country dance

Type of social dance for couples, popular in the 17th century.

Derived from English folk dance, the country dance is performed in one of three forms: circular or round; "longways," with rows of couples facing each other; and geometric, in squares or triangles. The main source of country-dance steps and songs is John Playford's The English Dancing Master (1650). The dance was the basis for the 19th-century quadrille. It was taken by colonists to North America as the Virginia reel and, in modified form, as the square dance. There was a modest revival in the 20th century.

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▪ British dance
      genre of social dance for several couples, the characteristic form of folk and courtly dances of the British Isles. In England after about 1550, the term country dancing referred to a dance of the upper classes; similar dances, usually called traditional, existed contemporaneously among country people and persisted in popular tradition.

      Country dances are performed in three characteristic formations: (1) circular, for an indefinite number of couples (“round” dances), (2) “longways” set, double-file line for an indefinite number of couples, men on one side, women on the other, and (3) geometric formations (e.g., squares, triangles) or sets, usually for two, three, or four couples. The dancers execute a succession of varied patterns of figures. In “progressive-longways” dances, continuous interchange brings a new leading couple to the head of the set with each repetition of the pattern of figures. Round and longways dances predominate in the folk tradition. Longways and geometric sets are more frequent among courtly dances.

      The patterns of the English country dances are similar to those of Irish set dances and of Scottish country dances such as reels and strathspeys. The step work of English dances, however, is simpler and the styling less formal.

      Country dances from England were assimilated into the traditional dance of other countries—e.g., Portugal and Denmark. English colonists carried them to North America, where they began a new folk-dance tradition as the “contra,” or longways dance (e.g., the Virginia reel), and, in modified form, as the American square dance.

      Courtly dances also were exported from England. Longways and geometric sets appeared in Italy by the 15th century. The 18th-century French contredanse was at first based on English country dances and later evolved into independent varieties; by the 19th century it had spread to Germany and back to England. Although country dance originated as folk dance, the historical sources for its figures and music are urban and courtly: Italian (15th–16th century), English (16th–19th century), and French (18th century). The chief English source is John Playford's The English Dancing Master of 1650, continued in additional volumes until 1728 and critically revised in 1957 by M.J. Dean-Smith.

      Cecil Sharp (Sharp, Cecil) (1859–1924), founder of the English Folk Dance Society, made extensive collections of rural country dances at a time when they were in danger of dying out and was largely responsible for their 20th-century revival. The Royal Scottish Country Dance Society has published traditional dances dating back to the 17th century and modern dances in traditional style. Popular country dances include Nonesuch, Hunsdon House, Morpeth Rant, Corn Rigs, and Old Mole.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • country dance — noun 1. A dance as practised by country people 2. A type of dance in which either an indefinite number of couples in a circle or two lines, or groups of fixed numbers of couples in two lines, can take part, tracing a precise and sometimes complex …   Useful english dictionary

  • Country-dance — Coun try dance ( d?ns ), n. [Prob. an adaptation of contradance.] See {Contradance}. [1913 Webster] He had introduced the English country dance to the knowledge of the Dutch ladies. Macaulay. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • country dance — ► NOUN ▪ a traditional type of English dance, in particular one performed by couples facing each other in long lines …   English terms dictionary

  • country-dance — [kun′trēdans΄] n. an English folk dance, esp. one in which partners form two facing lines …   English World dictionary

  • Country Dance — Der Kontratanz oder Kontertanz (frz. Contredanse, Contredance, „Gegeneinander Tanz“, engl. volksetymologisch umgedeutet zu Country Dance) ist ein ursprünglich englischer Gruppentanz, der sich vom ländlichen Volkstanz zu einem im 17. und 18.… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Country dance —  Pour l’article homonyme, voir Country Dance.  La country dance (littéralement « danse paysanne ») est une danse anglaise du XVIIe siècle, à l origine de la contredanse. Les country dances se dansent à quatre, six ou huit …   Wikipédia en Français

  • country-dance — (on devrait prononcer kaoun tri dan s ; mais on a presque toujours prononcé kon tre dan s , comme pour la contredanse française) s. f. Voy. contredanse 2. contredanse et primitivement country dance 2. (kon tre dan s et kaun tri dan s ) s. f.… …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • country-dance — I noun a type of folk dance in which couples are arranged in sets or face one another in a line • Syn: ↑country dancing, ↑contredanse, ↑contra danse, ↑contradance • Derivationally related forms: ↑contra danse ( …   Useful english dictionary

  • Country Dance —  Pour l’article homonyme, voir Country dance.  Country Dance est un film américano britannique basé sur le livre Household Ghosts réalisé par Jack Lee Thompson en 1970. Distribution Peter O Toole Susannah York Michael Craig Harry… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • country dance — 1. noun A general term that includes set step routine dancing such as ceilidh dance, highland dance, barn dance, and square dance. 2. verb To take part in country dancing …   Wiktionary

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