4th – 8th August 


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



 Historical Dances which have journeyed to, from and through Scotland. 

Dances from the medieval time of Robert the Bruce, the Renaissance of Mary Queen of Scots, the Enlightenment of Robert Burns and the dances of the 19th century that may have been danced in the Town Hall of Sanquhar, when it was first built in 1882. 



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. Although the dance Ecossaise literally means Scottish, there are many different theories of which particular country created the original dance and why dancing masters used that term. The dance may not, in truth, have any direct link to Scotland or its people, although it is accepted that dances will travel between ballrooms, countries, and even continents. Culture is seen to be always moving, so in this way dance and music may be influenced by styles constantly changing due to geography and the migration of the people who participated in dance in whichever they land they found themselves located.”


In the course we will explore historical dances from the published NONSUCH repertoire spanning many centuries:

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

Circle dances from the time 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):

·         Scots Measure (Thomas Braye, 1699)

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

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


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).

·         Ecossaise Constantia from Thomas Wilson, The Ecossaise Instructor (London, 1818)



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

Marches, Polkas, Waltzes, Mazurkas & The Caledonian Rant  


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


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)

Dancing Master:


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

Paradance UK, Harmonic Interactive Healing)




Please note that the content and timings may change.




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.



Special local rate of £25 per day including lunch . just drop

 in - no booking.

If you have a non-dancing partner they can eat with the group in the evening, please ask for prices.


All rooms must be booked independently. 

We can recommend the following: 

  • Bed & Breakfast (also has Caravan Site and Self Catering accommodation) Newark Farm

AIR BnB offer bookings in Sanquhar and the local area 

Please get in touch if you need help in finding a place to stay or with the travel arrangements.


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] 


We will be following Covid 19 Cultural Performance and Events Guidance from the Scottish Government. To reduce risk and to create a safe environment during the Course. Specific guidance will be sent out a week prior to attending. We encourage international travellers to check the latest advice from the country of departure to Scotland.   

Any queries on the course please email []


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