Friday, May 10, 2013

An Evening of English Country Dancing: "Mr. Isaac's Maggot"

Our English country dance group held its final dance of the season a couple of weeks ago.  This "last hurrah" before we resume in the fall is traditionally our "Drancy Fess Ball"; see this earlier post from a couple of years ago for the origins and full explanation of the phrase.  This year's theme of "mythical beasts" was a repeat of last year's but nonetheless still succeeded in eliciting some intriguing and very clever interpretations!  Period dress is also (thankfully!) an option for this event, and since I've been so busy with work lately, I didn't have the time or energy to get too creative and just opted to dress for the 18th century instead.  All together, we looked quite an eclectic bunch, but it was a very fun evening and a lovely farewell until we meet again in September.

This year, I attempted my first video recording of a dance and thought it might be fun to share the results!  It isn't by any means a high-quality video; I just rested the camera on top of a spare piano and pressed record and let it go until it stopped itself.  But what it lacks in visual appeal, it more than compensates for in capturing the gorgeous sounds of our very own live band, with whom we have the pleasure and true honor of dancing every week.

This is "Mr Isaac's Maggot," one of my favorites.  It's a duple-minor longways dance, first published in Playford's English Dancing Master in 1695.  Mr. Isaac was one of the premier dancing masters of the latter half of the seventeenth century, earning widespread fame and respect as instructor to Queen Anne and the English court.  The "maggot" referred to in the title is not a creepy-crawly larva, but rather a whim or flight of fancy.  Instructions for this dance, as well as the tune notation, can be readily found online, or in The Playford Ball (which I highly recommed!).

Extra credit to anyone who can identify which film(s) have featured this particular dance!

I wore my (still new-ish) cotton print gown that I started at the B&T workshop last November and finished in January.  This is the third time I've worn it, and I still haven't managed to get any pictures!  This is what happens when your photographer moves seven states away.  :-(  You can catch a couple of glimpses of the finished product here and there in the video, but nothing too exciting.  I promise photos and a decent write-up in Threaded Bliss very, very soon!

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