English Country Dancing

Perth, Western Australia

Rose and Wattle English Country Dancers

Hello there! Welcome to the site for Rose and Wattle English Country Dancers in Perth, Western Australia.

About Us and What We Do

The Rose and Wattle English Country Dancers concentrate on the tradition of the English country dance.

Our main aim   ─   is to have fun.

It is after all a recreational pursuit and although we do take our dancing seriously, our primary aim is to have fun and socialise, while at the same time learning the delightful dances of a bygone era. The dances we learn date from the 16th century to the present day.

As well as dancing socially for fun,  we also give public performances at festivals and other community events.

We are a non-profit group.

Examples of some of the dances we do can be seen in the film and television versions of Jane Austen’s books such as the well known ‘Pride and Prejudice’ starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. ‘Mr Beveridge’s Maggot’ can be seen in the following video clip from the movie.

Would you like to dance?

Join us in helping to keep this tradition of  English Country Dance alive and thriving in Perth. The Rose and Wattle Dancers meet every Monday evening, from 7.30pm – 9.30pm. All dances are taught in a friendly, relaxed environment where you are welcome to come along with or without a partner. Beginners welcome.

Contact :

Email :    Karen             rose&wattle@iinet.net.au

Mob :      Karen              0439 844 024  and leave a text or voice message

(I will phone you back if you leave your number.)

What is English Country Dance?

English Country Dance is a form of social dance done with partners in different set formations.  Most country dances are danced in a longways set,  but there are also dances for a square or circle formation.

The emphasis is on the interaction of the dancers and the patterns made by movements through the set,  rather than complicated footwork. Some dances are fast and lively,  others slow and graceful;  some are simple, others complex. The tunes can be catchy or haunting,  and the titles are often intriguing.

This style of dancing goes back to the late Middle Ages and became fashionable at the court of Queen Elizabeth 1st.  The English style was popular in France and Germany too.

The earliest collection of country dances was published by John Playford in 1651 and many  further collections appeared during the 18th century.

In the 19th century,  country dancing was gradually displaced by new fashions such as the waltz,  but interest in it was revived in the 20th century and many new dances have been written in this style.  It remains a strong tradition in England and North America, and groups can be found throughout the world.

The Benefits of English Country Dance

The main benefit of English Country Dance is that it provides gentle exercise for both the body and brain,  also the social aspect provides stimulus as the emphasis in this dance form is on the interaction of the dancers within the set rather than the footwork.

English Country Dancing is suitable for:

  • People of all ages and stages of life
  • Beginner dancers and others who are keen to try dancing as a form of exercise
  • Experienced dancers (ballroom, square dancers and others) who are looking   for a different dance challenge
  • Visitors from dance clubs interstate or overseas
  • Anyone who loves historical dance and music
  • Anyone willing to “give it a go!”
  • Anyone interested in teaching or calling dances or taking part in our public display group
  • Just dancing for fun, laughter, and socialising

History of Rose and Wattle

The Rose and Wattle English Country Dance Group was started in Perth, Western Australia, in 1987 by Mabs Addison, an experienced dancer and dance caller who came from England to settle in Australia in 1986.

The following is Mabs’s own account of how Rose and Wattle came to be:

“When my late husband and I emigrated to Perth in 1986, we had left behind a flourishing folk dance club of 80 people. I had been their caller/teacher for twelve years but now we felt ready to start again.  

We were given the address of the Perth Folk Society to make enquiries and were made very welcome, even more so when I said I had many years of experience as a  “caller”.

 It was suggested I get in touch with Donna Vaughan, a musician who was struggling to keep a group going.

We met at Kensington with six other dancers. Donna said she was struggling to pay the fees for the venue so we suggested they could use our patio, which was big enough to accommodate the group.

Rose and Wattle was born. Me being the English Rose, and the dancers  Australian Wattle.

The group eventually built to twenty dancers and we were asked to perform as a team at many venues.

Great team spirit and great fun continued for four years until ill health forced me to retire.”

The story is continued by Jane Emberson:

In late 1986, with my husband, Robert Powell, I joined a class started by Mabs at Innaloo, not having done any English country dancing since my childhood.

The class was soon merged into the Rose & Wattle Group, and we gave a display  at the Toodyay Folk Festival in 1987 and again in subsequent years, besides other events such as festivals at Kalamunda and Mundaring.

The women started off wearing long dresses with pinafore tops over a blouse, but switched a couple of years later to full skirts in various colours and frilled white blouses – not historical but bright and attractive.

Being no seamstress, I was grateful to other members who made mine for me (my sole contribution at the sew-in was a batch of scones!)

The men stuck to their handsome knee-breeches and white stockings.

Our buttercup-yellow banner always accompanied us to displays.

After Mabs retired from the group, various members gradually moved away to other areas or other commitments but some of us were keen to continue as a social dancing group.

From late 1991, I found myself acting as caller, with the untiring support of Karen Ford as organiser.

At first we relied on a core of  fifty dances kindly provided by Mabs, and over the years I expanded that greatly, drawing especially on the rich resources of the English Folk Dance & Song Society and its American equivalent,  the Country Dance Society.

We also continued to give displays and workshops periodically at festivals and other events, including the Fairbridge Folk Festival, The Recorder & Early Music Society’s midwinter festivals and the York Rose Fair,  among others.

Some wonderful dancers joined the group, and our dance evenings have been a joy.

In late 2010 Robert and I moved to the UK,  sadly leaving Rose and Wattle behind us,  but wishing the group a happy continuance.

Thanks To

Special thanks to Steve Mansfield and the Perth Morris Men website for their unconditional support for Rose and Wattle English Country Dancers.

One thought on “Rose and Wattle English Country Dancers

  1. Lyn Abley on said:

    Hello. My English husband & I are keen to start classes. Can you please advise when classes start?
    Regards
    Lyn

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