Monday, 26 January 2015

"a grand gala on Tuesday evening"

"There is to be a grand gala on Tuesday evening in Sydney Gardens, a concert, with illuminations and fireworks. To the latter Elizabeth and I look forward with pleasure, and even the concert will have more than its usual charm for me, as the gardens are large enough for me to get pretty well beyond the reach of its sound."

Jane Austen to Cassandra

Sunday, June 2, 1799

This is the advert for the concert to which Austen was referring so we can see the music and musicians she was seeking to evade.

The orchestra leader was David Richards the uncle and teacher of the young prodigy David Loder. Richards had resigned from his role as Director of the Nationally esteemed Norwich Theatre orchestra four years before to promote concerts in Bath to support his widowed sister and her family.

The Violincello player was almost certainly the younger brother of the famous astronomer and musician William Herschel and well established and accomplished musician in his own right.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Of the Step called Assemblé

"THIS step is occasionally performed in all the positions, but at present I shall only describe it as performed in the fifth position.

Place your feet in the fifth position, the body erect, (as already directed for the deportment), and the knee:; well turned outward; rest the body entirely on the leg that is before, taking care to balance yourself well on the haunch; this will disengage the leg that is behind; bend on the leg that is before, and at the same time raise the foot that is behind to the point, keeping the knee well turned outward; extend the knee of the leg that is behind, by sliding the foot on the point just to the second position, where it should arrive, the knee and instep extended, at the same moment you cease to bend on the other leg; then raise yourself on the point of the foot you stand upon, and at same time slide the foot from the second position, into the fifth position before, when both knees should be alike extended; gradually place the heels, keeping them well forward, that you may form the fifth position more easily; finish the step with both, knees straight. This step should be performed with both feet alternately.

To perform the Assemblé in the fifth position behind, observe the same -rule, disengaging the foot that is before, and entering it behind.

This step, as an exercise, gives steadiness, and the habit of bending and extending the knees and insteps."

Alexander Strathy 1822

Strathy was an Edinburgh dancing master who announced in an advert in the Caledonian Mercury of 24th September that he had just returned from Paris where he had acquired an additional variety steps tastefully arranged for the Quadrille.

Friday, 9 January 2015

The School Curriculum

As in these examples, most Georgian schools included dance in their programme of learning

And from nearly fifty years earlier in 1772

The dancing master referred to in the last advert was Francis Fleming in 1746 he  was a prominent local musician who had married Ann Roland had had a successful career as a dancer on the London stage.

From the time of her marriage to Fleming Ann Roland had been developing a career as a teacher of dance at some of the many private schools in the area and it appears that her husband supported her in this probably by providing music. Together they initiated annual benefit concerts and balls at the assembly rooms.

After his wife's death Fleming continued to provide dancing tuition periodically organising balls at Wiltshire's rooms to give his young scholars a chance of showing off their paces before their admiring parents and friends. He was supported in this by his daughters Anna and Kitty.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Dance in the 1820's

Thomas Wilson, a leading dancing master of the late Georgian period describes country dancing in his book The Complete System of Country Dancing published in 1820, the year George IV came to the throne, in the following terms:

“A COUNTRY DANCE, As it is named, is almost universally known as the national Dance of the English and as correctly known, is constructed on mathematical and other scientific principles, clearly displayed in its operative effect, when properly and, well performed.

It is formed of two principal features, viz. Figures and Steps, which for, the execution, government, and. display of their several movements and evolutions, are united with their indispensable auxiliary, music: but, independent of the, scientific structure of the Dance, there are secondary features, named Ornaments and Embellishments, and which are necessary to the performance of the Figures and• Steps to the music, as they apply and are connected with each• other in a graceful and easy manner.

The Figures, which form various evolutionary movements in circular, serpentine, angular, and straight lines. are formed into a variety of different lengths and require a variety of different steps or movements of the feet in their performance to music appropriately adapted thereto.”