volumes of the seventeenth
edition, all save 14 belong to the Longways species. I believe I am correct
in saying that, except in the later editions of "The Dancing Master," one
may search in vain the numerous Country Dance collections of the eighteenth
century, published by Walsh, Pippard, Waylett, and others, for a single
example of any one of the older forms of the dance. In this unique
publication, then, we have our only source of information respecting the
early and, what were probably, the original forms of the Country Dance.

-----Original Message-----
From: sca-dance-bounces at sca-dance.org
[mailto:sca-dance-bounces at sca-dance.org] On Behalf Of Mary Railing
Sent: Monday, March 10, 2008 9:05 PM
To: sca-dance at andrew.cmu.edu
Subject: [SCA-Dance] Evolution and dating of ECD

About a month ago there was a tread on this list called "greetings and
question", which raised the issue of which Playford dances might be ok to
use in the SCA.  The notion was put forward by several people that the set
dances in Playford are more likely to be closer to pre-1600, while the
longways  progressive dances were more likely to be closer to 1651.  Now, I
have subscribed to this theory for many years, but having been asked
further about how to document it, I realized that I cannot think of any
source outside the SCA that proposes something like this.  I'm sure only
Scadians care whether something is pre- or post-1600, but I would think
some dance historians somewhere would be interested in the evolution or
English country dance.  Are we really the *only* people who have noticed
this about the way country dance forms changed over time?  Can anyone point
me to a non-SCA source that discusses this?

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