The Modern Evolution of English Dance

This series will explore both the 20th Century roots and the evolution of modern English country dance. I remember naively thinking in my teens that I was doing true 17th & 18th C. country dance; reality hit piecemeal. The dance forms were at best based on historic patterns; the style was decidedly modern; the sound of the music had many roots with most of them from the present day.

That first false belief in a true historic basis of the dance was replaced by a sense that we danced a modern style following rules and patterns laid down by Cecil Sharp. It took longer for this to seep in, but that too was disproved over time. Sharp was an instigator of the movement but not its only influence.

Over time I became fascinated by many questions. Where did this 20th C. music come from, and how did it develop over time? Sharp clearly took artistic liberties in creating many of the figures in his versions – some of his instructions bear little resemblance to their historical source. But much of what we do in the Sharp model is quite different from what he wrote. When did that change? And by whom? Sharp published a description of the dance-walk, but that wasn’t what I was taught, what my teachers said and danced was often not what the bulk of people were actually doing, and all that has continued to evolve.

This evolution is the main focus of these presentations.

— Brad Foster

  1. Musical Roots (Saturday, March 20 2021)

Complete event details                                                                    

Musical Roots with Jacqueline Schwab, hosted by Brad Foster

Cecil Sharp created the sound of early 20th C. English country dance through the promulgation of his published piano arrangements. But what were the musical roots of those arrangements? What did the historic source periods sound like? And how did things evolve after Sharp? This will be a personal story on the musical journey of Jacqueline Schwab, her early love of Baroque and Romantic music, the impact of Sharp’s piano arrangements, and the later influences on her personal style.

YouTube recording of Musical Roots

  1. A History of Movement and More
  2. The Creation of Classic Patterns

Questions? Please contact modernevolution [at] cds-boston [dot] org