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
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
Norwich Historical Dance step back to the year of 1215 to ensure King John signs the Magna Carta at the 'Barley Mow', Witnesham, Suffolk
Belsey Bridge 2017
Norwich Historical Dance in collaboration with The Capriol Society are running a practical course studying 18th century Danish dances, researched and taught by Jørgen Schou-Pedersen, who has had a long and distinguished career in teaching dances of many periods. The venue, Belsey Bridge Conference Centre, is set in a peaceful rural location in Ditchingham near Bungay in Suffolk. The course will run from registration at 5.30 pm on Friday 31st March to 4 pm on Sunday 2nd April. Saturday afternoon will be free. Support for this weekend has again been very good and all the places have now been taken. Details for Belsey Bridge weekend for 2018 will be promulgated as soon as they are available. NHD also run a number of one day courses through the year. Please check the 'Events'Page for these.
Please download the booking form (PDF file: 409 KB)
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
After a very successful first year of running the Playford Ball, Norwich Historical Dance are looking ahead to 2017 and indeed to 2018. The caller and band for 2017 have been booked, as has the Noverre Suite in Norwich Assembly House. We are pleased to have as Master of Ceremonies Emma Wooders, with music by the band 'Momentum'. The date will be Saturday 18th November 2017 and the dancing from 7.30pm - 11.00 pm. The 2016 Ball was a sellout, with several disappointed dancers on a waiting list. Ten per cent of 2017 tickets were sold on the night to very happy ball-goers.
It is fitting to hold a Playford Ball in the Norwich Assembly House with all its historical associations, for John Playford, a Norfolk man, was a significant and important figure in the promotion of dancing with the collection of dances and their accompanying music which he published from 1651. Several editions followed until c1728. His work helped to keep these dances alive down the centuries to the present day. It is also a pleasing thought that the room we dance in is the Noverre Suite, named after the late 18th century famous dancing master M. Augustin Noverre.
NHD are already planning for the Playford Ball in 2017; 10% of tickets are already sold. 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 and if you would like to book the group for a Jane Austen linked event please contact us.
Medieval Churches Weekend
We have been invited to take 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 will take place in St.Georges Church, Colegate, Norwich. We will have live music provided by 'Minstrels Gallery' (external link), played on authentic historic instruments. Times will be confirmed soon.
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.
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.
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 performance in Bath at the EDC Festival gave a nod to Shakespeare 400, by way of "Nine Minutes Wonder: Will Kemp", with Jonathan Hooton as a Will Kemp of distinction. The performance was fun to do and it was very well received by the audience and had starring performances by the very plump morris dancing 'Marion', a very uncertain 'Signpost', a 'Vile Rut' also acting as a 'Brick and Flint Wall, (Leaping for the use of), which were made possible by the support of the other dancers whose acting and dancing gave the very humorous display its great success.
Thank you to Harriet for her creative talent in conceiving the idea and writing the script and Amanda for the choreography and patient turoring, especially the Final Jig which brought the performance to a storming finish.
Our thanks go to Bill Tuck who took on the vital role of Tom Slye, Kemp’s pipe and tabor-playing musician.
Hanse Weekend in King's Lynn
We participated for the third year in a row as part of the Hanse Festival in King's Lynn. We took part in the Procession on Saturday 21st May, then performed Medieval Dances to live music played by Minstrels Gallery, in Hanse House throughout the afternoon. Spectators joined in a dance at the end of each performance. A second series of demonstrations took place on Sunday 22nd May, this time in the Assembly Room in the Town Hall.
A busy Historical year
Over the last year NHD have flitted back and forth through the centuries, starting in June 2015 in the 13th century where we ensured that King John signed the Magna Carta down at the 'Barley Mow', Witnesham, Suffolk. A few weeks later Strangers' Hall played host to us for 16th and 17th century performances, and we stayed in the 17th century for our performance in October 2015 at the Early Dance Circle Festival in Bath. October also saw us dancing at the Forum in Norwich, taking part in the Edith Cavell Commemoration week, with dances from the Edwardian era. For Swaffham Arts in February 2016 we gave a performance of dances, music and songs, "When the Lights Went Out", again remembering the final days of peace, the start of the Great War and those who died. More recently we have been back to the 15th century, enjoying live music from Minstrels Gallery for our performances in Norwich Castle for a 'Museums at Night' event, and at the Hanse Festival in King's Lynn.
Performance requires practice and as well as the weekly classes at Norwich High School for Girls and some more targeted rehearsals, the group have taken part in workshops which included 16th C. dances under tutor Jørgen Schou-Pedersen at Belsey Bridge, in April; a Playford dance day in Cambridge with fellow dancers from the Capriol group and, more recently, late 19th century quadrilles with Sasza Zargowski, in Norwich.
Norwich Historical Dancers enjoy a DHDS workshop on the dances of Thomas Bray with Barbara Segal, January 2016
NHD join with other Early Dance enthusiasts in a Thomas Bray dance workshop run by DHDS, 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.