In traditional English Country Dance you have a partner and dance with other couples that are lined up in a 'longways set'. Working with one or two other couples you dance the sequence of figures for a particular dance, and end up changing places by the end so you are ready to repeat everything with a new couple. When the music stops you thank your partner and find another partner for the next dance. The styling is natural and elegant, and you move with a simple walking step. Some of the dances date back to the 17th century, but with the revived popularity new dances and tunes are being added to the repertoire every year. To see what it looks like check out some of the dances from our last ball, as danced by other groups at workshops and balls. To see when you can dance with us look at our calendar.
No partner is needed as we usually switch partners after each dance. No prior experience is needed since every dance is broken down into a series of standard figures and moves, and the dance master will let everyone walk through the sequence until they are comfortable. After starting the music the dance master will call the figures, and the other dancers will help guide you through the dance. If you come with a friend/partner on your first night of dancing you should save the last dance of the evening for them, but both start the session dancing with experienced partners.
Beginners should arrive at the start of class as we often start the evening with a simpler dance. We're delighted to see you at every practice, but if you can only make it once a month or can only stay for the first half of the session that is perfectly fine. Our Pre-paid dance cards do not expire.
The first night is free! After that we ask for a contribution of $2 for adults per evening ($1 for students) at our Wednesday dances. There is ample free parking. When you arrive enter the building and turn right to walk past the fireplace to the ballroom. We ask that you start every session by signing in on the attendance sheet and putting on a name tag. Due to Henrico County policy the collection of cash on site is not permitted; therefore, we ask that participants purchase our Pre-Paid Dance Cards available in blocks of 10 or 20 sessions. The annual ball and workshop are separately ticketed events.
Regular attendees pay club member annual dues of $10 for an individual or $20 for a family, collected each January.
No! The Wednesday dances are informal. We suggest wearing comfortable clothing and non-marking, low heeled shoes for dancing (no flip-flops or high heels please). Colonial or Regency attire would be appropriate for our Jefferson Ball where these costumes add a great deal of fun and splendor to the event, but wearing such attire is never a requirement to participate.
All family members are welcome, and caretakers are expected to stay and participate with their children who are old enough and interested in learning to dance. Dancing parents may bring non-dancing children if they are able to engage in quiet activity on the sidelines, but children may not leave the ballroom without a supervising adult. English Country Dance is a great multi-generational activity, and you will find no better place to play and dance with your children or grandchildren than at the family summer camps offered by the CDSS.
Due to the close contact of dancing, full vaccination is required. Masks are recommended for all dance participants when local transmission rates are high. Unvaccinated visitors must wear a mask and may not physically participate, but are welcome to learn through observation.
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