English Country Dancing at SaddleBrooke

Enid Fowler

For those of you who are not familiar with English country dancing, here is some information to enlighten you.

English Country Dancing is a form of folk dance in social dance form which was documented as early as the late sixteenth century when Queen Elizabeth I of England was entertained by country dancing. John Playford was largely responsible for publishing The English Dancing Master series of English country dances starting in the seventeenth century which is still available in reprinted form. In London, Cecil Sharp originated a building devoted to English country dancing which is still open today for supporters and admirers of English country dancing and music which has documents dating back to the sixteenth century. In addition, there are lots of dances in modernized form choreographed by enthusiastic and proficient dancers.

If you have watched any of the PBS productions of Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Emma, Wuthering Heights, etc. you will have seen English country dancing. It has been around several hundred years and is still popular today in Britain and the United States. New England Contra dancing and Square Dancing apparently evolved from English country dancing. English country dances and Morris dances were often done to celebrate the gathering of the harvest or depicting the planting of crops in addition to Upper Class social gatherings and balls. Some of the French Court dances were evident in English country dances. In addition to the haunting music and variety of patterns for the dances, you benefit from great exercise of both the body and the brain. If you can do a lilting walk in time to the music and learn patterns, then you can enjoy English country dancing. Most of the dances are done in lined sets. The dances can be two couple, three couple or four couple dances in which the lead couple of each group eventually progresses to the foot of the lines and new lead couples take over; some dances are done in a square formation or circle formation.

The English Country Dance Club at SaddleBrooke has been in existence for a few years. The classes are taught by Enid Fowler, a native of Yorkshire, England. There’s an indefinable quality to English country dancing that makes it energizing, mesmerizing and just plain fun. You don’t need to come with a partner and we start new dancers with simple, easy to learn dances. It’s best to wear comfortable clothing and flat shoes that will move easily along the dance floor.

We meet on Thursdays from 4:10 to 5:30 p.m. in the Vermilion Room, SaddleBrooke One. For information please email Enid Fowler at [email protected], phone 520-818-1932 or Kay White at [email protected], phone 520-818-9482 Come and join us and get some great exercise and have fun—you’ll enjoy the camaraderie and great exercise!