Historical dance, or early dance, embraces social dancing of the courts and ballrooms of Europe, and choreographies from theatre and court entertainments. The periods covered range from the fifteenth century to the nineteenth. Within this span, periods are often identified by slightly arbitrary titles, such as:
- Renaissance dance (in England, Elizabethan dance and Tudor dance)
- Baroque dance
- Regency dance and Victorian dance
Some typical dance forms, in approximate chronological order, are:
- Basse danse, Bassa danza, Ballo, Tordion, Pavan (or pavanne), Almain (or almayne), Galliard, Canario, Passomezzo (or Passo e mezo)
- Country dance, Gigue, Sarabande, Rigaudon, Minuet (or Menuet)
- Cotillion, Quadrille, Mazurka, Waltz
Early dance is based on careful research into original dance sources. Dances are taught at many practical courses.
Occasions such as revels, balls and assemblies provide opportunities for social dancing.