The social dancing of early Americans was shaped largely by English practices, but also by the strong French presence in British North America. The “assembly” was an English inheritance, a strictly regulated, formal gathering, the most elite of which at the time were at Bath and London. At such assemblies, masters or mistresses of ceremonies […]
Dancing Masters and Social Dance
Review an exerpt for each page below and select the title of the article of interest.
Dancing masters arrived on American shores nearly as soon as European settlers had landed. Puritans, who held that morality and movement were linked, permitted dancing and dancing masters as long as they functioned within the bounds of Christian precepts. American cities attracted adventurous dancing masters willing to cross the ocean. By 1706, even dour Philadelphia […]
John Durang, too, may well have taught dancing in these small Pennsylvania towns during summer tours through the region. His advertisements often promised dancing displays by his pupils or announced him as “Dancing Master” or “Professor of Dancing” from Philadelphia. Durang had made an early foray into dance teaching during the brief Hartford season he […]
What repertory would a dancing master teach in this period, and how would a ball be structured? An evening of social dance typically opened with a minuet, followed by country-dances, reels, and cotillions, after which there was a supper or “collation” (refreshments). The minuet, the opening dance at most formal social events, was danced on […]
The popularity of country-dances, which were easier to describe verbally than the complex baroque dances of the early eighteenth century, stimulated publication of collections and manuals for eager dancers who wished to stay apprised of the latest choreographies for the next assembly. An early example of such a dance collection was John Playford’s The English […]