Memories in dance

Cuckolds All in A-Row @ King of Hearts, Norwich

Cuckolds All in A-Row @ King of Hearts, Norwich

By CHRISTOPHER SMITH

Sweet sounds, movement that was always elegant and sometimes vigorous, colourful costumes and quotations in character that created a sense of period – all contributed to the first in a series of graceful tributes by the Norwich Early Dance Group to the memory of John Playford.

Although not forgotten, his name is remembered in these parts less than it should be.


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A Norwich man who was probably introduced to music at the cathedral, he made his career as a publisher in London.

By far the most important title in his list was “The English Dancing Master”, published in 1651.

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Even after 350 years, Playford's work can still delight.

To the gentle accompaniment of Sarah Huckel's recorder and Matthew Huckel's lute, the dancers, directed by Amanda Williams, re-created the old formal patterns, lining up, turning about and changing partners until the original order was restored anew.

Meantime, a script devised by Clive King combined the facts about Playford with comments by Samuel Pepys to provide a lot of information in easily-digestible form, and it accounted for the sometimes-cheeky names of the tunes.

This was the first of half a dozen English traditional dance events that will be presented throughout the summer.

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