Course Descriptions


Gene Murrow

"Sharp Dancing"

As the primary leader of the English folk dance revival at the start of the 20th century, Cecil Sharp invented a style of dance that he believed captured the essence of English dance as done in the 17th and 18th centuries, and that his contemporaries could learn and enjoy.  While not historically "correct," and not totally applicable to the modern-style English country dances being composed today, Sharp's informed creation provides a foundation for good, stylish movement.  Gene learned this style over many years in New York and at Pinewoods Camp from May Gadd, a Sharp acolyte in England who was sent to America to lead the new Country Dance Society.


"Dancing by Threes

Unique among the countries of the British Isles, England's social/folk dance tradition embraces music beyond the typical duple-time reels, jigs, hornpipes, and strathspeys found in the Irish, Welsh, and Scottish repertoires.  Many of the most beautiful and interesting English country dances are in "triple time," meaning that the music and choreography demand a fundamental unit of movement of 3 steps, rather than the usual 2.  We'll explore the distinct varieties of triple-time music used in English country dance and how to move gracefully to each: 17th-century hornpipe, minuet, slip jig, waltz, and modern triple meters like the swing waltz.


"Dance Leaders' Workshop: Tips for English Dance Leaders about Music and Bands" Many leaders of English country dancing feel constrained by their lack of formal musical training.  They understand the paramount importance of the music, and are aware of the English dance community's long-standing tradition of using live music whenever possible.  This workshop will provide these leaders with some useful knowledge and practical tips for understanding the relationship of dance and music more fully, and communicating with musicians more effectively to produce music that is danceable, appropriate, and enjoyable to all.


Nikki Herbst

"Whole-body Dancing"

Turn good dancing into great dancing, with a focus on gently helping others without speaking. We will each work on improving our own dancing in ways that will help those around us, building our own and other dancers' confidence rather than dependence on verbal cuing. Rather than overloading (and potentially annoying or confusing) your partner with words, or using a hand motion that might be better suited to swatting mosquitoes, orienting your body in the correct direction or simply looking where you'd like your partner to go might result in a better dance experience for everyone. Building each dancer's confidence will be one of our goals as we move together to the music. We'll dance both familiar and new dances.  This is a class for all. 


"Feet Don't Fail Me Now: Lively Contras"

(Self-explanatory. <g>)


 "The Joys and Perils of Matrimony"

Hope, lust, courtship, new love, old love, lost love—there's a dance for every part of the process! Just for fun, we'll do a selection of dances old and new from the vast number of English country dances whose choreographers hailed the state of matrimony or lamented its loss, celebrated the chase or planned the escape. From the playful to the serene, from the joyful to the wistful, these dances are for everyone, and this is a class for all. Please bring your sense of humor.


Rosemary Hunt

"Modern English Dances"

Not only a student of historic dances but also a choreographer in her own right, Rosemary will present a sampling of newer English dances from both sides of the Pond, including Gary Roodman's "A Winter's Day," set to a tune composed by her husband Steve.


"Mr. Playford & Friends"

John and Henry Playford were not unique in publishing books of country dances during the late 17th and early to mid-18th centuries.  John Walsh, the Thompsons, John Johnson, and many others published numerous collections of dances.  In this session Rosemary will present several of her favorite dances from the Playfords and their competitors.


"A Fresh Look at Fan Dances"

In 1995 Pat Woods published Dances from 1794, a booklet of reconstructions of a handful of dances taken from a Caricature Ball Fan on exhibition in the Bath Costume Museum.  She followed this collection with Dances from 1791, this time taking dances from a similar style fan on exhibition in the Manchester Costume Museum.  Rosemary and Steve Hunt worked with Pat on both of these endeavors, and, after her death, continued Pat's research into caricature fans, publishing Dances from 1792, a booklet of dances derived from a caricature fan in the British Museum.


Sharon Green

"Innocent Merriment"

Dances for the late afternoon—some familiar, some not, but nothing too challenging for either body or brain (especially the caller's!).  What Fried Herman used to describe as "pieces of fluff."


Randall Cayford

"Rapper Sword"

Rapper sword is fast and exciting yet low impact.  We'll be teaching a mix of traditional and modern figures.  Open to all experience levels.  Hard sole shoes preferred.


Sue Dupré

"Molly Dancing"

Just before it was time for 19th century farm workers in East Anglia to return to work in the fields after the Christmas holidays, they got together for one last blow-out celebration, which essentially involved annoying the gentry by dressing in women's clothing, disguising themselves, caricaturing the gentry's English country dances, and getting drunk.  Flash ahead to the 21st century where molly dancing has been revived as a colorful form of street theater for both men and women, the latest greatest thing in the world of display dancing.  Be prepared for dances with exciting figures and vigorous but simple stepping.  Besides the dancing, we'll also view a selection of videos to see the wide range of molly dancing styles in England and the U.S.


"Longsword Dancing"

Sue will teach selected figures from the longsword dances of the Yorkshire villages of Ampleforth, Haxby or North Skelton (depending on the number of dancers in the workshop).  In longsword dancing, the dancers are connected to each other with blunt metal or wooden longswords.  The dancing is mesmerizing, and teamwork is elevated to a fine art.  Both beginners and experienced dancers are welcome.


"Callers' Workshop: One-Night Stands"

Sue is convinced that the most fun a caller can have is to call for a one-night stand, a dance for a group of dance novices who have come together at a church social or a wedding or party or festival and who may never experience traditional dancing again.  One-night stands are challenging, wonderful, and lucrative, and there aren't enough callers who call them well.  Sue will lead a discussion about repertoire, calling styles, helpful tips and practical matters such as music, fees and sound systems.     


Chuck Ward

"Band Workshop: Ensemble Playing"

In his Sunday morning band workshop, Chuck will focus on creating small ensembles of musicians to play for dancing.


Rebecca King

"Band Workshop: Improvisation 101"

Loosen up your playing!  Learn easy methods to improvise on English Country dance tunes, or practice the skills you already have.  Bring Barnes 1, and come and jam.


Jim Oakden

"Slow Jam"

Bring your Barnes books and a list of favorite tunes for all to play at a moderate tempo. We'll also do some playing of familiar tunes by ear. All instruments/levels welcome.


Shira Kammen

"Singing English Country Dances"

Bring your voices and instruments for this musical romp through selections of English Country Dance Songs. The styles include madrigals, ballads, sea shanties and rounds. A banquet of words!