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!