The Corporation
Country Dances, Ancient and Modern

About the animations

My animations are mostly 720p, and those without music usually play at 120 counts per minute, while those with music will play at whatever tempo the music suggests.

Most of my animations have no music, but I have secured permission from three sources to include their music in my animations:

In most dances with progression, the first set of the dance will be slowed down (and no music will play for those dances with music), this is to make it easier to understand and learn the dance. Subsequent iterations will be at dance pace.

The dancers taking the men's roles are drawn as rectangles (with a circle poking out to show which way he is facing), those taking the women's roles are drawn as elipses (again with a circle poking out for a head). . Each couple is drawn in its own color and the main color of the dancer remains unchanged through the dance. However the border color indicates what role the dancer is currently playing and this may change during the course of the dance. Dancers waiting out at the ends (in a minor set dance) have a black border, those playing the 1s have a red border, those playing the 2s have greenish border, those the 3s have a blueish, and so forth.

The band (or the "presence") orients the set. Following Playford's conventions I usually place the band to the left of the animation. Toward the band is "up" the set. The 1s are the couple closest to the band.

How to use this site

The site has two main componants: The index page, which displays a list of all my animations with some metadata on each, and the dance page which displays the animation of a single dance with more metadata.

The main index page

The list of the index page may be sorted by various criteria,

Once an ordering has been established it may be useful to apply a secondary ordering. For instance, if you sort dances by formation, well there are a lot of duple minor dances. Do you want them sorted by name or by creation date?

It is also possible to restrict the list so only certain dances are displayed (to search for them, if you wish).

The behavior of this menu is perhaps slightly unexpected. If you select one restriction and then another both will be applied (so you can restrict the list to display all duple minor dances which contain "Skipper" in their title). If you wish to get rid of a restriction, select "Unrestricted" from the menu.

You may restrict the list

The dance page

This displays the animation for a single dance and some information about the dance (like who devised it, when, what formation the dance is in, how many bars of music needed, etc.).

Some dances have more than one animation: for instance the same dance may have a longways animation and one in a Sicilian Circle. Triple progression triple minors usually have three different animations to display the three different end effects that occur with different numbers of starting couples. If a dance as several animations there will be a list of radio buttons underneath the animation to display the choices.

At the bottom of the page are three buttons: Prev, Top, and Next. The Top button will take you back to the index page close to where you started from. The Next and Prev buttons will select the next (or previous) dance as currently ordered on the index page. So if the dances are ordered alphabetically then the next dance in alphabetical order will be selected, but if they are ordered by creation date then the dance written after this one will be selected. If there are no more dances then the button returns you to the index page.

What do the flags mean?

I include dances from several different styles in my lists, I use little flags to distinguish these styles:

This is the flag of England (St. George's Cross) NOT the UK. I use it for English Country Dances. I use this for modern dances in this style even if the devisor does not live in England.
This is the flag of Scotland (St. Andrew's Cross). I use it to represent Scottish Country Dances (A style that did not have a name until November of 1923.
This is the flag of Europe. I use it to represent old dances from continental Europe (Contredanse Anglaise).
This is one of the many flags used during the US revolutionary war. I use it for dances devised in North America in a style more like an English Country Dance than either a modern Contra or Square dance. The flag looks halfway between the Union Jack and Stars and Stripes and seems a good choice for this role.
This is the US flag. I use it for modern New England Contra dances.
This is the flag of Europe except that it is square. I use it for quadrilles which evolved in Europe using a square set to display several contredanses.
This is the US flag, except that it is square. I use it for modern Square dances.

Errors

I make more errors than I would like.

Unfortunately I have no one to proof-read my animations, and my own proof-reading often only shows me what I expect to see.

If you find an error, please leave a youtube comment, and if I agree with you I shall do my best to fix the problem.

History

In 2018 we were unable to find videos for all of the dances to be danced at the Santa Barbara Winter Dreams Ball of 2019 so I began making animations to cover that lack.

I designed an xml for describing dances and wrote a program to convert that into animations (at first using ffmpeg, and later libav directly). I was inspired by style the Taminations website (which provides animations of all Modern Western Square Dance calls). I liked their style better than others I had seen because it showed both the dancer's orientation and hand clasps. Things which some other animations omitted.

After having created the program and animating all dances for the ball, I started making animations of those dances which struck my fancy after dancing them in one of our local dance groups.

Then COVID-19 struck and I couldn't dance any more, and making animations seemed like an entertaining way to pass the time. I started working my way through the dances in The Playford Assembly.

I also went through all the dances I had animated so far, looking for errors (and sadly finding many), and then correcting them. There are doubtless many uncorrected errors still to find.

Gary Shapiro (one of the local ECD leaders) gave me copies of the music performed by a few local artists for our dances and I rewrote my program so that it could fit the music and the animation together.

Gary Roodman expressed interest in my animations so I started working my way through his books. I asked if I might use the music from some of his CDs and he gave me permission to do so, and then he gave me the CDs which I did not already have.

I then worked my way through The Playford Ball, and started on Cecil Sharp's The Country Dance Book. The dances in Part 1 of that work are quite different from any other Country Dances I'd run across. It is clear that Sharp did not care for them, but I think some have a certain charm...

I contacted the Country Dance Society, Boston Centre, Inc. and got permission to use the music of Bare Necessities for my animations.

Fitting Music to Animations

When I started work on this project I had no expectation of having music for the animations (musical performances tend to be under copyright) and I made a decision then which hampers fitting music to the animations. I decided that a bar of music would have an integral number of frames, this simplified creating animations, but means that my format only allows a few specific values for music tempi.

Film historically had a frame rate of 24 frames per second. Television, ignoring interlace, in the US used 30, and in Europe 25 (the difference between NTSC and PAL).

When fitting music I calculate the music's desired counts per minute, then I look at the three frame rates above and find a frame per bar that produces the closest counts per minute to that specified by the music -- that is, I fit the video to the music as well as I can, and then I change the speed of the music to fit it to the video.

References

Some statistics

StyleNumber
of dances
Number
of videos
Number
with music
718745209
37371
440
1071072
770
1421467
770
10221053219

(Some dances have more than one video. They may have both a longways version and a sicilian one, or a triple progression triple minor will usually have three videos one with 9 couples, one with 10, and one with 11 to show the different behaviors at the end of the line)

This list contains all the dances in:

And many other dances which have struck my fancy.

Downloading Metadata

If you wish a copy of the metadata in my database you may grab one here:

Download as CSV

This does not include choreographies or musical scores, which are often protected by copyrights, but information like the name of the dance, who devised it, who adapted it, when these happened, the starting formation, type of progression, etc.

A note on youtu.be URLs: These are subject to change. You are advised to use the field "My URL", rather than the youtu.be URLS as "My URL" should remain constant, whereas if I need to update an animation (add music, improve a transition, etc.) youtu.be forces a new URL for the updated video.

The Long-S

I use the long-s when titling my animations of old dances.

It's what they would have done, after all. My father is a textual bibliographer who studied Elizabethan authors, and I grew up surrounded by more long-ses than most people. I have dabbled in old (and new) typography myself and have come to enjoy using them.

The use of the long-s faded away in France around 1790, but the Americans and even more the English kept using it into the 19th century. According to Wikipedia The Times (of London) stopped using to long-s on 10 September 1803, while the US Congress stopped on 1 Jan 1804. Some publishers stopped before, some after, but I have chosen 1804 as my cut-off. Anything before then will be titled with the long-s, anything after will not.

Rules for the long-s: The long-s was used for the round-s in lower case when an "s" occurred initally or medially but not finally in a word: so "ſchool", " aſpic", but "as". A slight complication is that before and after the letter "f" a round-s is always used, so: "offset".

People tend to be more familiar with the italic long-s which looks like an integral sign (or rather the integral sign looks like it), the roman long-s looks like a lower case "f" only the cross bar is either absent, or only present on the left side of the letter.

The long-s, like the letter "f", has a large collection of ligatures, the most interesting one being the long-s round-s ligature, which students of German are familiar with as the es-zet.

This website is copyright © 2021 by George W. Williams V
Creative Commons License My work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Most of the dances have more restrictive licensing, see the individual dance for more information.