Our interest in historical dance has spanned over 40 years. Since 1980 we have played for various events throughout the country. We have worked with various dance teachers, including Ellis and Chris Rogers, Diana Campbell, Valerie Webster, Jimmie Hill, Stuart Marsden, Sally Petchey, Libby Curzon, Liz Bartlett and Shirley Funnell.
We spend a large number of hours researching and arranging music from the period. One of our projects was to find the remaining James Paine’s sets of quadrilles from the British Library. The Early Dance Circle has produced a CD of PDF images of 13 of Paine’s quadrilles, their music and accompanying text. Over 300 pages contain the music in its original format with abbreviated dance instructions, followed by each quadrille with the music ready to play (notation by Meryl Thomson) and dance instructions in an extended form (interpreted by Ellis Rogers). Copies are priced £8.00 plus £1.50 postage and available from The Early Dance Circle.
We played at St Andrew’s Summer School in 2006 for some quadrille classes taught by Jimmie Hill. Scottish dancers learnt Regency dance steps and dances from the period including Hart’s Lancers quadrille.
We have played at the Dolmetsch Historical Dance Summer School and for Quadrille workshops in Horsham, Oxford, Cecil Sharp House, St Andrew’s Summer School, the RSCDS London Day School, RSCDS Spring Fling and the Argyll Scottish Dancing Group at Dillington House. In 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009 we played for a Historical Ball for the Dolmetsch Society after their conference. The 2007 ball included 18th and 19th century dances. In 2005 we played for the Early Dance Circle in Norwich for their 19th Century Ball, played for them again in Canterbury in 2006 and in 2014.
We have also played at the Quadrille Club at Cecil Sharp House and for the Friends of Cecil Sharp House Regency ball.
Since 2005 we have provided music for the Hampshire Regency Dancers for their annual Regency balls including the Trafalgar Ball in Botley in 2005, The Royal Ball in Winchester in 2008, The Almack’s Ball at Rookesbury Park in 2011, Old Alresford House in 2012, at Chawton House Library in 2013 and in Salisbury Guildhall in 2014. We played for their Grand Victory Ball at the Brighton Pavilion in September 2015 and played for The Grand Celebration Ball there in 2016 and for the HRD Ball in October 2016 in Salisbury. We played for their Jane Austen Ball – A Ball for Jane – in July 2017 in Winchester, their Beaux and Belles Regency Ball in Beaulieu in July 2018 and played for their Ode to Autumn Ball in September 2019 at the Winchester Guildhall.
We have played in the music room at Brighton Pavilion for the Friends of the Pavilion on several occasions. Dances included The Pavilion Waltz, Duval’s Lancers, La Belle Veuve, La Boulanger, Allemande à Deux, The Regent’s Favourite, Les Belles Filles de Norwich, Miss Poultney’s Fancy, Mr Forth’s Waltz, la Strasbourgeoise, and La Brandobourgeoise. See a video of the 2011 event.
For seven years we played for the Jane Austen Festival Summer Ball in Bath, playing for them for the final occasion in 2019. See a video of the performance from 2011.
In 2014 we were invited to play for the Jane Austen Dancers of Bath in Devizes for their Regency Ball. See a video of their demonstration. We played for their Duchess of Richmond’s Ball at Bath Assembly Rooms in May 2015, their 20th Anniversary Ball in Devizes Town Hall in 2016 and Regency Balls in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.
We have also played for the Dolmetsch Society and Quadrille Club for several Victorian balls at York House and Normansfield Hospital Theatre, Teddington. We played for a Victorian Ball in Richmond in 2009 where an Anniversary Quadrille was performed to celebrate the Quadrille Club. We provided the music for the London branch of the Societa di Danza for a Victorian Ball led by Fabio Mollica at Fulham town hall in 2010. We played for a Titanic Ball in 2012, a Victorian Spring Ball in 2014, and for the Gilbert and Sullivan themed Buttercup Ball in 2015 in the Normansfield Theatre, Twickenham.
We play for Mrs Bennet’s Ballroom class in Surbiton for their winter and summer tea dances. We played for their Dickens themed Ball in 2016, their Masked Regency Ball in Twickenham in December 2017, their 5th Anniversary Dance in Surbiton, a Deck the Hall Regency Ball in Twickenham in December 2018 and St Andrew’s Day Regency Ball in 2019.
In March 2015 we took part in a workshop for SERTA, working with Jimmie Hill, rediscovering Scottish country and historical dances.
In 2017 our music and playing featured in the BBC documentary production “My Friend Jane”. Our music also features in Season 19 episode 5 “Death by Persuasion” of Midsomer Murders.
During the COVID lockdowns and afterwards, Ian and Meryl have continued playing for online dance classes and events. This developed into playing for hybrid classes, beamed live into halls and at the same time for dancers online. We also played online for Mrs Bennet’s houseparty at Harrington House, Bourton on the Water in the Cotswolds on 2 and 4 August 2021 for two evenings of dancing – Regency dancing, led by Libby Curzon and Georgian dancing, led by Diana Campbell.
See a list of some of our historical repertoire.
Historical Dance links:
Ellis Rogers and the Quadrille Club
Ellis Rogers, has written and published a book called “The Quadrille – a practical guide to its origin, development and performance”. A review of his book can be viewed here:
Review (pdf format), Review (MS Word document).
Diana Campbell (historical dance teacher/caller)
Stuart Marsden (historical dance teacher/caller)
Mrs Bennet’s Ballroom Classes – Regency dance class in Surbiton
Renaissance Historical Dance Society – a society giving performances of Medieval, Elizabethan, Stuart and Regency dance as well as activities such as archery, Tudor medicines, baby swaddling, Elizabethan needlecraft and masked parades.
Hampshire Regency Dancers – dance group based in Winchester
The Regency Assembly – dance group based in the Midlands
The Duke of Wellington’s Dancers – based in Southampton