Country Dance * New York

What is ECD?

English Country Dance (or ECD) is a participatory art form, welcoming to novices and experienced dancers alike. It generally requires no complicated footwork, and you don’t need to arrive with a partner to dance. An experienced leader guides participants through each of the evening’s dances, until dancers are comfortable moving through the patterns up to tempo. We dance to lush live music, played on acoustic instruments.
 
ECD is choreographed community dancing, with repertoire ranging from court dances of the 1650s through dances composed this year. If you’ve seen any of the Jane Austen movies, you’ve glimpsed some kinds of ECD. But, after centuries of development, ECD is hard to categorize. English dances can vary from elegant to energetic, from playful to solemn, and from stately to boisterous. Most English country dances have a single, unique tune to which they are danced; the mood and phrasing of that tune mirrors the physical action of the choreography.
 
Our regular dance evenings usually consist of 14 to 16 dances, and it’s customary to have a new partner for each dance. At the start of each dance, participants invite one another to be partners. (Anyone can invite anyone else to dance, regardless of gender or experience.) Though English dances are written in many formations, most begin with two couples facing each other, in a long line of couples. Under the dance leader’s direction, these couples perform a series of movements together, and then “progress” to face a different couple, with whom they repeat the specified movements in another “round” of the dance. Through repeated progressions, dancers interact not only with their partner of the moment, but with the entire dancing community!
 
Most figures in ECD are not physically taxing (though in some dances you can skip enthusiastically, if you like). We have a beginner’s session from 7:00 to 7:30 to acquaint newcomers and less experienced dancers with the basic terminology and movements of ECD. Although dances are done with a partner, and with other dancers, most patterns are performed with little physical contact, and no one “leads” or “follows.” Because ballroom position is rarely used in ECD, holding hands – in rings or lines – is often the only point of contact during a dance. But there is considerable communication in ways other than touch: through eye contact, or the tilt of a head, or a sweep of the arm.
 
The choreographed patterns, which are unique to each dance and are taught by the dance leader, present an enjoyable challenge for many of us. As dancers repeat a dance’s patterns, through many rounds of the dance, the geometry of their movements forms a kind of living kaleidoscope, satisfying to watch but even more pleasing to be part of.
 
Those of us who love ECD find it deeply satisfying on many fronts. It provides us with an artistic outlet, pleasurable exercise, a warm social community, mental stimulation, and transcendant aesthetic experiences. We invite you to join us!

Admission Rates

Admission:$12 for members of CD*NY and full-time students (must show ID), $15 for non-members.

Admission Rates for Children:Children under ten Free. Children ages 10-15 get in at half the regular rate, teens 16-18 get in at $12 (student/member rate).

There are special prices for special dances.

Unless otherwise announced, English Country Dances are on Tuesdays, from 7 to 10pm, and Contra Dances are on Saturdays, 7:30-10:45, at the Church of the Village, 201 W 13th Street.

© 2014   Created by Kate Fais.

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