English Country Dance: home

Here is everything you need to organize an English Country dance. This collection of materials focuses on the dance and music itself, as opposed to logistical/organizational information (that stuff is covered elsewhere in these pages). English country dancing (ECD) is an accessible and popular form of community social dance enjoyed by people all over the world.

The essential ingredients for an English dance are: 1) live or recorded music; 2) someone to call and teach the dances and dance figures (that could be you...); 3) dancers (no prior experience necessary); 4) a space large enough for 1, 2, and 3. It's easy to arrange for all of these things; here's how. Good luck!

Instructional and Promotional Stuff

Need to explain what ECD is? Help beginners learn the basic figures? Encourage your friends to give it a try? These materials will help you promote English dance and recruit and teach new dancers.

  • What is English dance? These articles describe English dancing in written form, including history of the form and comparison to other types of dance
  • YouTube video links: videos of English Country Dance on YouTube to give a sense of what the dance looks like
  • Elements of English Country Dance: Description of the basic dance figures in ECD, written by Hugh Stewart.
  • Animated ECD Tutorial by Judy Rivkin: This online animation demonstrates some of the more complex figures of ECD, such as various types of figure eights and heys.

Starter Kit

Intrigued by the elegance of English dance and the beauty of the music, and want to try it out for yourself?

The Music

One of the great joys of English dance is the wide range of musical styles represented in the broad repertoire. From Early music to bluesy contemporary compositions, elegant Classical excerpts to driving jigs and reels, musicians and dancers have the opportunity to experience a great diversity of moods and flavors. This collection of materials will help you to either locate excellent recorded music, find musicians in your area, or help someone you know get started playing for English dancing.

  • How to play English country dance music: you or your musician buddies can get started playing for ECD and learn what to expect at a dance with this tutorial.
  • These music books and sample arrangements will help you learn tunes and develop your skills as an ECD musician.
  • English country dance recordings: Looking for recorded music for your dance? Interested to hear how the professionals play ECD tunes? Take a listen to these recordings.

Calling and Dance Repertoire

There are experienced callers of ECD all over the place. For help finding someone to teach and lead your dance, see our page about Finding Performers. If you or someone in your community wants to learn to call English dances, the following materials will help you get started.

  • The Playford Ball: This seminal text provides a good starting point for learning the English dance repertoire, and our orientation sheet will help you find useful information in Playford quickly.
  • Beginning Dances: suggestions for ten simple dances that are easy to call and easy for beginning dancers to learn.
  • Other resources for callers: a few selections in print and online that will help you improve as a caller.

Other Resources

Check out these suggestions for other materials in print or online that provide useful information about English dancing. 

Help!

If you need more information, contact CDSS. We can put you in touch with someone near where you live who can help you figure all this out.