What is Early Dance?
Like “early music”, the term “early dance” covers the dancing of a range of historical periods. Early dance (or historical dance) refers to the dances current in Western Europe from the middle ages up to the end of the 20th century. Details of such historical dance can be derived from descriptions in original sources and from careful use of reliable secondary sources. Early dance is a growing area of dance research and of social history. Fresh insights reward those who return to the sources, but historical dance is also an art form and, like early music, invites us to explore interpretations. Its riches still have much to offer us today.
For example, there are no age barriers in historical dance: everyone used to dance and everyone can enjoy the pleasures of social dancing today. Moving in company to beautiful music is a huge pleasure.
Fuller details on early dance are given in our information pages Dance through History.
What is the Early Dance Circle?
The Early Dance Circle (EDC) is a UK charity that aims to promote the enjoyment, performance and study of historical dance in the UK and beyond. Formed in 1984 as an umbrella organisation, it counts individuals and groups, both amateur and professional, among its members. We believe that knowledge of earlier forms of dance helps enrich the cultural life of the UK, by accessing a heritage of international importance that belongs to us all, but has been until recently largely forgotten.
The EDC aims to foster authenticity in the performance of early dance. Our members enjoy recreating the dances of courts, country houses and theatres, basing their work on research into steps, patterns and music. Part of the joy of discovery inherent in the study and performance of early dance stems from how the subject continues to expand. Dance historians re-examine the various treatises, new sources come to light and our understanding of the relevant artistic, social and historical contexts grows.
The EDC also aims to help our members share their enthusiasm. They perform, study, teach and publish. As an umbrella organisation on behalf of early dance, the EDC sponsors a national Festival each autumn, an Annual Lecture each February and an academic Biennial Conference on aspects of early dance. The speakers come from both the UK and abroad and the Proceedings are published. We also publish a Diary of Early Dance Classes & Events, our own Circular and a number of works on dance education and research. The EDC owns a considerable archive of specialised materials, The National Resource Centre for Historical Dance.
Join us on the dance floor of history – Learn how to dance Britain’s heritage or help to pass it on
If you love dance and want to help safeguard and pass on its earliest forms in the UK and Europe, join us now. Help to secure a thriving future for early dance. Membership
What can the EDC offer you?
The EDC can offer you:
- information about historical dance activities worldwide
- access to current research and practice through EDC publications, lectures, conferences and through the library and other facilities of the National Research Centre for Historical Dance
- contact with early dance teachers and researchers
- practical help with arranging, insuring and publicising your own events.
- opportunities to meet and dance with other historical dance enthusiasts from all parts of the UK and abroad
- a voice in the cultural arena promoting the value of early dance
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