English Country Dance
by Alan Winston
What is English country dancing?
English Country Dances range from elegant to rowdy
and from easy to difficult, with a wide range of mood, meter, and music.
The first publication of English Country Dances was by John Playford
in 1651, and people are still writing new dances today. The modern style
of English Country Dance focuses more on geography than on footwork,
and you can enjoy it if you know right from left and can follow directions.
Alan Winston has been calling English dances since
1985, and has achieved national recognition as a caller and choreographer. He
was the dancing master for the BACDS (www.bacds.org)
Playford Ball in 2000 and
2006, led the New Haven English Ball this year, led workshops at NEFFA
(www.neffa.org) in 2000 and 2004, and has become a fixture at the Free
He has led dancing for groups as small as four and
as large as 600, and is especially good with beginners. Alan's dance "Sparkling
and Still" was
published in the Country Dance & Song Society News and was included
in Allison Thompson's "The Blind Harper Dances", a collection
of dances based on tunes by Turlough O'Carolan. Alan also calls Regency
(see 1:00 pm), contra dance, English ceilidh, Victorian, Edwardian,
and early California dance, and teaches couple dance sequences.
James Langdell is leader of the Divertimento Dance
Orchestra, a small ensemble that plays for historical dancing. For more
than a decade the group has played music at circa 1800 balls held by
the Bay Area English Regency Society and an unusually wide variety of
dance events held by PEERS. He sings and plays clarinet,
recorders, and piano, and received a BA in music from UC Santa Cruz.
He has played for English country dancing since 1979 and was an
original member of the Sunset Morris Men in Los Angeles and
of Berkeley's Ellis Island Old World Folk Band. He
has sung in several madrigal groups with his wife, Danine
plays clarinet frequently with David Reffkin's American Ragtime Ensemble.
He also is active as a conductor of wind bands, including
directing several performances a
by the San Mateo Elks Concert Band.