Saturday, January 7, 2012

keeping our heritage alive: English Country Dancing Volume 1*~

"What a charming amusement for young people this is, Mr. Darcy!--There is nothing like dancing after all-- I consider it as one of the first refinements of polished societies."
Pride and Prejudice 

Easy to follow, step by step instructions. Jaunty, fast paced Celtic fiddle music. Whimsical pastel skirts and neat Civil War uniforms; English Country Dancing Volume 1 is a fun introduction to English Country and American folk-style dancing. Recently Garret Stowe, a homeschooled filmmaker, asked me to review his documentary on my blog--and as a fellow ECDer, I was more than thrilled with the opportunity!!

In the films intro Garret mentioned something that is very dear to my heart. . .Unlike most dance styles, English Country Dancing (aka ECD) is an absolutely clean, modest style of dance--an historical art--that the entire family can participate in, from the littlest child to the oldest grandfather. As the documentary continues, we are swept on a Victorian journey outlining Ball etiquette and customs {that are often still followed today.} 

Garret explains his mission here: 

As homeschoolers, many of us love studying about that span in history - from the eighteenth century up through the Civil War - that gave rise to so many great events and brilliant minds.  Most also enjoy the beautiful dances from that era.  With so much anti-family recreation out there, the old dances are a wonderful way to have good old fashioned fun!  Recently, I completed an instructional documentary that combines the beauty of the Civil War/Victorian era dances with my love for history.  This 30 minute film covers 6 period dances complete with step-by-step instructions, dance excerpts, and historical information on etiquette and customs of the day.  For pictures of the production process and screen shots of the finished product, visit the following site:

If you'd like to purchase a copy of your own, you can email me directly or visit my website and click theBuy it Now button on the right hand side-bar.   The DVD  is $13 with free s&h. Payment is accepted via check or PayPal (sorry, orders placed via my website are PayPal only - we appreciate your understanding).  Thanks so much for your interest.   

~Garrett Stowe

You've more then likely watched videos from the various Balls I've attended (if you read this blog regularly, you're at least familiar with ECD. ;) ) If you've seen any of the Jane Austen movies (ie Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Sense and Sensibility, etc,) you KNOW exactly what style of dancing I mean. English Country Dancing Volume 1 is you're guide to learning simple dances such as the Virginia Reel, Patticake Polka, Solider's Joy, and several more. The step-by-step instructions and visuals are VERY helpful. . .and it is a treat to watch this talented group of young people perform each dance. Seriously, I can't get over how much I love the ladies skirts! They lend something special to the free-spirited, folk inspired feeling of the video. . . Because these dances are truly steeped in tradition, social graces, the natural inclination to socialize, tap our feet to a fast-paced tune--join together as families and friends in good old fashion fun. 

This is what English Country Dancing Volume 1 is all about--keeping the art of a begone era alive, the stuff that we still enjoy today: dancing. In the most beautiful, wholesome way possible. Check out Garret's site and order you're own copy today! I'd love to hear about you're ECD adventures. Trust me, once you begin, there is an itch that begs for more--another Ball. Another excuse for taking out that old fiddle.   

Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp.
Psalm 149:3


  1. What do you mean by "our heritage"?

    As a member of the working class, you would not have been invited to the balls of Jane Austen's time. Of course, African-Americans, the Irish, Jews and many others would also have been excluded. All these groups have their own heritage.

  2. Oh, in fact, quite the opposite. Notice in my post I mentioned the dances shown in this DVD are also folk-style dances; you would have seen many English Country type dances during the Civil War and throughout American History. People from all walks of life got together for social dances. I may have not been invited to an upper-class ball, but don't forget the Bennets and even Dashwoods were poor; they attended many such dances.

  3. Oh this is so perfect! My sister and I are going to try to set up a dance like this in our area. We've always done Square dances in the past, but decided this would add variety.
    Anyhow, it is extremely hard to find helpful videos on dancing (on youtube)! So, I am totally excited about this DVD!
    Thanks so much for sharing!

  4. Oh,neat. Were going Contra dancing tonight actually. I can't wait.
    Have you ever heard of Contra dancing? Its very similar to Country dancing,but a faster pace....

  5. Oh, so neat! I'm in our homeschool Drama group's performance of Pride and Prejudice, and we're going to have to learn how to English country dance, so this will be very helpful :)

  6. Yes I have heard of and danced Contra, Blyth. One ECD instructor described it to me as the American twist on English Country Dancing--somewhere in between that and square dancing. It is a lot of fun, though a bit more intimate.

    I am so glad you ladies are excited about this DVD! Please let me know if you order it. :)

  7. I have been looking for something like this!!!! I love ECD (and several other types of dancing) but no one in our community really does it. So....we don't do it very often. My sister and I have figured out how to do many, many, many of the Regency dances from watching the scenes over and over again, but we'd love to learn new ones!

    Thanks for sharing :)

  8. I LOVE English Country Dancing. I was so excited when I found out there was an ECD group near me! =) They've even hosted a couple balls.


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