Regency Dances
November 9, 2015 7:56 AM   Subscribe

Let's learn some Regency-era dances! is your one-stop shop for all things Regency dance. It offers animations (many with music) of hundreds of dances. For example, this is the dance shared by Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy in the 1995 Pride and Prejudice.

There are also descriptions and videos of the basic steps used in these dances.

After putting together an outfit and learning some etiquette, it's time to find a Regency ball near you! ('near' may be a relative term)
posted by jedicus (5 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Thank you for this! I've been looking for a venue for historical group dancing and it turns out there's one near me! Now I too can do what Emma Thompson described (in her delightful behind-the-scenes book on the Sense and Sensibility movie) as "squirrel dancing."
posted by zenzicube at 8:12 AM on November 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

So what's the difference between Regency dancing and English Country? I've been to the Nashville Playford Ball which is English and the two look pretty much the same.
posted by Oh_Bobloblaw at 9:18 AM on November 9, 2015

I've always wondered if they used real dances!

Some times they do, sometimes they don't. For example, the 2005 Pride and Prejudice used several real dances (Young Widow, Wakefield Hunt, The Bishop, Dutch Dollars, Tythe Pig, Black Bess, Duke of Gloucester's March), but the dance between Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy was Moniek's Maggot, a modern composition to a period tune by Henry Purcell. It's similar to Mr. Beveridge's Maggot, the dance used in the 1995 version. I suspect it was chosen to make it easier to film the conversation between Bennett and Darcy, since it keeps the couple close to one another.

(If you're wondering about that word, here's some etymology.)

So what's the difference between Regency dancing and English Country?

The two are largely synonymous, although Regency dancing can sometimes be used to include dances from the same period but from outside of England (e.g. French dances of the same period). Strictly speaking the dances in Pride and Prejudice are not Regency dances because it was written in 1796-1797 and the Regency period was 1811-1820, but the term is often used loosely to mean "the turn of the 19th century plus a bit."
posted by jedicus at 9:48 AM on November 9, 2015

So what's the difference between Regency dancing and English Country?

This might vary regionally. In the U.S., ECD refers to a form of set dancing that uses very similar choreography but almost none of the footwork demonstrated in the basic steps page.

In waltz time, the main travelling step is the waltz step, but inverted. Most people do a releve on the third beat, instead of a plie. Also, people travel farther on the first step, sometimes to the point of doing the second and third steps in place, whereas the website indicates three even steps.

The waltz setting step from the website is mostly how English dancers set in waltz time, but kind of...less fussily? In fact, in general, all of the steps demonstrated on the website would look super-balletic at an ECD ball. English dancers keep their feet parallel (no turn out), plie less, keep their heels down most of the time, and never tendu. They also don't use the ballet terminology that I'm aping here.

In square and triple time, the main step is an even walking step of two or three strides per bar, respectively. The setting step is similar to what's demonstrated as balance.

There are also two steps not demonstrated on the website. The skipping step is just what you'd see kids doing in the playground. The slipping step is to travel sideways without crossing your legs over each other.

More generally, English dancers don't usually go for the period costume, and the etiquette described on the website is, um, not observed at ECD balls.
posted by d. z. wang at 6:36 PM on November 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

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