English & Scottish Country Dance — and more!

in Daily Programme, Radio Riel Main

by Elrik Merlin on Saturday, 3 March, 2018

Today’s programme focuses, rather broadly, on the English Country Dance (ECD) – in particular on the work of John Playford (1623–1686/7) — and its Northerly cousin, Scottish Country Dance.

The ECD pieces you’ll hear today range from the performances of specialised musical groups like the Baltimore Consort and Bare Necessities, whose music is intended to be danced to by widespread groups of modern exponents of the art, to the folk dance and Morris Dancing groups with their exuberant take on the pieces and their inclusion of modern instrumentation. Then, too, there are Early Music groups who treat the works as authentically as they possibly can to recreate the sound that might have been heard when these dances were first performed. And there are many others.

In this programme we are also featuring Scottish Country Dance (SCD). Scottish Country Dancing as we know it today has its roots in an 18th century fusion of ECD formations with Highland music and footwork. It has become the national ballroom dance form of Scotland, partly because ‘Caledonian Country Dances’ became popular in upper class London Society in the decades after the rebellion of 1745.

When it first became popular around the 18th century it was as a shorter, quicker form of dance that was a light relief from the more courtly dances normally danced. Derived from early British forms of country dancing, SCD is related to English country dancing, contra dancing, cèilidh dancing, Old time dancing and Irish set dancing due to the combination of some of these dance forms in early Country dance forms and later cross-over introduced by their overlapping influences via dancers and dance masters. For more about SCD, see this article.


Today’s programme is presented by Elrik Merlin. If you are in the United States, please click here to launch the Stream Licensing player. 

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