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A HISTORY OF DANCING. 









STHAKERS'. 

8 & 9 Hayne Street, West SmithBeld, 
London, B.C. 



A 

History of Dancing. 



n 

BY 

REGINALD ST-JOHNSTON. 

M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P., 

Author of " The Dream Face," etc. 
W 



1906. 



LONDON. 
SIMPKIN, MARSHALL, HAMILTON, KENT, & Co. 



CONTENTS. 

jr 

-_-.. 

CHAP. PAGE. 

I. The Muse of Dancing in Ancient Mytho- 
logy, and her alliance with the kindred 
arts ' ... 9 

II. Dancing as a Religious Ceremony ... 17 

III. Ancient Forms of Dancing in Greece, 

Italy, and the East 26 

IV. Some Early Forms of English Dancing ... 40 

V. Allegorical Dances among Primitive 

Nations 62 

VI. Quaint Dances in Civilized Countries ... 77 

VII. The Ballet, its origin and development ... * 93 

VIII. The Stage Dancing of to-day 116 

IX. Dancing as a Social Pastime 132 

X A Short History of the World's Dancers 159 



Literature on the subject of Dancing ... 194 




Miss ADELINE GKNEE. 
(Hana). 



Miss KATK VAUGHAN. 



SOME MODERN STAGE DANCERS. 

MR. EUGENE STRATTON. Miss TOI-SY SINDEN. 

(Langfier). (Hllis). 

Miss ALICE LETHBRIDGE. 
(Chancellor). 

Miss LETTY LINO. Miss MAHEL LOVE. 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS. 



A Group of Modern Dancers Frontispiece. 

* t 

Dance of Joy at the Overthrow of Doubting Castle 51 
(From an early copy of " The Pilgrim's Progress "). 

A Dance in Otaheite 70 

(From a first edition Capt. Cook's " Voyages "). 



* 9 41 ' - 
Signor Vestris 102 

(London Magazine, April, 1781.) 




PREFACE. 



HERE was a time in England, in the far-off 
past, when dancing was considered as an 
accomplishment to be acquired by every true 
knight ; has not Chaucer himself given as the 
quartet of courtly graces, Valour at Arms, Dancing, 
Drawing, and Writing ? Since those days dancing has 
both gained much and lost much, but grace is still 
the keynote of the art, an Art that is as true a one 
as that of Music or of Painting. Let dancing be but 
graceful and it will always be a thing of beauty. 

Of late years there has been a tendency, not only 
on the stage, but also' in the ball-rooms, to wander 
from " the polished graces of our ancestors," and to 
introduce, in the former, certain styles of dancing 
that are far from graceful, such as " cake-walks," 
high-kicking, and other extravagant forms which can 
only debase the art; and in the latter, a wild and 
irresponsible romping, which has made such expres- 
sions as " Kitchen Lancers " a bye-word. 

In this book I have endeavoured to show from what 
beautiful origins many of our dances have sprung, 
and how the great dancers of the past were wont to 
associate with their dances the poetry and noble 
thoughts that were the theme round which their skill 
revolved. 

In tracing the history of the subject I have found 
an almost entirely new field to work upon, for with 
the exception of two books, one by a Frenchman, 



M. Vuillier, and the other, written more from a tech- 
nical than a historical point of view, by Edward Scott, 
there have been practically no works on the subject 
since the year 1712, when Weaver published his 
" History of Dancing." 

It is a subject full of never-failing interest, and the 
deeper I have gone into it the more curious, and to 
me hitherto unknown, facts I have been able to bring 
to light. 

I have throughout been careful to avoid technical 
details, for my object has been not so much to point 
out how the various dances should be performed, as 
to trace their gradual development from their origins, 
and to show how beautiful and picturesque a thing a 
dance well done may be. 

REGINALD ST. JOHNSTON. 
Cheltenham, 1905. 






Hark ! The speaking strings invite ; 
Music calls us to delight ; 
See the maids in measure move, 
Winding like the maze of love. 
As they mingle madly gay 
Sporting Hebe leads the way. 
Love, and active Youth advance 
Foremost in the sprightly dance. 
As the magic numbers rise 
Thro' my veins the poison flies, 
Raptures not to be expressed 
Revel in my throbbing breast. 
Jocund as we beat the ground 
Love and Harmony go round." 

CUNNINGHAM, " The Dance" 1766. 



CHAPTER I. 



THE MUSE OF DANCING IN 
ANCIENT MYTHOLOGY, 

AND HER ALLIANCE WITH THE KINDRED ARTS. 

" Come and trip it as you go 
On the light fantastic toe. 11 

MILTON. " L' ALLEGRO." 



D 



ANCING A little word, and yet so 
full of meaning. What true lovers 
of dancing are there whose blood 
does not rush tingling through all 
their veins, and whose feet do not start an 
involuntary tap, tapping on the floor, when 
they hear the word, and its meaning flashes 
upon them ? 

To be moving, nay, rather floating through 
the air, to the sounds of distant music; to 
be madly rushing, now here, now there 
with a thrill of delicious intoxication, yet 
all the while in perfect harmony with the 
tune ; to be now whirling round at an 



10 A History of Dancing. 

almost incredible speed, now apparently 
standing still, yet with the brain afire the 
whole time ; and to hear throughout, 
mingled with the music, the ripple of merry 
laughter, for happiness is the reflex action 
of dancing, such are the thoughts and 
memories conjured up at the sound of the 
word. 

And not merely thoughts and memories 
of our own making, but thoughts and 
memories of a long stream of other happy 
and merry dancers, stretching back as 
through a long, mirror-lined room, far, far 
away into the distant ages of the past ; 
other dancers from whom we have inherited 
these feelings, other dancers who Jin their 
turn had the memories borne upon them 
out of the far-off past, right away back to 
the earliest ideas of primitive man ; for 
dancing and music were the first pleasures 
of mankind. 

One can almost imagine the Earliest 
Man walking one morning and finding the 
sun shining, the air bright and cheerful, 
the birds singing, and everything good to 
see. And then, through very joy of life 



A History of Dancing. 11 

he started dancing, and laughing at the 
pleasure of this new sensation, he would 
start singing and clapping his hands to 
keep time, and thus there out in the grey 
wilderness of Ancient Earth were the 
two great arts of Dancing and Music first 
brought to life. 

Dancing was prevalent among all the 
early races of the earth, and it is from the 
Ancient Greek Mythology of thousands of 
years ago, that we claim her who is known 
as the present goddess of dancing, the one 
whom, though we may not actually worship 
her, as did the ancient Greeks, we yet hold 
in reverence, and for whom we erect a 
pedestal in our inmost hearts Terpsichore. 

Terpsichore, how often have you been in- 
voked in picture and song, how often have 
the painter and the poet had good cause to 
thank the old Greeks for creating you and 
placing you, perhaps the first, among the 
Sacred Nine ? O, Terpsichore ! what a 
boon you have been to mankind ! Poetry, 
Music, even Art, may sometimes be sorrow- 
ful and sad, but you never. You were sent 
into the world to cheer up our hearts, to 



12 A History of Dancing. 

bring back the roses to the maiden's cheeks, 
to send the warm blood coursing through the 
bodies of all your votaries. You, with your 
handmaids Laughter and Lyric Song, came 
along, and lo 1 all the world was again 
cheerful and full of smiles. Keep with us, 
Terpsichore, and may the flame on your 
altars never die out. 

There was once upon a time (I will 
start in the old, old way, for it is not all 
Mythology like a beautiful old fairy tale, 
and all the better for telling in the estab- 
lished way ?) an infant called Zeus, who 
was the son of Kronos, the god of Time, 
and Rhea, who was the daughter of Father 
Heaven and Mother Earth. That, I always 
think, was a pretty fancy that only the 
artistic Greeks could have thought of- 
Time marrying the daughter of Heaven and 
Earth. Now, Zeus, after many wonderful 
adventures and hairbreadth escapes, grew 
up and became King of the Gods. 

And one day he fell in love with the 
pretty goddess of Memory, whose name was 
Mnemosyne, and marrying her, their child- 
ren became, very naturally, the goddesses 



A History of Dancing. 13 

of all the beautiful arts of mankind, and 
were known as the Nine Muses; and one 
of the chief of these was Terpsichore, the 
goddess of Dancing. 

She and her sisters of Poetry, Drama, 
and the kindred arts, were wont to dis- 
port themselves on the gentle slopes of 
Parnassus, or the rugged sides of Helicon ; 
and in every town of ancient Greece, there 
was an altar, however small, in honour of 
sweet Terpsichore. 

Not that the Greeks were necessarily the 
first to imagine a goddess of Dancing, for 
probably older and more barbaric nations 
had worshipped some Divinity of the Dance, 
who especially watched over its votaries, 
but I think it is to the Greeks that the 
earliest ideas of Dancing as one of the 
arts, one of the refining influences on man- 
kind, may be attributed. They, as it is seen, 
closely associated the Muse of Dancing 
with those of Music, Poetry and the 
Drama, and sought to show her kinship 
more especially with the two former. 

And how closely is she a sister of Music 
and Poetry! Just as Poetry is but Music 



14 A History of Dancing. 

without sound, so is Dancing, Poetry with- 
out words. Plutarch was the first to really 
understand this, and in his " Symposium " 
he describes dancing as the " Handmaid of 
Poetry." In every movement of the feet, 
in every evolution of the body, there is 
that true rhythm and concord which is the 
mainspring, the basis, of all Poetry and 
Music. 

How often has dancing been described 
as the "true poetry of motion," and how 
appropriately ! Dancing in its poetry, out- 
vies Poetry itself, if one may make use of 
a seeming paradox. For poetry as under- 
stood by verses, or even the placing of 
words and sentences in a rhythmical con- 
currence must, to be appreciated, have the 
cool and calculating intelligence brought to 
bear upon it, to be poetry it must also 
have a certain meaning, a certain sequence 
of ideas ; but dancing appeals purely and 
simply to the imagination ; one is fascinated, 
passively if watching, or actively if taking 
part, by the dance, and is carried away 
from oneself by the mere sensation of the 
movement : the uncivilized savage, equally 



A History of Dancing. 15 

with the most cultured person, can take a 
delight in the quick turns and swaying 
motions of a dance, and it is thus we can 
see that this "rhythm of motion" is the 
fountain-head of the later, and more civil- 
ized, art of poetry, or the " rhythm of 
words." 

Again, in Art, is it not the chief idea, 
the one great essential, of the picture or 
piece of sculpture, that it should be grace- 
ful and pleasing, and here in dancing, we 
have grace and beautiful motion personified, 
as of a still picture suddenly brought to 
life and capable of movement. 

For be the picture what it may I speak 
of course in reference to the pictures por- 
traying Nature be it sea-scape or land- 
scape, we have in the dance, the movement 
which is the great theme of Nature, em- 
bodied in the movements of living persons. 
For the artist, in catching and impressing 
on his canvas one of the phases of moving 
Nature, whether the swaying of trees, the 
floating of clouds, or the rolling of the 
billows of the ocean, is merely trying to 
get the general effect of movement, such 






16 



History of Dancing. 



as we see continually in the dance. And, 
could we invent some art by which we 
could get the continuous idea of movement 
instead of merely one phase of it, as we 
see in a picture, we should be more nearly 
approaching the mental picture that we 
ourselves make, if only for a fraction of a 
second, of the sequence of the evolution of 
a dance. 




CHAPTER II. 

DANCING AS A RELIGIOUS 
CEREMONY. 

" Rough Satyrs danced, and Fauns 

with cloven hoof 

From the glad sound would not be 
absent long." 

MILTON. " LYCIDAS." 



F 



ROM the earliest ages* dancing has 
formed an important part of the 
religious ceremonies ' of many 
nations, and although, in connec- 
tion with religion, it is now practically 
non-existent except in remote and 
primitive tribes it was at one time almost 
universal among the nations which were 
pre-eminent in the world for their civiliza- 
tion. 

Religious fanaticism affects men's minds 
as perhaps no other emotion can do ; it 
fills them with a sudden rush of frenzied 
thoughts and incoherent ideas, and as a 



18 A History of Dancing. 

result, all calm and intelligent reason is 
swept aside, and all control over the 
actions of the body is lost. And to work 
off, as it were, this superfluous energy 
created in the brain, strong muscular 
action takes place, and unconsciously the 
man throws himself into all sorts of par- 
oxysms bf the body and wild motions of the 
limbs, yet throughout, owing to a vague 
directing impulse in his brain, he keeps his 
balance, and consequently his frenzy de- 
velops into a wild form of a dance. 

So, probably, were the religious dances 
of the early nations first brought about, 
and though in the accounts we have of 
them there was none of the absolute loss 
of control except, perhaps in some of the 
Dionysia of the Greeks that we see for 
instance in the spinning Dervishes of to- 
day, yet there is no doubt that they were 
all of them a direct uesuli of exaltation of 
the mind, produced by a constant dwelling 
on religious ideas. 

And these dances, once inaugurated, 
become more and more organized and 
methodical, till at length they gradually 



A History of Dancing. 19 

took their place among the regular cere- 
monial observances of each particular 
religion. And the dance, from a dramatic 
point of view, could express so much that 
was necessary in the act of worship, 
thanksgiving, praise, supplication and humili- 
ation were all shewn by means of it that 
there is little suprise that it should have 
become an important factor in the history 
of religion. One of the earliest forms of 
religious dancing that we hear about occured 
in the Dionysia, or festivals to Dionysus, 
of the early Greeks. 

These took place chiefly in Attica and the 
Grecian Archipelago, and also in Asia Minor ; 
though it must be remembered that the 
worship of Bacchus, which was merely the 
Roman name for Dionysus, was also carried 
on in Italy, though at a rather later period. 
The cult of Dionysus, under both his Greek 
and Roman names, rapidly spread, and 
traversing the South of Europe, passed 
Bactria and Media, and even reached far 
off India, so that his worship became 
almost universal throughout the known 
world. This his votaries explained by say- 



20 A History of Dancing. 

ing that he himself was wont to make 
pilgrimages, accompanied by a train of 
Nymphs, Satyrs, and Centaurs, into distant 
lands to teach mankind the cultivation of 
the grape and the preparation of wine. 

In Attica there were two annual festivals 
in his honour, the Lesser and the Greater 
Dionysia. The Lesser occurred in country 
places where the vine was grown in Decem- 
ber ; while the Greater took place at Athens 
in March. Here great feasts were indulged 
in, and a regular series of dances was per- 
formed, in which a multitude of people took 
part. These festivals were held to signify 
the joy of the people at the departure of 
Winter and the approach of Summer, for 
Dionysus was said to have delivered his 
people from the troubles of the cold season. 
During the Dionysia the ancient image of 
the god, which had been brought from Eleu- 
thera to Athens, was conveyed in solemn 
procession, from the sanctuary of Lenaeon 
to another temporary shrine, and accom- 
panying the procession were numbers of 
priests, troops of dancers, and chorus of 
singing boys with masks. 



3 History of Dancing. 21 

Of a more essentially religious nature, was 
the dancing ceremony in connection with the 
worship of Mars at Rome. 

Here, in his two shrines, the Quirinal and 
the Palatine, were stationed twenty-four 
priests, the twelve from the Palatine being 
specially called the Salii or dancers ; and for 
a number of days from March the First in 
each year, these made a solemn dancing pro- 
cession through the city, in full armour, 
clashing their lances on the sacred ancillae 
or shields, and singing votive songs to Mars. 

Now it is curious to notice that, like so 
many other heathen customs, this practice 
only in a modified form, re-appeared at a 
later date in our early Christian churches, 
and though many deny that the church-danc- 
ing had any connection with the Roman salii, 
there seems no reason to doubt that they 
originally arose from them. 

Be as it may, the fact that dancing took 
place as one of the religious observances of 
the early Christian church is indisputable, 
and special provision in the choir of the 
building was made for it. Moreover, so 
component a part of the religion did dancing 



22 A History of Dancing. 

become, that, according to the early fathers, 
the angels were continually dancing to the 
sound of music, and the company of the 
apostles was a glorified Chorus. And Scali- 
ger, the Italian scholar famous for his re- 
searches into Greek and Italian literature, 
and who so astonished Charles V. by his 
powers of dancing, declared that the bishops 
were called " prsesules " because they led the 
dance on feast days. 

For many years dancing flourished in the 
Christian church, till it was finally discredited 
with the Agape feast, and sundry other 
observances, at the close of the fourth cen- 
tury. After this it became so strongly dis- 
approved of, that St. Augustine is said to 
have remarked Melius est fodere quam 
saltare. " It is better to dig than to dance," 
and some centuries later, the Albigenses and 
the Waldenses, two religious sects in the 
South of France, made a special point in 
their tenets to rage against it, and called it 
the " Devil's procession." 

Yet, never-the-less, right up to the middle 
of the 18th century, there were traces of 
religious dancing in the cathedrals of Spain, 



A History of Dancing. 23 

Portugal, and Rousillon, on Saints' days and 
special Feast days, and particularly in the 
Mussarabian Mass of Toledo, and probably 
many of our church rites especially the 
Roman Catholic ones whose origin is now 
lost, came originally from this observance 

The Spinning Dervishes are a remarkable 
instance of a carefully cultivated religious 
frenzy, for in their case the dance is not the 
result of the frenzy, but exactly the opposite 
takes place. They start from a stationary 
position and gradually increasing the speed 
of their rotation, get quicker and quicker with 
each evolution, till they actually seem not to 
move, so fast do they spin. 

Another extraordinary form of religious 
ceremony was the devil-dance of the Veddahs, 
now a practically extinct tribe of people, who 
were once a leading race in Ceylon. This 
dance, which was the equivalent of a spoken 
incantation, was performed as follows : 

A tripod, on which were offerings of eat- 
ables, was placed on the ground, and before 
a concourse of people, the priest or devil- 
dancer proceeded to dance round it, getting 
more and more violent in his movements, till 



24 A history of Dancing. 

he fell into a sort of paroxysm, in which state 
he was supposed to receive from the gods the 
information required. 

In contrast to this there is a very quiet 
form of religious ceremony in Fiji, which is 
distinctly a dance, though the dancers do not 
move from the ground. This is called the 
" Hiba," or dance of seated dancers, which 
takes place in the ceremony of Ava-drinking 
during the preparation of that drink. The 
men sit round in a circle, and to the sound of 
a low chanting, move their arms and legs 
about in rhythmical cadence till the drink is 
ready, when, after some incantations, the 
inbete or priest, passes the cup round and the 
dancing ceases. 

In Madagascar the women dance every day 
while their husbands are absent, as a sort of 
religious ceremony which is supposed to in- 
spire the men with courage in battle : and 
another curious custom is the funeral dance 
of the Todas, an Indian Hill-tribe, who have 
a peculiar dance which chiefly consists of 
moving backwards and forwards a few steps 
at a time, to the chanting of the wailing cry 
" ha-ho." The origin of this was probably 



A History of Dancing. 25 

to frighten away the evil spritssfrom the 
presence of the dead. This idea occurs in 
many other funeral customs of primitive 
tribes. 

So we have, in connection with religious 
ceremonies, the custom of dancing, for the 
following reasons : 

(1). As a result of fanatical frenzy. 

(2). To express by gesture : thanksgiving, 

praise, supplication, and humiliation. 
(3). To express joy at the departure of 
Winter (though the Dionysian dances 
were probably partly caused by wine 
intoxication). 

(4) In honour of Mars. 

(5) As an incantation. 

(6) To frighten away evil spirits. 

And through all these primitive minds 
for we must remember that even among the 
civilised Greeks and Romans the origins of 
the dances were at an early period we find 
the one idea running, to attract the atten- 
tion of the deity by violent exertions, and 
to force the notice of their needs upon him 
by the vigour of their dancing. 



CHAPTER III. 

ANCIENT FORMS OF DANCING IN 
GREECE, ITALY AND THE EAST. 

" Memory wakes her magic trance 
And wings me lightly through the dance" 
MOORE. " ODES OF ANACREON." 



LTHOUGH the dancing systems of 
ancient Greece and Italy were far 
more elaborate and carefully organ- 
ized than those of any of the con- 
temporary nations, and at one time reached 
a pinnacle of perfection which has been 
barely equalled by even the best endeavours 
of modern times, yet in Egypt, which might 
well be called the mother-country of all 
civilised dancing, we must look for those first 
traces of the art which, carried over into 
Greece and Italy, became there polished up 
and brightened till it shone forth as one of 
the most refined and cultured pursuits of 
the day. 

The act of dancing has been divided under 
three headings : Exuberant feeling, Panto- 



A History of Dancing. 27 

mimic, and Social, though the Social division 
might more aptly be expressed as a result 
of exuberant feeling, or as a deliberate cul- 
tivation of it. And to these divisions a 
fourth may be added, namely : Dancing as 
an Art itself ; that is to say the performance 
of one person (for if more are dancing, it 
developed into the pantomimic division) for 
the gratification of on-lookers, and to show 
a complete mastery over the art. 

And it was in Egypt that this fourth 
division first sprang up, when the dancing 
g'rl a girl being chosen as more graceful 
and agile than a man gave what was per- 
haps the first " pas seul " of the world. 

It seems wonderful when we come to think 
of it, that Egypt, the Egypt as we know it 
now, the land of the silent Sphinx and the 
stupendous Pyramids, the land of those 
monuments and temples at whose greatness 
and vast size even the men of our modern 
times pause to regard with marvelling and 
awe, should have been at one time the centre 
of a busy civilization such as few can realise, 
and a civilization, be it remembered, of three, 
four and even five thousand years ago. Yet 



28 A History of Dancing. 

so it was, and it was here that dancing as a 
separate art, as a resulting development 
of the culture of men's minds, first was 
practised. 

The earliest information we can gather 
concerning the development of the dance 
from the spasmodic movements of exuberant 
feeling, which was here, as everywhere else, 
the first origin of dancing, is the mention of 
the Maiwros, which was a slow rhythmical 
song accompanied by the distinct movements 
and phases of a regular dance. 

Not much is known about this, but con- 
cerning another dance, that of the panto- 
mimic mourner who accompanied funerals, 
and by his dancing set forth in gesture all the 
accomplishments and deeds of the dead man, 
we have ample evidence from a great number 
of sculptures and pictured papyri. 

Then came the wild dances of Osiris, who 
was the Egyptian equivalent of Bacchus and 
Dionysus ; and co-eval with them was the 
Astronomic dance, a dance which was one of 
a marvellous age, and about which more per- 
haps has been written, than about any other 
dance of the early ages. 



A History of Dancing. 29 

Sir John Davies, the great Elizabethan 
lawyer, has well described the Astronomic 
dance in his long poem, the " Orchestra," 
written in 1596. It was an intricate and 
cleverly-executed dance, meant to represent 
the courses of the stars, and performed by a 
large number of dancers. Not only in Egypt, 
but in Assyria and even Greece was this 
dance known, and respectively around the 
fire-surmounted altars of Ra, Baal-peor, and 
Jove, who were the three chief, or sun-gods, 
of these nations did the dance revolve. 

I have often wondered whether this danc- 
ing round the sun-altars might not have been 
a possible origin of the old English myth of 
the sun dancing at Eastertide (mentioned in 
Suckling's " Ballade upon a Wedding) per- 
haps brought to us by the Phoenician traders, 
and afterwards, like the hot cross bun and so 
many other myths, appropriated by the early 
Christian priests. 

We have also evidences from the ancient 
hieroglyphics and paintings, that it was 
customary to have professional dancers at 
feasts. These were called " Almehs," and 
they are generally depicted waving small 



30 A History of Dancing. 

branches or beating tambourines while they 
danced, singing the refrain, "Make a good 
day, make a good day. Life only lasts for a 
moment. Make a good day." Which is the 
same idea, it will be noticed, as that of the 
feasters in the Bible, who said, " Eat, drink, 
and be merry, for to-morrow we die." 

One thing is noticeable in reviewing the 
customs of the ancient Egyptians, and that is, 
that the higher classes themselves never 
seemed to have indulged in dancing, but 
always employed others to dance before 
them, so that social dancing, as we under- 
stand it now, was practically non-existent. 
And therefore, the dancing of Miriam, the 
sister of Moses, at the passage of the Red 
Sea, might have been one more instance of 
the complete subjugation that the Israelites 
had undergone whilst with the Egyptians, 
inasmuch as it showed an intimate acquain- 
tance with the manners and customs of the 
lower classes ; or else, and this seems more 
probable, it is simply a case of exuberance of 
feeling. 

It has been suggested that the dancing on 
this occasion, may have been a survival of 



A History of Dancing. 31 

one of the ancient rites of the passover, but 
there seems little ground for such a theory. 

And here it may not be out of place to 
briefly sketch what little is known about the 
custom of dancing among the Jews, because, 
for many generations after their captivity 
among the Egyptians, they were so impreg- 
nated with the ideas of Egypt, that a number 
of their most important customs and habits 
were practically of Egyptian origin. 

Thus we gather from the Bible, and from 
the writings of contemporary nations, that, 
as in Egypt, no social dancing was practised, 
though the solo or figure dancing, such as 
carried on in Egypt, appears to have also 
been unknown to them. Yet that dancing of 
a kind was indulged in we have abundant 
proof from the numerous instances in which 
the word occurs in the sacred writings. 
Principally, however, it seems to have been 
connected with religious ceremonies, some to 
us now obscure and meaningless, such as the 
dancing of David, when the Ark was brought 
into Zion ; others of which we have a m6re 
or less complete knowledge, such as the danc- 
ing in the orchards on the occasions of the 
* 



32 A History of Dancing. 

Feast of Tabernacles, and the Day of Atone- 
ment, ceremonies which were carried on for 
many years. 

The only reference to what may be termed 
" figure dancing " in the whole Bible, is the 
dancing of Herodias' daughter before the 
guests assembled for Herod's birthday, and 
this due to the influx of Greek fashons which 
began about that period. 

Turning now to the art as practised among 
the Greeks, we cannot do better than start 
with an axiom from the lips of the great 
master of poetry, Homer himself, who 
speaks of dancing as the " Sweetest and 
most perfect of human enjoyments," and 
who particulary praises the grace and pro- 
ficiency of the Phaiakian youths in it. Thus 
even in his time, it must have arrived at a 
certain standard of excellence. 

The chief dances of the Phaiakians of whom 
he speaks, were of two kinds ; the dance of a 
number of men in slow measured time around 
a singer stationed in the centre, and the dance 
of two skilled dancers, who kept time with 
each other ; a dance, in fact, which was the 
precursor of our modern " pas de deux." 



A History of Dancing. 33 

One of the earliest known dances among 
the Greeks, was that of the " men in 
armour," a very popular dance among the 
Doric states. This was called the Hlvppl^ 
and was essentially a mimetic dance, the per- 
formers imitating the attack and defence of 
armed warriors.* 

At about this period, too, the Dionysia, to 
which reference has been made in the pre- 
ceding chapter, first began to be performed. 
And then the country festivals to the differ- 
ent gods became common, and the dance 
began to be an important part of the cere- 
monies. 

In all the festivals it was practically the 
same, and consisted of a series of measured 
movements around the altar, generally ac- 
companed by singing. In connection with 
these semi-sacred dances, we have records 
of a dance performed by noble Spartan 
maidens to the goddess Artemis Karyatis, 
but little is known about the mode of pro- 
cedure. 

*In a somewhat altered form this dance survived right down 
to the time of Byron, it may exist still, when he wrote, " You 
have the Pyrrhic dance as yet. Where is the Pyrrhic phalanx 
gone ? " 



34 A History of Dancing. 

A dance, however, of which we have 
numerous records, both in the books of well- 
known writers, and the drawings on vases 
and friezes, was the op/u.os or Chain Dance, 
performed by a band of young men and girls 
placed alternately in a ring, and with hands 
clasped. They then danced round, at the 
same time twisting in and out, much in the 
manner of our English Maypole Dance, and 
a very pretty sight it must have been. 

Various pantomimic dances or ballets were 
carried on by the Greeks, such as the K<ynraq 
and the Gymnastic dances. The former 
represented the surprise by robbers of a 
warrior ploughing a field, his rush for his 
weapons, and the subsequent fight ; while the 
gymnopaedic dances were imitations of the 
sports of the Palastra, such as the gymnastic 
exercises, wrestling, and leaping, and were 
accompanied by a series of graceful rhymes 
specially composed for the occasion, and also 
by singing. 

These ballets led to the drama, and thus we 
find that theatrical representations had their 
origin in the dance, and this remark applies 
equally to the most intricate and well-staged 



A History of Dancing* 35 

plays of the present time, for by means of 
the connecting link of the plays of Milton, who 
founded his dramas on the Greek model, our 
modern English play is really a descendant 
of the old Greek drama. 

With the drama came the elaborate stage 
dances, which served as interludes to the 
play, and of which the best known were the 
Delian dance of the Labyrinth, ascribed to 
Theseus, and said to be one of the first stage 
dances ever performed, and the dance of the 
Eumenides or Fates, a very powerful and 
vigorous dance, representing the Fates in 
their different capacities. The dance of the 
Labyrinth was also called Tepavo?, as the 
movements resembled the flight of a flock of 
Cranes. 

These stage dances were entirely confined 
to the Chorus, though the chorus were in 
those days important members of the cast, 
and not mere adjuncts as they are now ; and 
the choric dancing resembled the modern 
ballet, both in the rhythmical movement of 
the feet, and in the pantomimic motions of the 
arms and the whole body, in order to give a 
more realistic meaning to the theme portrayed. 



36 A History of Dancing. 

The Social dancing among the Greeks, was 
confined to dancing of a pantomimic nature, 
or else to the dancing of professionals at 
feasts, though at times the guests seem to 
have taken part in the dances, and Socrates 
himself, so high was his opinion of dancing 
as an art, is said to have taken lessons in it at 
an advanced age. ::: 

The Greek banquets were divided into two 
chief stages, the feast proper, and the Sym- 
posium, or wine concert afterwards, and it 
was at these symposia that the dancing took 
place. This was often of an artistic and 
dramatic nature, and in " The Banquet " of 
Xenophon there is an excellent description of 
one of these dances, a representation of the 
meeting of Ariadne and Dionysius. 

Greece and Rome have always been closely 
allied in both philosophy and art, and it is 
therefore only to be expected that Rome 
should have derived most of her ideas con- 
cerning the art of dancing, from the older 
and sister nation, Greece. The very earliest 
forms of dancing in Rome were, however, of 

*When he was sixty years old, and from one called Aspasia 
Aspasia thus becomes probably the first known dancing-master 
in history. 



A History of Dancing. 37 

Etruscan origin, and were said to have 
formed part of what was perhaps the first 
scenic performance in Rome, when, in 
364 B.C., a theatrical representation accom- 
panied by mimic dances was given by cer- 
tain Etruscan actors as a means of appeas- 
ing divine wrath during a plague. 

This performance took the public fancy, 
and soon became popular, and later on, reci- 
tative verses in changing metre, were added, 
this being an idea taken from the Greek 
model and the result was the satirical drama. 

Then came, about the time of Hannibal, 
the famous Fabulae Atellanas called after the 
city of Atella. These were farcical burles- 
ques, accompained by dancing, and formed 
interludes to the regular drama, much as 
some forty or fifty years ago, our English 
pantomimes were often wedged in between 
two serious plays. They were performed by 
young citizens of good name and standing, 
who were dressed up in various kinds of 
hideous and grotesque masks, and who 
carried out the theme of the play, generally a 
rough rendering of episodes in the lives of 
mythical gods and heroes. 



38 A History of Dancing. 

The Pantomimus was an outgrowth of the 
Canticum, or singing portion of the comedies, 
and the Fabulae Atellanae ; and in this an 
actor indicated by dramatic dancing or ges- 
ture the subject of the song. In later repub- 
lican times this dancing became a separate 
branch of the art, and the pantomimic dance 
may be said to have reached its climax when 
performed and taught by Pylades of Cilicia 
and Bathyllos of Alexandria, in the time of 
the early empire. The subjects of the pan- 
tomimus were again the myths of the gods 
and heroes, favourite ones being "The 
Labours of Hercules," and " The Suprising 
of Venus and Mars by Vulcan," Vulcan being 
always a comic part. 

As a rule, when there were both male and 
female characters in the cast, one actor 
would double a part, taking up the female 
character as well as his own, but occasionally 
both male and female dancers appeared in 
the pantomimus, especially in later times, 
and it then became a regular dramatic ballet. 

What may be considered the golden age of 
theatrical dancing in Rome, was in the time 
of Augustus, in whose reign so many other 



A History of Dancing. 39 

things attained their golden epochs. At this 
period, the stage became an imperial concern, 
and the Italic dance of the Imperial theatre, 
with its good music and brilliant dresses, 
completely supplanted the older dramas. 

The great aim of Augustus was to gain the 
favour of the people, and also to drive all 
thoughts of politics from them, so he gave 
special attention to the theatres and other 
means of popular amusement, and passed 
laws for the protection of the pantomimists. 
They were given many advantages and 
privileges, amongst these being exemption 
from the "Jus Virgarum," but it was not 
long before they used this freedom against 
the peace of the city, so that, in the times 
of Tiberius and Domitian they were severely 
oppressed and finally banished. 

However, the reigns of Trajan and 
Aurelius saw them once more reinstated, and 
with increased honour, for they were now 
made decurians, and had the title of 
" Priests of Apollo," given to them. But 
from this time they began to degenerate, and 
finally sank into insignificance with the 
general corruption of the city. 



CHAPTER IV. 

SOME EARLY FORMS OF ENGLISH 
DANCING. 

" You jig, you amble, and you lisp. 1 ' 

SHAKESPEARE." HAMLET." 



W 



E in England have, in times past, 
been scoffed at in respect of our 
dancing ; we have been told, a little 
unjustly perhaps, that we were far 
inferior to such nations as France, in grace, 
style, and deportment, and it is entirely true 
that for many years we had to employ foreign 
dancing-masters to give that polish and touch 
so necessary in the courtly dance ; yet in the 
earlier periods of our history, when agility 
abandon, and skill, combined, nevertheless, 
with a certain amount of grace and finish- 
were the chief essentials of the dance, we 
could, I venture to say, hold our own with 
anybody. And as to happiness and merri- 
ment, which, after all, are but the origin, aim 



A History of Dancing. 41 

and result of dancing, right worthily did the 
little island acquire and retain its title of 
" Merrie England." 

Dancing as a means of entertainment, 
seems to have been brought over with the 
Saxons, and though they appear to have 
practised it but little among themselves, yet 
the " Glee-men " or professional singers and 
entertainers who went about from place to 
place were noted for their skill in it. 

The Mummers, too, who seem to have now 
altogether died out, were a distinct survival 
of Saxon times, and though they did not do 
much dancing, yet in some parts of their per- 
formance a dance was sure to take place. 

The last time I saw the mummers, and 
probably the last time that mumming was 
ever done, at all events in that part of Eng- 
land, was in 1888 at Leckhampton, now a 
suburb of Cheltenham, at the foot of the 
Cotswold Hills. It was Christmas time, and 
a band of some seven or eight youths, 
evidently villagers from the Cotswolds, came 
to the house where I was living, and asked if 
they might perform the old play of "St. 
George." They were all dressed up in fancy 



42 A History of Dancing. 

costumes representing St. George, the 
Dragon, the Faire Maiden, the Doctour of 
Physike, and other characters, and with some 
awkwardness they managed to get through 
the performance. At intervals there was a 
little dancing of rather a cumbersome kind, 
but the most interesting part of the whole 
performance was the use of many words and 
phrases which we could none of us under- 
stand, and which I doubt if they understood 
themselves. These were evidently bits of 
the pure Anglo-Saxon phraseology of the 
play, which had been handed down unaltered 
from father to son through all those cen- 
turies in this little out-of-the-way spot in the 
Severn Valley. 

Coming to later times, the times of Nor- 
man chivalry and knight-errantry, we find 
that dancing began to be more of a refined 
and social amusement of the upper classes, 
and in the old romances so important a place 
did it assume, that no hero seemed complete 
unless he accounted it as one of his accom- 
plishments. Thus Chaucer, in the Canterbury 
Tales, gives as one of the courtly attributes 
of the Squire that he could 



A History of Dancing. 43 

" Juste and eke dance, and well pourtraie and 
write." 

Yet it was by no means absent as a pursuit 
of the lower and middle classes, and we know 
of many dances, some now altogether lost 
sight of, some that were still existing up to 
not many years ago, and some still carried on, 
which they were wont to indulge in. 

Among the amusements of the lower 
classes which are now lost sight of, were the 
" egg-dance " ; and another dance whose 
name I am unable to find out which appeared 
to be a sort of figure dance performed by two 
girls who danced to the sound of music, now 
side to side, now back to back, ever casting 
glances over their shoulders at each other, 
so that, as it is graphically described in the 
" Roman de la Rose," 

" They threw yfere 

Ther mouthes, so that, through ther play 
It seemed as they kyste alway." 

The Egg-dance, or hop-egg, as it was also 
called, was a dance generally performed by 
women, who, in much the same manner as 
that of the present Scottish sword-dance, 
performed their figures about eggs placed 



44 A History of Dancing. 

on the floor. This also has been described 
by Chaucer, who says the performers are 
called " hoppesteres " ; and Strutt, the emin- 
ent antiquarian, in his " Sports and Pastimes," 
written about 1790, mentions that the so- 
called slang phrase, " Going to the hop to- 
night ? " (which appears to have been old 
even in his time) evidently came from this 
dance ! 

Among the many old institutions which 
we must now regretfully place among the 
class of " bye-gone customs " regretfully, 
by reason of their picturesque beauty and 
quaintness, apart from the memory of old 
associations which had gathered round them 
as around all old customs are the May- 
pole Dance and the Morris. 

The Maypole is still, I believe, existing in 
some parts of the country, and is the oldest 
dance we have in England, possibly in 
Europe. For it is undoubtedly of Roman 
origin, and came from some ceremonies con- 
nected with the worship of Maia, the mother 
of Mercury, and the presiding goddess of 
that month. For many centuries it was the 
chief dance of rustic England, and much im- 



A History of Dancing. 45 

portance was attached to it by all classes of 
people ; but the milk-maids, the rosy-cheeked 
Phoebes and Phyllises of the idealist, the 
type which now one only sees on the stage 
of light opera, considered it their own special 
festival, and were the most enthusiastic in 
the keeping of it. 

Tall maypoles were erected everywhere, 
with many-coloured streamers hanging down 
from them ; and, grasping these, a number 
of young men and girls ranged themselves 
alternately in a circle and commenced to 
dance round in one direction, to the merry 
strains of a fiddler and a piper. Intricate 
movements were then performed, the girls 
twisting under the arms of the men, some 
going forward, some backward, till all the 
streamers were wound tightly round the 
pole. This was the signal for a change in 
the music, and then gradually the reverse of 
the previous figures took place, till all the 
ribbons were unwound. 

There were many other customs connected 
with May-day, and the whole affair was con- 
ducted with much mock ceremony ; two girls 
were chosen by vote to preside over the 



46 A History of Dancing. 

festivities, one being called Lady Flora, 
queen of the flowers, and the other Lady 
May, but in later times only one sovereign 
was elected, the Queen of the May. 

So universal was the Maypole at one time, 
that in every village, in every community 
almost, was one to be seen ; and actually in 
the Strand then, as now, the heart of busy 
London the Maypole was a noted landmark. 
Thus Pope remarks : 

" Amid the area wide they took their stand 
Where once the Maypole overlooked the Strand." 

Another quaint and equally English cus- 
tom, and one that perhaps more than any 
other gained for this country the title of 
Merrie England, was the Morris Dance. 

Coming originally from Spain, where it 
is said to have derived its name from the 
Moriscoes or Moors who then dwelt there, 
it soon became altered and improved, and 
twining around the hearts and affections of 
the people, became a naturalised English 
dance. 

It is said to have been brought over in 
the reign of Edward III. by John of Gaunt, 
after one of his missions to Spain ; and 



A History of Dancing. 47 

though in some slight details it differed 
from the original Spanish Morris, it retained 
most of the important characteristics. Thus 
the castanets, the dancing accompaniment so 
typical of Spain, were changed for the clash- 
ing of swords and wooden staves, which 
sound distinctly resembled the clicking of 
the castanets, and also more persons were 
introduced into the dance, showing the 
developing tendency of its pantomimic 
nature. 

In the early forms of our English Morris, 
five men (one being known as the " foreman 
of the Morris "), and a boy who was dressed 
up to represent Maid Marian, were the only 
performers. Accompanying these were a 
piper and tabourer ; and to the sound of 
this music, the clashing of staves, and the 
jingle of small bells fastened to their cos- 
tumes, they danced their lively measures. 

Later on, the characters of the " Merry 
Men of Sherwood " were introduced, and 
Robin Hood, Friar Tuck and Little John 
became conspicuous figures of the dance. 
By the reign of Henry VIII. it had become 
widespread and universal, and representa- 



48 A History of Dancing. 

tions of it appeared even in the stained glass 
windows of churches ; and at Betley, in 
Staffordshire, there is still to be seen an 
excellent picture of it, with all the characters 
of the Sherwood Foresters. In Beverley 
Minster, too, there is a stone carving of a 
Morris, but only one or two performers are 
shown. About the time of Henry VIII. the 
hobby-horse, that strange monstrosity that 
so delighted our ancestors, seems to have 
been introduced into the Morris, and mock 
tournaments were held; though this, of 
course, detracted from the care that had 
hitherto been solely devoted to the dancing. 
A special representation of the Morris was 
given before James I. when on a visit in 
Hertfordshire, and we are told that the per- 
formers evinced great skill in their art ; and 
from this time, right through the reign of 
Charles I. up to the commencement of the 
Commonwealth, it was enjoying the zenith 
of its popularity; but on the accession of 
the Puritans to power it was sternly put 
down as an ungodly performance, and not 
until the Restoration was it revived in the 
slightest way. 



A history of Dancing. 49 

With the reign of Charles II. it was resus- 
citated, but only in a mild way ; and as the 
gradual development of the theatres and 
masques began to do away with the need of 
it, many of its chief characteristics died out. 
Thus, Maid Marian became converted into 
a clown called Malkin, from which we pro- 
bably get the later Grimalkin, and the other 
personages began to gradually disappear. 
However, as a dance, it was kept up in full 
swing in country places for nearly two hun- 
dred years more, being recognised as an 
especial Whitsuntide and May-time cere- 
mony, and not until some forty years ago 
did it finally die out. 

Like the mummers and many other old 
customs, it died hard in the district of the 
Cotswold Hills, and I was not long ago given 
an account, by an eye-witness, of the last 
time it was apparently danced in the town 
of Cheltenham, about forty years ago. 

He told me that the performers appeared 
in knee-breeches, tall or " box " hats, as he 
called them, and short jackets with white 
sleeves. They were about twenty in number, 
and formed up in two lines facing each other. 



50 A History of Dancing. 

The music was supplied by two men with 
long tin whistles, and also by the clashing 
of the two Wooden sticks of the dancers, the 
last remnants of the pipes and sword-staves 
of the earlier Morris. The Sherwood fores- 
ters had been reduced to two clowns or 
fools, who, armed with inflated bladders, 
cut capers and went about among the on- 
lookers demanding contributions. Yet, with 
all these differences, it was still the old 
morris, the morris of centuries ago, and it 
is only with regret that we can watch all 
these quaint and interesting old customs 
slowly dying away. 

Two more curious old dances of the 
Middle Ages were the Roundel and the Hay. 
The former, synonymous with the Rondelay 
or song written for accompaniment to this 
dance, was chiefly a measure for the country 
people, and was danced in two ways, either 
all joining hands in a ring and revolving, now 
in one direction, now in another, and chang- 
ing steps to the music ; or else all following 
one person, and varying the step as he com- 
manded, in much the same way as the school- 
boy game of " follow-my-leader." 




DANCE OF JOY AT THK OVERTHROW OF DOUBTING CASTLE. 
From an eurly copy of " The Pilgrim's Progress." 



A History of Dancing. 53 

The Hay is said to be the same as the 
older Chaucerian " Reye," and was also 
danced in a ring. Little is known about 
this dance now, but it seems probable, mainly 
from the evidence of Shakespeare in " Love's 
Labour Lost," that it was either a dance for 
the upper classes, or else one of a more in- 
tricate nature than the Roundel; for Dull, 
the constable, is made to say : 

" I'll make one in a dance or so, or 
I will play on the tabor to the worthies, and 
let them dance the Hay." 

In those times the dance formed a great 
part of the festivities at weddings, and 
dancing nearly always took place in the in- 
terval between the wedding breakfast and 
supper, though it must be remembered that 
the breakfast was a very late meal, and the 
supper a very early one. Numerous dances 
were indulged in the Jig, the Brawl or 
Brantle, the Galliard, and the Cushion 
Dance, being the favourites ; and with all 
the people decked out in their best, the 
gentlemen as well as the ladies clothed in 
a gorgeous array of colours, it must have 
been a dazzling sight ; and one can under- 



54 A History of Dancing. 

stand the full scorn and bitterness of 
Katherine's remark in reference to her sister 
in the " Taming of the Shrew " 

" 1 must dance barefoot on her wedding day." 

A curious and apparently at times dis- 
agreeable custom at these wedding dances 
was that of the bride being compelled to 
dance with everyone present ; and as open 
house was often kept at the time of a wed- 
ding, the result was sometimes the reverse 
of pleasant. 

In an old book, Christen's " State of Matri- 
mony," 1543, a remarkable passage occurs 
illustrating this 

" Then must the poor bryde kepe foote with a' dancers, 
and refuse none, how scabbed, foule, droncken, rude, and 
shameless soever he be " ; 

and though the writer, being puritanically 
inclined against dancing, is perhaps a little 
too prone to exaggerate, yet he must have 
had good grounds for such a statement. 

The " Gush ion -Dance," often corrupted 
into " Kissing-Dance," and also known by 
the name of " Joan Sanderson," was a lively 
and mirth-provoking dance, which has now 
quite died out. There is an excellent de- 



A History of Dancing. 55 

scription of it in the " Dancing Master," an 
old manual on dancing of 1698, which runs 
as follows : 

" Joan Sanderson, or the Cushion Dance. An old 
Round Dance." 

" This Dance is begun by a single person 
(either man or Woman), who, taking a 
Cushion in his hand, dances about the 
Room, and at the end of the Tune, he stops 
and sings, ' This Dance it will no farther 
go.' ' The Musician answers, ' 1 pray you, 
good Sir, why say you so ? ' Man : ' Because 
Joan Sanderson will not come too.' Music. : 
' She must come too, and she shall come too, 
and she must come whether she will or no.' 

" Then he lays down the Cushion before 
a Woman, on which she kneels, and he kisses 
her, singing, ' Welcom, Joan Sanderson, wel- 
com, welcom.' Then she rises, taking up the 
Cushion, and both dance singing, ' Prinkum- 
prankum is a fine Dance, and shall we go 
dance it once again, and once again, and 
shall we go dance it once again ? ' Then 
making a stop, the Woman sings as before, 
' The Dance it will no farther go.' Music. : 
' I pray you, Madam, why say you so ? ' 



56 A History of Dancing. 

Woman : * Because Joan Sanderson will not 
come too.' Music. : * He must come too,' etc. 
(as before). And so she lays down the 
Cushion before a Man, who, kneeling upon 
it, salutes her, she singing ' Welcom, Joan 
Sanderson/ etc. Then he taking up the 
Cushion, they all three take hands and Dance 
round singing as before, and thus they do 
till the whole Company are taken into the 
Ring." 

All our sovereigns of the Tudor and Stuart 
periods, with the exception perhaps of the 
austere Mary, took a keen delight in dancing, 
and were often past-masters in the art ; 
while Henry VIII. in his younger days was 
especially noted for it, and so keen was his 
enthusiasm about it that he often wrote 
dance tunes, and danced to his own 
compositions. Dances, too, formed a large 
part of the festivities of the " Field of the 
Cloth of Gold," when Henry and Francis I. 
met in a splendour the memory of which 
will never die out. 

The reign of Elizabeth, famous for so 
many wonderful and beneficent impulses to- 
wards the growth of the nation, might with- 



A History of Dancing; 57 

out these yet have been noted as the epoch 
during which the social dance, the founder 
of all our present-day society dancing, came 
into existence. 

In this reign, dancing was a special feature 
at court functions, and the stately Pavane 
and Cinq Pace, the lively Coranto and La 
Volta, and Trenchmores, Fancies, and Mea- 
sures of all sorts were the order of the day. 
Elizabeth took a special delight in dancing, 
and was apt to rather pose her courtiers by 
asking them point-blank whether her dancing 
was not better than that of Mary of Scot- 
land, who was her great rival, and also a 
very good dancer. 

The Pavane, the most recent innovation of 
all these figures, was a slow and dignified 
dance, and is sometimes considered to be 
the progenitor of the 18th century Minuet ; 
while the " La Volta " seems to have been 
a much more spirited and lively affair, and 
one also requiring no little dexterity and 
skill. 

For, as its name implies, it consisted of 
a remarkable progression of leaps and entre- 
chats, in which the man, holding his partner's 



58 A History of Dancing. 

hands, assisted her to spring into the air, and 
at the same time revolved on his own axis, 
thus bringing her round to the other side, 
and then he himself gave a spring in the 
same manner, and after one or two steps 
the process was repeated, all being, of course, 
in time to the music. We can get some idea 
of its leaping motion from the words of 
the Duke of Bourbon in Shakespeare's 
" Henry V. " :- 

" They bid us to the English dancing schools, 
And teach la voltas high, and swift corantos ;" 

and again, Sir John Davies, in the " Orches- 
tra," calls it 

"A lofty jumping or a leaping round, 
Where arm in arm two dancers are entwined, 
And whirl themselves with strict embracements 

bound, 
And still their feet an anapest do sound." 

James I. was a great patron of the dance, 
though this was probably due to the influence 
of his queen, Anne, who was one of its most 
enthusiastic votaries. 

This reign, too, saw the creation of those 
masques and acting dances, about whose 
splendour and magnificence even now we 
marvel. The first masque ever written by 



3 History of Dancing. 59 

Ben Jonson was performed at Court, and 
we are told that the queen herself, together 
with other noble ladies, came out of a huge 
shell and " danced the Coranto." 

These masques might well be wonderful 
and beautiful productions, with Ben Jonson 
as author, Inigo Jones as scenic artist, and, 
in later times, Henry Lawes as composer of 
the music. Surely no such three men will 
ever again be gathered together in the colla- 
boration of one single piece. 

It was a very necessary thing for a cour- 
tier in those days to be an expert and grace- 
ful dancer, if he wished to keep in favour 
with the king. An amusing illustration of 
this is given in a letter written by the chap- 
lain of the Venetian ambassador in the time 
of James I., who describes a scene that took 
place at a masque got up by Prince Charles 
in 1617, as follows : 

" the dancers were now getting tired, when 

the King shouted out, ' Why don't you dance ? What 
did you make me come here for? Devil take you dance ! ' 
Whereupon Buckingham sprang forward and cut a 
score of lofty and very minute capers with so much 
grace and agility that the King was delighted. ' 



60 3 history of Dancing. 

All through the early history of social 
dancing, it was customary for the gentleman 
to kiss his partner at the conclusion of a 
dance, and he would have been considered 
uncouth and gauclie had he not paid this 
delicate compliment. Thus, in " Henry VIII." 
the King remarks : 

" I was unmannerly to take you out and not to kiss 
you"; 

while an old book on dancing has this verse 
in it, a verse which seems to imply that the 
kiss was a reward of valour for dancing, 
which depends on the lady 

" But some reply, what fool would daunce 

If that when daunce is doone, 
He may not have at ladyes lips 
That which in daunce he woon ? " 

In 1634, Prynne, the notorious lawyer and 
pamphleteer, had both his ears cut off- " in 
that he did write a violent book against the 
masque, well knowing that the Queen and 
Lords Council approved of it." 

But a great reaction was to come with the 
supremacy of Parliament and the rule of the 
Puritan ; for all theatres were closed, and no 
masques or dancing of any description were 
allowed under pain of heavy penalties. No 



History of Dancing. 



61 



sooner, however, had Charles II. ascended 
the throne than dancing returned with full 
force, and became as before the chief pas- 
time of the Court. 

At first the old dances, such as the Coranto, 
the Brawl, and the Hay, were in favour ; but, 
as Pepys, our accurate and minute historian 
of the times, informs us, in about 1666 
French dances began to be introduced, and 
from that time onwards society dancing lost 
its essentially English character, and could 
not again be called thoroughly English till 
nearly two centuries later. 




CHAPTER V. 

ALLEGORICAL DANCES AMONG 
PRIMITIVE NATIONS. 

" What do you dance ? " 

(Saying among African tribes.) 

LIVINGSTONE. " TRAVELS." 



D 



ANCING has always played a great 
part in the everyday life of primitive 
peoples; and inasmuch as it is al- 
ways easier, and, to a limited intel- 
ligence, more natural, to express ideas by 
gesture than by speech, we can hardly be 
surprised by their predilection for it. 

Moreover, since an appreciation of rhythm 
and musical sound is a fundamental prin- 
ciple of man's nature, and is as much the 
inherited right of the savage as of the man 
of civilization, one would naturally expect, 
as music and dancing are inevitably bound 
together, to find the latter also among even 
the most primitive races of mankind. 



3 History of Dancing. 63 

And so one does ; for the Bushman and 
Hottentot, the Kaffir and South Sea Islander, 
alike have their national dance ; and, indeed, 
dancing is a far more important one might 
almost say necessary, part of their life than 
it ever has been or ever can be with us. 

An illustration of the regard in which 
dancing is held by many of the tribes of 
Central Africa is given in the quotation at 
the head of this chapter. As Livingstone 
tells us in his " Travels," this is the phrase 
used when any stranger from another tribe 
is encountered. He is asked, " What do you 
dance ? " and this is simply another way of 
asking him to what tribe he belongs ; for the 
different tribes are known by their different 
dances, and by this question the man's 
nationality is ascertained. 

In practically all the primitive communities 
the dance is the most important part of any 
ceremony which may take place ; and at any 
political meeting between two great chiefs, 
at a reception of any foreign envoys,' or at 
any great coronation or wedding ceremony, 
a dance is sure either to commence or ter- 
minate the proceedings. 



64 3 History of Dancing. 

And these dances, especially the great 
allegorical dances that so many primitive 
nations possess, dances that have been per- 
formed by their ancestors from time imme- 
morial and which are generally accompanied 
by a chanting record of the deeds of the 
nation, are of inestimable value to them, far 
more than they ever dream of ; for they 
form that bond of sympathy and union among 
them which is replaced in more civilized 
nations by the magic word " patriotism." 

Take some of the peoples of the South 
Sea Islands, for instance. Unread, un- 
educated, and without the intellectual abili- 
ties of the white races, it is only in these 
great dances, when a man can feel the rhyth- 
mical sway of his body moving in perfect 
unison with two or three hundred of his 
fellow-countrymen, and can hear recited the 
deeds of his ancestors and the past glories 
of his tribe, that he can fully appreciate the 
idea of " L 1 'Union fait La Force'' and can 
understand that he is but a unit in the wel- 
fare of the nation. 

Most of the great dances of the primitive 
nations are either allegorical in character, 



A History of Dancing. 65 

representing the triumph of War, Death or 
Love ; or else pantomimic, imitating the 
manners and customs of men and animals. 
We generally find that those dances imitative 
of the pursuits of man are performed by 
peoples more highly developed than those 
who tell of the ways of animals, just as, in 
the same manner, the drama is but the result 
of the intellectual growth of those races 
who imitated man in their dances. 

The chief forms of pantomimic dance in 
which the habits of man are portrayed are 
those imitating the everyday occurrences of 
life, such as hunting, fighting, courtship and 
marriage, funerals, labour, and harvest or 
vintage ; while of the imitations of animals, 
we have representations of them feeding, at 
play, fighting among themselves, fighting 
against or pursued by man, or wandering 
about in herds. 

A theory has been advanced, and with 
very good foundation, that many of the 
positions and figures of modern society 
dances are but the remains of hunting and 
war-dance movements of the early primitive 
dances, movements whose origin we have 



66 3 History of Dancing. 

now quite forgotten, and for which there is 
now no reason, but which we still go on 
doing from hereditary instinct in just the 
same way as a dog will walk round and 
round trampling down imaginary grass on 
the hearth rug before lying down, after the 
manner of his ancestors when out on the 
prairies. 

So many of the allegorical dances are 
mixed up with those representing man and 
his actions, that it is difficult to pick out any 
that are totally representative of abstract 
ideas. The one which would have best 
illustrated this form of dance is the " Astro- 
nomic Dance," mentioned in a previous 
chapter ; but this is now extinct, as is also 
the " big dance before the Inca," which was 
once one of the features of ancient Peru. 

This latter was a dance representing the 
idea of " Union is Strength," and, moreover, 
it was given solely with a view to emphasiz- 
ing that phrase, and was not an accidental 
result of the movements of certain figures, 
as dances representing the same idea among 
other primitive nations often are. Though, 
as a matter of fact, we cannot call the 



3 History of Dancing. 67 

ancient and now extinct races of Peru 
primitive, for they appear to have been highly 
developed and civilized. 

On the other hand, a tribe of Lower 
Bengal, called the " Coles," who really are 
primitive in their ideas, have also a dance 
representing this idea. 

Another allegorical dance, but one about 
whose origin and meaning we know very 
little, is that of the Santal women. In this 
all the performers join hands, and form into 
a figure resembling the arc of a circle, to 
and from the centre of which, with slow and 
graceful movements, they alternately advance 
and retire. At the same time the whole line 
moves slowly round to the right, so that 
the circle is completed within the hour. 
The meaning of this dance has never been 
satisfactorily investigated, but it seems not 
improbable that it may have a common origin 
with the Astronomic Dance, the idea of which 
extended at one time over a great part of the 
world ; and the act of revolving round a 
central point in the exact space of an hour 
certainly seems to point to a connection with 
the movements of the heavenly bodies. 



68 3 History of Dancing. 

A very curious dance which may be alle- 
gorical in nature, and which has a reference 
to some forgotten chapter in past history, is 
the public " baile " or dance of Guatemala. 

Here all taking part are dressed up in 
skins and wear head-dresses composed of 
the horns of various animals, some savage 
and fierce, some retiring and timid. A mock 
combat between the beasts takes place, and, 
contrary to expectation, the timid deer are 
always made to be the conquerors. 

At the end of the fight a symbolical cere- 
mony takes place, in which the victors trace 
in the sand with a long pole a picture of 
some strange-looking animal. No one seems 
to know what this is meant to be, nor can 
any guess be made as to the nature of the 
event which is thus so strangely celebrated. 

The natives of the Pacific Islands have 
always been noted for their dances, and 
many of their ballets are not far behind the 
best efforts of civilized countries. Of re- 
cent years, however, there have been great 
changes in the customs of these islanders, 
and many of the older dances are now lost ; 
though, thanks to the excellent descriptions 



3 History of Dancing. 69 

that Captain Cook has left us in the account 
of his voyages, we are enabled to see what 
alterations have been made in the dances, 
and to compare them with those now in 
existence. 

*In one place, Hapsee, in the Friendly 
Islands, a special notice is made of how 
splendidly drilled the performers were, mov- 
ing " with an exactness and dexterity far 
surpassing what they (the natives) had seen 
of our military manoeuvres." 

A description then follows : " ... A 
dance performed by men, in which one hun- 
dred and five persons were engaged; each 
having a paddle or an instrument resembling 
a paddle, about two and a half feet long, 
with a thin blade and a small handle. With 

A 

these instruments various flourishes were 
made, each of which was accompanied with 
a different movement, or a different attitude 
of the body. 

' At first, the dancers ranged themselves 
in three lines, and so changed their stations 
by different evolutions, that those who had 

* The following extracts are taken from an early copy of " A 
Voyage to the Pacific Ocean," 1784. 



70 3 History of Dancing. 

been in the rear came into the front. At 
one part of the performance they extended 
themselves in one line ; afterwards they 
formed themselves into a semi-circle ; and 
then into two square columns. During the 
last movement, one of them came forward 
and performed an antic dance before Captain 
Cook, with which the entertainment ended." 

In these islands there appears to have 
been a certain amount of figure dancing 
also, and an illustration, from the same 
book, of two Otaheite girls performing a 
pas de deux is here given. 

At another time, he tells us, a perform- 
ance was given by women dancers, and it 
is interesting to note that here was a very 
similar idea to that of the ancient Greek 
singing and dancing chorus. In the Captain's 
own words: ". . . Twenty women en- 
tered the circle, whose heads were adorned 
with garlands of crimson flowers ; and many 
of their persons were decorated with leaves 
of trees, curiously scolloped, and ornamented 
at the edges. 

" They encircled those of the chorus, with 
their faces towards them, and began by 




SB. 

s 



3 History of Dancing. 71 

singing a soft air, to which responses were 
made by the chorus ; and those were alter- 
nately repeated. The women accompanied 
their song with many graceful motions of 
their hands, and continually advancing and 
retreating with one foot, while the other 
remained fixed. After this, they turned their 
faces to the assembly, and having sung some 
time, retreated slowly in a body, and placed 
themselves opposite the hut where the spec- 
tators sat. One of them next advanced from 
each side, two of whom returned; but the 
other two remained, and to these from each 
side came one by intervals, till they all had, 
once more, formed a circle about the 
chorus." 

Among dances imitative of mankind and 
his actions, the war-dance will always be 
found to be the most numerous. For, next 
to that of eating, the great idea of every 
primitive mind despite the moralists is to 
have a fight with his neighbour. 

And in these dances, a very accurate de- 
scription is given of the methods of warfare, 
so that, apart from the rhythmical beauty 
which a number of them possess, many are 



72 3 History of Dancing. 

of historical value, for in almost all cases 
the dance outlives the method of fighting, 
and in places where civilized weapons, and 
the resulting difference of tactics, may have 
been introduced, we are able to have, never- 
theless, a life-like picture of the old fighting 
weapons and customs. Thus, I believe, in 
remote parts of Mexico the natives still per- 
form a war-dance, showing traces of the 
once famous " Rabinal Achi " of their ances- 
tors, the fierce Aztecs. 

Again, the Bhils, the war-like people who 
were once the terror of Central India, have 
a dance which was originally a war-dance, 
but which has now degenerated into a per- 
formance by professional players, who go 
on a tour through the country, giving their 
show at the different villages they come to. 

And this, which started by being a fierce 
imitation of war, has become a sort of 
comic pantomime, in which men fight against 
women, the men using short clubs and the 
women being provided with long poles, 
though what is the origin of these peculiar 
weapons is not absolutely known. 

Men dance very little in India, but the 



3 History of Dancing. 73 

grace and dexterity of the Nautch girls is 
well known. Girls are employed, too, at 
most of the temples, for the ceremonial 
dancing, being often devoted to the use of 
the temple in babyhood by their mothers 
as a thank-offering. 

A curious war-dance is performed by the 
Natal Kaffirs. A war-dance in every sense 
of the word, being performed just as they 
are going off to battle, it seems to have a 
symbolical meaning, and probably signifies 
that they will be all-conquering. For the 
men form up in ranks, and, turning their 
backs in the direction of the enemy, face 
the village and the assembled women. These 
women, in a singing tone, appeal to them to 
stay ; but they only answer by darting their 
assegais towards the sky, and then slowly 
withdraw to the sound of chanting, step by 
step, and always facing the women ; thus 
giving a picture of what they will, or hope 
to, be like after they have met the enemy, 
showing a bold front and with full ranks. 

Nearly all the primitive war-dances are 
recitative in character, and either the chorus 
sing of the past events of the nation, or else 



74 A History of Dancing. 

the performers will tell, somewhat boastfully 
as a rule, of their own deeds. Among two 
such dissimilar peoples as the natives of 
Tasmania and the North American Indians, 
this idea of singing one's own prowess is 
alike carried out in the dance, the women 
giving special facilities to it, by purposely 
taunting the men of cowardice. 

Many tribes celebrate the act of hunting 
in their dances ; but there is, I believe, only 
one people where women go through a big 
pantomimic dance concerning their own 
hunting and domestic operations. This 
dance is also of Tasmania, though now fast 
dying out, and in it the women describe 
their daily life, the clambering for opossum, 
diving for shell-fish, digging for roots, and 
shade of Mrs. Caudle! quarrelling with 
their husbands. 

A number of dances that were originally 
of a warlike character grow, with the peace- 
ful instincts of the people, into mere games 
and amusements, and thereby lose, in a great 
measure, their dancing nature. Thus in 
Yucatan there is a dance, or rather a game, 
in which one man shuffles in a cowering 



A History of Dancing. 75 

position round a circle, catching on a stick 
the bohordos or canes thrown at him by a 
ring of other men seated around. This is 
probably a survival of the catching of arrows 
or spears on a shield during a war-dance. 

In Fiji, also, there is a club-dance, a pas 
seul of a comic nature, in which the per- 
former is dressed up in a complete frame- 
work of leaves, and has also a mask on his 
face. This is the same idea as the now fast 
disappearing Jack-in-the-Green of our own 
country, though the Fiji dance has probably 
a very different origin. 

Animals have always been favourite things 
to imitate in dances ; but, as these so-called 
dances are seldom more than a series of 
uncouth leaps and falls, they are hardly 
worth mentioning. Those of the Ostyaks 
of Northern Asia, who imitate the wolf and 
the bear, the people of the Congo Free 
State, who act the gorilla and its movements 
when attacked, and the dance of the Deme- 
rara natives, in which four men covered with 
skins stoop with their heads in contact to 
represent an ox, which is continually being 
annoyed and teased by another performer 



76 History of Dancing. 

dressed as a baboon, are perhaps more highly 
developed than the rest, but even they are 
without the rhythm which should typify a 
true dance. 

A curious instance of origin and develop- 
ment is that of the " cake-walk," the dance 
which a year or two ago created such a 
furore on its first introduction from America. 
This, of course, came from the plantation 
negroes, whose ancestors were imported 
many generations ago from Africa. 

Now a friend of mine, lately returned from 
Africa, told me only to-night that many of 
the special movements of the cake-walk, the 
bending back of the body, and the dropping 
of the hands at the wrists, amongst others, 
were a distinct feature in certain of the 
Kaffir dances, and that he had been at once 
struck by the marked similarity between 
them. 




CHAPTER VI. 

QUAINT DANCES IN CIVILIZED 
COUNTRIES. 

" On with the dance, let joy be unconfined, 
No sleep till Dawn, when Youth and 

Pleasure meet" 

BYRON. 

F all a country's customs, its national 
dance is the last to die out. And 
it is seldom, if ever, that a nation 
will adopt a new dance and acclaim 
the foundling as its national custom, so that, 
in almost all dances of the people, we find 
a history of considerable antiquity. 

In seeking for a national dance, we have 
to enquire for the dances performed by the 
people, especially the rustic population, and 
not for those devoted to the upper classes. 
For the dances of the upper classes, who 
travel into different countries and mix with 
the social pursuits of other nations, become 
like their performers, cosmopolitan in nature. 




78 A History of Dancing. 

Thus, in nearly all civilized countries, we find 
now the waltz, the polka, the lancers, and 
other social dances, just as we have at home. 
But in the rural districts the people go on 
dancing what has been danced by their 
fathers for centuries upon centuries, and 
there we find the real national dance. 

In England, however, although by no 
means under a republican form of govern- 
ment, the habits and customs of the people 
have become so assimilated with those of 
the upper classes, especially during the last 
fifty years or so, that all distinctive charac- 
teristics of the commons are rapidly dying 
out. 

Thus, we cannot now find, even among 
the rural population, any traces of what 
might be called a national dance. Certain 
dances, such as the Maypole and the Morris, 
described in a former chapter, might, had 
they still been kept up, have been termed 
national dances ; but now even these are 
dead, and the country-folk dance the waltz, 
the polka, or the lancers, just as the upper 
classes do, albeit generally with more aban- 
don and fun. Turning, however, to another 



3 History of Dancing. 79 

portion of the population, " they who go 
down to the sea in ships," the music-loving 
and frolicsome Jack Tar, we find a dance 
that might almost be called a national 
dance namely, the Hornpipe. 

This is said to have been originally an in- 
land dance, and one performed at fairs and 
merry-makings in the country ; but for the 
last two or three hundred years it has been 
almost exclusively associated with the sea. 
Danced, as every one knows, by one per- 
former, or at the most two facing each 
other, it is perhaps the liveliest and most 
interesting of all English dances to watch. 
Necessarily lively, as the music is in very 
quick time, the feet move so rapidly that 
they literally seem to twinkle ; yet all the 
time the body is kept perfectly rigid, and 
in this lies the charm and skill of the 
dance ; for, with arms folded and an air of 
perfect repose in the features, the performer 
gives one the idea that the upper half of his 
body and the lower belong to two different 
persons, so that the dance has a novel and 
strange effect on the observer. At intervals 
in the music, however, the whole of the 



A History of Dancing. 

man becomes endowed with movement, and 
the performer goes through the various 
motions of his ship's duties, such as loosen- 
ing an imaginary rop here, tightening one 
there, hauling at a pulley, etc. 

Originally, as its name implies, it was 
danced to the music of the pipe, the particu- 
lar one, the hornpipe, having a horn bell 
or rim attached to the open end. After- 
wards, as in Nelson's time, the violin was 
generally used, and this instrument is still 
a favourite one, although the more prosaic 
concertina and mouth-organ occasionally take 
its place.* 

Scotland, that delightful country of para- 
doxes and surprises, presents one of its 
most striking contrasts in relation to danc- 
ing. For the people, the staid and sober 
Scotch folk of fiction, aye, and of reality too, 
at the first sound of the bagpipe or fiddle, 
burst into dances so spirited and lively as 
to be hardly equalled in vigour and wildness 
by any other nation's dance, save perhaps 
the Irish jig. 

* Captain Cook, in his account of his voyages, specially attri- 
butes the immunity of his crew from disease to their taking 
xercise and their dancing of the hornpipe. 



A History of Dancing. 81 

Yet even in their wildest dances there is an 
incongruity ; for, as we are told by an historian 
of Scotch customs, the dance is entered into, 
especially on the part of the men, with the 
greatest gravity and decorum, and the perfor- 
mers go through it heroically from beginning 
to end, however long and arduous it may be, 
without that laughter and amusement which 
generally characterises the dance. 

The two chief dances of Scotland, and 
these are really woven into one, are the 
Reel and the Strathspey. 

A curious thing about the reel is that it 
was at one time an important dance in Den- 
mark, and is still danced there to a slight 
extent. This is but one more link in the 
chain which binds the people of the High- 
lands with those of Denmark, for they were 
originally of the same race. 

The Reel is a very beautiful dance to 
watch, as its smooth and gliding motion 
gives one the pleasant though rather strange 
impression of rest and vivacity combined 
Hogarth probably had this idea in his mind 
when he instanced the reel as exemplifying 
the line of beauty. 



82 A History of Dancing. 

It is danced by two couples or more, and oc- 
casionally a circular form of the dance is intro- 
duced, when the performers do most of the 
steps on the points of the toes. The music is 
generally in common time of four crotchets in a 
measure, though sometimes in " Jig-time " of 
six quavers. It was probably after hearing 
this latter music, that Gilbert rather aptly des- 
cribed them in the " Bab Ballads" as" Jiggetty 
Reels." The Strathspey, said to have origin- 
ally been danced in the Strath or Vale of the 
river Spey first took up a position as a re- 
gular dance about the year 1750. It is danced 
alternately with the reel, but with slower 
movements ; yet, at the same time, it is more 
arduous and exhaustive than its companion 
dance, as the motions are very jerky, and 
without the smoothness which characterises 
the reel. It was at one time very popular, 
and its peculiar rhythm caught the ear of 
the people in a way that no other dance had 
done. Its tunes were hummed everywhere, 
and it was a common thing for the dancers 
to sing some words to it while it was being 
performed. Burns, among others, wrote 
several songs for the Strathspey. 



A History of Dancing. 83 

The Jig we always associate with Ireland", 
though, when we come to think that the 
Celts of Ireland, and those of, at all events, 
the west and south-west of Scotland, are of 
one and the same race, there is no reason 
why it should not be one of the dances of 
Scotland too. 

And so it was, though being an indefinite 
sort of thing at the best, and of no fixed 
steps or movements, it is now difficult to 
trace it in any of the Scottish dances. 
Shakespeare makes a special mention of it 
as a Scotch dance, though whether he was 
mixing it up with the Reel or not we cannot 
say. His description certainly seems to tally 
with the dance as we now know it in Ire- 
land, for he says 

" Hot and hasty, like a Scotch jig." 

"Much Ado about Nothing," ii. 1. 

There is but one more of the well-known 
Scotch dances, and that is the " Sword- 
dance." This is really more a test of skill 
and agility than a social amusement, since 
only one person dances it at a time ; yet it 
is a cherished Highland custom, and, if 
danced in the correct way, with sharpened 



84 A History of Dancing. 

swords and but thin covering for the feet, 
not without the additional excitement of the 
chance of getting a serious wound. 

It is a most picturesque dance ; and if 
one has had the good fortune to witness it 
up in the Highlands, with the flaring lights 
in the roof, and the ring of people sitting 
around the central performer, who, dressed 
in all the glory of his tartan colours, goes 
through the quick and difficult steps between 
the crossed swords, it is a sight he will not 
readily forget. 

The dance itself is of considerable anti- 
quity, and originated with the great North 
Scandinavian race, and thus, via the German 
Saxons, came over to England as well as 
going direct to Scotland. In the time of 
Tacitus, even, it was of some importance as 
a dance, and was described by him with 
much detail in his " De Morib. Ger.," cap. 24. 

Spain, the land of warmth, of sunshine, 
of music, of art, can justly claim pre-emin- 
ence among the nations for her graceful 
and beautiful dances. 

Not perhaps so vigorous, nor yet of such 
intricate and involved movements, as those 



A History of Dancing. 85 

of her Northern sisters, they are neverthe- 
less the acme of all that is pleasing and 
artistic in the rhythm of motion. Dancing 
comes as naturally to her daughters, as 
swimming to the Polynesians, or singing to 
the Germans ; while Cervantes, who had 
such a keen insight into the natures of the 
Spanish people, was undoubtedly thinking of 
his countrywomen when he said, " There 
ne'er was born a woman yet, but she was 
born to dance." 

Yet, even now, while she is a nation laid 
low amongst those whom she once despised, 
she can still claim a great distinction, for 
it is from Spain that those dancers come 
who by the grace and perfection of their 
dancing become the wonder and admiration 
of every capital of Europe. 

The dances peculiar to Spain are mostly 
of Moorish extraction ; but the interval has 
been so long, and the dances have been so 
added to and improved by the people them- 
selves, that there is now but little trace of 
their ancient origin. Andalusia is the classic 
home of the dance, and it is there that one 
sees the best displays of the national dances. 



86 A History of Dancing. 

These are three in number the Fandango, 
the Bolero, and the Seguidillas, though, of 
these, the Seguidillas is really only the Fan- 
dango or the Bolero danced by a greater 
number of people. The Fandango, which 
means literally, " Go and dance," is danced 
.n slow six-eight time, by two people facing 
each other. It is the prototype of all the 
others, and is the most popular of the 
Spanish dances. In this, as in all the 
others, the arm movements play an impor- 
tant part, and much of the peculiar grace 
and charm of the Spanish dance is due to 
them. The performers hold castanets in 
their hands, and often the clicking of these, 
and the rhythmical hand-clapping of the on- 
lookers, is all the music they have, though 
sometimes a mandolin or a guitar is added. 

There is a curious old story in connection 
with the Fandango, which nearly all the 
Spanish historians vouch for as true. It is 
said that in the year 1700 the Sacred Col- 
lege, or. Ecclesiastical Court from Rome, 
condemned the Fandango as an irreligious 
performance, and were about to forbid the 
dancing of it anywhere. 



A history of Dancing. 87 

But some enthusiastic votaries of it asked 
to be allowed to have it performed before 
the Court, to show the learned members 
how harmless it was. So some dancers 
started it, and so contagious was the music 
and the rhythm of it, that eventually the 
whole Court joined in, and there was to be 
seen the unusual spectacle of the Sacred 
College dancing the Fandango, which they 
had specially met to prohibit ! 

The Bolero is a more modern dance, and 
is found less in the Southern than in the 
Northern districts, as it is of French ex- 
traction and was introduced from Provence, 
passing through the Basque country into the 
North of Spain. It is a dance for a solo 
performer, almost always a woman, and 
the hand and arm movements are a great 
feature in it. It consists of sharp turns and 
revolutions of the body, of short quick 
rushes of two or three steps, now to one 
side, now to the other, the feet always 
stamping on the floor in time to the music, 
while at intervals, when there is a sudden 
pause in the tune, the dancer stops rigid in 
a picturesque pose, with the body bent 



88 A History of Dancing. 

slightly backwards, the hands on the hips, 
and the head erect and defiant. 

The Seguidillas is in quicker time than 
the Fandango or Bolero, and is a combined 
dance of eight people. The performers 
range up in two files, with three or four 
paces interval between them, and commence 
dancing to the usual accompaniment of cas- 
tanets, guitar, etc. It is a very exact and 
definite dance, and the bars of the music 
are counted for each fresh movement. Thus, 
on the fourth bar the dancing begins, on 
the ninth there is a pause, while at intervals, 
just as in the Bolero, the performers stop 
in a rigid and immovable pose, this, if good, 
being especially applauded by the on-lookers. 

There are numerous other minor dances 
of Spain, among which the Sarabanda, made 
historic by its performance by Cardinal 
Richelieu to please Anne of Austria, La 
Cambelas, and the Chacona, are the most 
important. 

There is also the Cachucha, which is a 
comparatively modern dance, brought into 
prominence by Fanny Elssler, the famous 
premiere on the Paris Opera stage. 



A History of Dancing. 89 

About this dance James Russell Lowell, 
the American writer and statesman, re- 
marked in his account of the wedding cele- 
brations of the late King of Spain : " By 
far the prettiest and most interesting feature 
of the week was the dance, in the Plaza des 
Armas, before the Palace, of deputations 
from all the provinces of Spain, in their 
picturesque costumes. The dances were 
curious rather than graceful, and it was odd 
that the only one which we are accustomed 
to consider pre-eminently Spanish, the 
Cachucha, was performed by two pro- 
fessional dancers. The rest had, however, 
higher interest from their manifest antiquity 
and almost rudimentary characters." 

A famous dance of Naples is the Taran- 
tella, a dance with surely the most strange 
and curious history of any. For it is said 
to have originally been invented $o cure a 
disease, Tarentism, from which it got its 
name ! This peculiar remedy was organized 
as early as 1374, when the disease, which 
was the terrible " dancing mania," a form 
of hysterical madness which once spread 
over the whole of Germany, first made its 



90 A History of Dancing. 

appearance. This Tarentism was for a long 
time thought to be the result of a bite from 
the Tarantula spider, owing probably to a 
confusion of names ; but it is now practically 
certain that it was merely a form of nervous 
hysteria, of which the better known " St. 
Vitus' Dance " is a distant branch. 

In France, the great revolution having 
removed the sharp dividing line between the 
upper classes and the lower, there is now 
no real national dance ; for, just as in Eng- 
land, the dances of the country people have 
become assimilated with those of the upper 
classes. 

In remote country districts, it is true, 
one may still find occasionally the " contre 
danse," a dance not unlike our own Sir 
Roger de Coverley, and of which our old- 
fashioned " country dance " is a corruption, 
while there is, of course, in Paris, the 
" Can-can " ; but, apart from these, one 
may safely say that the present dancing of 
France is in all respects similar to that of 
England. 

Not so in Russia. Here we have dances 
of a wilder and more vigorous kind than are 



A History of Dancing. 91 

to be found in any other European nation. 
And I think it may be regarded as a general 
rule, that the colder the climate of a country 
may be, the more vigorous will be its dancing. 

The dances of Russia (I am not speaking 
of their society dances, which are, of course, 
the same as those of any other civilized 
country) are of many varieties, as is only 
natural in a country so large, and divided 
into so many provinces ; but through them 
all runs one general type. 

I was tmce fortunate enough to see some 
Russians performing one of their national 
dances, and was struck by the really difficult 
and exhausting nature of the movements. 
Some seven or eight men and girls took 
part in the performance, though most of the 
time only one of them would be dancing, 
the others meanwhile standing round and 
making the music by clapping their hands, 
singing, and beating tambourines ; although 
at certain intervals they would all join in, 
passing and repassing each other, dancing 
the whole time, till some fresh performer 
commenced a solo once more. 

This, the solo performance, seemed the 



92 A History of Dancing. 

most difficult to do, as it was danced through- 
out in a crouching position, as if a man almost 
sitting on his heels were to suddenly start 
dancing, keeping his body bent at an angle the 
whole time. Occasionally he would straighten 
out and leap up in the air, and then go through 
one or two steps in an upright position, also 
making one or two very swift revolutions on 
the points of his toes, but only again to resume 
the original crouching pose. It is this bending 
of the body that is typical of all Russian peasant 
dances ; and, though it may not sound so, it is 
in reality very picturesque to look at. 

For, in performing this dance, the people 
put on all their best and brightest-coloured 
clothes ; and to see a group of them danc- 
ing to the sound of the tambourines and 
the singing of their companions is a very 
pretty sight. In Germany the waltz is 
really the national dance of the people, and 
it was from the German peasants originally 
that the waltz, the one delight of our 
English ball-rooms, came. Also the Gallo- 
pade, from which, in a slightly altered form, 
we get our modern Gallop ; but both of 
these I shall deal with in another chapter. 




CHAPTER VII. 

THE BALLET: ITS ORIGIN AND 
DEVELOPMENT. 

" To brisk notes in cadence beating 
Dance tJieir many twinkling feet." 
GRAY. " PROGRESS OF POESY," Part II., 3, 6, 10. 

|ERHAPS the nearest approach to 
perfection which dancing as an art 
ever reached, was to be found in 
the ballet. The only detracting 
circumstance being that the dancing in the 
ballet was of a mechanical rather than an 
inspired nature. So that, while from a 
purely artistic point of view one can hardly 
regret the decadence of this form of danc- 
ing, yet when one remembers the great im- 
petus it gave to dancing in general, and that 
without it our stage dancing of to-day might 
never have existed, we cannot help feeling 
grateful for the important part it has played 
in the history of dancing. 



94 A History of Dancing. 

Giving, as it did, such splendid chances 
for acting, for expression, and for minute 
and intricate movement, it naturally came 
to be regarded as the climax of all forms 
of dancing ; yet in itself it was unreal and 
artificial, and had none of the artistic 
effects, the ideas of waves, clouds, and 
swaying trees, which the long skirted 
dancers of to-day, in their nearer approach 
to the old Greek style, are able to give. It 
has been pleaded for the ballet that it was 
eloquent, dramatic, full of gesture ; so it was, 
but so are also such well-known plays as 
" L' Enfant Prodigue," and moreover, in these 
the art of acting is confined to its proper 
sphere, the drama. It is no plea, I think, for 
the ballet, as a form of dancing, that its act- 
ing was so superb. 

The ballet has a long and ancient history of 
its own, extending right away from Roman 
times, through mediaeval Italy and France, 
eighteenth and nineteenth century England, 
up to the present day ; though in speaking now 
we generally carry in our minds a picture of 
the ballet of the late Georgian and earl 
Victorian times, when it was at its zenith. 



A History of Dancing. 95 

But the ballet, if we regard it in its real 
meaning as a dance in rhythmical time by 
a number of persons who combine gesticula- 
tion and acting with their dancing, was un- 
doubtedly performed among the Romans, 
and in the later Augustan times had arrived 
at a considerable standard of excellence. 
The first ballets given at Rome were simply 
comedies helped out to a considerable ex- 
tent by gesture, and similar in nature to 
the old comedies of the Fabulae Atellanae, 
on which, indeed, they were founded ; the 
only difference being that the ballets had 
a larger number of performers and included 
both male and female dancers. Then, in 
time, the dancing began to take the first 
place in the performance, the acting being 
helped out by the Chorus singing Cantica 
describing the plot and occurrences of the 
play after the Greek manner. These ballets 
became immensely popular, and the chief 
poets in Rome were called upon to write 
the songs and words for them, and several 
librettos by Lucan, written for the 
ballets about the year 65 A.D., may still 
be read. 



96 A History of Dancing. 

From the late Roman period there is a 
long gap till the fifteenth century, when in 
Italy again appeared the ballet, though of 
a different and much more artistic nature 
than the old Roman performances. Indeed, 
the Italy of mediaeval times may be regarded 
as its original home ; and with that country 
must always be associated the idea of the 
ballet as a separate art in itself. The very 
name ballet is derived from the late Latin 
"ballare, through the Italian "balletto"; 
and our English word ballad, literally " a 
song for dancing," is drawn from the same 
source. 

The first revivals of the ballet in Italy 
were without doubt founded on the perform- 
ances of the old Roman pantomimi, and pro- 
bably these performances had been carried 
on among the country towns in a but slightly 
altered manner through all the interval be- 
tween the Augustine period and the fifteenth 
century ; but about the latter date more 
attention began to be paid to dancing in 
general, and particularly to this form of 
dramatic dancing. So that, in the year 
1489, matters were ripe for a sudden revival 



A History of Dancing. 97 

of popular feeling in favour of the ballet, 
brought about by a big spectacular per- 
formance arranged by one Bergonzio di 
Botta, in celebration of the marriage of the 
Duke of Milan, at Tortona. This was a 
magnificent affair, and the performance of 
it was spread over many hours. Five great 
spectacles were set forth in it, namely, the 
Siege of Troy, the Judgment of Paris, the 
Seasons, the Conquests of Alexander, and 
a Carnival, each of these shows being in 
five acts, and each act having three, six, 
nine or twelve entries for dancers ; singing 
and recitation going on the whole time. 
This was the precursor of many similar 
ballets in Italy, some of them fine perform- 
ances, but none being quite equal to 
di Botta's. 

Soon, however, the best ideas, and some 
of the best dancers also, of the ballet, were 
imported into France, then the most civilized 
country in the world, and from that time 
France established that reputation for danc- 
ing which with the centuries has gone on 
steadily increasing, and which she has never 
lost. 



98 A History of Dancing. 

Katherine de MedicisSvas the first to in- 
troduce the ballet into France, originally 
with the idea of withdrawing the mind of 
her son, the king, from affairs of state, in 
the hope that she might get thereby more 
power into her own hands. It soon became 
exceedingly popular with the Court, and 
performances were given on every possible 
occasion. Baltazarini, the ballet master 
whom Katherine had brought over from 
Italy, reorganized and introduced a uni- 
formity into the ballet, which now 
began to run on fixed and regular 
lines, and from this time the modern 
history of the ballet may be said to have 
commenced. / 

In 1581 a great ballet, the " Ballet Comique 
de la Reine,7 was given at the marriage of 
the Due de Joyeuse, and this was a note- 
worthy event, in that a few months later 
a printed book about it, the first book on 
the ballet ever written, was published ; and 
in this is described, at some length, the 
music, dialogue, and plot, illustrated by 
pictures of the various movements and the 
dresses. 






A History of Dancing. 99 

Henry IV. of France was a great sup- 
porter of the ballet, no less than eighty 
special performances being produced be- 
tween the years 1590 and 1610, while Louis 
XIII. and Louis XIV. were equally zealous 
in their patronage of it. Indeed, both of 
these monarchs danced publicly in the ballet, 
and so enthusiastic was the latter that he 
founded an Academy of Dancing, placing 
Quinault as the Director, and Lully as the 
chief composer. A great innovation, the 
introduction of female , dancers, took place 
in the ballet in 1681*; Lully, "with the true 
eye of the artist, foreseeing the far more 
graceful effect which would be produced by 
this. The new scheme was a great success, 
and from that time the ballet has never 
had to entirely rely on the heavier and 
naturally more clumsy dancing of men only. 
The first ballet, in 1681, in which ladies took 
part, was one called " Le Triomphe de 
TAmourf^ the music of which was written 
by Lully; but it was not till some years 
later that female dancers in any number 
took part in the performances. In this year 
also, a book, " Des Ballets Anciens et 



100 A History of Dancing. 

Modernes," was written by a Jesuit, Le 
Pere Menestrier, and for a long time this 
book was the great authority on dancing. 

Louis XIV. now becoming too stout to 
dance in person, the ballets for a time went 
out of favour, and for some thirty years 
matters were at a standstill with regard to 
their development. However, in the earlier 
part of the eighteenth century, two female 
dancers, Mdlles. Salle' and Camargo.* sprang 
into fame and caused a sudden revival of 
interest in the ballet. Thousands flocked 
to see them, and Voltaire himself made 
special mention of them in his writings. 
Mdlle. Salle paid a triumphant visit to Eng- 
land in 1741, this being the first record we 
have of any noted danseuse appearing in 
London. 

About this time, too, Vestris, the great 
Gastano Vestrisi^ first came upon the scene, 
and by his methods quite revolutionized the 
ballet. He followed close in the footsteps 
of another male dancer, Dupre, but his own 
fame quite overshadowed that of his fore- 

* Camargo was said to be able to do no less than eight tntre- 
(hats before retouching the ground, undoubtedly a record up till 
that time, and probably still a record. 




SIONOR VESTRIS. 
London Magazine, April, 1781. 



A History of Dancing. 103 

runner. He, in company with Mdlle. Cam- 
argo, created a sensation in Paris in the 
year 1775, by a new ballet, " Leandre et 
Hero,'' in which they took the two name- 
roles; this ballet was a noteworthy per- 
formance, and is also especially interesting 
in that Mdlle. Camargo^wore for the first 
time the short-skirted' ballet costume, all 
previous dancers having worn full-length 
dresses. 

Contemporary with Vestris was another 
great dancer, Jean Georges Noverre^ who 
was noted for the great wealth of acting 
and expression he put into his dancing. Up 
till Noverre's time the ballets had been 
performed in much the same manner as 
they were under Katherine de Medicis. 
Each act had been introduced by fresh 
dancers, and nearly always by a different 
style of dancing ; while sin variably a dialogue 
explaining the plot had been carried on 
throughout the whole*'"performance by the 
Chorus. Songs, also, had been introduced 
at frequent intervals, and indeed the dancing 
had always been more or less of secondary 
importance compared to the acting and sing- 



104 A History of Dancing. 

ing. Noverrd changed all this, and produced 
what has ever since been known as the 
" ballet d'actiorff ' the unravelling of a plot 
by dancing and gesture pure and simple. 
With him was revived the true art of 
pantomime, such as had been made use of 
by the old Roman mimes when at their 
best ; and from the time of Noverre the 
new school of dancing, which lasted all 
through the remaining life of the ballet, 
may be said to have commenced. Noverre 
was accustomed to say that genius and a 
power of acting were essential to a good 
dancer, and in a book he wrote, " Lettres 
sur la Dance et les Ballets," he lays much 
stress on this. 

In 1772, a new dancer, Maximilian Gardel, 
appeared, and under his auspices a further 
important change took place in the ballet. 
This was no less than the removal of the 
masks which all dancers had hitherto been 
in the habit of wearing. This, a relic of 
Roman times, had been considered a sine 
qua non, to the complete equipment of a 
dancer, and when Gardel first ventured to 
appear without one, it was the cause of 



A History of Dancing. 105 

considerable surprise and questioning. He 
nearly lost his popularity through its disuse, 
but in time people became more accustomed 
to it ; other dancers copied his example, and 
in twb or three years the masks disappeared 
altogether. 

During the period of the French Directory, 
and after the retirement of Noverre, there 
was an inclination to introduce a patriotic 
note into the " grand ballet," as it was now 
called, and the theatre was much made use 
of by the authorities to keep up the national 
spirit among the populace. Some very fine 
ballets, notably one named the " Marsellaise," 
were performed at this time ; and though 
there were no individually great dancers, 
yet the general standing of the ballet was 
never more brilliant. 

The leadership of the dancing world was 
next taken up by Vincenzo Galleotti, a 
dancer who secured much fame in Copen- 
hagen, and after him Bournonville, a pupil 
of his, became the acknowledged head of 
the profession. Bournonville was made 
Director of the Academy at Copenhagen 
between the years 1830 and 1836, and during 



106 A History of Dancing. 

that time he produced many famous ballets, 
among them being the ballet of " Napoli," 
at that time considered to be the finest the 
world had ever seen. 

It will be noticed that all the names yet 
mentioned have been those of foreigners, 
for we in England have never been able to 
lay claim to any of the world's dancers, and 
indeed even the English history of the ballet 
is but the history of foreign dancers who 
have appeared in this country. The ballet 
was practically unknown in England till the 
appearance of Vestris in 1741 ; and, though 
ever since that time the English have always 
been great patrons and admirers of the 
ballet, they have never been able to produce 
any dancers equal to those of the Italian or 
French schools. The first English ballet 
we have mention of was one called " The 
Tavern Bilkers," performed at Drury Lane 
in 1702. This was a descriptive ballet, but 
danced, of course, in the old style, with 
songs and dialogue illustrating the plot. 
As early as 1667, Dryden uses the word 
" balette " as an English word, but with 
the exception of this one in 1702 there 



A History of Dancing. 107 

seem to have been no ballets worthy of the 
name till about 1740. The earlier Italian 
operas in London were performed without 
the ballet, and this was one reason why the 
continent was so much more advanced than 
England in respect to its dancing ; for with 
the history of the opera is entwined that of 
the ballet. But with the further develop- 
ment of the opera in England, and the 
accompanying introduction of the ballet as 
in the Continental manner, we arrive at a 
period that stands out by itself as the 
golden age of the ballet in this country, 
namely, the first half of the nineteenth 
century. 

Not so very long ago, perhaps indeed, 
the latter part of that period is well within 
the memory of many still living ; but the 
ballet is now a thing of the past, and so 
sharp is the boundary line dividing the days 
of the opera, of the early Victorian dandies 
and all their accompanying environment, 
from the matter-of-fact people of to-day, 
that the period seems to have been placed 
almost in another world. The names of 
Taglioni, Fanny Elssler, Cerito, are merely 



108 A History of Dancing. 

names to most of us names of once cele- 
brated people, it is true, but for all that 
nothing more to our ears than are the 
places on a map to one who has never tra- 
velled; and it is difficult for us to imagine 
the magic influence, the magnetic power, 
which once surrounded them. 

Those were the days when the Haymarket, 
Her Majesty's, or Covent Garden, were but 
patronized for the ballets that were staged 
there ; and when one who had not witnessed 
the last success of Taglioni, or had not 
helped to applaud the new performance of 
Duvernay, was of no account, and but little 
better than a barbarian. How they flocked 
to the opera, and how they crowded the 
boxes and promenades night after night, 
these bucks of the D'Orsay period, staring 
through their quizzing glasses at the newest 
premiere, or bowing with well-measured 
grace to some fair leader of society in the 
opposite box ! And, sheltered under the 
protecting wing of fashion, which, contrary 
to her usual manner, remained unchanged 
for some thirty years, the ballet made great 
advances towards perfection, and at the 



A History of Dancing. 109 

end of Taglioni's reign had become as 
artistic an affair as mechanical skill could 
ever hope to make it. 

Taglioni ! Name to conjure with ! Can 
any of our modern celebrities claim to have 
created the sensation that was caused when- 
ever the great Taglioni was announced to 
appear ? Her name was upon everyone's 
lips, songs were composed about her, books 
and music dedicated to her, while " Taglioni " 
hats, dresses, overcoats, were common signs 
in all the shop windows. Many, though 
fewer every year, are yet able to recall 
scenes of the nightly thronged houses, when 
the theatres kept on absorbing more and more 
eager enthusiasts, till they seemed swollen 
almost to a bursting point ; many still living 
are able to proudly say they saw Taglioni 
at her prime ; yet now her name is almost 
forgotten, so complete has been the extinc- 
tion of the ballet ! 

Another great danseuse, who, if her skill 
was not so great, was said to have possessed 
an even greater personal attraction than 
Taglioni, was Fanny Elssler. The story of 
how these two competed for fame on the 



110 A History of Dancing. 

Paris Opera stage, first one gaining the 
acknowledged supremacy, then the other, 
is one of the romances in the annals of 
dancing. And to see Elssler dance the 
Cachucha ! That was the one thing to live 
for in those days. What a perfect furore 
it caused, and what storms of applause 
used to greet her appearance every night ! 
It was said that Fanny Elssler could do 
anything with her feet that it was in mortal 
power to do. Oliver Wendell Holmes' ad- 
miration for her is shown in the sentence 
he puts into the mouth of the " Master," 
in the " Poet at the Breakfast Table." He 
says : "I have seen the woman who danced 
the cap-stone on to Bunker Hill Monument, 
as Orpheus moved the rocks by music, 
the Elssler woman, Fanny Elssler." 

But with the retirement of Taglioni an4 
Elssler, both in the year 1845, the ballet, 
having lost its two most brilliant stars, 
began to fade into insignificance, and though 
for nearly thirty years afterwards it still 
retained its original characteristics, it was 
never quite the same again. The name of 
Henriette d'Or stands out among the last 






A History of Dancing. Ill 

of the old school of the ballet, but from 
the time of Taglioni the premieres who 
could lay any claim to the title " famous " 
might be counted on one hand. 

About thirty years ago, however, the ballet 
received a new impetus with the production 
at the Variety Halls, such as the Alhambra, 
and, a few years later, the Empire, of per- 
formances which, if not exactly ballets of 
the old school, were still sufficiently like 
them to deserve the name. This new school, 
which was distinguished by the transforma- 
tion of the short-skirted coryphees into a 
radiantly-coloured chorus dressed in tights, 
a chorus whose chief duties seemed to be 
those of looking nice and marching about 
with military precision, had, and still has, 
a strong leaning towards the spectacular 
effect, and each year the dancing became 
more subservient to this, until it is now of 
quite secondary importance compared to 
the rest. That fine effect is gained by all 
this wealth of colour and display of dazzling 
dresses cannot be denied, but it is effect 
gained at the expense of dancing ; and 
though the scene becomes like a coloured 



112 A History of Dancing. 

picture, a painting that an artist might 
delight in, it is in reality the destruction of 
a high form of one art for the sake of an 
inferior form of another. 

The stages of the Alhambra and the Em- 
pire have for the last thirty years or more 
been noted for their ballets, and many fine 
performances have been produced there. At 
the Alhambra in 1860 was produced a ballet, 
41 Yolande," by Alfred Thompson, which was 
just on the boundary line between the old 
and the new schools, having many of the 
characteristics of the old style, combined 
with the brilliant spectacular and coloured 
effects of the new. And that it should have 
had this display of colour was but natural, 
as it was a Japanese ballet, the first ever 
produced in England, and was dressed in 
all the bright colour and scenery for which 
Japan is famous. 

The Empire, and the Alhambra too, have 
of recent years, with the introduction of 
the electric light effects, produced some 
wonderful ballets, among the best known 
at the former place being " Faust," " Round 
the Town," " Les Papillons," etc., of which 



A History of Dancing. 113 

the staging and colour effects have all been 
arranged by Mr. C. Wilhelm, who has had 
much experience in that work. For many 
years Madame Katti Lanner has been a 
famous director of the ballets at the Empire, 
and it is in a great measure due to her that 
the dancing has retained that degree of im- 
portance which it still holds. 

Nowadays the premieres are all that are 
left to remind us of the once famous ballets 
of the " forties." They still preserve the old 
style of costume, and many of them go far 
towards preserving the old excellence of 
dancing, Mdlle. Adeline Genee, one of the 
latest arrivals at the Empire, recalling much 
of the grace of Fanny Elssler. But, for all 
that, the ballet is now a thing of the past, 
and, with the modern change of ideas, a 
thing that is never likely to be resuscitated, 
And in a way it is perhaps as well, for, as 
I have said elsewhere, a forced and mechan- 
ical style cannot contribute to the further- 
ance of the real art of dancing, and move- 
ments such as walking on the extreme 
points of the toes can only be regarded as 
unnatural. 



114 A History of Dancing. 

From the point of view of acting, it has 
no doubt been of inestimable service to that 
kindred art, for it has taught us how much 
can be performed by mere gesticulation, and 
that, to an actor, speech is really of secon- 
dary importance compared to the acting 
itself, the correct movements of the limbs 
and features. An interesting story is told 
of how Roscius, the great Roman actor, and 
Cicero, the famous orator, once had a dis- 
pute as to whether gesticulation or elocution 
could best convey meaning. Finding that 
their arguments led to nothing, they decided 
to hold a trial of their respective arts, before 
certain friends who were to be the judges. 
After some time, the prize was awarded to 
Roscius, and so delighted was he at the 
result that he went off and wrote a book 
on the subject of gesticulation. 

The ballet was without doubt the school 
of pantomimic acting, but from the point 
of view of dancing itself, it can never be 
compared to the free and natural style of 
the best dancers of to-day. And though 
with its decay a great amount of the in- 
terest devoted to the art of Terpsichore 



A History of Dancing. 115 

has been withdrawn, and popular favour 
much diminished, yet in the best interests 
of dancing no one can really regret the 
wane of the Ballet. 





CHAPTER VIII. 
THE STAGE DANCING OF TO-DAY. 

" // ne sait sur quel pied danser." 

OLD FRENCH PROVERB. 

N heading this chapter, "The Stage 
Dancing of "to-day," I intend the 
words " to-day " to be used in their 
widest sense, that is, as referring 
to the present generation. 
And the stage dancing of the present 
generation, the graceful skirt-dancing which 
is now the chief, if not the sole, type of 
the art, and which has collected to itself all 
that was most beautiful of the bygone forms, 
may be said to have sprung, Phoenix-like, 
from the ashes of its immediate progenitor, 
the Ballet. For there is no distinct line of 
demarcation between modern skirt-dancing 
and the ballet of the old Italian school, 
different as at first sight they seem ; this 



A History of Dancing. 117 

fact Miss Alice Lethbridge, one of the finest 
exponents of our modern skirt-dancing, has 
expressed as follows : "As long as dancing 
continues, the special movements of the 
older ballet, its entrechats, pirouettes, and 
countless other steps, must also exist, for 
they are but the great groundwork of it all." 

In dealing, therefore, with the present-day 
dancing, I shall commence with the birth 
of that particular form known as skirt- 
dancing. 

To most people the word " skirt-dancing " 
will at once call to mind the Gaiety Theatre, 
and not without reason ; for with the Gaiety 
Theatre (I may say with both the Gaiety 
Theatres, for the new one is, so far, well 
carrying out the plans of the old) skirt- 
dancing has ever had its closest ties. From 
the time of that ever-memorable four, known 
to all as " The Gaiety Quartette," namely, 
Edward Terry, E. W. Royce, Kate Vaughan, 
and Nellie Farren, when Kate Vaughan 
revolutionized the stage world by her long- 
skirted dancing, down to the moment at 
which I write, this, perhaps the most skilful, 
and certainly the most beautiful form of 



118 A History of Dancing. 

the Terpsichorean art, has been the great 
tradition of the Gaiety. 

It is unnecessary here to go into the pre- 
vious history of the old Gaiety, beyond 
remarking that the building was originally 
the " Strand Music Hall," but was converted 
into the " Gaiety Theatre " under John 
Hollinshead's management in 1868, being 
then devoted to musical burlesques, a form 
of play which was carried on in an almost 
unbroken line for nearly thirty years. But 
the date 1876 marked a great epoch in the 
history of the theatre, for it was in this 
year that the " quartette " was formed, a 
quartette which instantly became famous, 
and which was the foundation stone for that 
success which has never since deserted the 
Gaiety. 

Nellie Farren, Kate Vaughan, Edward 
Terry, and E. W. Royce ! Those were 
indeed the days of " Stars." Nellie Farren, 
affectionately known to the whole of England 
as " Our Nellie," the greatest burlesque 
actress, and the brightest and kindliest 
woman that ever lived ; Kate Vaughan, who 
created a new era in the world of dancing, 



A History of Dancing. 119 

whom thousands came to see for the grace 
of her art, and of whom the late John 
Hollinshead wrote : "In all the troubles and 
worries of rehearsals she was never once 
known to be wanting in patience and perfect 
courtesy," a tribute that could be rendered 
to but few; Edward Terry, equally clever 
in song, dialogue, or dance, and whose fame 
as a burlesque actor is now only equalled 
by his later fame and reputation in the 
higher comedies ; and " Teddy " Royce, 
acknowledged at the time to be the finest 
dancer in England, if not in the world ! 

Kate Vaughan, by her institution of the 
long-skirted form of dancing, took by storm 
the hearts of all theatre-goers, for the grace 
and charm of the new style could not be 
denied, and the superiority, if only from an 
artistic point of view, of this form of danc- 
ing, built on the old Greek model, over the 
stiff and conventional movements of the 
Italian school was so evident that from that 
time ballet-dancing began to lose a popu- 
larity which it has never since regained. 

" Ars est celare artem" and this must have 
surely applied to Kate Vaughan ; for though, 



120 A History of Dancing. 

in discarding the old form of dancing-dress, 
she was prevented from displaying her skill 
and mastery over the movements and steps 
particularly associated with the Italian 
school, she nevertheless gave such an artis- 
tic performance that all beholders were 
delighted with the innovation, and the 
degree of refinement that was thence- 
forward associated with stage dancing has 
more than made up for any loss sustained 
in point of actual technical skill. On the 
model of Kate Vaughan's style is built prac- 
tically all that is best in the stage dancing of to- 
day, and had it not been for^her happy inspira- 
tion a very different type of dancing might now 
be in vogue. She was one of those who are 
born to dance, dancing because they must, 
and in whom there is a distinct inspiration ; 
and though through a strange perversity she 
suddenly, in the zenith of her fame, threw 
everything on one side and invaded the do- 
main of Old English Comedy, yet in later years 
she again sought her first love, and when I last 
saw her, only a few years before her death, 
she even then showed herself a complete 
mistress of her art. 



A History of Dancing. 121 

The skirt-dancer is not solely dependent 
on her steps or the manipulation of her 
skirts for effect, as is sometimes thought, 
for a great portion of the skill consists in 
the proper attention paid to arm movement ; 
though in a good dancer this is so sub- 
merged in the tout ensemble that it is hardly 
noticeable. The importance of this arm 
movement, the x/ l ' A" a of the Greeks, can 
only be realized when we try for a moment 
to imagine how strange and harsh would be 
the effect if the arms were kept stiff and 
motionless through an entire dance. Ovid 
understood the artistic effect of the arm- 
movement, and was much impressed by it, 
saying, " Si vox est, canta ; si mollia brachia, 
salta" which is literally, "If you have a 
voice, sing ; but if you have good arms, then 
go in for dancing." 

Much of the grace, too, of skirt-dancing 
depends upon the body-postures, and on the 
perfect balance that is so necessary to a 
good dancer. In fact, many of the most 
difficult movements are only possible to 
those who possess this gift of balancing to 
a marked degree, while even the ordinary 

H 



122 A History of Dancing. 

movements are much beautified and added 
to in grace by those with an obvious facility 
of balance. It is to this additional power 
that much of the skill and success of Miss 
Alice Lethbridge is due, and many of the 
movements which have made her name 
famous, such as that wonderful revolving 
movement of which she is said to be the 
sole mistress, are in a great measure de- 
pendent on it. This revolving movement 
was one which she first introduced in a 
dance when playing the part of Pepita in 
" Little Christopher Columbus " at the Lyric. 
She has given it no special name, merely 
calling it the " waltz movement," as it is 
in this form of dance that she has been in 
the habit of introducing it ; but it is an open 
secret that many have tried to imitate her 
in it without success. 

The movement itself consists of, while 
still dancing the ordinary waltz, suddenly 
bending the body backwards, till it is almost 
at a right angle, and in this position slowly 
rotating the body around its own axis, mak- 
ing all the correct steps of the dance, and 
moving round in a big circle the whole time. 



A History of Dancing. 123 

The swaying of the body in slow time to 
the rapid movements of the feet, and the 
effect of the waving skirts, lend an air of 
grace to the dance such as has seldom been 
equalled. One of the critics at the time 
wrote : " She looked like a big white poppy 
in that ceaseless revolving movement round 
such a large circle, and the amateur won- 
dered how the dancer could possibly preserve 
her balance." 

Her dancing in " Little Christopher Colum- 
bus " was one of the sensations of the thea- 
trical year, and from that time her name 
was assured, though even earlier, when little 
more than a child, her dancing in " Mynheer 
Jan " at the Comedy Theatre had caused 
her to be declared by many critics the finest 
dancer on the stage, since Kate Vaughan 
had some years before retired from the field 
of burlesque. All her dancing shows great 
knowledge of both the practical and theore- 
tical sides of the art, and she is without 
doubt the most graceful exponent of dancing 
we now have. 

Returning to the early Gaiety days, men- 
tion must be made of another dancer of the 



124 A History of Dancing. 

Kate Vaughan type, and one who was 
closely associated with all the Gaiety pro- 
ductions immediately succeeding her Miss 
Sylvia Grey. Miss Grey appeared in most 
of the famous burlesques of the " eighties " 
and early " nineties," and her dancing, con- 
trasted with that of Miss Florence Levy, 
another Gaiety favourite who was in almost 
all the same pieces, was an object lesson of 
the wide differences that the art of dancing 
could range over. 

For the dancing of Miss Levy was of the 
" high-kicking " type, and clever and difficult 
of execution as it undoubtedly was, it yet 
could hardly be called artistic, and merely 
served as a foil to show up the far more 
graceful effect of the other style. The high- 
kicking type, which for a time threatened to 
become very popular, is now fortunately 
dying out, and is only seen occasionally in 
some of the " Halls." 

Two other artists who, like Miss Grey, 
have now apparently retired from the danc- 
ing world, are Miss Letty Lind and Miss 
Mi mi St. Cyr. The latter always had a 
predilection for the foreign styles of dancing, 



A History of Dancing. 125 

and though at one time a pupil of Mr. J. 
D'Auban, who taught such true English 
dancers as Miss Grey, Miss Lethbridge, and 
Miss Sinden, it was in her expositions of 
the Tarantella dances that she made herself 
famous, while her Spanish Castanet dance 
5n the part of La Frivolini in " La Cigale " 
will long be remembered. 

Miss Mabel Love, another pupil of Mr. 
D'Auban, has of late years been directing 
her attention away from the Terpsichorean 
field, and practically the only good dancers 
we now have are Miss Alice Lethbridge, 
Miss Topsy Sinden, and, the latest addition 
to the ranks, Miss Winifred Hart-Dyke. 
Miss Hart-Dyke is a pupil of Madame Caval- 
lazzi, and was dancing in the last of the 
" Savoy " pieces, coming to the front by her 
performance in " Merrie England," where 
she gave a very excellent pas seul in the 
second act. 

Miss Topsy Sinden, who up till recently 
was connected with Daly's Theatre, would 
be far the most graceful dancer on the stage 
to-day, were she not a little too apt to 
sacrifice some of the charm of her perform- 



126 A History of Dancing. 

ance to occasional bursts of step-dancing, 
almost of clog-dancing, and at times a slight 
suggestion of high-kicking, both of which 
are fatal to the artistic effect. She has, 
however, some wonderful dancing to her 
credit, and her performances in " San Toy," 
" The Country Girl," and other musical 
plays, left little to be desired. 

She started young, as all the best dancers 
have done, commencing in one of Sir Augustus 
Harris' Covent Garden pantomimes, at the 
early age of five. 

The question of allowing young children 
to perform on the stage has been much 
discussed of late years, and though at one 
time stage children may not have had that 
proper care and attention which should have 
been bestowed on them, the same cannot 
be said now; and with the present system 
of magisterial control to supervise their 
school education, and benevolent manager- 
esses such as Miss Ellaline Teriss to look 
after their pleasures, the lot of a stage child 
is generally a much-envied one. And for 
quite seventy per cent, of the plays pro- 
duced, children are a necessary part of the 



A History of Dancing. 127 

performance, for nothing looks more out of 
place than a grown-up person trying to take 
the part of a child, while for pantomimes 
and spectacular plays large numbers of 
children are required. As pantomime fairies 
they are most appropriate, for many of the 
pretty children one sees engaged might have 
come straight from the " fairy rings," of 
the light-footed blue-eyed elves which so 
appealed to the imaginations of our fore- 
fathers. 

Dancing was the " little people's " recrea- 
tion, and the fairies would have lost half 
their charm in the minds of their believers, 
had they not indulged in their merry moon- 
light capers. And with their love of danc- 
ing was associated everything that was 
bright and cheerful and pretty. Fairies 
were always represented as bedecked with 
posies and garlands of flowers. 

" The dances ended, all the fairy train 
For pinks and daisies search the scattered plain." 

POPE. 

And so also we, the more prosaic mortals, 
always deck our dances with bright dresses 
and colours, for with dancing everything 
must be cheerful. 



128 A History of Dancing. 

But to return to the children. It is set 
forward by every authority on the subject 
of dancing, that the only way to succeed in 
the art is to commence young, and for this 
reason alone we might advance the cause 
of the stage children. But when we see 
how the little ones really enjoy themselves 
while at their duties, and look forward so 
eagerly to the time when the curtain goes 
up, and when we know also that the extra 
money they earn adds little comforts that 
would otherwise be denied to many a home, 
we can look on it with sincere approval. 

It has been said that all good dancers 
start young, but it must be added also that 
all good dancers work hard. Just as in 
every profession, it is hard work that brings 
the best to the front ; but to those dancers 
who enter their profession because they feel 
attracted to it, it is a labour of love. That 
they do have to work hard there is no doubt, 
for the keen eye of the public is ever upon 
them, and they must be therefore in a sort 
of perpetual training. Especially was this 
applicable to the ballet-dancer, and Oliver 
Wendell Holmes has remarked in his " Poe 



3 History of Dancing. 129 

at the Breakfast Table" "Yet they have 
been through such work to get their limbs 
strong and flexible and obedient, that a 
cart-horse lives an easy life compared to 
them while in training " ; but, at the same 
time, this hard training has always had in- 
estimable advantages from the point of view 
of the worker's health, for it is no doubt 
the finest exercise in the world, and keeps 
the body in a state of suppleness, and the 
muscles in a condition that nothing else will 
do. And through the body we approach the 
mind. " Mens sana in corpore sano" The 
ancients were strongly of the opinion that 
dancing developed character. Plato put 
forward a theory as to dancing in regard to 
the development of both mind and body, 
and Lucian also, in his " Essay on Dancing," 
gives a very high value to the art. 

But there must be moderation in all 
things, and some of the forms of dancing 
on the stage to-day cannot be considered 
in any way as of health-giving value. I 
refer to those in which strange and un- 
natural postures are brought into use, such 
as an American form of dancing I have 



130 A History of Dancing. 

lately heard of, called " Rock Dancing." 
This is practically a dance of the ballet 
movements of the Italian school, performed 
almost entirely on the instep, a painful and 
ungraceful proceeding which might justly 
cause the performers to be called contor- 
tionists rather than dancers. 

There are other forms of modern stage- 
dancing which are as far removed from the 
best, the long-skirted type, as what is known 
as " the illegitimate performance," from the 
true drama, in the sister profession. Among 
these may be mentioned such dances as 
Plantation Dances, Cake Walks, and other 
innovations which have unfortunately crept 
in of late. The old-fashioned Clog Dancing 
is without doubt very clever, and one cannot 
but admire the skill shown in a good per- 
formance ; but it is not graceful, and relies 
more on the sense of sound than of sight 
for a proper appreciation of it. 

As opposed to this essentially " foot- 
dancing " is the equally definite "arm- 
dancing of the Serpentine Dance, that dance 
which has given name and fame to La Loie 
Fuller. Wonderful and beautiful effects are 



A History of Dancing. 131 

produced in this Serpentine Dance, " mats il 
rfest pas la guerre" All things considered, 
there is only one true form of dancing on the 
stage to-day, and that is what, for want of a 
better name, is known as " skirt-dancing." 

And this skirt-dancing, what is it ? 

A vision of laughing eyes and twinkling feet, 
a swift rushing of floating draperies through 
the air, a twirl, a whirl, now here, now there, 
yet all with a certainty and precision whose 
very apparent absence declares its art ; then, 
as the music slows down, a delicate fluttering, 
like a butterfly hovering among the flowers, 
and lastly, as a soft falling snow-flake, silently 
she sinks to the ground. Is not this something 
worth living for, to be able to dance it, to be 
able to see it ? You, who are now learning 
your art, and who are to carry on the traditions 
of your seniors, and you others, who would 
rush to any new forms, any momentary 
crazes, if they but took the popular fancy, 
keep to the paths of the true art, for they 
are assuredly the best, and avoid, as you 
value your chances of success, as you value 
your art for its own sake, such things as 
" Cake Walks " and " Rock Dances." 



CHAPTER IX. 

DANCING AS A SOCIAL PASTIME. 
" God match me with a good dancer" 

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING," ii. 1. 



WONDER how many times this 
ejaculation of the fair Margaret's 
has been unconsciously repeated by 
the frequenters of our modern ball- 
rooms, when by some mischance an ungainly 
or awkward partner has been encountered. 
For there can be nothing more out of place 
in a ball-room than a bad dancer ; if one 
cannot dance well, it is better to refrain 
altogether ; one can gain more enjoyment 
by watching the good dancers, and by one's 
very abstinence can give them an equal 
amount of pleasure. From the early Planta- 
genet times, down to the present day, a 
certain skill in the technical parts of the 
dances, and polished and courtly movements 
in general, have been essentials, and it is a 



3 History of Dancing. 138 

pity to think that these centuries-old traditions 
should be so often disregarded in the dances 
of to-day. But in a modern hurrying world, 
where Turveydrops no longer reign, we must 
be satisfied to think that what still survives 
of the old-time courtesy of manners, regarded 
as an out-of-date custom, perhaps, but yet 
present, is to be found in the ball-room. 

What may be called Society Dancing, 
really commenced with the Danses Basses, 
or Court Dances, as distinguished from the 
Danses Hautes, or Country Dances, in the 
sixteenth century, though dancing at Court 
had been of course in vogue for many years 
before this, witness the famous ball in the 
reign of Edward III., where we are told the 
Order of the Garter was instituted ; and 
there is also said to have been a form of 
the Contre Danse existing at the Court of 
William the Conqueror. But the Danses 
Basses, or dances of the upper classes, were 
the real beginnings of our social dances of 
to-day, and they were dances of France, 
from the mirror of which country our own 
dances have been but one long reflection 
ever since. 



134 A History of Dancing. 

One of the earliest of the courtly dances 
was the Pavane, according to one theory 
the original form of the Minuet. The name 
of this dance is probably derived from the 
Latin pavo, a peacock, because of the state- 
liness of its movements, but some say it 
takes its name from Padua in Italy. This, I 
think, is refuted by the fact that the Pavane 
was almost undoubtedly of Spanish origin. 
There was a Spanish proverb, perhaps it 
still exists, " Every Pavane must have its 
Galliard," the Galliard being a short lively 
dance coming at the end of the more sober 
Pavane. Ben Jonson, too, in " The Alche- 
mist," speaks of the Spanish Pavin. Con- 
cerning the stateliness of the dance, Sir 
John Hawkins has written in his " History 
of Music," " It is a grave and majestic 
dance ; the method of dancing it anciently, 
was by gentlemen dressed with caps and 
swords, by those of the long robe in their 
gowns, by the peers in their mantles, and 
by the ladies in gowns with long trains, the 
motion whereof in dancing resembled that 
of a peacock." 

The Pavane was common in England after 



3 History of Dancing. 135 

about 1540, and it is no doubt to this dance 
that Sir John Suckling refers in his " Ballade 
upon a Wedding," in the famous lines 

" Her feet beneath her petticoat 
Like little mice stole in and out 

As if they feared the light ; 
But, oh, she dances such a way, 
No sun upon an Easter Day 

Is half so fine a sight I " 

Shakespeare himself was probably an 
ardent votary of dancing, to judge by the 
frequency with which he introduces it into 
his plays, and the Pavane was certain to be 
the one he mostly danced. That he was 
well versed in its technicalities we may 
judge by the words he puts into the mouth 
of Sir Andrew Aguecheek in answer to Sir 
Toby's question, " What is thy excellence in 
a galliard ? " " Faith, I can cut a caper, and 
I think I have the back-trick simply as 
strong as any man in Illyria." 

But in another part of " Twelfth Night," 
he would seem to have mixed up, perhaps 
intentionally, the Pavane with the Passa- 
mezzo, an Italian dance of a different form. 
For he makes Sir Toby speak of the surgeon 
as a " passy-measure pavin," but Reed, in 



136 A History of Dancing. 

his work on Shakespeare's Plays, suggests 
that either Sir Toby in his drunken babbling 
may have meant to say, " a past measure 
panicin," or else that the reading of the line 
is incorrect, and should be " a passy measure 
or a pavin." 

Following the Pavane, and according to 
the Parson in Washington Irving's " Christ- 
mas Day," founded upon it, was the Minuet. 

But the more commonly accepted theory 
of the Minuet is that it was derived from 
the Courante, an argument in favour of 
which being that it was at first a quick 
dance, and therefore far more like the "swift 
Coranto " than the stately Pavane. It was 
called the Minuet because of the small steps, 
and at its very commencement was a rustic 
dance, a brawle or branle of Poitou. In 
the year 1650 it was introduced in Pans, 
and three years later was given a musical 
setting by the great Lully, but it did not be- 
come really popular till some years after this. 

About this time, dancing as a social pas- 
time was becoming more frequent in France, 
and in 1662 the King founded a Royal Aca- 
demy of Dancing, putting Beauchamp, a 



A History of Dancing. 137 

noted dancing-master, at the head of it. 
The King himself took lessons for over 
twenty years in dancing, and often danced 
in Minuets at the Court functions. In 
Beauchamp's time, however, the Minuet 
had hardly come into favour, and it was 
left to Pecour, a later dancer, to bring it 
to the front as the first dance in France. 
From that time its popularity never failed, 
and for over a hundred and fifty years every 
State Ball, not only in France but in all the 
civilized countries of Europe, was opened 
with a Minuet. 

The Minuet, surely the most famous of 
dances, was essentially a product of the age, 
and a dance that only such an age could 
have produced. When the correct method- 
of proffering a snuff-box, or doffing one's 
hat, were actions ruled by certain definite 
formulae, and only to be attained after years 
of practice, one can hardly be surprised at 
the stateliness and constrained movements 
of the Minuet. It was an age of artificiality, 
and this was a make-believe dance, at least 
so far as the generally adopted axioms of 
dancing, which declare for a combination of 



138 3 History of Dancing. 

vigorous movements, would have it. Yet 
they would seem to have enjoyed this 
mathematically precise game of walking 
about, those powdered and satin-clad ladies 
and gentlemen ; they must have, or they 
would not have done it, nor would its popu- 
larity have lasted in so marvellous a manner. 
Mimicked in the play, written of in books, 
and set down in pictures more times than 
anyone can number, it has yet rarely under- 
gone the humiliation of buffoonery, its cold 
superiority repelling all but the hardiest 
mockers. The caricaturists of the day laid 
hands upon it, it is true, and in many of 
the cartoons of Bunbury, Rowlandson and 
Gillray, we find the Minuet occurring ; but 
they caricatured the people rather than the 
dance, for to them there was nothing 
strange or out of place in a dance that 
was solemnly walked. And to us it has 
been handed down as the outstanding type 
of that age, and whether it be the cover of 
a chocolate box, a painted fan, or a Christ- 
mas almanac, we always find these Georgian 
dandies in the act of dancing a Minuet. 
The earliest form of the Minuet was a 



3 History of Dancing. 139 

dance for two people in moderate triple 
time, and their movements over the ground 
covered the shape of a letter S. Later on, 
the angles were turned more abruptly, and 
the figure became that of a Z, and shortly 
after this the whole dance was enlarged, 
and was followed by the Gavotte, in itself 
originally a stage dance. In the early 
French days the dances were often held 
out of doors, on one of the lawns, and con- 
sequently the gliding movements of the feet 
when a fresh step was taken were not 
brought into such prominence as they were 
later on. It is the Minuet of these early 
days, danced in the sunny afternoons out 
on the green swards, that Watteau, Lancret 
and Bourcher have loved to portray. In the 
time of Marie Antoinette, there were four 
Minuets commonly danced, but one, known 
as the " Menuet de la Cour," arranged by 
Gardel, was the favourite one. 

The golden age of the Minuet in England 
was undoubtedly during that period when 
Beau Nash was Master of the Ceremonies 
at Bath. It may not be out of place to 
give here a short sketch of Beau Nash, 



140 3 History of Dancing. 

one of the most interesting figures of the 
eighteenth century. 

The son of a Welsh country gentleman, 
he entered the army while still in his teens, 
but after a short period of magnificent 
riotousness resigned his commission because 
"he did not care to be trammelled by the 
narrowness of a military life." Even at 
this time he was one of the acknowledged 
leaders of the day, and his horses, clothes, 
and dinners, had begun to set their mark 
on the " beau monde." Living, as he did, 
upon no apparent income whatever, it is 
little wonder that at times his companions 
suspected him of being a highwayman. 
Probably he won large sums by gambling, 
and he would also have been merely follow- 
ing the custom of the day in owing his 
tradesmen for everything. In whatever way 
his income was derived, he certainly stands 
out as one of the greatest " chevaliers 
d'industrie " in an age when this was 
almost one of the fashionable professions. 

Moving with certain other society leaders 
to Bath, his wonderful organizing powers 
soon found scope for themselves here also, 



3 History of Dancing. 141 

and he started those famous evening func- 
tions and balls with which his name will 
always be connected. It was he who en- 
gaged the band of musicians, who at a sign 
from him at the close of the evening in- 
stantly stopped playing, thus causing all 
dancing to end ; and so much was his name 
feared, that no one would have dared to go 
against his wishes. He was appointed by 
his own desire, " Master of the Ceremonies," 
and once being elected he ruled the assem- 
blies with an iron hand. The well-known 
" Code of Etiquette at Bath " was drawn 
up by him, and was posted in the dancing 
rooms, and woe betide any hapless person 
who broke its rules. He himself started 
all the balls by taking a lady out to dance 
the Minuet, the rest of the evening being 
always carried out on the lines of a fixed 
precedent. At eleven o'clock to the minute, 
he held up his finger, and the music stopped, 
and after a short interval for final refresh- 
ment, all the guests left the building. 

Brewer describes him in three words as 
a " notorious diner-out," but so great was 
the wonderful personality of the man, that 



142 3 History of Dancing. 

I have no ^ doubt, had he chosen to devote 



his fine organizing powers to the services 
of the country instead of to the fads of 
society, he would have become one of the 
leading statesmen of the time. However, 
his name, as Beau Nash, Master of the 
Ceremonies of Bath, has been handed down 
to us in a perhaps more permanent manner 
than it would have been had he been a 
statesman only, and will probably last longer. 
As a dramatic contrast to this life of almost 
regal magnificence, he ultimately died, des- 
titute, friendless, and in rags. 

The Minuet can hardly be called a dance 
at all, but it was without doubt one of the 
finest schools of courtesy and deportment 
ever invented. Pope was, I am sure, think- 
ing of the Minuet when he wrote 

" True ease in writing conies from art, not chance, 
As those move easiest who have learnt to dance." 

It is interesting also to note that in the 
days when no gentleman could be seen in 
public without a sword, special short 
" dancing-swords " were made, which made 
the carrying of a sword possible and yet 



3 History of Dancing. 143 

did not interfere with the freedom of the 
movements for dancing. 

One of the dances that followed the 
Minuet was the Quadrille, or " Quadrille de 
Centre Danse," to give its full name. This 
was one of the " Square " dances that used 
to delight our ancestors, and about which 
we so often read in old-fashioned books. 
Quadrille was originally a card game for 
four people, but the name was given to a 
dance introduced into the French ballets 
about 1745. The dance itself was probably 
a direct descendant of that contre danse in 
use at the Court of William the Conqueror. 
It did not, however, become popular as an 
ordinary dance until some sixty years after 
its appearance in the ballets, and it was not 
until 1808 that it was introduced into England 
by a Miss Berry, to be ultimately taken up by 
the Duke of Devonshire and made fashion- 
able about 1813. This is on the authority of 
Raikes, but others would have it that it was 
not danced in England till the famous Lady 
Jersey, Lady Castlereagh, and other society 
leaders, brought it over from Paris, and 
danced it in Almack's rooms in 1815. 



144 A History of Dancing. 

The French Quadrille was for two, four, 
or any number of couples, but four pairs 
seem to have been the ideal number in 
England. The dance itself was divided into 
figures, usually five, being Le Pantalon, 
L'Ete, La Poule, La Tremise, and Le Final, 
and with each figure there were appropriate 
movements and phases of almost a panto- 
mimic nature as, for instance, during the 
figure La Poule, the performers clucked 
like a hen ; but later on these adjuncts were 
left out, though the figures remained, as 
names only, for a very long time afterwards. 
Each pair of dancers remained always vis- 
a-vis, and only danced with each other, 
thereby differing from the more modern 
Lancers, and the whole dance in its later 
years often ended with a galop. The Quad- 
rille was a far more lively dance than the 
Minuet, and was thus paving the way for 
that great revolution in social dancing, 
the Waltz. 

What a sensation the Waltz must have 
caused to those who witnessed its first 
invasion of England. Sweeping all pre- 
cedent on one side, and overturning all 



A History of Dancing. 145 

the old thoughts and ideas on dancing, the 
Waltz came and conquered, but not without 
the severest opposition that a dance has 
ever had. Such a distinct departure from 
all established forms was bound to be re- 
garded with disfavour by those of conserva- 
tive ideas, for it must be remembered that 
this was practically the first time in the 
history of dancing that two people had ever 
danced with each other and together ; and, 
to crown all, it was considered by many to 
be positively immodest ! Byron took this 
latter point of view in a half-mocking, half- 
serious way, in his famous " Apostrophe to 
the Waltz," which he wrote anonymously 
from Cheltenham at the end of the year 
1812, when that town was rapidly becoming 
a leading fashionable resort, and where he 
would probably have seen it danced for the 
first time. He was afterwards inclined to 
disown this poem, not considering it up to the 
usual standard of his writing ; but, for all that, 
it contains many charming and memorable 
lines, such as the ones where he describes 
the ship coming across the seas bearing 
various things to England, among them 



146 3 History of Dancing. 

" her fairest freight 

Delightful waltz on tiptoe for a mate." 

To Baron Neuman is attributed the 
honour of first introducing the Waltz into 
England, and though it was so strongly 
opposed at first, we nevertheless find Byron 
writing at the end of 1812 the very year 
in which it was first seen in England 

" To one and all the lovely stranger came, 
And every ball-room echoes with her name." 

but it was nearly three years before it finally 
overcame all opposition, and was brought 
to the front place among English dances by 
its public performance at Almack's Rooms 
by the Emperor Alexander, Princess Ester- 
hazy, Lord Palmerston, and other society 
leaders. The stamp of fashion once on it, 
it became all the rage, and was danced 
nightly at Almack's, Willis's, the Pantheon, 
and other famous dancing rooms. 

Byron addresses it as " Imperial Waltz ! 
imported from the Rhine," for its original 
home was in Western Bavaria, where it 
was called Dreker, " the turner," while the 
other name given it, Waltz, also signifies a 
turning. At first it was in very slow time, 



3 History of Dancing. 147 

compared to the way it is danced now, and 
yet it was the first of the quick-step dances ! 
There have been many innovations since 
then, slight variations in the manner of 
dancing it, such as the hop-waltz, and, of 
course, the system of reversing, but the 
main idea has remained the same since 
the beginning, and it is still the queen of 
our ball-room dances. 

A curious thing about this reversing is 
that though in England it was introduced 
merely as a variation to relieve the mono- 
tony of continually turning in one direction, 
in Germany the dance is always from right 
to left, the opposite to the hands of a watch, 
or what an Irishman might call " continuous 
reversing." In some dancing rooms I went 
to in Cologne, I was surprised to see the 
dancers, after every certain number of bars, 
take their partners' hands and walk a few 
steps forwards, after the manner of the 
pas-de-quatre, reverting to the ordinary 
Waltz almost immediately. Whether this 
was typical of the German Waltz, or merely 
some local variation, I could not ascertain. 

The " Dreamy Waltz " has inspired many 



148 3 History of Dancing. 

of the greatest musicians to write for it, 
Schubert, Chopin, Weber, and Strauss, all 
contributing their share, but the Waltzes of 
the last-named will always remain as the 
finest examples of dance music ever 
written. 

The Galop or Galopade was the next 
dance to be introduced to England. This 
was, and is, a dance in very quick time, but 
beyond the fact that it was usually danced 
as a finish to some other dance, it is of 
little interest. It came to us from Hungary, 
translated, like most of our other dances, 
via the channels of Paris, and though intro- 
duced some seventy years ago, and never 
at any time very popular, it is still occasion- 
ally seen in our ball-rooms. 

In striking contrast to the somewhat cool 
reception of the Waltz, was the open-armed 
enthusiasm with which the Polka was re- 
ceived. It is true that all Paris had gone 
mad over it in a way that only Frenchmen 
can, but the staid English people were 
quickly endeavouring to outdance even the 
French, and the new excitement spread 
like wildfire. 



3 History ot Dancing. 149 

The way in which the Polka was dis- 
covered is somewhat romantic. Up in the 
wilds of Bohemia, in 1835, Joseph Neruda 
whose discovery of this alone might have 
brought him fame found a peasant girl 
dancing and singing to herself, and a dance 
such as he had never seen before. He got 
her to repeat it, and seeing the great possi- 
bilities of it, took it down to Prague and 
and afterwards Vienna. It was an instan- 
taneous success, and the Polka, or half-step, 
as it was then called, took the public fancy 
as no other dance had done. Paris was 
still too full of the Waltz to heed other 
dances, and it was not until 1840 that the 
Polka assailed the capital of the dancing 
world. But the quaint and captivating 
" half-step " once inside the walls of Paris, 
it immediately secured a following, which 
was almost fanatical in nature. M. Cellarius, 
a professional dancer, performed it one 
evening on the stage of the Odeon, and the 
next day it was being danced in half a dozen 
of the best Paris Salons. A few days later 
it became more general, and it was not many 
months before all Paris had run Polka-mad. 



150 3 History of Dancing. 

It was danced publicly in the streets and 
boulevards, not only in the evenings, but all 
day long ; traffic was disorganized, and its 
tunes were whistled and sung on all sides. 
New phrases were coined, and the word 
" polkeur " was upon everyone's tongue. 
Even the sober " Times " plaintively declared 
it could get no news through from Paris, 
except accounts of the Polka! When it 
did come to London, it came as an already 
established dance, and though the excite- 
ment did not run wild in the streets, as in 
Paris, it was enthusiastically received, and 
without a shadow of opposition. The " Illus- 
trated London News" on May llth, 1844, 
reported the first Polka at Al mack's, and 
the description I will give in its own words. 

" ' La Polka/ like its predecessors, the 
Waltz and the Galop, is a 'danse a deux,' 
couples following each other in the salle de 
danse, commencing at pleasure, and adopt- 
ing of the following figures that which 
pleases them most at the moment. All those 
anxious to shine in La Polka will dance the 
whole of them, returning from time to time 
by way of rest to the first figure. 



A History of Dancing. 151 

" The measure is 2-4, but to facilitate our 
definitions, we subdivide each measure or 
bar into 1-2-3-4, the accent on the 2, to be 
played not so fast as the Galop. 

"The steps are two, and the following 
description may in some measure convey 
them to our readers. We commence with 
the first and most general. At the one, hop 
on the right leg, lifting or doubling the left 
at the same moment : at two, put your left 
leg boldly forward on the ground : at three, 
bring your right toe to the left heel: at 
four, advance your left foot a short step 
forward. Now is the ' one ' in the next bar 
or measure of the tune. Hop on the left 
leg, doubling or lifting up your right leg, 
and so on proceeding in this step with 
your arm circling your partner's waist round 
the room. 

" In conclusion, we would observe that 
La Polka is a noiseless dance. There is 
no stamping of heels or toes, or kicking the 
legs at sharp angles forward. This may be 
very well at the threshold of a Bohemian 
auberge, but it is inadmissible into the 
salons of London or Paris. The Polka as 



152 3 History of Dancing. 

danced in Paris and now adapted by us, is 
elegant, graceful and fascinating in the 
extreme." 

Even then there were apparently traces 
of that rowdyism which is unfortunately 
seen too often in our ball-rooms to-day. 

The Polka was very wella dapted for a 
stage dance, and there may be some now 
living who can remember seeing Perrot 
and Carlotta Grisi first dance the Polka at 
the Opera in Slavonic dress. It was after- 
wards introduced into many of the ballets 
as a pas de deux, and always met with 
success. 

" Punch," of course, had his say in the 
matter, and during the year 1844 there 
were many pictures and humorous refer- 
ences to the dance in his pages. There is 
one excellent parody on the " Maid of 
Athens " in which the Polka is the central 
theme. In connection witht he Polka should 
be mentioned the Schottische, which also 
claimed Bohemia as its home, and which 
was at first called the "Polka tremblante." 

About this time, in 1845 to be exact, there 
was also introduced to England a Polish 



A History of Dancing. 153 

dance called the Mazurka, and though it 
was at one time fairly popular, and was 
occasionally seen in our ball-rooms, till a 
very few years ago, it never really attained 
the success which came to its contem- 
poraries. It has been called "the melan- 
choly Mazurka," possibly owing to the sad 
strains of some music that Chopin set to 
it ; but it must be remembered that much 
of Chopin's so-called dance music was never 
really meant to be danced to. The mazurka 
is one of the oldest Polish dances, being 
invented in the sixteenth century, and it is 
still, I believe, common in Poland, but it 
can no longer be called an English dance. 

A square dance which we still have, and 
one which has caused so much discussion 
of late years, is the Lancers. In itself a 
most picturesque and pleasing dance, it un- 
fortunately gives opportunities for conduct 
which, to say the least, is not that of a 
ball-room, and which almost justifies the 
dance being sometimes called " the break- 
neck Lancers," or again " Kitchen Lancers." 
This is a great pity, as there is something 
very fascinating in a set of lancers well 



154 A History of Dancing. 

danced, and the constantly kaleidoscopic 
changing of the positions is a very charming 
thing even to watch. The Lancers, with 
its quaint old-fashioned phrases, " Set to 
Corners," "Grand Chain," and "Visiting," 
and those courtly movements which seem 
to bring with them a faint aroma of the 
past, has always been a favourite of mine; 
and to see a dozen people careering madly 
down the room, knocking aside all who may 
come in their way, at once destroys all the 
poetry of it. It is said that on more than 
one occasion a broken limb has resulted 
from this rough and tumble play, and in no 
way could one call the Lancers as now too 
often danced " Mannerly modest, as a mea- 
sure full of state and ancientry." 

The Lancers was introduced to France 
by M. Laborde in 1836, and in 1850 it made 
its first appearance in England, a set being 
composed by Lady Georgina Lygon, and 
seven other ladies and gentlemen. It is 
certainly not now so popular as it was a 
decade or so ago, but it still holds three or 
four places in most ball programmes. 

The Cotillon can be almost disregarded as 



A History of Dancing. 155 

a dance, as it has become merely a medley 
of movements, and is only occasionally intro- 
duced by some hostess as a novelty, or as 
a means of distributing small gifts. It was 
started in the reign of Charles X. of France, 
and was for some time a popular dance at 
the French court, but in modern France as 
in England it is now seldom seen. 

One of the last dances to be invented was 
the " Pas de Quatre," said to have derived 
its name from the fact that it was at first 
danced to the tune of the famous Pas de 
Quatre of the Gaiety, composed by the late 
Meyer Lutz, for so many years conductor at 
that theatre. This was for a time exceed- 
ingly popular, as it came as a welcome 
relief to the monotony of the Waltz, but 
the last two or three years it seems to 
have gone out of favour again, and is now 
not often seen. It was also at first called 
the Barn Dance, through some idea that it 
was a revival of a peasant dance, but beyond 
a slight likeness to the old form of Schot- 
tische, and that in only a few of its move- 
ments, it has broken fresh ground in every 
way. 



156 A History of Dancing. 

Two dances have of late years been 
brought over from America : one the 
Washington "Post, enjoying an enthusiastic 
but short-lived popularity, while the other, 
the Two-step, a variation on the Waltz, has 
as yet not had time to seek a fair judgment. 
It is certain that our American cousins are 
fonder of dancing than we are, and it is to 
them that we must look for any new dances, 
praying only that they will not send us 
another cake-walk ! 

The only other dance that is still some- 
times seen in our ball-rooms is the dear old 
Sir Roger de Coverley. This is the only 
genuine survival of our old English dances, 
and it is one of the prettiest of them. 
Founded, of course, on the Centres Danses, 
or Country Dances, it has retained enough 
of their movements to give us a general 
idea of what they were like. Perhaps it 
will not be inapropos to give here the fable 
of how the Country Dances began, as told 
by the poet Jenyns in the verses on dancing 
which he dedicated to Lady Fanny Fielding, 
said to have been the finest dancer of the 
early eighteenth-century ball-rooms : 



A History of Dancing. 157 

" Then let the jovial country dance begin, 
And the loud fiddlers call each straggler in : 
But e'er they come permit me to disclose 
How first, as legends tell, this pastime rose. 
In ancient times (such times are now no more), 
When Albion's crown illustrious Arthur wore, 
In some fair op'ning glade each summer's night, 
Where the pale moon diffused her silver light, 
On the soft carpet of a grassy field, 
The sporting fairies their assemblies held : 
Some lightly tripping with their pigmy queen, 
In circling ringlets marked the level green, 
Some with soft notes made mellow pipes resound, 
And music warble through the groves around ; 
Oft lonely shepherds by the forest side, 
Belated peasants oft their revels spyed, 
And home returning, o'er their nut-brown ale, 
Their guests diverted with the wondrous tale, 
Instructed hence, throughout the British isle, 
And fond to imitate the pleasing toil, 
Round where the trembling Maypole fixed on high 
Uplifts its flow'ry honours to the sky, 
The ruddy maids and sunburnt swains resort, 
And practise every night the lovely sport ; 
On every side Aeolian artists stand, 
Whose active elbows swelling winds command ; 
The swelling winds harmonious pipes inspire, 
And blow in every breast a gen'rous fire. 
Thus taught, at first the country-dance began, 
And hence to cities and to courts it ran." 



158 



A History of Dancing. 



In a curious old book, " Playford's Danc- 
ing Master," published about 1690, the music 
of the Sir Roger is printed, with full dancing 
instructions. Though an English dance, it 
was taken over to France and introduced 
into the French ballets in 1745, the same 
year as the Quadrille ; and, like the Quad- 
rille, it became popular as a ball-room dance 
at the beginning of the last century. On 
the rare occasions on which we now see it, 
it is used to finish up the evening, and in 
the same way, with this, the last of the ball- 
room dances, I will end the present chapter. 




CHAPTER X. 

A SHORT HISTORY OF THE WORLD'S 
DANCERS. 

" When you do dance I wish you 
A wave o' th' sea, that you might ever do 
Nothing but that." 

" WINTERS TALE," Act iv. 3. 



HISTORY of dancing necessarily in- 
volves an account, however small, 
of those men and women who by 
their individual genius and skill 
have assisted in the making of that history. 
For as the life history of each great dancer 
of the world was unrolled, so too did the 
history of dancing itself advance, for each 
of the dancers brought their tribute in the 
shape of some fresh movement, some hitherto 
unknown step, or some new invention for the 
general good of the art, and with each name 
is thus associated a page in the history of 
dancing. 



160 A History of Dancing. 

Pylades and Bathyllos, the great Roman 
dancers, Scaliger the scholar and antiquarian, 
even Henry VIII. and Anne, wife of James I., 
have all helped in their several ways ; while 
musicians, directors of ceremonies, and ballet- 
masters innumerable, have also added their 
quota to the general store; but it is only 
when we come to the later periods, the 
times when dancing began to be regarded 
more seriously, to be regarded as a distinct 
and not unimportant art, that the real 
makers of its history came upon the scene. 

To France, as is only right, belongs Jhe 
earliest of the notable dancers, Noverre, 
who was born in Paris in 1727. He made 
his debut at Fontainebleau, at the Royal 
Theatre, in 1743, when only sixteen years 
old, and within a year had become famous. 
In 1755 he came over to London at the 
special invitation of Garrick, and remained in 
England for two years, dancing in most of the 
important operas produced during that period. 
After leaving London he lived for some time 
in Lyons, holding a post as Director of 
Ballets, and while there he published his 
" Lettres sur la Danse et les Ballets." 



A History of Dancing. 161 

At length, in 1775, he gained the coveted 
post of " Maitre des Ballets " at the Paris 
Academy, which he held till the time of the 
Revolution, when he lost money, position, 
everything, and had to retire in comparative 
poverty to St. Germain, where he died 
in 1810. 

Noverre will always be remembered as 
the founder of the true ballet, the " ballet 
d'action," and it is in a great measure due 
to him that dancing took the important 
position it did. Himself a good actor, he 
enfolded the necessity of good acting upon 
all those under him, for without capable 
histrionic powers it would have been im- 
possible to do away with the recitations 
and descriptive songs hitherto in vogue, 
and the outcome of this was the pantomime 
ballet. 

Gaetano Vestris was an Italian, born in 
Florence, the original home of the ballets, in 
1729, two years after the birth of Noverre. 
In his own time he was acknowledged to 
be the best male dancer the world has^ver 
seen, and many now say that no one has 
ever since equalled him. And, knowing his 



162 A History of Dancing. 

fame, he was unable to resist the temptation 
of being inordinately vain about it. People, 
in speaking of him, were wont to describe 
him as " the best dancer and the vainest 
man that ever lived." He himself took the 
title of " Le Dieu de la danse," and an 
anecdote is related of him that once, when 
the conversation turned on the subject of 
European celebrities, someone asked him 
whom he considered to be the greatest man 
in Europe ; Vestris turned round with a 
bow, and said, " There are only three great 
men in Europe myself, Voltaire, and the 
King of Prussia." 

Vestris is credited with being the inventor 
of the spinning movement known as the 
Pirouette, but Gardel, a later dancer, so 
altered and brought this to perfection that 
he is now generally regarded as its author. 

He had a son, Marie Augustus Vestris, 
who also became a great dancer, though he 
was never quite able to achieve the success 
of his father. Madame Vestris, the cele- 
brated English actress of half a century 
later, was also a connection of his. He 
died, an old man of eighty, in 1808. 



A History of Dancing. 163 

Gardel, as the first to do away with the 
face masks, and also as the perfecter of the 
pirouette, and Mdlle. Camargo, as the first 
danseuse to wear the ballet dress, are 
worthy of mention, but little is really known 
about their lives, and even their feats of 
dancing were quite overshadowed by those 
who came immediately after them. 

Carlo Blasis, however, was at one time 
a celebrated dancer, though he is now more 
generally remembered for his writings on 
the subject, and for the ballets which he 
composed. Born at Naples in 1803, he 
seems to have been able to dance almost 
before he could walk, and in 1815, when 
only twelve years old, he was actually prin- 
cipal dancer at Marseilles. 

From Marseilles he went to Paris, and 
there studied under Maximilian Gardel, 
taking part in some well-known ballets pro- 
duced at that time, and in which he had 
as partners two noted danseuses, MdleL 
Gosselin and Mdlle. Le Gallois. 

He next made a success at La Scala, 
Milan, and in 1826 proceeded to England. 
Meanwhile his sister, Mdlle. Blasis, was 



164 A History of Dancing. 

making a name for herself by her magni- 
ficent singing at the Italian Opera, and in 
her spare moments writing music of all 
sorts, for she was a clever musician, and 
incidentally helping her brother, who was 
devoted to her, by setting some of his 
ballets to music. 

While in England, Carlo Blasis wrote his 
" Code of Terpsichore," an exhaustive trea- 
tise on the technical details of the ballet, 
which was published with some music by 
his sister, and a little later translated into 
English. It was in England also that the 
accident occurred that terminated his career 
as a dancer, for he so severely injured his 
leg while rehearsing a pas de trois with 
Mmes. Bougnoti and Vaguemoulin, that he 
never publicly appeared again. He was 
able, however, to take charge of and direct 
the ballets for many years after, and as 
a director of ballets he even achieved more 
fame than he had as a dancer. 

In 1837, he became Director of the 
Imperial Academy at Milan, then a very 
important post in the dancing world, and 
ten years later he came to England once 



3 History of Dancing. 165 

more as " Composer of the Ballets " at 
Drury Lane, afterwards holding the same 
appointment at Covent Garden, this latter 
being the last post of any consequence he 
held before his death. 

Antonius Augustus Bournonville is chiefly 
noted as being Denmark's greatest dancer, 
and also the producer of some very famous 
ballets. 

Born in Copenhagen in 1805, and brought 
up in an atmosphere of dancing from the 
first, being the son of a ballet-master in 
that city, he soon showed signs of great 
dancing powers, and after taking some good 
engagements in his own country he made 
his debut in Paris at the age of twenty-one. 
Four years later he was made Director and 
Ballet-master of the Academy at Copen- 
hagen, and it was there that he produced 
those ballets for which his name will ever 
be remembered. Waldemar, Les Noces, 
Faust, and the famous Napoli, were among 
the best known, and they disclosed a new 
field in the management of the ballet, namely 
the extent to which perfection in the staging 
and dressing of it might be carried out. 



166 A History of Dancing. 

Next in order come the names of Taglioni 
and Elssler, perhaps the greatest in the 
annals of dancing, certainly so in the annals 
of the ballet. These two great dancers 
seem by a curious fate to have been brought 
together all their lives, and the coincidence 
in relation to them, though not so much 
noticed during their lives, became very 
remarkable when looked back to from after 
years. Taglioni was born in 1809, Elssler 
a few months later in 1810. Both made 
their debut in Vienna ; both competed for 
fame on the Paris Opera stage, and at the 
same time ; both came over to England, 
and both appeared at Her Majesty's Theatre 
under Lumley's management in 1842; both 
of them left the stage in 1845, and having 
thus been thrown together at most of the 
important points of their lives, they both 
died, old women, in the same year, 1884. 

Taglioni, slightly the elder of the two, was 
born at Stockholm. The daughter of an 
Italian ballet-master, her future was cut 
out for her from the beginning. It seemed 
destined by fate that she should be a great 
danseuse, but the stern determination of 



A History of Dancing. 167 

her father had also a great influence on 
her ultimate career. He subjected her to 
the severest discipline, and from her baby- 
hood almost she was accustomed to practise 
a great many hours a day, and to rule her 
every mode of life with the one view of 
dancing constantly before her. At length, 
after ten years of arduous training, she was 
considered fit to make her debut, and ap- 
peared in Vienna in June 1822. She made 
an instantaneous success, which was re- 
peated at Berlin and other cities in Germany, 
till in 1827 she reached what was then the 
culminating point of a dancer's ambition, the 
Paris Opera. Here she created a perfect 
furore of excitement, her new style taking 
all beholders by storm. She was in the 
habit of wearing "her dancing dress much 
longer than was the usual custom, and this, 
combined with certain novel steps and 
movements of her own, and the fact that 
by her skill she was able to give a much 
improved rendering of the routine steps of 
previous dancers, gave the impression to 
those observing her that they were watching 
an entirely new style. Indeed, one writer 



168 A History of Dancing. 

in speaking of her has remarked, " She 
revealed a new form of dancing, a virginal 
and diaphanous art instinct with an origina- 
lity all her own, in which the old traditions 
and time-honoured rules of choreography 
were merged." 

In 1832 she married the Comte de Voisins, 
and by this time, too, she had amassed a 
considerable fortune, which was greatly aug- 
mented by her English engagements, when 
for dancing at Her Majesty's and Covent 
Garden she was said to have received the 
largest sums ever yet paid to any dancer. 
Some years later, however, she was drawn 
into speculation, and lost the whole of her 
fortune with the exception of a small sum, 
which she eked out by becoming a teacher 
of deportment. She spent the latter part 
of her life at Marseilles, and died there in 
1884. 

In "Guillaume Tell" and " Robert le 
Diable " she made her two greatest hits, 
though Thackeray in " The Newcomes ' 
especially praises the graces of her dancing 
in " La Sylphide " ; but for her performances 
of the Tyrolienne and the Pas de Fascination 



A History of Dancing. 169 

in the two former, if for nothing else, the 
name of Marie Taglioni will always be 
remembered. 

Fanny Elssler, her great contemporary, 
was born in Vienna in June, 1810, making 
her first appearance in the same city at the 
age of six. Then, and for the next twelve 
years or so, she danced in company with 
her sister Theresa, who was slightly her 
senior, though by no means so skilful in the 
art, and it was in a great measure due to 
this elder sister's generous self-effacement 
that Fanny's splendid dancing became so 
evident. This sister eventually became the 
Baroness Von Barnim, though not till some 
little time after she had ceased dancing in 
company with Fanny. 

They appeared together in Naples in 1827, 
and it was here that Fanny made that 
success which was the means of her getting 
her first big engagement at Berlin in 1830. 
Four years later she arrived at the Paris 
Opera, and by her dancing of the Spanish 
Cachucha at once sprang into fame. Taglioni 
was at the same time engaged there, and 
so there arose a natural rivalry between 



170 A History of Dancing. 

them, which was sustained by the fact that 
neither could for any length of time outvie 
the other in popularity. 

In 1840, Elssler sailed for New York, and 
there for two years repeated her European 
triumphs, after which she made a tour of 
the capitals of Europe for some years, and 
then, while still in the height of her fame, 
she retired and settled in Hamburg, dying 
many years later in her native home of 
Vienna. 

Of what may be called the intervening 
dancers, those who filled in the time between 
the last of the ballet performers and the 
dancers of the present day, the figure that 
stands out clear against the background of 
all the rest is that of Kate Vaughan. As 
the pioneer of a new style of dancing, as the 
inventor, the creator, of all that is best in 
the dancing of to-day, she would alone have 
been worth all the admiration and praise we 
can bestow upon her. But when in addition 
we remember that her dancing was so 
superb, so graceful, and so artistic, that in 
a moment it could sweep aside all the rooted 
prejudice of years in favour of ballet danc- 



A History of Dancing. 171 

ing, and could assert its superiority by sheer 
force of its own merits, we must unhesitat- 
ingly place Kate Vaughan as the greatest 
dancer of her time. And as such her con- 
temporaries justly proclaimed her. She and 
Nellie Farren were the great mainstays of 
the old Gaiety Theatre, and to them prima- 
rily was its great success due. 

In the recent biography of her husband, 
Lady Burne-Jones has written, " Another 
and different vision also flits across my 
mind in the form of the wonderful dancer, 
Kate Vaughan * Miriam Ariadne Salome 
Vaughan/ as Edward called her. Never 
shall I forget seeing him and Ruskin fall 
into each other's arms in rapture upon acci- 
dentally discovering that they both adored 
her." And a critic reviewing this says, 
" That Ruskin and Burne-Jones should fall 
into each other's arms in a transport of 
enthusiasm for a skirt-dancer seems incon- 
gruous to us only because we forget that 
dancing is as natural an expression of emo- 
tion secular or religious as singing." 

Night after night the theatre drew the 
eager public to its doors, to see these two 



172 A History of Dancing. 

wonderful women, whose personality was so 
great as to shine out, strong and resplendent, 
through all the tawdry glitter and make- 
believe of the stage, and whose many un- 
recorded acts of kindness to the needy and 
distressed will perhaps never be known in 
full, and yet who, when old age at last 
overtook them, were allowed to sink, one 
in actual want, and the other with a mere 
pittance, to the grave. 

This is one of the saddest phases of stage 
life, this contrast of the successful period of 
a popular favourite's career, with the too- 
often latter ending in misery and want. 
People without thinking are apt to say, 
" Serves them right, they should have put 
something by. Look at us ; we are pros- 
perous in our old age, because we saved." 
But they forget the very different conditions 
under which they lived ; they forget that the 
people of the stage have seldom had that 
business training, that mercantile sense 
which almost naturally impels a habit of 
thrift ; they forget that in the precarious 
nature of the profession judgment by appear- 
ances is unfortunately one of the leading 



A History of Dancing. 173 

factors of success, and that a certain style 
has to be kept up even when it is often at 
heart not wished for ; and lastly, they do 
not know that from many of these appar- 
ently glittering incomes commissions of a 
most usurious and almost incredible nature 
are too often extracted by theatrical agents, 
in whom rests practically the sole power of 
obtaining engagements for them. On the 
top of all this, it is but little understood 
that nearly three months in the year, during 
the summer, there is for seventy-five per 
cent, of those on the stage no work to do 
at all, and that, year in and year out, nine 
months' income has to suffice for twelve 
months' living, a state of things that surely 
exists in no other profession. 

But to return to Kate Vaughan. Her 
theatrical history practically starts with her 
appearance in the Gaiety Quartette in 1876, 
though she had been on the stage, occasion- 
ally dancing and occasionally acting, for 
some years before this. Her maiden name 
was Candelon, but she, in company with 
her sister Susie, took the name of Vaughan, 
when they helped to form the "Vaughan 



174 A History of Dancing. 

Dancing Company," a well-known combina- 
tion in the early seventies. She had before 
this studied dancing and acting under Mrs. 
Conquest at the famous " Grecian," and her 
first appearance in the "legitimate drama" 
was with Miss Litton's company at the 
Court Theatre in 1872. 

Appearing at the Gaiety with Edward 
Terry, E. W. Royce, and Nellie Farren, in 
" Little Don Cassar de Bazan," she met 
with instantaneous success, and from that 
time forward became the supreme ruler in 
the Terpsichorean field. Then came that 
quick succession of burlesques from the 
pens of some of the readiest and wittiest 
winters of the day. The names of H. J. 
Byron, F. C. Burnand, and Robert Reece, 
will always be associated with the time 
when the Gaiety was, par excellence, the 
home of the burlesque ; while later, A. C. 
Torr, the nom-de-plume of poor Fred Leslie, 
was constantly found beneath the title of 
the play. 

In all of these Kate Vaughan won her way 
into the hearts of the people, and no one was 
more sorry than her Gaiety audiences when 



A History of Dancing. 175 

she relinquished the dancing shoe for the 
buskin, and joined in her lot with the drama. 
Had not her dancing prowess so completely 
overshadowed her efforts in this direction, 
she might have made a big name for herself 
as an actress also. As it was, her rendering 
of Peg Woffington in " Masks and Faces " 
drew forth the genuine praise of the critics, 
and in many other parts she showed that 
she had the capabilities of a great actress. 

But it was in the Gaiety burlesques that 
her people loved to see her, and many will 
recall the tumultuous applause that greeted 
her as Alice in " Dick Whittington " one 
of her big hits when she made her bow 
dressed in a lilac-tinted early Victorian cos- 
tume, with white furs and a big white muff. 

How different was all this to her last 
days, forgotten and almost unknown, in 
far-off Johannesburg ! Though she would 
have been happy to know that some of her 
old comrades accompanied her to the grave, 
and among them Edward Terry, the com- 
panion of her first triumphs, who by a 
fortunate coincidence was in South Africa 
at the time. 



176 A History of Dancing. 

Among the dancers of the period, or a 
little later, was Miss Sylvia Grey. She was 
closely associated at the Gaiety with the 
productions of " Little Jack Sheppard," 
" Ruy Bias," and " Cinderellen-up-too-late," 
to mention some of the best known ; while 
as Flo Fanshawe she achieved a success at 
the Prince of Wales' in " In Town." Her 
dancing was graceful in the extreme, and 
she wisely understood that to dance with 
the feet alone does not constitute the whole 
of the Terpsichorean art. A critic in the 
" Savoy," an art magazine of ten years ago, 
wrote, " Sylvia Grey's dance is perfect, from 
the waist upwards, swan-like in the holding 
and slow movement of the head and neck, 
exquisite in the undulations of the torso." 
Such dancing masters and mistresses as 
D'Auban, Espinosa, and Madame Katti 
Lanner can lay claim to a reflected part of 
her success, for she studied under all of 
them, and at the last, retiring from the 
stage, she in her turn began to impart her 
knowledge to other younger aspirants for 
dancing fame. 

Of Florence Levy there is little to be 



A History of Dancing. 177 

said, except that she contributed her due 
share as a burlesque actress and dancer to 
the brightness and general excellence of the 
Gaiety's performances. 

Katie Seymour was more of a step-dancer 
than a danseuse of the best type, but so 
intimately was she connected with all the 
later Gaiety productions that it would be 
unfair to pass over her without comment. 
Originally in a music-hall sketch with the 
Brothers Home, her dancing, slight as the 
opportunities were, attracted general notice, 
and she quickly found a place for herself 
in the realm of musical comedy. She ap- 
peared in " Blue Ey'd Susan " at the Prince 
of Wales', and afterwards in " Joan of Arc " 
at the Opera Comique. When this latter 
production was transferred to the Gaiety in 
1891, she went with it, and from that time was 
in all the Gaiety pieces until 1901, when she 
went to America with the " Casino Girl." On 
her return, she essayed business on her own 
account, and took a troupe of dancers with her 
round the " Halls " ; but for some time she had 
been in failing health, and she died, regretted 
by all who knew her, in the autumn of 1903. 



178 A History of Dancing. 

Miss Letty Lind came to the front by a 
lucky chance, and it was by the merest 
accident that we have her as a dancer at 
all. When she was still unknown to fame, 
in the days when she was a member of 
Mrs. Saker's company, she had a song given 
her in one of the plays. Her voice was, to 
say the least, never powerful, and she asked 
if she might do a dance instead. The result 
was magnificent, and from that time her 
career was marked out. She had small 
parts in the Gaiety productions, but in the 
second edition of " Cinderellen " she took 
up with great success the name-role, which 
had been created by Miss Kate James a few 
months before. From that time she took 
the leading part at Daly's and other theatres 
devoted to musical plays, and in whatever 
little dances she has had to do, has always 
shown herself a finished performer. 

Of the dancers of to-day, Miss Alice Leth- 
bridge is in many opinions far in advance of 
any other dancer on the stage, both in 
technique and grace, and it is she to whom 
future generations will look back, as those 
of the present do to Kate Vaughan. 



A History of Dancing. 179 

Learning the stage business and technical 
details (I was almost saying, " learning her 
art," but that was surely born in her) under 
Mr. John D'Auban, she commenced to study 
while yet a child, and her first engagement 
in the revival of " Rip Van Winkle " at the 
Comedy was a child's minor part, in which 
she had very little to do, though even then 
a solo dance as a little Dutch girl in wooden 
sabots caused a genuine applause, and had 
to be encored. 

Some years later, at the age of fourteen, 
she appeared in " The Commodore," taking 
up a part originally created by Miss Phyllis 
Broughton, and with this company she went 
to America, in a short-lived tour of seven 
weeks. Earlier in that year she had been 
engaged for the part of " Boboski " in the 
famous comic opera " Falka," an old favourite 
by that time, in which the chief singing part 
was undertaken by Herbert Sims Reeves, 
the son of the famous tenor, and when the 
piece reached the grand total of a thousand 
nights she played in the special performance 
of it given at the Comedy Theatre. 

But it was in the beautiful production of 



180 A History of Dancing. 

" Mynheer Jan " at the Comedy that as a 
dancer she first came to the front, and 
people began to know that somebody had 
at last arrived worthy of taking up the old 
traditions of the art. " Mynheer Jan " took 
the public fancy from the first, and the 
opening night saw this bright and tuneful 
piece firmly set on the path of success. The 
spectators were most enthusiastic, and their 
enthusiasm was perhaps raised to its highest 
pitch when in the second act a novel and 
difficult dance was brilliantly executed by 
this new danseuse. Storms of applause 
greeted her, and they would have encored 
her many times, but the strain and excite- 
ment proved too much for the young and 
then unknown girl, and she fainted while 
still on the stage. Next morning the papers 
were full of the new piece, and were un- 
animous in praise of her dancing, and she, 
like Byron, awoke to find herself famous. 
The leading theatrical critic wrote : " But 
the loudest applause heard throughout the 
three acts came of the Salterello dance, 
splendidly executed by Miss Alice Leth- 
bridge, in the second act. It * brought 



A History of Dancing. 181 

down the house,' it had to be repeated, and 
the delighted spectators clamoured for it 
a third time, and were only quieted when 
Mr. Harry Paulton announced that the 
clever young lady, overcome by her efforts 
and by the excitement of the occasion, had 
fainted in the wings." 

Following this well-deserved success, she 
attracted attention in " Carina " at the Opera 
Comique, and in " La Prima Donna " at the 
Avenue, in the cast of the latter piece Albert 
Chevalier, Harry Gratton and Joseph Tapley 
being also prominent names. Then came a 
provincial tour in the musical farce of 
11 Venus"; Harry Nicholls, Kitty Loftus, 
Agnes Delaporte, and the famous Belle 
Bilton (Lady Dunlo) filling a bill of excep- 
tional strength, and in this her dancing as 
" Euphrosyne " was one of the features of 
the performance. 

In " Joan of Arc " she appeared in two 
roles, as the Duchess d'Alencon in the first 
edition of the play at the Opera Comique, 
and as Catherine de Rochelle when, in the 
zenith of its success, it was transformed to 
the Gaiety. Other well-known dancers in 



182 3 History of Dancing. 

this play were Phyllis Broughton, Katie 
Seymour, and Willie Warde ; and in the 
"Era "account of the first night of "Joan 
of Arc " at the Gaiety special mention was 
made of the generally excellent dancing in 
this piece, and among other remarks was the 
following : " Miss Alice Lethbridge brought 
down the house by her dainty dancing as 
Catherine de Rochelle, and some very pretty 
saltatory exercises were introduced by Miss 
Katie Seymour, who, with Mr. Willie Warde, 
the " Bishop of Bovril," won great applause 
for a remarkable pas de deux in the second 
act." 

After a brief appearance in the succeeding 
Gaiety piece of " Cinderella," curtailed be- 
cause of the Australian engagement, she 
left England for that famous tour of the 
Gaiety Company to Australia and New 
Zealand, which, arranged for twenty weeks, 
extended to over sixty, and which then only 
returned on compulsion of other engage- 
ments at home. What a programme of 
" stars " that was : E. J. Lonnen, Marion 
Hood, Bert Haslem, Robert Court ridge, 
Alice Lethbridge, and other names which 



A History of Dancing. 183 

would make any manager's mouth water to 
mass together now. And how the colonial 
papers raved about her dancing ; indeed, 
she had many lucrative offers to remain out 
there simply as a teacher of the art, but she 
preferred to stay on in the profession, and 
so returned to England, and took up the part 
of Pepita in " Little Christopher Columbus." 

It was in this that she first invented that 
wonderful " waltz movement " that I have 
spoken of elsewhere, and it is in this play 
also that she and E. J. Lonnen dancea their 
" Marionette Dance," which was one of the 
biggest hits of the piece, and the popularity 
of which may be judged from the fact that 
it was so freely copied in contemporary and 
succeeding plays. 

Next followed a tour in South Africa, in 
a dancing sketch with E. J. Lonnen ; and 
on her return there was a big offer to go to 
Paris,, where, in the home of dancing, her 
art might have been appreciated even more 
than in England; but this she refused, 
preferring to remain on the English stage. 
Then came numerous theatrical engage- 
ments in the provinces ; and, in the inter- 



184 A History of Dancing. 

vening times, tours with the big productions 
of George Edwardes' musical comedies ; and 
dancing solos in " San Toy," " The Toreador," 
and " The Country Girl," are among her latest 
successes. 

Miss Lethbridge, as well as being one of 
the most graceful of dancers, is also one of 
the most vivacious, two things that are com- 
patible only in those who have a perfect 
mastery over the art, and, far from dancing 
with her feet only, she literally seems to 
dance all over, the quick movements of her 
arms, hands, and even her eyes, being all 
in perfect accord with the rhythm of the 
music. Sallust once blamed a woman for 
dancing too well ; what would he have said 
could he have seen her ! And with all this 
vivacity there is so much refinement in her 
dancing that her name has become typical 
for all that is best in the dancing of to-day. 

Her usual dances are, of course, waltzes 
and gavottes, as these lend themselves best 
to her style ; and among her chief per- 
formances have been the revolving waltz 
movement, her marionette dance, a wonder- 
ful " fire-dance " in a Christmas production 



A History of Dancing. 185 

at the Theatre Royal, Birmingham, and 
some very clever and beautifully executed 
" Shadow Dances," by means of reflected 
lights. 

Miss Topsy Sinden has by sheer hard 
work pluckily won for herself a permanent 
place in musical comedy, and has proved 
herself quite worthy of the position. Her 
first appearance was in one of Sir Augustus 
Harris' pantomimes at Covent Garden, after 
which she appeared in the musical extrava- 
ganza of "The Old Guard" at the Avenue 
in 1887. She then had small dancing parts 
in some of the Gaiety pieces, " Cinderella," 
4< Don Juan," etc. ; and in " In Town," at 
the Prince of Wales'. At the Prince of 
Wales' also she appeared in " The Gaiety 
Girl," and, coming to the front as a dancer, 
was transferred to Daly's, where she has 
had big parts since. 

Miss Mabel Love should, of all people, 
have excelled in the art, for she is the 
daughter of a former danseuse at the Gaiety. 
A pupil of Mr. D'Auban for dancing, and of 
Miss Carlotta Leclerq for gesture and the 
dramatic art, she had all that could be 






186 A History of Dancing. 



desired to help her, and it was not surprising 
when her dancing performances began to 
attract attention. She appeared in one or 
two pieces at the Gaiety, and then obtained 
two big parts at the Lyric, succeeding Miss 
St. Cyr and Miss Lethbridge in "La Cigale " 
and " Little Christopher Columbus " respec- 
tively. Since then she has appeared in 
several other musical plays, and has had a 
number of pantomime engagements ; but 
lately she has taken to the drama, and at 
the time of writing is appearing in " Sweet 
and Twenty " in the provinces. 

" Place aux dames," I find, has been my 
motto in this chapter, and up till now I 
have left the gentlemen severely alone. 
Perhaps this is because one is apt to forget 
that there are such things as male dancers, 
since so few men take up as a profession 
stage-dancing purely and simply. Nearly all 
of them combine with it either teaching or 
else singing and low-comedy business. But 
one cannot leave an account of the later 
dancers, without mentioning such names as 
John D'Auban, E. W. Royce, Willie Warde, 
and E. J. Lonnen. 



A History^ of Dancing. 187 

Mr. D'Auban has been for many years 
ballet-master and director of the dances at 
Drury Lane, besides* frequently taking a 
leading part in them himself. I remember 
seeing a particularly fine performance of his 
in a " dance of the savages " in one of the 
pantomimes there a few years back, and 
was much struck by his agility. Irrdeed, 
" Punch " once wrote a little verse about 
him, which went as follows : 

" Mr. Johnny D'Auban, 
He's so quick and nimble 
He'd dance on a thimble 
He's more like an elf than a man." 

But it is as a dancing master that his 
name is best known, and so famous have 
his pupils become that a certain type of 
dancing is now always known as that of the 
" D'Auban scfiool." Practically all the stage 
dancers I have mentioned in this chapter 
have been pupils of his, and among those 
whose fame has not been won by dancing 
the names of Mrs. Langtry, Miss Mary 
Anderson, a/id Mr. W. S. Gilbert, may be 
mentioned as having appeared on his books. 

The reminiscenced of Mr. E. W. Royce 



188 A History of Dancing. 

naturally extend back over a number of 
years, though he did not actually appear on 
the stage until after he had reached " years 
of discretion," as he had not been brought 
up with any thought of dancing as a profes- 
sion. His first appearance was at the old 
Lyceum in 1860 under Oscar Byrne in the 
'* Peep o' Day," and at that time, of course, 
the Italian Opera dancing was in full swing, 
and naturally his sympathies lie with the 
old-fashioned ballet. And from a male 
dancer's point of view, his advocacy of the 
ballet over the present stage dancing is un- 
doubtedly right, as it gave opportunities of 
dancing such as a man never gets on the 
stage to-day : but I must still repeat that 
for a woman the ballet was, to my mind, 
ungraceful and inartistic in the extreme. 

Referring to the dancers of former years, 
he has often told me that in his opinion the 
secret of their success was that they knew 
when to leave off. They executed their 
pirouettes, their entrechats, their arabesques, 
and then, before they had time to get stale in the 
eyes of the audience, they made their bow, 
and the dancing for the evening was finished. 






3 History of Dancing. 189 

But in those days the dancing was the 
feature of the performance, and the people 
were on the qui vive to watch for new steps, 
new movements ; and with the cheering 
knowledge that every single person in the 
audience was interested in one's perform- 
ance, it must have been an easier thing to 
be a dancer then than it is now. As a 
writer in one of the weekly papers recently 
wrote : " Then singing was not the sole 
attraction of the opera, for the great dan- 
cers had as great a following as the singers 
of to-day. In those times dancing was an 
art, and was studied affectionately. Its tradi- 
tions were respected and handed down." 

Mr. Royce's last appearance in the Italian 
Opera was under the management of Gyes 
in 1876, and later in the same year he went 
to the Gaiety to help form the famous 
" Quartette." 

From that time he became known as the 
greatest dancer in England, and, old as he 
now is, he might have been dancing yet had 
not he been stricken with paralysis in the 
height of his fame. The attack, though not 
severe, was sufficient to destroy any ideas 



190 A History of Dancing. 

of continuing on the stage as a dancer, and 
though he returned to the Gaiety in 1864, 
he found he was t unable to perform the 
movements which he had formerly executed 
with ease. He then turned his attention to 
the drama, and to the teaching of dancing, 
in both of which pursuits he has met with 
considerable success. He has had the train- 
ing of many now famous pupils, and on the 
stage his performance of the Miser (Shiel 
Barry's great part) in " Les Cloches de 
Corneville," has elicited the greatest praise. 

Mr. Willie Warde is a brother-in-law of 
Mr. D'Auban, which alone might certify to 
his knowledge of the art of dancing, but it is 
as composer of the ballets at the Gaiety that 
his name has become a great one in the danc- 
ing world. He himself, like most dancing 
masters, is also an expert dancer, and many 
of his performances at the Gaiety and the 
Empire will be remembered. 

Of the late E. J. Lonnen it is impossible to 
say too much, for though an actor rather 
than a dancer nor would he have ever 
termed himself a dancer his dancing powers 
were most marked. Directly he commenced 



3 History of Dancing. 191 

any dancing steps, whether merely as a break- 
down accompaniment to a song or as a pas 
seul pure and simple, one could see that he 
was a finished performer. Born and reared 
to the stage, he knew the ins and outs of the 
profession better than any other actor of his 
time, and having in addition an undoubted 
genius for acting, it is no wonder that he 
achieved the success he did. 

His first part in a musical play was in 
" Falka,'' at the Avenue, where his metier was 
quickly discovered, and from henceforward 
comic opera, or its later development, musical 
comedy, held him right up to the time of his 
death. The mere mention of such plays as 
" Miss Esmeralda," " Faust- up-to-date," and 
" Carmen-up-to-date," will at once recall him 
to whoever saw them, for whether in a minor 
part or in a leading one, his personality on the 
stage was sure to impress itself on the spec- 
tator ; while such songs as " Killaloe " or 
" The Bogie-man " have not quite died away 
yet, and the life of a comic song usually ends 
with the run of the piece. 

Other dancers who are also actors are 
Fred Wright, Junior ; Harry Grattan, equally 



192 A History of Dancing. 

clever with pen, pencil, dancing or acting; 
Bert Sinden, a brother of Topsy Sinden ; and 
that veritable genius, Fred Storey, whose 
magnificent acting of " Rip Van Winkle," is 
said to almost equal Jefferson at his best, 
whose scenic paintings for some of the big 
productions at " His Majesty's " and else- 
where are works of real art, and whose 
dancing, though eccentric, is skilful in the 
extreme. 

Lastly a word as to Eugene Stratton. 
This clever comedian is always regarded as 
an actor and comic singer, but few people 
realise that had he never sung a song or done 
any acting, he must still have made a name 
for himself as a dancer. His dancing is per- 
haps the most graceful of anyone now on 
the stage, and for lightness of movement he 
is unequalled. One seems unconsciously to 
listen for some slight sound of his footsteps 
on the boards, but they never make any, they 
are absolutely inaudible, and like the leaves 
fluttering down from the trees, they float 
about and finally settle without a sound. 



A History of Dancing. 



193 



With this account, scanty as it is, of those 
who have helped to make the history of 
dancing, I must say " finis " ; satisfied if, in 
bringing before you the dances of the past, I 
have also been able to show you what a 
beautiful thing good dancing still may be. 




194 A History of Dancing. 

LITERATURE. 

TabourePs Orchesographie. Said to have 
been written by a monk under an anagram. 
1589. 

Orchestra. A poem on dancing, by Sir John 
Davies. 1596. 

Chorography or Orchesography. The art of 
dancing notation. Re-written in 1700 by 
M. Feuillet and translated into English in 
1700 by Weaver. 1598. 

Des Ballets Ancient et Modernes. By Le 
Pere Menestrier. 1681. 

An Essay towards a History of Dancing. 
By Weaver. 1712. 

Pamphlets on Orchesography. By Sir John 
Gallini. 1726. 

Lettres sur La Danse et Les Ballets. By J. 
G. Noverre. 1760. 

La Dance, Ancienne et Moderne. By M. de 
Cahusac. 1754. 



3 History of Dancing. 195 

L,e Maitre a Danser. By Rameau. 1760, 
Le Triomphe de Grace. By Querlon. 1774. 

Code of Terpsichore. By Carlo Blasis, 1830, 
and a second series in 1847. 

A Book on Ball-room Dances. By M. 
Cellarius. 1894. 

The Theory of Theatrical Dancing. By 
Stewart D. Headlam. 1888. 

Also 
De Saltatione. By Lucian. 

De Arte Gymnastica. By Hieronymus 
Mercurialis. % 

Lettres sur les Arts Imitateurs. By Noverre ; 
and books on dancing by Edward Scott 
and M. Vuillier. 



196 



A History of Dancing. 



INDEX. 





PAGE 




PAGE. 


Albigenses 


22 


Fabula: Atcllamc 


37 


Alhambra 


111-112 


Fairies, Dancing of.... 


127 


" Almack's " 


146-150 


Fandango 


86 


Almetis 


29 


Fiji, Dances of 


24-75 


Astronomic Dance 


29 










"Gaiety Quartette," 




Bacchanalian Dances 


19 


the 


117 


Baltazarini 


98 


Gaiety Theatre 


118 


Batbyllos 


38 


Galop 


148 


Beau Nash 


139 


Galleotti, Vincenzo.... 


105 


Beauchamp 


136 


Gardel, Maximilian.... 


104-163 


Bergonzio di Bottn.... 


97 


Genee, Adeline 


113 


Bhils 


72 


German Waltzing 


147 


Blasis 


163 


Gleemen 


41 


Bolero 


86-87 


Grattan, Harry 


191 


Bournonville 


105-165 


Grey, Miss Sylvia 


124-176 


Byron 


145 


Guatemala, Bailc, the 


68 


Cachucha 


88-89 


Hart-Dyke,Miss Wini- 




Cake- Walk 


76 


fred 


125 


Camargo 


100-163 


Haye, the 


51 


Cellarius 


149 


Herodias' Daughter... 


32 


Cerito 


107 


Hornpipe 


79 


Chaucer 


42 






Children, Dancing of.. 


126 


Jig, the 


83 


Cicero 


114 






Clog-dancing 


130 


Kaffir Dancing 


73 


Cotillon 


154 


Karpeia 


34 


Cushion Dance 


52 


Kissing 


60 






" Kissing- Dance," the 


52 


David, Dancing of 


31 






D'Auban 


187 


Lanncr, Madame 


113 


De Medicis, Katherine 


98 


Lancers 


153 


Dervishes 


23 


LaVolta 


55 


Dionysia 


19 


Lethbridge, Miss Alice 


117-122 


Duvernay 


108 


Levy,MissFlorencel24 


,178-184 






Lind, Miss Letty 


124-178 


Egg Dance 


43 


Lonnen, E. J 


183-190 


Elsster 


109-169 


Louis XIV. & XV 


99-100 


Empire 


112 


Love, Miss Mabel 


125-185 


Etruscan Dances 


37 


Lucian 


129 


Eumcnidcs, Dance of 


35 


Lully 


99 



A History of Dancing. 



197 





PAOE. 




PAOE. 


Madagascar, Dancing 




St. Cyr, Miss Mimi.... 


124 


in 


24 


Salii, the 


21 


Maneros 


28 


Salle, Mademoiselle... 


100 


Masks, Dancing 


104 


Santal Dance 


67 


Masques 


56 


Saraband 


88 


Maypole, the 


44 


Scaliger 


22 


Mazurka 


153 


Seguidillas 


88 


Menestrier 


100 


Serpentine Dance 


130 


Minuet 


136 


Seymour, Miss Katie 


177 


Miriam, Dancing of.... 


30 


Sinden, Miss Tops}'.... 


125-185 


Morris, the 


46 


Sir Roger de Coverley 


156 


' Mummers," the 


41 


Socrates 


36 






Storey, Fred 


192 


Noverre 


103-160 


Strathspey 


82 






Stratton, Eugene 


192 


Osiris 


28 


Sword-Dance 


83 


Ovid 


121 






Pacific Islands, Dan- 




Taglioni 109-166, 
Tarantella 


167-168 
89 


cing of 
Pas de Quatre 
Passamezzo 


68 
155 
135 


Tasmania, Dancing in 
Terpsichore 
Terry, Edward 


74 
13 
119 


Pavane 


134 


Todas 


24 


Peruvian Dance 


66 






Phuiakians, Dance of 


32 


Vaughan, Miss Kate. 




Plato 


129 


118-120, 


170-173 


" Playford's Dancing- 




Veddahs, the 


23 


Master " 


158 


Vestris 


100-161 


Polka, the 


148 






Pylades 
Pyrrhic Dance 


38 
33 


Washington Post, the 
Wright, Fred 


126 
191 






Waldenses 


22 


euadrille 


143 


Waltz 


144-146 


uinault 


99 


Warde, Willie 


190 






Wedding Dances* 


51 


Reel, the 


81 


Willis' Rooms 


146 


Rock-Dancing 


130 






Roscius 
Roundel 


114 
50 


Xenophon 


36 


Royce, E. W 


117 






Russian Dances., 


91 


Yucatan, Dance of 


74 






I 

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