strathspey Archive: Contredanse and country dance

Previous thread: Houston RSCDS E-mail address
Next thread: re:contry vs contredanse

Contredanse and country dance

Message 3558 · Kent Smith · 7 Feb 1996 16:10:14 · Top

Yesterday, Jim Healy and Courtney Cartwright both alluded to "country dance"
as derived from "contredanse." Given the Grand Alliance and the French
influence on SCD and court dancing this seems quite reasonable, except that
country dances seem to have originated in England and were being called
country dances before the genre was influenced much by the French. Hugh
Foss in _Notes on Evolution in Scottish Country Dancing_ (1973) relies
heavily on a source he refers to simply as _The Dance_, which I assume is
Cecil Sharp's _The Dance: An Historical Survey of Dancing in Europe_. Foss,
in footnote 7 on page 10, has this extended quote from _The Dance_ pp. 25,26:

How and when the word contredanse got into the French language it is
important to know. The only recorded instance of its use in France before
the 18th century is in the diary of Marechal de Bassompierre, the French
plenipotentiary at our Court in 1626: 'Nov 15, 1626. Et en suite nous nous
mismes a danser des contredanses, jusques a quatre heures apres minuiet.'
What he here calls contredanses were, of course, our Country Dances; they
could not have been anything else. The word, however, could not have been
in general use at that time for it is not in the Geneva edition of
Richelet's _Dictionnaire Francois_ (1690), nor in that of 1710, but is
included in the Amsterdam edition of 1722; nor is it to be found in the
_Dictionnaire_ of Furetiere (1690); nor again in the first edition of the
Dictionnaire de l'Acadamie (1694), though it does appear in the later
edition of 1718 . . . It is just possible that Feuillet [who published a
book of primarily Playford dances in 1706] used contredanse . . . because
the only form of the Country Dance he knew, or at any rate included in his
book, was the Longways, where contre (opposite) would have some meaning.
But Bassompierre would not have used it for this reason because the typical
dances of 1625, which he, of course, would have seen, were Rounds,
Square-Eights, etc., where contre in the sense of opposite would be meaningless.

Another instance of transliteration?

As to my statement yesterday that longways at one time was perhaps a
defining characteristic of country dances, here's what Foss has to say to
put that into doubt (p. 9):
"In Playford's first edition [1651], as I said, 38 out of the 105 dances
were progressive--about one third. With each new edition some dances were
left out and new ones were put in--either old ones that had just come to
Playford's notice or new ones specially composed for him by dancing masters.
By the 7th edition, 1686, there were 208 dances and 116 were progressive,
just more than half. The last edition, in 1728, had three volumes
containing 918 dances and 904 were progressive: only 14 non-progressive
dances in 918. All the rest had either been dropped or altered to make them
progressive. Three Playford dances have been revived by the RSCDS [as of
1972]."

Thurston and Emmerson have complementary notes on the interesting origins of
Dashing White Sergeant. As I recall, the only thing initially Scottish
about it was that it was devised by a Scottish dance master. My sources are
at home, and perhaps someone else can summarize the details.

Kent

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
Kent W. Smith <kent.smith@trincoll.edu>
/^_/#\_^\ Office of Records & Telephones:
|#||#||#| Institutional Research Work: 860-297-5195
|TRINITY| Trinity College Home: 860-561-1407
|COLLEGE| 300 Summit St. FAX: 860-297-2257
|#|(^)|#| Hartford, CT 06106 (Include my office)
""""="""" USA
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Contredanse and country dance

Message 3561 · Courtney Cartwright · 7 Feb 1996 22:13:54 · Top

At 09:00 AM 2/7/96 -0500, strathspey@tm.informatik.uni-frankfurt.de wrote:
>Yesterday, Jim Healy and Courtney Cartwright both alluded to "country dance"
>as derived from "contredanse." Given the Grand Alliance and the French
>influence on SCD and court dancing this seems quite reasonable, except that
>country dances seem to have originated in England and were being called
>country dances before the genre was influenced much by the French. Hugh
>Foss in _Notes on Evolution in Scottish Country Dancing_ (1973) relies
>heavily on a source he refers to simply as _The Dance_, which I assume is
>Cecil Sharp's _The Dance: An Historical Survey of Dancing in Europe_. Foss,
>in footnote 7 on page 10, has this extended quote from _The Dance_ pp. 25,26:
>
>How and when the word contredanse got into the French language it is
>important to know.

Yes, this is true, and I feel that this French connection did have bearing on
the use of the term Country Dance as related to dance in Scotland.

However, I feel that the true influence behind the corruption of "Country" in
Country Dance came from the Italian originally. The type of dance that started
the English enthusiasm was the Italian "contrapassi", many of which were in the
longways setting, or had the same longways feeling, sometimes in a circle of men
facing an outer circle of women of vice-versa, with progression to a new partner
or a new couple.


--
Courtney Cartwright
Tucson, Arizona
ccartwri@primenet.com

Previous thread: Houston RSCDS E-mail address
Next thread: re:contry vs contredanse
A Django site.