Egg dance

Egg dance

An egg dance is a traditional Easter game in which eggs are laid on the ground or floor and the goal is to dance among them damaging as few as possible. Venetia Newall (1971) "An Egg at Easter: A Folklore Study", [ p. 344] ] The egg was a symbol of the rebirth of the earth in Pagan celebrations of spring and was adopted by early Christians as a symbol of the rebirth of man at Easter. [ [$file/History+of+the+Easter+Egg.pdf Warwickshire County Council: The history of the Easter egg] Retrieved on 2008-03-17]

Another form of egg dancing was a springtime game depicted at the painting of Pieter Aertsen. The goal was to roll an egg out of a bowl while keeping within a circle drawn by chalk and then flip the bowl to cover the egg. This had to be done with the feet without touching the other objects placed on the floor. [ [ Aertsen's "The Egg Dance"] ] An early reference to an egg dance was at the wedding of Margaret of Austria and Philip the Handsome on Easter Monday of 1498. The event was described in a 1895 issue of "The American Magazine" as follows. ['The American Magazine" vol. 39, 1895, [ p. 390] ]

Then the great egg dance, the special dance ofthe season, began. A hundred eggs were scatteredover a level space covered with sand, and ayoung couple, taking hands, began the dance.If they finished without breaking an egg theywere betrothed, and not even an obdurate parentcould oppose the marriage.

After three couples had failed, midst the laugherand shouts of derision of the on-lookers, Philibertof Savoy, bending on his knee before Marguerite,begged her consent to try the dancewith him. The admiring crowd of retainersshouted in approval, "Savoy and Austria!" Whenthe dance was ended and no eggs were brokenthe enthusiasm was unbounded.

Philibert said, "Let us adopt the custom ofBresse." And they were affianced, and shortlyafterward married.

In the UK the dancing takes the form of hopping and sometimes called the hop-egg. There were various forms of egg-dance, but Mark Knowles writes that it was brought to England from Germany by the Saxons as early as in the 5th century. The Saxon word hoppe means "to dance"Thomas Tyrwhitt, "The Canterbury Tales of Chaucer: With an Essay Upon His Language" (1882) [ p. 175] ]

The 1867 book "The Sports and Pastimes of the People of England" writes: [Joseph Strutt, William Hone (1867) "The Sports and Pastimes of the People of England From the Earliest Period; Including the Rural and Domestic Recreations, May Games, Mummeries, Pageants, Processions and Pompous Spectacles", [ p. 225] ]

The indication of such a performance occurs in an old comedy, entitled"The longer thou livest, the more Foole thou art", by
William Wager in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, where we meet with these lines:
Upon my one foote pretely I can hoppe. And daunce it trimley about an egge.
Dancing upon one foot was exhibited by the Saxon gleemen,and probably by the Norman minstrels, but more especially bythe women-dancers, who might thence acquire the name of "hoppesteres", [In fact there has been a scholastic discussion among Chaucer commenters about the word "hoppesteres" used in the expression "shippes hoppesteres"; see T. Tyrwhitt's reference.] which is given by Chaucer. A vestige of this denominationis still retained, and applied to dancing, though somewhatcontemptuously ; for an inferior dancing-meeting is generallycalled a hop.

Hopping matches for prizes were occasionally made in thesixteenth century, as we learn from John Heywoode the epigrammatist.In his "Proverbs" printed in 1566, are the followinglines:

Where wooers hoppe in and out, long time may bring Him that hoppeth best at last to have the ring
But to return to the egg-dance. This performance was commonenough about thirty years back and was well receivedat Sadler's Wells ; where I saw it exhibited, not by simplyhopping round a single egg, but in a manner that much increasedthe difficulty. A number of eggs, I do not preciselyrecollect how many, but I believe about twelve or fourteen,were placed at certain distances marked upon the stage; thedancer, taking his stand, was blind-folded , and a hornpipebeing played in the orchestra, he went through all the pacesand figures of the dance, pasing backwards and forwards between the eggs without touching them.

The hornpipe was one of dances performed as an egg dance. Sometimes it was danced blindfolded. For example, the famous United States hornpipe dancer John Durang performed one of his hornpipes blindfolded on a scene covered with eggs.Mark Knowles (2002) "Tap Roots: The Early History of Tap Dancing", ISBN 0786412674, [,M1 p. 18] ]

Julian Mates in his book "The American Stage before 1800" notes that blindfolded egg dances were popular musical act both in Europe and the United States during the 18th century. [Mindy Aloff (2004) "Dance Anecdotes: Stories from the Worlds of Ballet, Broadway, the Ballroom, and Modern Dance", "Oxford University Press", ISBN 0195054113, [,M1 p. 132] ]

ee also

*Egg rolling
*Egg hunt
*Egg tapping
*Pace Egg play


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