country dance

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country dance (Eng.), contredanse (Fr.), contradanza (It.), Kontretanz (Ger.). This type of dance is of Brit. origin. Its various foreign names have come about from a plausible false etymology (‘counter-dance’—one in which the performers stand opposite to one another—as distinguished from a round dance). Both Mozart and Beethoven wrote Kontretänze. No.7 of Beethoven's 12 Kontretänze contains the theme used also in the finale of the Eroica Sym. and other works. The term is generic and covers a whole series of figure dances deriving from the amusements of the Eng. village green. Such dances became popular at the court of Queen Elizabeth I, and during the Commonwealth were systematically described by Playford in his English Dancing Master. In early years of the 19th cent. the waltz and quadrille drove the country dance out of the English ballroom (with the exception of the popular example known as Sir Roger de Coverley); the folk-dance movt. of the 20th cent., however, brought it into considerable use again. Scotland has throughout retained a number of its country dances.