Book Review: The Playford Ball

by Sion Andreas o Wynedd

[ This article appeared in volume 2 of the Letter of Dance. ]

The Playford Ball: 103 Early English Country Dances 1651-1820 as interpreted by Cecil Sharp and his followers, Kate Van Winkle Keller and Genevieve Shimer, Pennington NJ (POB 380, 08534), A Capella Books, c1990. 120 pp., ill., music, facsims. 1-55652-091-3, $17.95.

Yes, country dances -- put those tomatoes away.

This is the best compendium of country dances I've yet come across. 103 country dances with the original source cited, as well as the derivation of the modern reconstruction which is given.

Is that all, you ask? Well, no. There is also music in modern notation, and if you are not yet sold, then let me drop the bomb on you. They also include a facsimile of the original source with both the dance instructions and the music.

Maybe they aren't doing country dances where you are, but in the heart of the Midrealm, country dances are legion. So if you find yourself in the same position, this book can be quite useful in showing what the dancers are supposed to be doing, and having the documentation to substantiate your claim. First edition Playford we can all get hold of easily, but for the more obscure sources this is probably the one source that will give you the original without embarking on the grand quest to collect all the country dance manuals (and there are several hundred of them).

I think you will find this book as useful as I have, either for teaching dances or for tracing the development of country dances over the centuries, and I commend it to your purchase.

Webbed by Gregory Blount of Isenfir (Greg Lindahl) (