6 Annotations

First Reading

Sjoerd Spoelstra  •  Link

As a man from a protestant background SP had never had any dancing instruction, and this started to bother him more and more.
Starting with an entry on April 10th 1661 Samuel seems slowly to get used to the idea, with on March 27th : "at last we fell to dancing, the first time that ever I did in my life, which I did wonder to see myself to do".

Without spoiling anything, according to Claire Tomalin this is the start of a serious case of "dancing mania" , the lead-in to a chapter with the title "Jealousy".

Terry F.  •  Link

"John Playford published a new book called The English Dancing Master in London in 1651. This volume contained the figures and the tunes for 105 English country dances, the first printing of these group social dances that were to dominate Western ballrooms for the next 150 years. The book appeared at a time of great upheaval in England. Civil disorder and natural disasters forced city residents to seek refuge on remote country estates; expanding trade and emigrations to distant lands carried Englishmen far from their homeland. Both phenomena affected the social life of the upper classes for whom these dances were a satisfying vehicle for leisure time recreation.

"Playford's slim volume sold quickly and he issued a second edition with nine additional dances the next year. Two editions of a third appeared in 1657 and 1665. He dropped the term ?English? in the second edition and thereafter the books were simply called The Dancing Master. The books evidently filled a real need in Englishmen's lives and copies were very likely carried or shipped to country homes and colonial outposts as soon as they appeared in Playford's shop.

"The series eventually grew to eighteen editions of the first volume (1651-1728), four of a second (1710-1728), and two of a third (1719-1726) and long out-lived its originator. The three volumes eventually encompassed 1,053 unique dances and their music. Many were copied from one edition to the next so that the entire contents, with duplicates, amounts to 6,217 dances, including 186 tunes without dances and 3 songs (Dunmore Kate, Mr. Lane's Magot, and The Quakers Dance)."
The Dancing Master, 1651-1728: An Illustrated Compendium By Robert M. Keller http://www.izaak.unh.edu/nhltmd/i…

Terry F  •  Link

17th century dance history

"It is noteworthy that in England there was not the sharp division between court and village dancing which characterised the French and Italian scenes of the period and when it came to dancing, especially when it came to completing sets, people of all classes mixed freely (class divisions being so well internalised that people could mix without fear anyone would forget their place). Most noticeably of all to the French eye was, however, the fact that while the continental dances involved display to a partner, processions with a partner or dancing without a partner in a circle, the English dances involved couples dancing with couples within a group. For such dancing Italian and French masters used the expression 'Contra-danza' / 'Contredanse' (analogous to contemporary musical terminology -the first recorded use being in de Lauze's 1623 *Apologie de la danse*). Although the term 'country dance' was initially used as descriptor of place of origin (not from the city), and although the term 'contredances' was initially used as a descriptor of formation (not a partnerless or couples-by-themselves dance),...the two terms soon became synonymous - both refering to a style of dance whether danced in court or country.[...]With the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 dancing quickly returned to public life. Charles II came back from France with a love of music and dance and Samuel Pepys recorded that at a New Year's Eve Ball at White Hall in 1662, after a 'Bransle':

'the King led a lady a single Coranto; and then the rest of the lords, one after another, other ladies. Very noble it was, and great pleasure to see. Then to Country dances; the King leading the first which he called for; which was - say he, Cuckolds all a-row the old dance of England.'

The King's favourite 'country dance' had appeared in the first edition of Playford's Dancing Master, a copy of which Pepys had bought from the author a month or so before the ball. Pepys himself, was not a keen dancer. He'd been brought up as a puritan and parliamentarian sympathizer, and never really tried dancing till 1661 when invited to join in at a friend's party. He made such a bad fist of it, in an age when competency in this area was so important to the make-up of a gentilhomme, that he resolved that he should learn more...and indeed, later decided that his wife should too. In 1663 he hired dancing teachers Mary Ashwell and Mr Pembleton to come to his home, but his suspicion that his wife had taken to her male teacher and her suspicion that Pepys had taken to his female teacher, led to jealousy and arguments.... The lessons soon ended - Pepys noting that there was no more dancing, that his coranto was soon forgotten and that he could fall 'to quiet of mind and business again'." http://www.earthlydelights.com.au…

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Roots of Square Dancing found in the 1st edition of John Playford’s English Dancing Master, 1651
An essay by Heiner Fischle, Hannover, Germany

The English Dancing Master, published 1651, is usually regarded as the oldest printed source for contra dancing. But besides the "longways" formation, there are several formations which are direct ancestors to square dancing: http://www.heinerfischle.de/histo…

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.




  • Sep