At Home: Dances for Volume 5

by Helene Cornelius
Francis Attanasio

A CDSS Pubication

A founding purpose of “The English Dance Collection” was to provide small dance groups with quality music recorded at dance length and tempo. For that, Volume 5 may be the most useful book of the series. Where a gathering of two to four couples would find duple minor dances frustrating and triple minor dances prohibitive, this volume provides 22 set dances which can be performed in a living room, dining room, family room or finished basement; hence the title, “At Home”.


Of the 22 dances the most common form is three-couple longways (ten dances), of which three are mixers. There are also three dances for three couples in round (or circle) formation, one of which is a mixer. There are seven dances for four couples (four in square formation, three longways). To complete the volume, there are two dances for two couples.


Some of the most complex and challenging dances in the English dance repertoire are set dances. While a longways dance consists of one pattern repeated over and over again, set dances often have a different pattern each time through the music. The most recognized three couple longways set pattern is Up a double, Siding, Arming (USA) in which the standard movement is done each time through the A music. The pattern done to the B music can be the same each time in some dances, or more often, is different each time for the B music. Many set dances have the same dance pattern each time through the music, but because the dance includes a progression, each couple will have a different path with each repetition. Finally, the most complex and challenging set dances are those in which there is no repetition at all from start to finish. With the challenge of set dances comes the potential for great satisfaction in these dances, and the exposure to a wide breadth of the styles and figures in the English country dance form.


So, pull up the rug, push back the furniture and enjoy the experience of dancing in your own home!


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