In a music publisher called John Playford published ‘The English Dancing Master’. This was a book of brief instructions for a hundred odd such dances. Illustration from The Dancing Master: Vol. The First The 18th Edition London: Edward Midwinter and John Young, . Courtesy of the Library of Congress. The English Dancing Master: OR, Plaine and easie Rules for the Dancing of LONDON Printed by Thomas Harper, and are to be sold by John Playford, at his.
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These compromise dances proved very popular; after all an educated person going to a ball every week or two may well feel a dance simple enough for someone who only goes to a dance once or twice a year is beneath him. This was a book of brief instructions for a hundred odd such dances. The title was probably just a joke because all the best dancing masters were French or, maybe, a dig dancung a rival French book.
Facsimile of Playford’s The English Dancing Master
Later editions ran to three volumes and over llayford years dances were added and dropped so that over a thousand distinct dances were published. Various other publishers got in on the act and books of country dances were published at frequent intervals through to about In the early s people were trying to collect evidence of the English Folk tradition before the age of industrialisation and mass communication swept it all away.
Dances from the villages are what can be called genuine country dances — dances that can be picked up quickly by someone who only dances once or twice danfing year who is more interested in socialising than dancing.
Most dancers dance Playford dances because they enjoy them, which is a perfectly good reason. Some people dance them because they are trying to jobn historical life.
Such people should bear in mind the following points: If reading scanned-in ancient type is not for you see mastre See a Playford family tree. Page maintained by Hugh Stewart. What are Playford dances? They were dances of the educated society. The instructions in the Dancing Master were brief notes, so modern interpretations of those notes may well not be what was intended.
Indeed we can sometimes be convinced there are misprints so some dance descriptions are clearly wrong. Originally these dances would have been done with a lot of fancy stepping, whereas nowadays we almost always use walking or skipping steps.
It was registered for copyright in Novemberbut the printed date on the book is you had to register your book in advance of publication.
The English Dancing Master
The real cause of the confusion is that at some stage people switched from counting the year as starting in March the Spring Solstice to starting in January — think about September being the 7th month. Whoever bought the copy of The English Dancing Master now the British Library was an old fuddy-duddy who crossed out the printed and wrote in Hence I have described the book as being published inbut if you want to use Old Style years then you could call itwhich is a nice round number.
Playford on the Web Robert Keller has scanned in copies of all editions of the Dancing Master and added an index. If you want to see the what Playford published go to http: