Country dances in the Austrian Netherlands

Do you teach historical dance?

Do you have a hard time finding dances to teach, and their music?

Me too. It takes a huge amount of energy to build up and broaden up one’s repertoire. Indeed, you must regularly follow workshops (sometimes far away, often rare and expensive). There, you need to note down de steps and figures instructions, and get the music recording. If you are lucky, you’ll receive it , or be able to buy it on premise – even though it is less and less common.

So you wander on the web and in the music shops, even on the second-hand market, to find back the perfect recording. The tempo, the number of repetition, the length of the track, are as many cases you need to check off on the « usable music » list.

Maybe do you work with musicians? The hunting is still going, not to find CD’s anymore, but to find music sheets. Those valuable documents are sometimes hard to reach. When on the contrary, you work on a very common melody, you can get drowned under the number of versions and arrangements.

And the work is stil not done! You still need to study the choreography. Then the steps must be dissected so that your pupils can digest them. And finally, you’ll have to teach the dance to the said dancers.

Sometimes, and it is here that the drama takes place, the dancers do not appreciate the dance that you carefully prepared and teach. #truestory

musique contredanses pays-bas autrichiens baroque 18ème siècle charles de lorraine 1770s quadrille

Music recording and dance instruction booklet

Dance teachers, early music lovers, Histoire de Bal has thought of you.

I’ve worked with two talented professional musicians to bring you quality teaching material that’s easy to read and use.

In this new project, I offer you eleven (11!) completely new pieces of country dance music. No other recordings of these melodies exist. A duo of young professional musicians, Dries De Maeyer (flute) and Tim Mulleman (piano) have reconstructed and arranged the music, based on my reconstructions.

The tracks are long enough to fully perform the whole choreography: yes, even the twelve repeats for a standard triple minor set longways!

Tests with dancers from the Compagnie Aliquam Amentis ensured that the tempo was adapted to the dance throughout. Dries and Tim also came up with clever arrangements to avoid monotony and guarantee musical interest. At all times, the rhythm and structure of the dance are respected.

Music is the basis of everything, of course, but it’s not enough. That’s why a booklet completes the CD. The booklet contains instructions for all the dances on the CD. It also includes a short historical introduction and a glossary.

I’m using the same principle as in my free ebook « Five historical dance choreographies » – offered when you subscribe to the newsletter (form at the bottom of the page). It’s a great way to see how I explain dances.

Because yes, everyone has their own way of describing movements. Who doesn’t? I’ve tried to be as clear as possible. However, should you come up against a figure, just contact me, and I’ll be delighted to explain the dance even better to you . My contact details are in the booklet.

With these tools: the recordings and the booklet, you’ll be ready to teach this repertoire!

Musical and choreographic repertoire

The project contains eleven dances published in the Austrian Netherlands – in nowadays Belgium, in Brussels and Louvain. I have selected them from two collections:

  • The first, Recueil de Contredanses (books 1 and 2) by Pierre Trappeniers, was published in Brussels around 1777. If the name Trappeniers doesn’t ring a bell, you’re probably familiar with his most famous dance: La Gavre. Of course, I haven’t re-recorded La Gavre, of which there are already dozens of versions. I’ve chosen different but equally charming melodies, such as L’organiste, and my personal favorite La Léopoldine.
  • The second is Le Bouquet tout fait by L. Ferry, published in Louvain around 1765. The Bouquet lives up to its name, as each dance in the book is named after a plant: La Pensée (The Pansy), La fleur de cerisier (The cherry blossom), La Rose blanche (The white rose). A concept album before its time, if you will.

The dances range in difficulty from « very simple » (Le prunier en fleur) to « stay focused » (Le Poirier), for everyone to enjoy.

You’ll find two types of Baroque (contre)dance on the CD:

  • Cotillions, or French-style contredanses, in squares for four couples;
  • « Columns », or English-style country dances – longways.

How to get the music and the booklet?

The Histoire de Bal blog is on Bandcamp. This secure platform allows you to:

  •     Listen to the music;
  •     Buy the music, either track by track, or by whole album – in mp3, flac and other formats;
  •     Make secure payments that truly support the artists.

Important note: to purchase the booklet (available in French and English), you need to buy the « Contredanses booklet » album. You’ll then receive a musical extract + the PDF of the booklet.

Several articles will be published on the blog to illustrate certain points of dance technique. To make sure you don’t miss a single article, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter! (well, you’ll need to actually subscribe, because thinking about it really hard just won’t do).


Special thanks to Gaël Vandezande, Gwen Thoveron, Yvonne Vart, Dries De Maeyer, Tim Mullemans, Tim Wuyts, and the dancers of the Aliquam Amentis company (Brussels).