Welcome

The dancers get to grips with the 'triumph' manoeuvre, in 'Les Pécheurs' from the Bülow Collection  (1780) - click to enlarge

The dancers get to grips with the 'triumph' manoeuvre, in 'Les Pécheurs' from the Bülow Collection (1780).

Smiling faces attest to the enjoyment of the course and Jørgen's great teaching - click to enlarge

Smiling faces attest to the enjoyment of the course and Jørgen's great teaching.

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 - click to enlarge

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.

Norwich Historical Dance performing the dance 'Scotch Cap' - click to enlarge

Norwich Historical Dance performing the dance 'Scotch Cap'.

Jane Scheuregger holds up a Crumhorn as she explains and demonstrates the musical instuments from the Tudor period - click to enlarge

Jane Scheuregger holds up a Crumhorn as she explains and demonstrates the musical instuments from the Tudor period.

>A delighted audience participate in a dance - click to enlarge

A delighted audience participate in a dance.

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.

Come and see us perform - see our events page, or contact us to book us for performances, weddings or Workshops.

Costumed dancers advance in the dance at the Playford Ball at  Norwich Assembly House, November 2016 - click to enlarge

Costumed dancers advance in the dance at the Playford Ball at Norwich Assembly House, November 2016

Back to back they faced each other… Andrew Swaine calls the changes at the Playford Ball at  Norwich Assembly House, November 2016 - click to enlarge

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 - click to enlarge

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. - click to enlarge

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 - click to enlarge

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 - click to enlarge

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 - click to enlarge

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 - click to enlarge

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 - click to enlarge

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 - click to enlarge

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 - click to enlarge

'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 - click to enlarge

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

18th century dancing at Gressenhall, 2013 - click to enlarge

18th century dancing at Gressenhall, 2013.

Book Us!

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

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 sell-out, 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.

Tickets for the 2017 Playford Ball are selling fast (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 ran another successful and popular course at Belsey Bridge Conference Centre. Under Jørgen Schou-Pedersen's practical and gentle guidance the 24 participants were taught 18th century Danish dances. These had been researched by Jørgen, who has a long and distinguished career in teaching dances of many periods. The venue, set in a peaceful rural location in Ditchingham near Bungay in Suffolk not only provided an excellent place in which to learn the dances, with good facilities and plenty of lovely food, but also gave scope for charming walks in the surrounding countryside during the free time on the Saturday afternoon. From registration on Friday 31st March to leaving at 4 pm on Sunday 2nd April, we all enjoyed Jørgen's tuition and the company of dancers from several groups around Britain. Jørgen gave an interesting and much appreciated talk and slide show about the origin and history of the dances and the sources like the Bülow Collection, with, literally, all the gory details! The dances were both interesting and enjoyable and Jørgen soon had us waltzing around the floor. Places for the 2017 course went quickly so a 'full house' was guaranteed.

Details for Belsey Bridge weekend for 2018 will be publicised 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.

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.

Enjoy a Social Dance Evening with us, led by Sasza Zargowski, on Thursday July 13th. See our Events page for details

Early Dance Circle Festival

After last year's much enjoyed performance in Bath at the Early dance Circle Festival, by way of "Nine Minutes Wonder: Will Kemp", with Jonathan Hooton as a Will Kemp of distinction, NHD are looking forward to and planning their performance at this years Festival. We will be travelling North to Tadcaster in Yorkshire towards the end of October. Also in the planning stage is the 2018 Early Dance Circle Festival which will be hosted in Norwich by our group.

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 - click to enlarge

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.