[SCA-Dance] Evolution and dating of ECD

Alex Clark alexbclark at pennswoods.net
Tue Mar 11 16:28:45 EDT 2008

At 10:34 AM 3/11/2008 -0700, Peter Durham \(Trahaearn ap Ieuan\) wrote:
>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evolution of that form which eventually superseded them, and was known as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.

However, what Sharp is referring to is the changes in English country 
dancing documented in the second half of the century. AFAIK this may have 
continued a trend from the first half of the century, or this could only 
represent an increase in the popularity of a country dance formation that 
is as old as any other. BTW, while his instructions show an awareness of 
how the early longways progressive dances worked, this quote does not 
mention the fact that the longways dances for as many as will of the new 
kind (e. g. Hole in the Wall) replaced the old kinds of dances in the same 
formation even as they replaced dances in other formations.

One other fault in this quote is that Sharp took to using "Longways" to 
mean "longways for as many as will", and as a result gave misleading 
statistics. As a matter of fact, the large majority of first edition dances 
are in longways formations, but about forty of those are not "for as many 
as will".

Henry of Maldon/Alex Clark

>-----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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