4th – 8th August 2022


Historical Dances that have journeyed to, from and through Scotland


Warlocks and witches in a dance; 
Nae cotillion brent-new frae France, 
But hornpipes, jigs strathspeys, and reels, 
Put life and mettle in their heels. 


(Tom O’Shanter by Robert Burns)


NONSUCH historical dances:

Medieval & Renaissance / The Enlightenment / Victorian


Medieval & Renaissance Dance (13th – 16th century): The Scots Brawl


Circle dances from the court of Robert the Bruce in the 13th century castle of Sanquhar.


The Scottish-French connection of the Renaissance Courts: Mary Queen of Scots (learning to dance in France: Arbeau’s Orchesography), and her son, King James VI of Scotland, preparing to become King James I of England.



The Enlightenment (17th – 18th century):


The Scotch Measures:


Scots Measure (Thomas Braye, 1699)

The Geud Man of Ballangigh: A new Scotch Jig (John Playford, 1696)

The Rakes of Rochester (1792)


Minuets and Reels of Ayrshire:


John Riddell of Ayrshire (1718 – 1795) editions of dance music collections 1766 & 1782 (A collection of Scots Reels & Minuets)


Miss Stuart Seton’s Reel & Lady Charlotte Campbell’s Reel (1797)







Supplementary Activity: The Language of the Fan – based on The New Dance Fan for 1797 (dance instructions were written on the fan, now preserved in the British Museum collection)


Robert Burns in Song & Dance:


The course will pay tribute to Robert Burns (born January 25, 1759, Alloway, Ayrshire, Scotland—died July 21, 1796, Dumfries, Dumfriesshire), who was a frequent visitor to Sanquhar. Dance research will relate to the recent publication by Nonsuch alumnus, Sue Knight.

One such dance connected to Robert Burns is “Lull Me Beyond Thee” – a longways dance for 4 couples (from the first edition of John Playford's The English Dancing Master and instructions and music contained in Nonsuch Volume 5). 


19th Century Ballroom Dances:


The Old Scotch Threesome from Francis Peacock, Sketches Relative to the Art of Dancing (Aberdeen, 1805)


Lady Harriet Hope’s Reel, from Thomas Wilson, The Companion to the Ballroom (London, 1816)


Ecossoise Constantia & Ecossoise Saint Michael from Thomas Wilson, The Ecossoise Instructor (London, 1818)


New Reel of Four, Reel of Five from Thomas Wilson, The Complete System of Country Dancing (London, 1821)



Victorian Ball at the Sanquhar ‘Toon’ Hall (Town Hall was newly opened in 1882)


Marches, Polkas, Waltzes, Mazurkas & The Caledonian Rant  

Thomas Wilson, The Correct Method of German & French Waltzing, (London, 1816) & The Companion to the Ballroom (London, 1816)


Auld Lang Syne circle dance finale, to the words of Robert Burns.  


The Theme of the Summer Course:


Although dance historians are always looking to understand the origins of dances and attach certain dances to nations and to the people who danced them, dance often crosses many borders, and morphs into different styles. Take for example the Ecossoise, which is a word that implies Scottish. In 1818, when the dance was fashionable in the ballrooms, the most famous dancing master, Thomas Wilson, tried to explain the complex origin of this dance:


“The origin of the Ecossoise was probably derived from France and imported from thence into Russia, and seems formerly to have been the Contra Dance of that country; and tho’ the term by which this species of dance is named is French with a Scotch definition yet the dance and the music properly adapted to it are purely Russian. Though the Ecossoise are constructed somewhat similar to the English country dance, yet in their formation they also partake in a great measure of what is termed the Spanish Contra dance tho’ differing entirely from that dance in both Figure and steps.”


Thomas Wilson, The Ecossoise Instructor (London, 1818)













Dancing Master:


(Dramatic Dance RADA, The Laban Guild for Movement & Dance,

Paradance UK, Harmonic Interactive Healing)



To be posted later in the year. This will be a 3-day course from Friday to Sunday, arriving the Thursday.

COSTS - £250 for the course excluding accommodation

The fee will include evening meal on arrival day, and sandwich lunches each day and a 2-course evening meal each night. 

The cost for Nonsuch members will be £225.

 If you have a non-dancing partner they can eat with the group in the evening.


All rooms must be booked independently. 

We can recommend the following: 

Nithsdale Hotel, Sanquhar - Nithsdale Hotel Restaurant [] Single / Twin / Double rooms, plus a Flat sleeping six person, with or without breakfast Newark Farm, Sanquhar [] Bed & Breakfast (also has Caravan Site and Self Catering accommodation) Blackaddie Country House Hotel [4 Star] [

AIR BnB offer bookings in Sanquhar and the local area 

Please get in touch if you need help in finding a place to stay. 


Those travelling by train should arrive at Sanquhar station. 

Trains run from LONDON EUSTON to SANQUHAR with one change of train at CARLISLE. Trains run from GLASGOW direct to SANQUHAR. 

GLASGOW airport for national and international flights, including low-cost airlines from London [Gatwick / Luton / Stansted] 

Any queries on the course please email []


Extract from the Summer Course in 2019 to give you a taster of what we do and what to expect.



SUMMER COURSE Testimonials

In July 2019 we came together to recreate the Masque of the Planets, originally created by Leonardo de Vinci for the Duke of Milan in 1490. This took place in the Scottish village of Sanquhar, a delightful venue with the dance hall literally across the road from the Nithsdale Hotel, where many of us stayed and enjoyed excellent hospitality and food.

Darren Royston led us with friendly expertise through the steps and techniques of Italien Renaissance dance, making it easy to absorb and remember. From there we rehearsed the individual dances of the masque,.each one representing a planet, as many as were known at that time, and each expressing the culture of the era. This culminated with a performance in costumeinfront of of an audience of the local people, who really enjoyed it, as did we.

I really enjoyed the social side too, including a Sunday morning walk to the Crawick Multiverse Art project nearby, followed by a delicious buffet lunch. a superbly organised memorable few days in a lovely setting ~ I would definitely come to another Nonsuch Summer Course.


I was inspired by the Nonsuch Summer Course 2019 in Sanquhar Scotland 2019. Darren Royston teaches from a deep historical understanding while acknowledging the socio economic humanity in which these dances were created. The dancers whether beginner or professional were challenged and included in the final presentation. The Course was well organized and provided several choices for food and lodging so that attendees could choose what worked best for them. I returned to teaching my Dance for Parkinson’s classes with many dances and steps I could use to introduce my students to historical dance. Thank you for being so welcoming Nonsuch Dance and beautiful Sanquhar.

Virginia Belt

Portland, Oregon, USA