Dances are documented activities that were important during many eras that the HFSre-enacts, including several where it was expected that noble ladies and gentlemen knew how to dance. Much of a peoples history and culture can be discovered through the study of their dance (just look at Italy and England in the later middle ages).
Within the HFS there are those who dance for the social joys and the artthat come from dancing. Costume balls are held, period instruments are used and, for a while, we enjoy this aspect of the past. But society was different then. Dance was not always a social activity for large groups of people. Those who are drawn to historical accuracy know that dance was partly a social contest. Today we show stature by how large and fancy our house or car or cottage is - but in some eras it was all about dance.
For the artist within the HFS - dance is a form of expression to be explored. At times we have contests to see what can be done with a dance. John Playford (an English Dancing Master from 1651) may have documented in his book the movements of people required to perform a certain dance but there was so much more he didn't document: Which instruments were used? Should the music be light, sombre or something in between? Should a couple dance exactly together - or perhaps just keep missing each other? By playing with the form of the dance it can become a vivid expression of happiness or sorrow in that the partners just never wind up together or something else again.
For the "clothes horses", dances can be a way to show off wonderful garb (dance is at its best at a costume ball)!
For musicians it can be a challenge to play or learn to arrange music in a period style. It can also be an incentive to build or buy period instruments.
Dance in the HFS takes many different forms. From the courtly pavannes to bellydancing around a campfire and everything in between, dance can be many things for many people.