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William Brand

The English Dancing Master, 1651

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Here is a link to the facsimile pages of 'The English Dancing Master' of 1651. It has sheet music and instructions for dance. http://www.pbm.com/~lindahl/playford_1651/

The work is also transcribed here with midi music files.

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O I love it when folks find that link! Thanks for posting it Michael!

And if anyone thinks dance is too un-manly, just remember that dancing masters were also, to some degree, fencing masters as well. Where better to improve your balance and footwork? If you doubt it, just check this out:

Either the National Archives or Library of Congress has footage of Tom (Thomas) Baird demonstrating the more formal dance forms. Remember, while called country dances, the Playford dances were danced by people trained in the proper style and step technique. Being able to afford the services of a dancing master was a sign of economic success (wether you were a merchant moving up in the world, or a wealthy aristocrat). But it isn't totally necessary now days to do the same dances and have a good time (although counting while stepping definitely helps keep things coordinated ;) )

Here are some other useful links to aid in interpreting what's going on in the Playford:

http://www.dcdancenet.com/toyprograms/

http://www.rivkinetic.org/flash/ecdflash.html

http://www.cdss.org/

The last link is for Country Dance and Song Society, located in Mass. They have a wonderful catalog of publications and music, including sheet music. You can get a paper copy of the Playford book listed above, and a couple of other Playford based dance books (Kate Keller's is pretty good). And there are links to other dance communities. Did anyone who does the Beaufort pirate event know there is a dance mistress who participates? And there is a local dance community right there?

If there is interest in bringing any of this dance form into the Piracy community, I'd be happy to help. I was trained in Baroque dance, have performed in Kentucky, Ohio and Washington DC (Kennedy Center) and was dance mistress (facilitator, really) for several years at a historic site. I may be creaky, but I'd be happy to help anyone interested in learning.

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