The dancers get to grips with the 'triumph' manoeuvre, in 'Les Pécheurs' from the Bülow Collection (1780).
Four pictures from our recent performance of 'Kemp's Jig: Music and Dance from the Plays of William Shakespeare' in Wymondham Abbey on August Bank Holiday Monday 2016: Minstrels Gallery play for the dancers.
Jane Scheuregger holds up a Crumhorn as she explains and demonstrates the musical instuments from the Tudor period.
Norwich Historical Dance was formed in 1984. We are a collection of enthusiasts brought together by a love of the music, costume and dance of past centuries. Our aims are to promote and preserve the knowledge of Early Dance, its place in our cultural heritage, and to enable the enjoyment of such dance by members of the group and the general public. As far as possible the group employ live music, often with period instruments, for their performances with musicians like 'Minstrels Gallery', also in costume.
Back to back they faced each other… Andrew Swaine calls the changes at the Playford Ball at Norwich Assembly House, November 2016
Will Kemp leaps over the Vile Rut on his way to Norwich from London, pursued by an enthusiastic crowd, during 'The Nine Minutes Wonder' at the 2016 Early Dance Circle Festival in Bath
The 2018 Early Dance Circle festival in October 2018 will be hosted at Norwich High School for Girls.
Will Kemp receives the acclamation of the onlookers as he arrives in Norwich in the performance of The Nine Minutes Wonder during the EDC Festival in Bath.
The Ladies of NHD swirl in formation to the music of Minstrels Gallery in the dance 'Armyn', midst the splendour of the Assembly Room in King's Lynn's Town Hall
The swirl of skirts in the Undercroft of Stranger's Hall, Norwich as Norwich Historical Dance perform 17th century dances during the Norwich Lanes Weekend
The ladies of Norwich Historical Dance are in fashion as they dance 'A la Mode de France' during their performance of 17th century dances at the Early Dance Circle Festival, 2015, held in Bath
Masqued ladies surge forward to the rhythm of the music in the dance 'Armyn' in the Assembly Room of King's Lynn's Town Hall during the 2016 Hanse Festival
Mrs Fuller (Anne Giles) reflects on days past and dreams about one of the singers and songs from the 1914 Parish Tea Dance, "Is My Team Ploughing?" by George Butterworth
Honour your partners! and Eileen glows with the joy of dancing with Mr. Vernon Castle in 'Les Lanciers' in the February 2016 performance of NHD's 'When the Lights Went Out', an afternoon of Dance and Music from 1914, in Swaffham Assembly Rooms
'Vernon Castle's Dance Troupe' give a splendid Ragtime Revue during Norwich Historical Dance's performance of 'When the Light's Went Out' in Swaffham Assembly Rooms, February 2016, bringing dance and music into the 20th century
The woman left behind after the men have marched to war, perform the 'Poppy Farandole' in the finale to 'When the Light's Went Out' in Swaffham Assembly Rooms
Take a leap back in time! Enjoy a Norwich Historical Dance performance at your event or get-together. Dancing in authentic costume and using live music whenever possible, created with your event and venue uniquely in mind, our performances can be formal or informal, set in their historical and social context and inviting audience participation where requested.
- Renaissance Europe
- The Tudors' love of music and dance
- The Shakespeare connection
- Charles II and Restoration England
- A Georgian Assembly
- A Jane Austen dance party
- Edwardian England and the impact of World War One
People and Places: A local Flavour…
We can construct programmes around particular historical events, places and personalities. For example we have based performances around the life and times of Dragon Hall, Norwich; Thomas Paine of Thetford; Lord Nelson; the signing of the Magna Carta; and Will Kemp’s famous ‘Nine Daies Wonder’. The First World War Commemorations take us up to the Edwardiam Era and the arrival of Ragtime.
We have taken part in events as diverse as a production for Swaffham Arts of “When the Lights Went Out” set in 1914; Norwich Museums’ ‘Fashion & Passion’ and ‘Museums at Night’ in Norwich Castle, and an afternoon performance, “Will Kemp and the Music and Dances from the Plays of William Shakespeare”, in Wymondham Abbey, a fundraiser for Priscilla Bacon Lodge and "The Nine Minutes Wonder, Will kemp"!, a very brief and humerous recreation of Will Kemp's dance from London to Norwich, which was developed and performed for the 2016 Early Dance Circle's festival in Bath.
Medieval Churches Weekend
We took part ,on Saturday 29th April, in 'Flintspiration' (29th April – 1st May 2017) – a Medieval weekend hosted by the Norwich Historic Churches (external link) Trust. Our performances of 15th century dances took place in St. George's Church, Colegate, Norwich from late morning and through the afternoon to live music provided by early music ensemble Hexachordia.
The audience who came to see and hear us perform enjoyed themselves immensely when they joined us in a dance at the end of each performance, such as the Farandole which led a weaving line of dancers around the church.
Hanse Weekend in King's Lynn
We were proud to have been asked back for a fourth year to participate in the Hanse Weekend Festival in Kings Lynn.
This year we danced again in the Assembly Room of the Town Hall on Sunday 21st May from 10.30am for the first performance and the last at 4.00pm. The Medieval Dances were performed to live music played by the early music trio, Hexachordia. As usual, at the end of each performance, we were pleased by the number of the audience who came to join us in a 15th century dance.
Kemp's Jig: Music and Dance from the Plays of William Shakespeare
Norwich Historical Dance with Minstrels Gallery performed in Wymondham Abbey on Bank Holiday Monday, 29th August, 2016, in aid of the Priscilla Bacon Centre for Specialist Palliative Care. The spectators filled the seats in the Abbey lit by the summer sun and with the magnificent golden reredos as a backdrop. They enjoyed the three performances and joined in with the audience participation dances. Each performance was different and included a short explanation of the dances, the music and the instruments played by Minstrels Gallery. Support Group volunteers from the Norwich Priscilla Bacon Lodge were present to accept donations from the those present and collected £345.61.
Norwich Playford Ball
The 2016 Norwich Playford Ball was a sell-out, with several disappointed dancers on a waiting list. Tickets sales are going very well so to avoid disappointment please get your tickets as soon as possible.
The caller and band for 2017 are 'Master of Ceremonies' Emma Wooders, with music by 'Momentum' and all will be ready for the dancers in the Noverre Suite in Norwich Assembly House on Saturday 18th November 2017 with dancing from 7.30pm - 11.00 pm. (Please visit the Playford Ball page for further information.)
2017 is a significant year as it is the bi-centenary of the death of Jane Austen whose novels include many references to dancing. These dances form part of the wide repertoire of Norwich Historical Dance and the group have often performed them at both public and private functions with audience participation very much a part of their ethos. If you would like to book the group for a Jane Austen linked event please contact us.
Belsey Bridge 2017
Norwich Historical Dance in collaboration with The Capriol Society will be running another successful and popular course at Belsey Bridge Conference Centre. Under Isabel Suri's practical and gentle guidance the participants will be taught 15th century dances from Friday 20th April to Sunday 22nd April. Only 2 spaces remaining. Contact NHD for details.
NHD also run a number of one day courses through the year. Please check the Events Page for these.
Norwich Historical Dance classes
Normal classes are 7.30pm on Thursday evenings at Norwich High School, 95 Newmarket Rd, NR2 2HU. Phone to check details. See Contacts Page. Norwich Historical Dance offer friendly classes under Amanda’s caring tuition with the possibility of performing in costume. Dancing is a great way to exercise both body and mind to a wonderful range of music, as well as learning about the dances, culture and costume of earlier times.
Early Dance Circle Festival
The 34th Early Dance Circle Festival is the annual showcase for historical dance and took place on October 21st 2017 in Tadcaster in Yorkshire. As usual the group developed a dance scenario in their own unique style, this time based around the reason for the arrival in Norwich of the 18th century dance teacher August Noverre.
The groups members who travelled north enjoyed a great weekend of dance and music and meeting up with the other Early Dance Circle groups. To see photos from this years performance visit the Early Dance Circle Festival Page and follow the external link.
On Friday, October 20th,2018 NHD will not need to travel at all as we will be hosting the Festival which will be held in the Norwich High School for Girls.
See the 'Early Dance Circle Festival 2018' page for further details as they become available.
A busy Historical year
As can be seen from the paragraphs above, NHD have not been resting on their laurels, or even the garlands that they use in the Farandole. These arcs of flowers and greenery have changed with the seasons and context from the poppies of Flanders and Norfolk in the Great War of 1914 - 1918, to Ivy and flowers to celebrate the 'Festive Season' and at the recent Kings Lynn 'Hanse Festival', they were bright with the flowers from a spring meadow.
Most of our performances have seen us in 15th or 16th century themes with Shakespeare and Will Kemp figuring prominently in the latter. We moved forward in time though for this years Belsey Bridge workshop weekend when, under Jørgen Schou-Pedersen's practical and gentle guidance, the 24 participants were taught 18th century Danish dances.
In many of our appearances, 'Minstrel's Gallery' aka 'Hexachordia', provided much appreciated live and authentic music for the dancers and we look forward to working with them on many more occaisions.
We have also enjoyed evenings of Social Dancing under the direction of Sasza Zargowski, at the last dance class of each term. Sasza has also led occasional day workshops at the Belvedere Centre in Norwich such as his 'A Quadrille Tea' afternoon and Late 19th century Quadrilles.
Performance requires practice and as well as the weekly classes at Norwich High School for Girls and there are more targeted rehearsals in the run up to each event attended.
Norwich Historical Dancers enjoy a DHDS workshop on the dances of Thomas Bray with Barbara Segal, January 2016
Film about Norwich Historical Dance
YaranZhao and HetingZhang's work is showcased on “Norfolk on Film”; do take a look at it.
When the Lights Went Out
The performance of Edwardian dances and music familiar to Norfolk people in those pre-First World War years which took place on Sunday 21st February 2016 at Swaffham Assembly Rooms, was well received by the audience. The afternoon of ragtime, folk and social dances and music was much enjoyed by the Swaffham Arts members and many other dance and music lovers who sat around the tables in the cabaret style layout for the performance. They were also able to join in the chorus of the songs and take part in the 'Castle Walk' Dance, led by Mr. Vernon Castle himself, (played by Sasza Zargowski). This very moving performance ended with a specially created commemorative dance to the accompaniment of popular WW1 music and song, which highlighted the cataclysmic effects of war.