English Country Dancing
MEETING St Michael’s Church, Galmington TA1 4TP from 2 to 4pm on the 1st and 3rd Monday of the month.
CONVENOR For further information, please contact Bill and Beverley Tapper on 01823 971262.
Twice each month the Taunton U3A English Country Dancing group meet in St Michael’s
Church Hall, Galmington from 2 until 4 in the afternoon. We dance an eclectic mix of easy
dances and some not quite so easy. All dances are called and dancers of all abilities are
welcomed. No previous experience is necessary and you do not need a partner. You’ll even
get a cup of tea or coffee and a biscuit in the interval.
The history of folk dance dates back several centuries, though very little detail is known
about its origins. While nobody is really sure what folk dancing looked like two thousand
years ago, historians are confident that it already existed at that time. Because folk dances
are highly traditional and are passed down through the generations, the evolution of the
genre has been slow as various cultural groups preserve their own particular style of dances.
In England it was not until the 17th century that dances performed by rural folk (“country
dances”) were collected and distributed through popular publications for public distribution.
The 17th-century English music publisher and bookseller John Playford edited and published
as many as 900 country dances through his publication “The English Dancing Master”. The
first edition was published in 1651. His work was carried on after his death by his son Henry
through to the final edition in 1728.
The English musician Cecil Sharp was a teacher and principal of London’s Hampstead
Conservatory of Music. He spent his life collecting and promoting English traditional songs
and folk dances. He published six volumes of English country dances from 1909–27 and in
1911 he founded the English Folk Dance Society. English Country Dances are still being
composed celebrating local events of today.
Now, the members of our U3A group do not dress up in period costume for their two-
weekly meetings but they do enjoy the gentle exercise, the music and the social interaction
afforded by English country dancing. No previous experience is necessary. It is not even
necessary to remember the moves of any particular dance as all the dances are “called”
every time they are danced. Why not come and try it for yourself? Just drop in to St
Michael’s Church Hall, Galmington (through the front entrance and the double doors and
then to the right) on the first and third Monday of each month from 2pm to 4pm or contact
Bill or Beverley on 01823 971262.