Origins of modern dance on display Saturday

While people today may see English Country dancing as slow or uninteresting, it is its importance in the history of dozens of modern styles of dancing that makes it relevant in modern culture, and Carter County is looking to continue learning about its historical culture as often as it can.

Donna Horowitz with the Sabine Hill Social Society said they will be teaching sessions of English Country for most of the day Saturday, October 26.

“It is the foundation for all modern dancing,” Horowitz said. “It is very slow.”

Though she described it as “akin to walking,” the style’s unique charm allows many people to put off my more energetic forms of dancing to join the fray, allowing participants to better understand the social context of the era.

“It was one of the main forms of entertainment,” she said. “You would start at an early age, watching.”

By the time children reached their teenage years, she said they would have memorized most of the steps. In this regard, English Country dancing turned into a social event similar to tea parties, a socially acceptable way to bond with other people, and it did not always carry a romantic context like other dancing forms carry.

Some of these dances Often, it was a form of stress-relief or relaxation.

“During wartime, the men would dance with each other in the camp,” Horowitz said.

The social society has been putting on this form of living history for several years.

“It is fun, and it is good fellowship,” she said. “It taught coordination and social graces.”

A beginner class will run from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, while the intermediate class will run from 1 to 4 p.m.

However, Horowitz said if they cannot guarantee roughly eight participants by Friday morning, she will have to cancel the event, as the dances they will be learning require between six to eight people. She said currently four people have signed up.

“It is not like you are constantly going to be on your feet,” she said.

Horowitz said those interested in attending need to register by calling Sycamore shoals State Park at 423-543-5808. Classes cost $6 per class or $10 for both.

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