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Harrow Folk Dance Club


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About Folk Dancing

Most countries have their traditional dances and the United Kingdom is no exception - with England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland each having their own individual styles. The Harrow club concentrates on the English tradition, although at least once a year we have an evening dedicated to international dances - Scandinavian, East European, Israeli, etc, with a specialist guest caller.

Books are available that trace in more detail the history and development of Folk Dancing but basically they originated from two sources - the Country and Manor houses, where grand balls were often held in elegant Ballrooms to the accompaniment of small bands of musicians, and the local hamlets and villages, where celebration or festival dances were held on village greens, often to the music of a single player. Itinerant Dancing Masters were employed in the Country Houses to teach the steps and figures of what could be quite complicated dances, whilst the village green dances were usually simple to remember and handed down from one generation to the next.

John Playford was one of the first people to make a collection of the dances he came across and he published his first collection of dances in "The English Dancing Master" in 1651. Since then further publications of dances have appeared and still do to the present day, following in the traditions of the two original sources. All this was long before ballroom dancing for couples arived in England, and 'Strictly' was but a distant dream.

By the late 19th Century interest in folk dancing seemed to have waned but was given a new impetus by the efforts of Cecil Sharp (after whom the headquarters of the EFDSS is named), and new groups and clubs of dancers began to flourish again. Interest in Englsih Folk Dancing was soon 'exported' to America and they began to make their own adaptations to this style of dancing and before long were 're-exporting'dances back to England. Interestingly, there is a very strong tradition of English Folk Dancing in the USA.

The programme of dances performed at the Harrow Club reflects the whole range of traditions outlined above.

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