Well, I survived my first session of English Country Dance and loved every step of it. The focus on last night’s lesson was the “Hey” – apparently referring to a complex interweaving of the dancers. We did 3-person Heys, 4-person Heys, and 6-person Heys…really neat once you get the hang of it.
Having no visual or intellectual reference, for me it was a bit like learning to play living 3-dimensional chess to music. I briefly thought of bringing a compass the next time, but one never has a chance to look other than where one is going. Theoretically, that is. I executed a few vigorous “Collinses” (pardon me; excuse me; oops; oh, my – sorry), but for the most part caught on fairly quickly, had a great time and no CPR was required.
Better yet, at the dance I learned there is also a local Contredance group…I am so in! I admit to being a bit confused by overhearing distinctions being made between English Country Dance and Contredance. My understanding of the two has been as described below, this quote being from Britain Express:
By the beginning of the 18th century dances such as the Branles, Corantos and Gavottes had become ‘ever more complex, stilted and affected’, so European dances were increasingly re-placed by English Country Dances.
Although many thought that the contredance was originally French, these dances were, in fact, exported from Britain to France, in spite of the name, which was used to describe the English Country Dance in longways form.
But we danced on longways forms last night, so I am not at all clear on the difference between the two. To my knowledge, the word “contredance” morphed into “country dance” in the transition from French to English, but that notion appears to have some issues as well. In addition, one of the dances I “learned” last night has a French name, but was an English Country Dance imported for the Dutch court.
I am sure all, as they say, will be revealed. I did hear someone say that contredance is much more vigorous than country dance. Hmmm.
The next contredance dance and lesson is February 8th. We’ll see how I feel on February 9th.