A schedule of upcoming dances, with callers and musicins is indexed here.
31st Annual Washington Spring Ball — May 20, 2017
Come to the FSGW English country dance. Find a mix of fun and refined dancing led by talented callers who are accompanied by top-notch musicians playing tunes that are unique to each dance. On a given night you may hear anything from the ubiquitous piano and fiddle to the flute, harp, oboe, concertina, bassoon, or viola. Dance on a wood floor in the fine community room at the Glen Echo Town Hall. Enjoy the friendly crowd, known for its welcoming nature, along with light refreshments, and dance from 8:00 to 10:30 p.m. Open to dancers of all experience levels. ADMISSION: members: $10, non-members: $12, students: $5.
Parking: in deference to the residents of Glen Echo, please park behind the hall and NOT on the street that passes by the front. If space is not available behind the hall, please disperse parking in the neighborhood, leaving some space for residents. Consider parking on the opposite (east) side of MacArthur Blvd. And, neighbors appreciate quiet departures.
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More info: Tom Spilsbury at 301-585-7857, Will Strang, 703-967-8797, or, via e-mail to: .
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The FSGW's English country dance offers something for everyone. Dances from the 16th through the 19th centuries have been revived and interpreted for modern dancers, and supplemented by dances written by contemporary choreographers in the old style. A core of experienced, local callers teach and cue dances. Out-of-town guest callers are featured from time-to-time; they may bring enjoyable new dances they have composed. Live Music is provided by a trio of local musicians who are sometimes joined by out-of-towners.
Dancers appreciate a wide variety of musical instruments heard at the dances, including the accordion, base fiddle, bassoon, cello, concertina, fiddle, flute, guitar, harp, nyckleharpa, penny whistle, piano, oboe, ocarina, recorder and viola. Dancers participate in a renewal of traditional dances that extend back over generations as well as the new dances composed in recent years by those who continue this lively tradition. We dance in the Glen Echo Town Hall which has a fine wood floor and is illuminated by a dozen chandeliers, air-conditioned, and handicapped-accessible. Light refreshments and a friendly atmosphere make these FSWG dances a special, social event for all who attend.
Come and join us: we are indeed fortunate to have nationally recognized callers and musicians who provide for our enjoyment of English country dance in the DC metro area.
Newcomers: People often ask how new comers to our ECD are accommodated. Others say, "I haven't danced for some time," and are worried about not being up to speed. Newcomers are welcome and other dancers help them get acquainted with the moves and formations, etc., that make up a dance. Those who have not danced for some time find that the welcoming nature of the dancers, along with their prior experience, help them to quickly come up to speed. Dancers familiar with other dance forms, e.g., contra, also find that they learn and are dancing ECD more quickly than they might have expected.
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Roots: English country dances have roots going back to the 1500's. It is likely that some were danced in country homes and estates of British and European gentry of those early times. In 1651, printer John Playford gathered up the popular dances of his time and published them in a series of books. His name is now associated with the English country dance form that is enjoyed around the world today: some use the term "Playford" to refer to English country dance.
Music: A special feature of English country dance is the music — each dance has its own special tune and it is normally danced to that specific tune. The steps of the dance fit the rhythm of the music and the figures fit its spirit.
Formations: Dances are performed by couples, sometimes standing across from each other in lines, sometimes next to each other. Couples usually form circles; sometimes squares. Dancers do not need a partner to attend as dancers commonly change partners for every dance paying special attention to those who might have sat out a round.
Movement: Some dances are full of energy and vitality, some are danced in waltz or rag time, some are danced to lyrical ballads, languid songs; some are danced to lively hornpipes. Special footwork is not usually required; a smooth dance-walk which comes naturally to most dancers suffices. Some dances are fun to perform with skip-change, rant, waltz, chassé or other lively step.
References: An excellent reference to English country dancing is The Playford Ball, by Kate Van Winkle Keller and Genevieve Shimer. Available from the Country Dance and Song Society (CDSS) on-line store, The Playford Ball is an authoritative reference on English country dancing and includes reproductions of original, period text and music, modern interpretations (calls) and music of the classic, Playford dances. Keller and Shimer have taken on the mantle of scholars in the field of dance. Ms. Keller is a prolific author of books on period dance ( Bio / Bibliography) and has served as a consultant for special productions on such forms.
For musicians, books by Peter Barnes are standards, commonly referred to as "Barnes I and II." More precisely, they are entitled The Barnes Book of English Country Dance Tunes and The Barnes Book of English Country Dance Tunes, Volume II and are available at Canis Publishing.
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Check-out Roger's Dance Niche.