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Title: A Treatise on the Art of Dancing
Author: Gallini, Giovanni-Andrea, 1728-1805
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Treatise on the Art of Dancing" ***

generously made available by the Library of Congress)

  [Transcriber's Note:
  Spelling and punctuation are unchanged. Exceptions are noted
  at the end of the text.]




                     on the




         By _Giovanni-Andrea Gallini_.


            Printed for the AUTHOR;
    And Sold by R. DODSLEY, in _Pall-Mall_;
 T. BECKET and P. A. DE HONDT, in the _Strand_;
      J. DIXWELL, in _St. Martin's-Lane_,
             near _Charing-Cross_;
     At Mr. BREMNER's Music Shop, opposite
       _Somerset-House_, in the _Strand_.




  _Of the Antient Dance_                                   p. 17

  _Of Dancing in General_                                     49

  _Of sundry Requisites for the Perfection
    of the Art of Dancing_                                    89

  _Some Thoughts on the Utility of Learning to Dance,
    and especially upon the Minuet_                          139

  _Summary Account of various Kinds of Dances
    in different Parts of the World_                         181

  _Of Pantomimes_                                            227


What I have here to say is rather in the nature of an apology
than of a preface or advertisement. The very title of a Treatise
upon the art of dancing by a dancing-master, implicitly
threatens so much either of the exageration of the profession,
or of the recommendation of himself, and most probably of both,
that it cannot be improper for me to bespeak the reader's
favorable precaution against so natural a prejudice. My
principal motive for hazarding this production is, indisputably,
gratitude. The approbation with which my endeavours to please in
the dances of my composition have been honored, inspired me with
no sentiment so strongly as that of desiring to prove to the
public, that sensibility of its favor; which, in an artist, is
more than a duty. It is even one of the means of obtaining its
favor, by its inspiring that aim at perfection, in order to the
deserving it, which is unknown to a merely mercenary spirit.
Under the influence of that sentiment, it occurred to me, that
it might not be unpleasing to the public to have a fair state of
the pretentions of this art to its encouragement, and even to
its esteem, laid before it, by a practitioner of this art. In
stating these pretentions, there is nothing I shall more avoid
than the enthusiasm arising from that vanity or self-conceit,
which leads people into the ridicule of over-rating the merit
or importance of their profession. I shall not, for example,
presume to recommend dancing as a virtue; but I may, without
presumption, represent it as one of the principal graces, and,
in the just light, of being employed in adorning and making
Virtue amiable, who is far from rejecting such assistence. In
the view of a genteel exercise, it strengthens the body; in the
view of a liberal accomplishment, it visibly diffuses a graceful
agility through it; in the view of a private or public
entertainment, it is not only a general instinct of nature,
expressing health and joy by nothing so strongly as by dancing;
but is susceptible withall of the most elegant collateral
embellishments of taste, from poetry, music, painting, and

One of the greatest and most admired institutors of youth, whose
fine taste has been allowed clear from the least tincture of
pedantry, Quintilian recommends especially the talent of
dancing, as conducive to the formation of orators; not, as he
very justly observes, that an orator should retain any thing
of the air of a dancing-master, in his motion or gesture; but
that the impression from the graces of that art should have
insensibly stoln into his manner, and fashioned it to please.

Even that austere critic, Scaliger, made the principles of it
so far his concern, that he was able personally to satisfy an
Emperor's curiosity, as to the nature and meaning of the Pirrhic
dance, by executing it before him.

All this I mention purely to obviate the prepossession of the
art being so frivolous, so unworthy of the attention of the
manly and grave, as it is vulgarly, or on a superficial view,
imagined. It is not high notions of it that I am so weak as to
aim at impressing; all that I wish is to give just ones: it
being perhaps as little eligible, for want of consideration, to
see less in this art than it really deserves, than, from a fond
partiality for it, to see more than there is in it.



                     on the

                ART of DANCING.

  _Of the ANTIENT Dance._

In most of the nations among the antients, dancing was not only
much practised, but constituted not even an inconsiderable part
of their religious rites and ceremonies. The accounts we have of
the sacred dances, of the Jews especially, as well as of other
nations, evidently attest it.

The Greeks, who probably took their first ideas of this art,
as they did of most others, from Egypt, where it was in great
esteem and practice, carried it up to a very high pitch. They
were in general, in their bodies, extremely well conformed, and
disposed for this exercise. Many of them piqued themselves on
rivalling, in excellence of execution, the most celebrated
masters of the art. That majestic air, so natural to them, while
they preserved their liberty, the delicacy of their taste, and
the cultivated agility of their limbs, all qualified them for
making an agreeable figure in this kind of entertainment.
Nothing could be more graceful than the motion of their arms.
They did not so much regard the nimbleness and capering with
the legs and feet, on which we lay so great a stress. Attitude,
grace, expression, were their principal object. They executed
scarce any thing in dancing, without special regard to that
expression which may be termed the life and soul of it.

Their steps and motions were all distinct, clear, and neat;
proceeding from a strength so suppled, as to give their joints
all the requisite flexibility and obedience to command.

They did not so much affect the moderately comic, or half
serious, as they did the great, the pompous, or heroic stile of
dance. They spared for no pains nor cost, towards the perfection
of their dances. The figures were exquisite. The least number of
the figurers were forty or fifty. Their dresses were magnificent
and in taste. Their decorations were sublime. A competent skill
in the theatrical, or actor's art, and a great one in that of
dancing, was necessary for being admitted into the number of
figurers. In short, every thing was in the highest order, and
very fit to prove the mistake of those who imagine that the
dances are, in operas for example, no more than a kind of
necessary expletive of the intervals of the acts, for the repose
of the singers.

The Greeks considered dancing in another point of light; all
their festivals and games, which were in greater number than
in other countries, were intermixed and heightened with dances
peculiarly composed in honor of their deities. From before
their altars, and from their places of worship, they were soon
introduced upon their theatres, to which they were undoubtedly
a prior invention. The strophe, antistrophe, and epode, were
nothing but certain measures performed by a chorus of dancers,
in harmony with the voice; certain movements in dancing
correspondent to the subject, which were all along considered
as a constitutive part of the performance. The dancing even
governed the measure of the stanzas; as the signification of the
words strophe and antistrophe, plainly imports, they might be
properly called danced himns. The truth is, that tragedy and
comedy, made also originally to be sung, but which, in process
of time, upon truer principles of nature, came to be acted and
declaimed, were but super-inductions to the choruses, of which,
in tragedy especially, the tragic-writers, could not well get
rid, as being part of the religious ceremony.

This solves, in a great measure, the seeming absurdity of their
interference with the subject of the drama: being deemed so
indispensable a part of the performance, that the scene itself
was hardly more so: consequently, there was no secret supposed
to be more violated by speaking before them, than before the
inanimate scene itself. But what was at least excusable, on this
footing, in the antients, would be an unpardonable absurdity in
the moderns.

Athenæus, who has left us an account of many of the antient
dances, as the _Mactrismus_, a dance entirely for the female
sex, the _Molossic_, the Persian _Sicinnis_, &c. observes, that
in the earliest ages of antiquity, dancing was esteemed an
exercise, not only not inconsistent with decency and gravity,
but practised by persons of the greatest worth and honor.
Socrates himself, learnt the art, when he was already advanced
in years.

Cautious as I am of using a false argument, I should say, that
the making dances a part of their religious ceremonies, was a
mark of their attributing even a degree of sanctity to them; but
that I am aware there were many things that found a place in
their festivals and games, which, among those heathens, were so
far from having any thing of sacred in them, that they did not
even show a respect for common decency or morality.

But as to dancing, it may be presumed, that that exercise was
considered as having nothing intrinsically in it, contrary to
purity of manners or chastity, since it made a considerable part
of the worship paid to the presiding goddess of that virtue,
Diana, in the festivals consecrated to her. Her altar was held
in the highest veneration by the antients. Temples of the
greatest magnificence were erected in honor of this goddess. Who
does not know the great Diana of Ephesus? The assemblies in her
temples were solemn, and at stated periods. None were admitted
but virgins of the most spotless character. They executed dances
before the altar, in honor of the deity, with a most graceful
decency; invoking her continual inspiration of pure thoughts,
and her protection of their chastity. Those of them, who
distinguished themselves above the rest, by superior graces of
performance, received rewards not only from the priestess of
Diana, but from their own parents. Nor were the young men but
curiously inquisitive, as to who particularly excelled on these
occasions. Distinction in these dances was a great incentive to
love, and produced many happy unions.

Such of these virgins as married, retained, in quality of wives,
such a veneration for this sort of worship, that they formed an
assembly of matrons, who on set days, performed much the same
devotion, imploring, in concert, of the goddess, a continuance
of her gifts, and of that spirit of purity, the fittest to make
them edifying examples of conjugal love and maternal tenderness.

Innocent amusements having been ever reputed allowable, and even
necessary expedients for relaxing both mind and body from the
fatigue of serious or robust occupations, Diana had her temples,
especially in countries proper for hunting, where the parents
used to resort with their children, and encouraged them to
partake of the diversions in which dancing had a principal

The antients have left us an unaccountable description of the
Bacchanalians, whose deportment forms a striking contrast to
the decent regularity observed in the worship of Diana. The
Bacchanalians strolled the country, and, in the course of that
vagabond scheme, erected temporary huts, their residence being
always short wherever they came. In their intoxication they
seemed to defy all decency and order; affecting noise, and
a kind of tumultuous, boisterous joy, in which there could
never be any true pleasure or harmony. They were, in the
licentiousness of their manners, a nuisance to society; which
they scandalized and disturbed by their riots, their mad
frolics, and even by their quarrels. Their heads and waists were
bound with ivy, and in their hands they brandished a thirsus, or
kind of lance, garnished with vine-leaves. When by any foulness
of weather they were driven into their huts, they passed their
time in a kind of noisy merriment, of shoutings and dithirambic
catches, accompanied by timpanums, by cymbals, by sistrums, and
other instruments, in which noise was more consulted than music,
and corresponded to the sort of time they kept to them, in the
frantic agitations of their Bacchic enthusiasm. The Corybantes
were called so from their disorderly dancing as they went along.

The Pirrhic dance differs not much from Plato's military dance.
The invention of it is most generally attributed to Pirrhus, son
of Achilles; at least this opinion is countenanced by Lucian, in
his treatise upon dancing; though it is most probably derived
from the Memphitic dance of Egypt. The manner of it was to dance
armed to the sound of instruments. Xenophon takes notice of
these dances in armour, especially among the Thracians, who were
so warlike a people. In their dance to music, they exhibited the
imitation of a battle. They executed various evolutions; they
seemed to wound each other mortally, some falling down as if
they had received their death-wound; while those who had given
the blow sung to the song of triumph, called _Sitalia_, and
then withdrew, leaving the rest to take up their seeming dead
comrade, and to make preparations for his mock-funeral, in the
pantomime stile of dance. He has also described the dance of the
Magnesians, in which they represented their tilling the ground,
in an attitude, and in readiness for defence, against expected
moroders. They put themselves in a posture of protecting their
plough, with other motions expressive of their resolution and
courage, all adapted to the sound of the flute. The moroders
arrive, prevail, and bind the husbandmen to their plough, and
this terminates the dance. Sometimes the dance varies, and the
husbandmen prevailing, bind the moroders.

The same author mentions also the Mysians who danced in armour,
and used a particular sort of _peltæ_ or targets, on which they
received the blows. In short, these armed dances had different
names bestowed upon them, according to the countries in which
they were used.

The Egyptians and Greeks were extravagantly expensive in their
public festivals, of which, dancing always constituted a
considerable part.

The Romans, among whom the more coarse and licentious dances
derived from the Hetruscans, had at first prevailed, came at
length to adopt the improvements of taste, and consequently of
decency and regularity; the festivals, of which dancing was to
compose the principal entertainment, were adapted to the season
of the year.

Every autumn, for example, it was a constant custom, for those
who could afford the expence, to build a magnificent saloon in
the midst of a delightful garden. This ball-room was decorated
in the most brilliant manner: At one end of the ball-room stood
a statue of Pomona, surrounded with a great number of baskets
made in the neatest manner, and full of all the finest fruits
that the season produced. These, with the statue, were placed
under a canopy hung round with clusters of real grapes and
vine-leaves, so artfully disposed as to appear of the natural
growth. These served to refresh both the eye and mouth. The
performers of the ball went up to this part of the saloon, in
couples, processionally, to avoid confusion. Each youth took
care to help his partner to what she liked best, and then
returned, in the same regular manner, to the other end of
the room, when they served what remained to the rest of the
spectators. After which the ball immediately began.

I was shown, by an Italian painter, a curious picture in his
possession, of the antients celebrating one of this kind of
festivals. The attitudes into which the figures were put, and
which appeared to have been drawn for the conclusion of the
ball, were beautiful beyond imagination.

In winter there were balls in the city of Rome; for which
the appropriated apartments were commodious; and where the
illuminations were so great, that notwithstanding the usual
rigor of that season, the room was sufficiently warm.

Round the room there were tables and stands, on which was placed
the desert; and there were generally twelve persons chosen to
distribute the refreshments, and do the honors of the ball. The
whole was conducted with the utmost decency and regularity,
while Rome preserved her respect for virtue and innocence of

By the best accounts procurable, their serious dances were
properly interspersed and inlivened with comic movements. Their
first steps were solemn and majestic, and, by couples they
turned under each other's arms; and when the whole thus turned
together, they could not but afford a pleasing sight. After
which they resumed the serious again, and so proceeded
alternately till they concluded the dance.

In the spring, the country became naturally the scene of their
dances. The best companies resorted, especially to such villages
as were noted for the most pure and salubrious springs of water.
If the weather was mild, they danced upon an open green; if not,
they formed a large covered pavilion, in the middle of which
they placed the statue of Flora, ornamented with flowers, round
which they performed their dances. First the youth, then those
of riper years; and lastly, those of a more advanced age. After
each of these divisions had danced separately, they all joined
and formed one great circle. The most distinguished for
excellence in the performing these dances, had for reward the
privilege of taking a flower, with great solemnity, from the
statue of the goddess. This was esteemed so high an honor, that
it is scarce imaginable how great an emulation this inspired; as
this privilege was to be obtained by the impartial determination
of the best judges.

Summer was however the season in which the pleasure of dancing
was carried to the highest pitch. For the scene of it, they
chose a shady and delightful part of a wood, where the sunshine
could not incommode them, and where care was taken to clear the
ground underfoot, for their performance. A young lady of the
most eminence for rank and beauty was chosen to personate the
goddess Ceres. Her dress was of an exquisite taste, ornamented
with tufts of gold, in imitation of wheat-sheaves: while her
head was decked with a kind of crown composed of spangles,
representing the ears of ripe corn, and perhaps, for the greater
simplicity, of the natural grain itself. Those who danced round
her, all wore wreaths of the choicest flowers, and were dressed
in white, with their hair flowing loose, in the stile of
wood-nimphs. On this occasion, there was always a great croud
of spectators; and the joy that appeared in each parent's eye,
when their daughters were applauded, made no small part of the
entertainment. As garlands, and wreaths of flowers composed the
principal ornament of the persons who performed in this dance,
such a respect was had for it by the people in general, that
they abstained from gathering any flowers, till after this
festival was over.

I have myself seen a drawing of this rural dance, in which I
counted no less than sixty performers.

The celebrated Pilades is mentioned to have been the great
improver of this dance. He excluded from it all jumping or
capering, for fear of violating or of disfiguring the graceful
regularity of the whole, which he considered as the most
essential towards preserving a pleasing effect.

Not less than two months were the usual time of preparation for
this dance, to which there was always a confluence of persons
from all the neighbouring parts. But none were allowed the
liberty of dancing, except persons of the first rank and
distinction in the country; the whole being regulated by some
person acting in quality of _choragus_, or director of the

The reign of Augustus Cæsar was undoubtedly the epoch, of the
establishment in Rome, of the art of dancing in its greatest
splendor. Cahusac, an ingenious French author, in his historical
treatise of this art, assigns to that emperor a deep political
design in giving it so great an encouragement as he undoubtedly
did; that of diverting the Romans from serious thoughts on the
loss of their liberty; especially in fomenting a dissention
among them, about so frivolous an object as the competition
between those two celebrated dancers, Pilades and Bathillus.
That something of this sort might be the design of that emperor,
is not to be doubted; but Cahusac, over-heated, perhaps, by his
subject, exagerates the importance of it beyond the bounds of
cool reason. So much however is true, that those two dancers
were extremely eminent in their art, and may be esteemed the
founders of that theatrical dancing, or pantomime execution, for
which it is not sufficient to be only a good dancer, but there
is also required the being a good actor; in both which lights,
these two artists were allowed to excel, Pilades in the serious
or tragic dance, Bathillus in the comic.

These also founded a kind of academies of dancing, which
produced several eminent artists, but none that ever equalled
themselves in performance or reputation. What history records
of them, and of their powers, as well as of that theatrical
pantomime dance, of which they were the introductors, in Rome,
would exceed belief, if it was not attested by such a number of
authors as leave no room to think it an imposition.

But as to dancing itself, either considered in a religious,
or in only an amusive light, it may be pronounced to have been
among the Romans, as old as Rome itself, and like that rude in
its beginnings, but to have received gradual improvement, as
fast as the other arts and sciences gained ground.

Processional dances were also much in vogue among that people.
They had especially an anniversary ceremony or procession,
called, from its pre-eminence, singly, POMPA, or the Pomp.

It was celebrated, in commemoration of a victory obtained over
the Latians, the news of which was said to have been brought by
Castor and Pollux, in person. This festival, was, at first,
consecrated to Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva. But it was afterwards
made more general, and celebrated in honor of all the Gods. This
procession was in the month of September. It began at the temple
of _Jupiter Capitolinus_, proceeded to the _Forum Romanum_, from
thence to the _Velabrum_, and afterwards to the _Grand Circus_.
You have in Onuphrius Panvinius, the order of this procession at
large, of which the directors were the chief magistrates of the
city: the sons of the nobility leading the van. Those of the
Equestrian order, whose fathers were worth a hundred and fifty
thousand sesterces, followed on horseback. It would be here
foreign from my purpose to give the whole description of this
procession, and of those who composed it. It is sufficient to
observe, that processional dancing constituted a considerable
part of it. The Pirrhic dance, executed to a martial air, called
the _Proceleumaticus_, employed the men of arms. These were
followed by persons who danced and leaped, in the manner of
Satirs, some of them in the dress ascribed to _Silenus_,
attended by performers on instruments adapted to that character
of dance. These made the comic part of the procession, and the
persons representing Satirs, took care to divert the people by
leaps, by a display of agility, and by odd uncouth attitudes,
such as were in the character they had assumed. There were also
in another part of the procession twelve _Salii_, or priests of
Mars, so called from their making sacred dances in honor of that
God, the most considerable part of their worship; these were
headed by their master or _Præsul_, the leader of the dance,
a term afterwards assumed by the Christian Prelates. There were
also the _Salian_ virgins, besides another division of the
_Salii_ called _Agonenses_ or _Collini_.

Nor is the processional dancing any thing surprizing; concerning
that among the heathens, and even among the Hebrews, they were
greatly in use. Who does not know that David's dancing before
the arch was but in consequence of its being one of the
religious ceremonies on that occasion?

The heathens used especially to form dances before their altars,
and round the statues of their gods. The _Salii_, or priests of
Mars, whose dances were so framed as to give an idea of military
exercise and activity, threw into their performance steps so
expressive and majestic, as not only to defend their motions and
gestures from any idea of levity and burlesque, which it is so
natural for the moderns to associate with that of dancing, but
even to inspire the beholders with respect and a religious awe.
The priests chosen for this function, were always persons of the
noblest aspect, suitable to the dignity of the sacerdotal
ministry. And so little needs that dignity of the heathen
ministry be thought to be wounded or violated by the act of
dancing, in religious worship, that dances were actually in use
among the primitive Christians, in their religious assemblies.
There was a place in their churches, especially allotted for
these consecrated dances, upon solemn festivals, which even
gave the name of _choir_ to those parts of the church now only
appropriated to the reading of the divine service, and to
singing. In Spain, it long remained an established custom for
Christians to assemble in the church-porches, where, in honor of
God, they sang sacred himns, and to the tunes of them, performed
dances, that were extremely pleasing, for the decent and
beautiful simplicity of the execution. All which I mention
purely to salve that inconsistence, of the levity of dancing
with the gravity of divine worship. An inconsistence of which
the antients had no idea; since, on that occasion, they almost
constantly joined dancing to singing.

They are both natural expressions of joy and festivity; and
as such they thought neither of them improper in an address of
gratulation to the deity, whom they supposed rather pleased at
such innocent oblations of the heart, exulting in his manifold
bounties and blessings.

From before the altar, among the heathens, the admission of
dances upon the theatre, was rather an extension of their power
to entertain, than a total change of their destination; since
the theatres themselves were dedicated to the worship _of the
heathen deities_, of which their making a part was one of the
principal objections of the primitive Christians to the theatres
themselves. However, it was from the theatres that dancing
received its great and capital improvement.

As an exercise, the virtue of dancing was well known to the
antients, for its keeping up the strength and agility of the
human body. There is a remark which I submit to the
consideration of the reader, that it is not impossible but
that the antient Romans, who were, generally speaking, low in
stature, and yet were eminently strong, owed that advantage to
their cultivation of bodily exercise. This kept their limbs
supple, and rendered their constitution stout and hardy. Now,
very laborious exercises would rather wear out the machine than
they would invigorate it, if there was not a due relaxation,
which should not, however, be too abrupt a transition from the
most fatiguing exercises to a state of absolute rest. Whereas
that dancing, of which they were so fond, afforded them, not
only a pleasing employ of vacant hours, but, withall, in its
keeping up the pliability of their limbs, made them find more
ease in the application of themselves to more athletic, or to
more violent exercises, either of war or of the chace: while all
together bred that firmness of their muscles, that robust
compactness and vigor of body, which enabled them to atchieve
that military valor, to which they owed all their conquests and
their glory.

Certain it is then, that among the Romans, even in the most
martial days of that republic, the art of dancing was taught, as
one of the points of accomplishment necessary to the education
of youth; and was even practised among the exercises of the
Circus. I need not observe, that there were also various abuses
of dancing, which they very justly accounted dishonorable to
those who practised them, whether in public or private. These,
in the degenerate days of Rome, grew to an enormous excess. But
I presume no one will judge of an art by the abuse that may be
made of it.



                   In General.

This is one of the arts, in which, as in all the rest, the study
of nature is especially to be recommended. She is an unerring
guide. She gives that harmony, that power of pleasing to the
productions of those who consult her, which such as neglect her
must never expect. They will furnish nothing but monsters and
discordances; or, at the best, but sometimes lucky hits, without
meaning or connexion.

All the imitative arts acknowledge this principle.

In Poetry, a happy choice of the most proper words for
expressing the sentiments and images drawn from the observation
of nature, constitutes the principal object of the poet.

In Painting, the disposition of the subject, the resemblance
of the coloring to that of the original, in short the greatest
possible adherence to nature, is the merit of that art.

In Music, that expression of the passions which should raise the
same in the hearer, whether of joy, affliction, tenderness, or
pity, can never have its effect without marking and adopting the
respective sounds of each passion as they are furnished by

In Dancing, the attitudes, gestures, and motions derive also
their principle from nature, whether they caracterise joy, rage,
or affection, in the bodily expression respectively appropriated
to the different affections of the soul. A consideration this,
which clearly proves the mistake of those, who imagine the art
of dancing solely confined to the legs, or even arms; whereas
the expression of it should be pantomimically diffused through
the whole body, the face especially included.

Monsieur Cahusac, in his ingenious treatise on this art, has
very justly observed, that both singing and dancing must have
existed from the primeval times; that is to say, from the first
of the existence of human-kind itself.

  "Observe, says he, the tender children, from their entry
  into the world, to the moment in which their reason unfolds
  itself, and you will see that it is primitive nature
  herself, that manifests herself in the sound of their,
  voice in the features of their face, in their looks, in
  all their motions. Mark their sudden paleness, their quick
  contortions, their piercing cries, when their soul is
  affected by a sensation of pain. Observe again, their
  engaging smile, their sparkling eyes, their rapid motions,
  when it is moved by a sentiment of pleasure. You will then
  be clearly persuaded of the principles of music and dancing
  proceeding from the beginning of the world down to us."

Certain it is, that even in children, the motions and gesture,
strongly paint nature; and their infantine graces are not
unworthy the remarks of an artist, who will be sure to find
excellence in no way more obtainable than by a rational study
of her, where she is the purest.

The cultivation of the natural graces, and a particular care
to shun all affectation, all caricature, unless in comic or
grotesque dances, cannot be too much recommended to those who
wish to make any figure in this art. It is doing a great
injustice to it, to place its excellence in capers, in brilliant
motions of the legs, or in the execution of difficult steps,
without meaning or significance, which require little more than
strength and agility.

I have already observed, that the Greeks, who were so famous for
this art, as indeed for most others, which is no wonder, since
all the arts have so acknowledged an affinity with each other,
studied especially grace and dignity in the execution of their
dances. That levity of capering, that nimbleness of the legs,
which we so much admire, held no rank in their opinion. They
were inconsistent with that clearness of expression, and
neatness of motion, of which they principally made a point. The
great beauty of movements, or steps, is, for every one of them
to be distinct; not huddled and running into one another, so as
that one should begin before the precedent one is finished. This
so necessary avoidance of puzzled or ambiguous motion, can only
be compassed by an attention to significance and justness of
action. This simplicity will arise from sensibility, from being
actuated by feelings. No one has more than one predominant
actual feeling at a time; when that is expressed clearly, the
effect is as sure as it is instantaneous. The movement it gives,
neither interferes with the immediately precedent, nor the
immediately following one, though it is prepared or introduced
by the one, and prepares or introduces the other.

This the Greeks could the better effectuate, from their
preference of the sublime, or serious stile; which, having so
much less of quickness or rapidity of execution, than the comic
dance, admits of more attention to the neat expressiveness of
every motion, gesture, attitude, or step.

As to the great nicety of the Greeks, in the ordering and
disposing their dances, I refer to what I have before said, for
its being to be observed, how much at present this art is fallen
short of their perfection in it, and how difficult it must be
for a composer of dances to produce them in that masterly manner
they were used to be performed among the antients. Let his
talent for invention or composition be never so rich or fertile,
it will be impossible for him to do it justice in the display,
unless he is seconded by performers well versed in the art, and
especially expert in giving the expression of their part in the
dance; not to mention the collateral aids of music, machinery,
and decoration, which it is so requisite to adapt to the

But where all these points so necessary are duly supplied, and
dancing is executed in all its brilliancy, it would be no longer
looked upon, especially at the Opera, as merely an expletive
between the acts, just to afford the singers a little breathing
time. The dances might recover their former lustre, and give the
public the same pleasure as to the Greeks and Romans, who made
of them one of their most favorite entertainments, and carried
them up to the highest pitch of taste and excellence.

The Romans seem to have followed the Greeks, in this passion
for dancing; and the theatrical dances, upon the pantomime plan,
were in Rome pushed to such a degree of perfection as is even
hard to conceive. Whole tragedies plaid, act by act, scene by
scene, in pantomime expression, give an idea of this art, very
different from that which is at present commonly received.

Every step in dancing has its name and value. But not one should
be employed in a vague unmeaning manner. All the movements
should be conformable to the expression required, and in harmony
with one another. The steps regular, and properly varied, with a
graceful suppleness in the limbs, a certain strength, address,
and agility; just positions exhibited with ease, delicacy, and
above all, with propriety, caracterise the masterly dancer, and
in their union, give to his execution its due beauty. The least
negligence, in any of these points, is immediately felt, and
detracts from the merit of the performance. Every step or motion
that is not natural, or has any thing of stiffness, constraint,
or affectation, is instinctively perceived by the spectator. The
body must constantly preserve its proper position, without the
least contortion, well adjusted to the steps; while the motion
of the arms, must be agreeable to that of the legs, and the head
to be in concert with the whole.

But in this observation I pretend to no more than just
furnishing a general idea of the requisites towards the
execution: the particulars, it is impossible, to give in verbal
description, or even by choregraphy or dances in score.

Many who pretend to understand the art of dancing, confound
motions of strength, with those of agility, mistaking strength
for slight, or slight for strength; tho' so different in their
nature. It is the spring of the body, in harmony with sense,
that gives the great power to please and surprize. The same it
is with the management of the arms; but all this requires both
the theory of the art, and the practice of it. One will hardly
suffice without the other; which makes excellence in it so rare.

The motion of the arms is as essential, at least, as that of
the legs, for an expressive attitude: and both receive their
justness from the nature of the passions they are meant to
express. The passions are the springs which must actuate the
machine, while a close observation of nature furnishes the art
of giving to those motions the grace of ease and expertness.
Any thing that, on the stage especially, has the air of being
forced, or improper, cannot fail of having a bad effect.
A frivolous, affected turn of the wrist, is surely no grace.

One of the most nice and difficult points of the art of dancing
is, certainly, the management and display of the arms; the
adapting their motion to the character of the dance. In this
many are too arbitrary in forming rules to themselves, without
consulting nature, which would not fail of suggesting to them
the justest movements. For want of this appropriation of
gesture and attitude, the movements fit for one character are
indistinctly employed in the representation of another. And into
this error those will be sure to fall, who deviate from the
unerring principles of nature; which has for every character an
appropriate strain of motion and gesture.

Nothing then has a worse effect, than any impropriety in the
management of the arms: it gives to the eye, the same pain that
discordance in music does to the ear.

There are some who move their arms with a tolerably natural
grace, without knowing the true rules rising out of nature into
art: but where the advantage of theory gives yet a greater
security, consequently a greater ease and a nobler freedom to
the motions of the performer; the performance cannot but meet
with fuller approbation. And yet it may be as bad to show too
much art, as to have too little. The point is to employ no more
of art than just what serves to grace nature, but never to hide
or obscure her.

Great is the difference between the antient and the modern
dances. The antient ones were full of sublime simplicity.
But that simplicity was far from excluding the delicate, the
graceful, and even the brilliant. The moderns are so accustomed
to those dances from which nature is banished, and false
refinements substituted in her room, that it is to be questioned
whether they would relish the returning in practice to the purer
principles of the art. Myself knowing better, and sensible that
the principles of nature are the only true ones, have been
sometimes forced to yield to the torrent of fashion, and to
adopt in practice those florishings of art, which in theory
I despised; and justly, for surely the plainest imitation of
nature must be the grounds from which alone the performance can
be carried up to any degree of excellence. It is with our art,
as in architecture, if the foundation is not right, the
superstructure will be wrong.

This primitive source then must be studied, known, and well
attended to; or we only follow the art blindly, and without
certainty. Thence the common indifference of so many performers,
who mind nothing more than a rote of the art, without tracing it
to its origin, nature.

To succeed, we must abandon the false taste, and embrace the
true; which is not only the best guide to perfection; but
when rendered familiar, by much the most easy and the most
delightful. It has all the advantages that truth has over

The greater the simplicity of steps in a dance, the more
beautiful it is; and requires the more attention in the
performer to exactness and delicacy; for slowness and neatness
being in the character of simplicity, afford the spectator both
leisure and distinctness for his examination: whereas dances of
intricate evolutions, or quick motions, in their confusion and
hurry, allow no clearness, or time for particular observation.

If the merit of a theatrical dancer were to consist, as many
imagine, in nothing but in the motions of the legs, in cutting
lively or brilliant capers, in surprizing steps, in the agility
of the body, in vigorous springs, in vaulting, in a tolerable
management of the arms, and especially in being well acquainted
with those parts of the stage where the perspective gives him
the greatest advantage; the art of dancing might be, as it is
generally looked upon to be, an art easily acquired. Whereas,
for the attaining to a just perfection in it, there are many
other points required, but none so much as the close imitation
of beautiful nature; and that especially in its greatest

Nor should it be imagined that the simplicity I recommend, tends
to save the composer of dances any trouble of invention: on the
contrary, that sort of simplicity of execution intended to
produce, by means of its adherence to nature, the greatest
effect, will cost him more pains, more exertion of genius,
than those dances of which the false brilliants of extravagant
decoration, and of mere agility without meaning or expression,
constitute the merit. It is with the composition of dances, as
with that of music, the plainest and the most striking, are ever
the most difficult to the composer.

The comic, or grottesque dancers, indeed are in possession of a
branch of this art, in which they are dispensed from exhibiting
the serious or pathetic; however, they may be otherwise as well
acquainted with the fundamental principles of the art, as the
best masters. But as their success depends chiefly on awakening
the risible faculty, they commonly chuse to throw their whole
powers of execution into those motions, gestures, grimaces, and
contortions, which are fittest to give pleasure by the raising
a laugh. And certainly this has its merit; but in no other
proportion to the truth of the art, which consists in moving
the nobler passions, than as farce is to tragedy or to genteel
comedy. They are in this art of dancing, what Hemskirk and
Teniers are in that of painting.

The painter, can only in his draught present one single unvaried
attitude in each personage that he paints: but it is the duty
of the dancer, to give, in his own person, a succession of
attitudes, all like those of the painter, taken from nature.

Thus a painter who should paint Orestes agitated by the furies,
can only give him one single expression of his countenance and
posture: but a dancer, charged with the representation of that
character, can, seconded by a well-adapted music, execute a
succession of motions and attitudes, that will more strongly and
surely with more liveliness, convey the idea of that character,
with all its transports of fury and disorder.

It was in this light, that the antients required the union of
the actor and of the dancer in the same person. They expected,
on the theatre especially, dances of character, that should
express to the eye the sensations of the soul: without which,
they considered it as nothing but an art that had left nature
behind it; a mere corpse without the animating spirit; or at the
best, carrying with it a character of falsity or tastelessness.
A thorough master of dancing, should, in every motion of every
limb, convey some meaning; or rather be all expression or
pantomime, to his very fingers ends.

How many requisites must concur to form an accomplished
possession of this talent! It is not enough that the head should
play on the shoulders with all the grace of a fine connection;
nor that his countenance should be enlivened with significance
and expression; that his eyes should give forth the just
language of the passions belonging to the character he
represents; that his shoulders have the easy fall they ought to
have; let even the motions of his arms be true; let his elbows
and wrists have that delicate turn of which the grace is so
sensible; let the movement of the whole person be free, genteel,
and easy; let the attitudes of the bending turn be agreeable;
his chest be neither too full nor too narrow; his sides clean
made, strong, and well turned; his knees well articulated, and
supple; his legs neither too large, nor too small, but finely
formed; his instep furnished with the strength necessary to
execute and maintain the springs he makes; his feet in just
proportion to the support of the whole frame; all these,
accompanied with a regularity of motion; and yet all these,
however essential, constitute but a small part of the talent.
Towards the perfection of it, there is yet more, much more
required, in that sensibility of soul, which has in it so much
more of the gift of nature, than of the acquisition of art; and
is perhaps in this, what it is in most other arts and sciences,
if not genius itself, an indispensable foundation of genius.
There is no executing well with the body, what is not duly
felt by the soul: sentiment gives life to the execution, and
propriety to the looks, motions and gestures.

Those who would make any considerable progress in this art,
should, above all things, study justness of action. They cannot
therefore too closely attend to the representation of nature,
either upon the stage, or in life. I cannot too often repeat it;
those who keep most the great original, Nature, in view, will
ever be the greatest masters of this art.

As to the different characters of dances, there are, properly
speaking, four divisions of the characters of dances: the
serious, the half serious, the comic, and the grottesque; but
for executing any of them with grace, the artist should be well
grounded in the principles of the serious dance, which will give
him what may be called a delicacy of manner in all the rest.

But as one of these divisions may be more adapted to the humor,
genius, or powers of an artist, than another, he should, if he
aims at excellence, examine carefully for which it is that he is
the most fit.

After determining which, whatever imperfections he may have from
nature, he must set about correcting, as well as he can, by art.
Nothing will hardly be found impossible for him to subdue, by an
unshaken resolution, and an intense application.

Happy indeed is that artist, in whom both the requisites of
nature and art are united: but where the first is not grossly
deficient, it may be supplemented by the second. However well a
beginner may be qualified for this profession by nature, if he
does not cultivate the talent duly, he will be surpassed by
another, inferior to him in natural endowments, but who shall
have taken pains to acquire what was wanting to him, or to
improve where deficient. The experience of all ages attests

The helps of a lively imagination, joined to great and assiduous
practice, carry the art to the highest perfection. But practice
will give no eminent distinction without study. Whoever shall
flatter himself with forming himself by practice alone, without
the true principles and sufficient grounds of the art, can only
proceed upon a rote of tradition, which may appear infallible
to him. But this adoption of unexamined rules, and this plodding
on in a beaten track, will never lead to any thing great or
eminent. It carries with it always something of the stiffness
of a copy, without any thing of the graceful boldness of
originality, or of the strokes of genius.

Vanity should never mislead a man in the judgment he forms
of his own talents: much less should an artist resort to the
meanness of depending in the support of cabals: it must be the
general approbation that must seal his patent of merit.

I have before observed that the grave or serious stile of
dancing, is the great ground-work of the art. It is also the
most difficult. Firmness of step, a graceful and regular motion
of all the parts, suppleness, easy bendings and risings, the
whole accompanied with a good air, and managed with the greatest
ease of expertness and dexterity, constitute the merit of this
kind of dancing. The soul itself should be seen in every motion
of the body, and express something naturally noble, and even
heroic. Every step should have its beauty.

The painter draws, or ought to draw his copy, the actor his
action, and the statuary his model, all from the truth of
nature. They are all respectively professors of imitative arts;
and the dancer may well presume to take rank among them, since
the imitation of nature is not less his duty than theirs; with
this difference, that they have some advantages of which the
dancer is destitute. The Painter has time to settle and correct
his attitudes, but the dancer must be exactly bound to the time
of the music. The actor has the assistance of speech, and the
statuary has all the time requisite to model his work. The
dancer's effect is not only that of a moment, but he must every
moment represent a succession of motions and attitudes, adapted
to his character, whether his subject be heroic or pastoral, or
in whatever kind of dancing he exhibits himself. He is by the
expressiveness of his dumb show to supplement the want of
speech, and that with clearness; that whatever he aims at
representing may be instantaneously apprehended by the
spectator, who must not be perplexed with hammering out to
himself the meaning of one step, while the dancer shall have
already begun another.

In the half-serious stile we observe vigor, lightness, agility,
brilliant springs, with a steadiness and command of the body.
It is the best kind of dancing for expressing the more general
theatrical subjects. It also pleases more generally.

The grand pathetic of the serious stile of dancing is not what
every one enters into. But all are pleased with a brilliant
execution, in the quick motion of the legs, and the high springs
of the body. A pastoral dance, represented in all the pantomime
art, will be commonly preferred to the more serious stile,
though this last requires doubtless the greatest excellence:
but it is an excellence of which few but the connoisseurs are
judges; who are rarely numerous enough to encourage the composer
of dances to form them entirely in that stile. All that he can
do is to take a great part of his attitudes from the serious
stile, but to give them another turn and air in the composition;
that he may avoid confounding the two different stiles of
serious and half-serious. For this last, it is impossible to
have too much agility and briskness.

The comic dancer is not tied up to the same rules or
observations as are necessary to the serious and half serious
stiles. He is not so much obliged to study what may be called
nature in high life. The rural sports, and exercises; the
gestures of various mechanics or artificers will supply him with
ideas for the execution of charracters in this branch. The more
his motions, steps, and attitudes are taken from nature, the
more they will be sure to please.

The comic dance has for object the exciting mirth; whereas,
on the contrary, the serious stile aims more at soothing and
captivating by the harmony and justness of its movements; by the
grace and dignity of its steps; by the pathos of the execution.

The comic stile, however its aim may be laughter, requires
taste, delicacy, and invention; and that the mirth it creates
should not even be without wit. This depends not only upon the
execution, but on the choice of the subject. It is not enough to
value oneself upon a close imitation of nature, if the subject
chosen for imitation is not worth imitating, or improper to
represent; that is to say, either trivial, indifferent,
consequently uninteresting; or disgustful and unpleasing.
The one tires, the other shocks. Even in the lowest classes of
life, the composer must seize only what is the fittest to give
satisfaction; and omit whatever can excite disagreeable ideas.
It is from the animal joy of mechanics or peasants in their
cessations from labor, or from their celebration of festivals,
that the artist will select his matter of composition; not from
any circumstances of unjoyous poverty or loathsome distress. He
must cull the flowers of life, not present the roots with the
soil and dirt sticking to them.

Even contrasting characters, which are so seldom attempted on
the stage, in theatrical dances, might not have a bad effect;
whereas most of the figures in them are simmetrically coupled.
Of the first I once saw in Germany a striking instance; an
instance that served to confirm that affinity between the arts
which renders them so serviceable to one another.

Passing through the Electorate of Cologne, I observed a number
of persons of all ages, assembled on a convenient spot, and
disposed, in couples, in order for dancing; but so odly paired
that the most ugly old man, had for his partner the most
beautiful and youngest girl in the company, while, on the
contrary, the most decrepid, deformed old woman, was led by the
most handsome and vigorous youth. Inquiring the reason of so
strange a groupe of figures, I was told that it was the humor of
an eminent painter, who was preparing a picture for the gallery
at Dusseldorp, the subject of which was to be this contrast; and
that in order to take his draught from nature, he had given a
treat to this rustic company, in the design of exhibiting at one
view, the floridness of youth contrasted to the weakness and
infirmities of old age, in a moral light, of exposing the
impropriety of those matches, in which the objection of a
disparity of years should not be duly respected.

I have mentioned this purely to point out a new resource
of invention, that may throw a pleasing variety into the
composition of dances; and save them from too constant a
simmetry, or uniformity, either of dress or figure, in the
pairing the dancers: by which I am as far from meaning that that
simmetry should be always neglected, as that it should be always

The comic dance, having then the diversion of the spectator,
in the way of laughing, for its object, should preserve a
moderately buffoon simplicity, and the dancer, aided by a
natural genius, but especially by throwing as much nature as
possible into his execution, may promise himself to amuse and
please the spectator; even though he should not be very deep in
the grounds of his art; provided he has a good ear, and some
pretty or brilliant steps to vary the dance. The spectators
require no more.

As to the grotesque stile of dance, the effect of it chiefly
depends on the leaps and height of the springs. There is more of
bodily strength required in it than even of agility and flight.
It is more calculated to surprize the eye, then to entertain it.
It has something of the tumbler's, or wire-dancer's merit of
difficulty and danger, rather than of art. But the worst of it
is, that this vigor and agility last no longer than the season
of youth, or rather decrease in proportion as age advances, and,
by this means, leave those who have trusted solely to that vigor
and agility deprived of their essential merit. Whereas such as
shall have joined to that vigor and agility, a proper study of
the principles of their art; that talent will still remain as a
resource for them. Commonly those dancers who have from nature
eminently those gifts which enable them to shine in the
grottesque branch, do not chuse to give themselves the trouble
of going to the bottom of their art, and acquiring its
perfection. Content with their bodily powers, and with the
applause their performances actually do receive from the public,
they look no further, and remain in ignorance of the rest of
their duty. Against this dissipation then, which keeps them
always superficial, they cannot be too much, for their own
advantage, admonished.

They will not otherwise get at the truth of their art, like him
who qualifies himself for making a figure in the serious, and
half-serious stiles, which also contribute to diffuse a grace
over every other kind of dancing, however different from them.

But though the grotesque may be a caricature of nature, it is
never to lose sight of it. It must ever bear a due relation to
the objects of which it attempts to exhibit the imitation,
however exagerated. But in this it is for genius to direct the
artist. And it is very certain that this kind of dancing, well
executed, affords to the public, great entertainment in the way,
if what may be called broad mirth; especially where the figure
of the grotesque dancer, his gestures, dress, and the
decorations, all contribute to the creation of the laugh. He
must also avoid any thing studied or affected in his action.
Every thing must appear as natural as possible, even amidst the
grimaces, contortions, and extravagancies of the character.


               SUNDRY REQUISITES,


               PERFECTION OF THE




I have already observed how necessary it is that all the steps,
in the theatrical dances, which have imitation for their object,
should be intelligible at the first glance of the eye. This
cannot be too much inculcated. The passions and manners of
mankind, have all a different expression, which cannot be
presented too plain, and too obvious. The adjustment of the
motions to the character must be observed through every stile of
dancing, the serious, the half-serious, the comic, and the
grotesque. The various beauties of these different kinds of
dances, all center in the propriety or truth of nature. Looks,
movements, attitudes, gestures, should in the dancer, all
have an appropriate meaning; so plainly expressed as to be
instantaneously understood by the spectator, without giving him
the trouble of unriddling them: otherwise, it is like talking to
them in a foreign language for which an interpretor is needed.

But to give a sentiment, a man must have it first: where a
pathetic sentiment is well possessed of the mind, the expression
of it is diffused over the whole body.

The theatre shows to advantage a well proportioned dancer.
A tall person appears the more majestic on it; but those of a
middling stature are more generally fit for every character;
and may make up in gracefulness what they want in size. The
remarkably tall commonly want the graces to be seen in those of
the more general standard.

A young dancer who displays a dawn of genius, cannot be too much
exhorted to deliver himself up to the power of nature; so that
acquiring a particular manner of his own, he may himself proceed
on original. If he would hope to arrive at any eminence in the
art, he must break the shackles of a servile imitation, and
preserve nothing but the principles and grounds of his art,
which will be so far from fettering him, that they will assist
his soaring upon the wings of his own genius.

Where a dancer undertakes to represent a subject on the theatre,
he must ground his plan of performance on the selecting all the
most proper situations for furnishing the most strikingly
pictures, prospects, and consequently, producing the greatest

This was doubtless the great secret of Pilades, the founder, at
least in Rome, of the pantomime art. It was on this choice of
situations, that the understanding whole pieces, both tragic and
comic, executed in dances, entirely depends.

And here, upon mentioning the pantomime art, be it allowed me
to defend it against the objections made to it, by those who
consider it only under a partial or vulgar point of view.

If any one should pretend that the pantomime art is superior to
the actor's power of representation in tragedy or comedy, or
that such an entertainment of dumb show ought to exclude that of
speaking characters; nothing could be more ridiculous or absurd
than such a proposition.

That indeed would be rejecting one of the most noble
improvements of nature, in favor of an art rather calculated for
the relaxation of the mind than for the instruction of it; in
which it can only claim a subordinate share.

Those subjects, whether serious or comic, which are executed by
dances, or in the pantomime strain, are chiefly intended for the
throwing a variety into theatrical entertainments, without
disputing any honors of rank.

The very same person who shall have at one time, taken pleasure
in seeing and hearing the noble and pathetic sentiments of
tragedy, or the ridicule of human follies in a good comedy,
finely represented, may, without any sort of inconsistence, not
be displeased at seeing, at another time, a subject executed in
dances, while the music, the decorations, all contribute to the
happy diversification of his entertainment. Ought he therefore
either to call his own taste to an account for his being
pleased, or to grudge to others a pleasure, which nature itself
justifies, in his having given to mankind a love of variety?

Nor is there perhaps, in the world, an art more the genuine
offspring of Nature, more under her immediate command, than
the art of dancing. For to say nothing of that dancing, which
has no relation to the theatre, and which is her principal
demonstrations of joy and festivity, the theatrical branch
acknowledges her for its great and capital guide. All the
motions, all the gestures, all the attitudes, all the looks, can
have no merit, but in their faithful imitation of Nature: while
man himself, man, the noblest of her productions, is ever the
subject which the dancer paints through all his passions and

The painter presents man in one fixed attitude, with no more of
life than the draught and colors can give to his figure: the
dancer exhibits him in a succession of attitudes, and, instead
of painting with the brush, paints, surely more to the life,
with his own person. A dance in action, is not only a moving
picture, but an animated one: while to the eloquence of the
tongue, it substitutes that of the whole body.

The art, viewed in this light, shows how comparatively little
the merely mechanical part of it, the agility of the legs and
body, contributes to the accomplishment of the dancer; however
necessary that also is. We might soon form a dancer, if the art
consisted only in his being taught to shake his legs in cadence,
to ballance his body, or to move his arms unmeaningly. But if he
has not a genius, susceptible of cultivation, and which is
itself far the most essential gift, he will make no progress
towards the desirable distinction: he is a body without a soul:
his performance will have more of the poppet moved by wires,
than of the actor giving that life to the character, which
himself receives from the sensibility of genius.

There are many young beginners, who, looking on this art as a
good way of livelihood, enter on the rudiments of it, with great
ardor. But this ardor soon abates, in proportion, as they
advance, and find there is more study and pains required from
them than they expected to find, towards their arrival at any
tolerable degree of perfection. Having considered this art as
purely a mechanical one, they are surprised at the discovery of
its exacting thought and reflection, for which their ideas of it
had not prepared them. A man who has not sufficient share of
genius to attempt the vanquishing these difficulties, of which,
in his false conception of things, he has formed to himself no
notion; either treats these great essentials of the art, as
innovations, and such as he is not bound to admit, or in the
despair of acquiring them, sits down contented with his
mediocrity. It is well if he does not rail at, or attempt to
turn into ridicule, perfections which are beyond his reach. And
to say the truth, the art has not greater enemies than those
professors of it, who stick at the surface, and want the spirit
necessary to go to the bottom of it. In vain does the public
refuse its applause to their indifferent, ordinary,
uninteresting performance: rather than allow the fault to be in
themselves, their vanity will lay it on the public: they never
refuse themselves that approbation which others can see no
reason for bestowing on them. They are perfectly satisfied with
having executed in their little manner, the little they know or
are capable of; they have no idea of any thing beyond their
short reach.

Certainly the best season of life, for the study of this art,
is, as for that of most others, for obvious reasons, the time of
one's youth. It is the best time of laying the foundation both
of theory and practice.

But the theory should especially be attended to, without however
neglecting the practice. For though a dancer, by an assiduous
practice, may, at the first unexamining glance, appear as well
in the eyes of the public, as he who possesses the rules; the
illusion will not be lasting; it will soon be dissipated,
especially where there is present an object of comparison. He
whose motions are dirrected only by rote and custom, will soon
be discovered essentially inferior to him whose practice is
governed by a knowledge of the principles of his art.

A master does not do his duty by his pupil, in this art, if he
fails of strongly inculcating to him the necessity of studying
those principles; and of kindling in him that ardor for
attaining to excellence, which if it is not itself genius, it
is certain that no genius will do much without it.

Invention is also as much a requisite in our art as in any
other. But to save the pains of study, we often borrow and copy
from one another. Indolence is the bane of our art. The trouble
of thinking necessary to the invention and composition of
dances, appears to many too great a fatigue: this engages them
to appropriate to themselves the fruits of other peoples
invention; and they appear to themselves well provided at a
small expence, when they have made free with the productions of
others. Some again, instead of cultivating their talent, chuse
indolently to follow the great torrent of the fashion, and stick
to the old tracks, without daring to strike out any thing new,
so that their prejudices are, in fact, the principles by which
they are governed, and which sometimes serves them for their
excuse; since they know better, but do not care to give
themselves the trouble of acting up to their knowledge. Thus
they plod in the safe, and broad road of mediocrity, but without
any reputation or name. They are neither envied nor applauded.

As for those who borrow from others, content with being copies,
when they ought to strive to be originals; nothing can more
obstruct their progress in the discoveries of the depths of
their art, than this scheme of subsisting on the merit of

Many, besides those who are incapable of invention, are tempted
at once by their indolence, and by the hope of not being
discovered or minded in their borrowing from others, to give
stale or hackneyed compositions, which having seen in one
country, they flatter themselves they may palm for new and
original upon the public in another. Thence it is that the
audience is cloyed with repetitions of pantomime dances; perhaps
some of them very pretty at their first appearance, but which
cannot fail of tiring when too often repeated; or when the same
grounds or subject of action is only superficially or slightly

It is this barrenness of invention that the ingenious Goldoni
has so well exposed in one of his plays, in the following
speech, addressed to a young man.

  "[*] For example, you, as the female dancer will come upon
  the stage, with a distaff, twirling it, or with a pail to
  draw water; or with a spade for digging. Your companion will
  come next perhaps driving a wheel-barrow, or with a sickle
  to mow corn, or with a pipe a-smoaking; and though the scene
  should be a saloon, no matter, it will come soon to be
  filled with rustics or sailors. Your companion to be sure
  will not have seen you, at first; that is the rule; upon
  which you will make up to him, and he will send you a
  packing. You will tap him on the shoulder with one hand,
  and he will give a spring from you to the other side of the
  stage. You will run after him; he, on his part will scamper
  away from you, and you will take pet at it. When he sees you
  angry, he will take it into his head to make peace; he will
  sue to you, and you in your turn will send him about his
  business. You will run from him, and he after you. He will
  be down on his knees to you; peace will be made; then,
  shaking your footsies, you will invite him to dance. He also
  will answer you with his feet, as much as to say, come, let
  us dance."

  "Then handing you backwards to the top of the stage, you
  will begin gaily a _Pas-de-deux_, or Duet dance. The first
  part will be lively, the second grave; the third a jig. You
  will have taken care to procure six or seven of the best
  airs for a dance, put together, that can be imagined. You
  will execute all the steps that you are mistress of; and let
  your character in the Pas-de-deux, be that of a country
  wench, a gardener's servant, a granadier's trull, or a
  statue; the steps will be always the same; and the same
  actions for ever repeated; such as running after one
  another, dodging, crying, falling in a passion, making peace
  again, bringing the arms over the head, jumping in and out
  of time, shaking legs and arms, the head, the body, the
  shoulders, and especially smirking and ogling round you; not
  forgetting gentle inflexions of the neck, as you pass close
  under the lights, nor to make pretty faces to the audience,
  and then, hey for a fine curtesy at the end of the dance!"

    [Footnote *: Per esempio vendra fora la ballerina, colla
    rocca, filando, ò con un secchio à trar l'acqua, ò con una
    zappa à zappar. El vostro compagno vendra fora ò colla
    cariola à portar qualche cosa, ò colla falce à tagliar il
    grano, ò colla pipa a fumar, e si ben, che la scena fosse
    una sala, tanto e tanto, se vien a far da contadini ò da
    marinari. El vostro compagno non vi vedra: voi andarete a
    cercarlo, e el vi scacciera via. Gli batterete una man su
    la spalla, ed el con un salto anderà dall'altra banda. Voi
    gli correrete dietro, lui se scampera, e voi anderete in
    collera. Quando voi sarete in collera, a lui le vendra la
    voglia di far pace, e lui vi preghera, voi lo scacciarete.
    Scamparete via, e lui vi correra dietro. El se
    inginocchiera, farete pace, voi, menando I pedini,
    l'invitarete a ballar: anche ello, menando I piedi,
    a segni dira, "balliamo," e tirandovi indietro
    allegramente cominciarete el _Pas-de-deux_. La prima parte
    allegra, la segonda grave, la terza una giga. Procurarete
    di cacciargli dentro sei o sette delle migliori arie di
    ballo che s'abbiano sentito; farete tutti i passi che
    sapete fare, e che sia il _Pas-de-deux_ o da paesana, o da
    giardinera, o da Granatiera, o da statue, i passi saranno
    sempre gli istessi, correrse dietro, scampar, pianger,
    andar in collera, far pace, tirar i bracci sopra la testa,
    saltar in tempo e fora di tempo, menar gli bracci, e le
    gambe, e la testa, e la vita, e le spalle, e sopra tutto
    rider sempre col popolo, e storcer un pochetto il collo
    quando si passa prossimo i lumi, e fare delle belle
    smorfie all udienza, e una bella riverenza in ultima.]

Nothing however would more obstruct the progress of this art,
than thus contenting one self with adopting the productions
of others. It even would, in the disgust which repetition
occasions, bring on the decline of this entertainment, in the
opinion of a public which is always fond of novelty.

And of novelty, the beauties of nature furnish an inexhaustible
fund, in their infinite variety. Among these it is the business
of the artist to chuse such as can be brought upon the scene,
and theatrically adapted to the execution of his art. But for
this he must be possessed of taste, which is a qualification as
necessary to him, as a composer, as that of the graces are to
him as a performer. Both are gifts. But if a due exercise of
the art can add to the natural graces, taste does not stand
less in need of cultivation: it refines itself by a judicious
observation of the beauties and delicacies of nature. These he
must incessantly study, in order to transplant into his art such
as are capable of producing the most pleasing effect. He must
particularly consult the fitness of time, place and manners;
otherwise what would please in one dance might displease in
another. Propriety is the great rule of this art, as of all
others. A discordance in music hurts a nice ear; a false
attitude or motion in dancing equally offends the judicious eye.

The looks of the dancer are far from insignificant to the
character he is representing. Their expression should be
strictly conformable to his subject. The eye especially should
speak. Thence it is that the Italian custom of dancing with
uncovered faces, cannot but be more advantageous than that of
dancing masked, as is commonly done in France; when the passions
can never be so well represented as by the changes of
expression, which the dancer should throw into his countenance.

And it is by these changes of countenance, as well as of
attitude and gesture, that the dancer can express the gradations
of the passions; whereas the painter is confined intirely to one
passion, that of the particular moment in which he will have
chosen to draw a character. For example, a painter, who means to
represent a country-maid, under the influence of the passion of
love, can only aim at expressing some particular degree of that
passion, suitable to the circumstances of the rest of his
picture, or to the situation in which he shall have placed her.
But a dancer may successively represent all the gradations of
love; such as surprize at first sight, admiration, timidity,
perplexity, agitation, languor, desire, ardor, eagerness,
impatience, tumultous transports, with all the external simptoms
of that passion. All these may be executed in the most lively
manner, in time and cadence, to a correspondent music or
simphany. And so of all the other passions, whether of fear,
revenge, joy, hatred, which have all their subdivisions
expressible, by the quick shift and succession of steps,
gestures, attitudes, and looks, respectively adapted to each

A mask then cannot but hide a great part of the necessary
expression, or justness of action. It can only be favorable to
those who have contracted ill habits of grimacing or of
contortions of the face while they perform.

There are however some characters in which a mask is even
necessary: but then great care should be taken to model and fit
it as exactly as possible to the face, as well as to have it
perfectly natural to the character represented. The French are
particularly, and not without reason, curious in this point.

The female dancers have naturally a greater ease of expression
than the men. More pliable in their limbs, with more sensibility
in the delicacy of their frame; all their motions and actions
are more tenderly pathetic, more interesting than in our sex. We
are besides prepossessed in their favor, and less disposed to
remark or cavil at their faults. While on the other hand, that
so natural desire they have of pleasing, independently of their
profession, makes them studiously avoid any motion or gesture
that might be disagreeable, and consequently any contortion of
the face. They, instinctively then, one may say, make a point of
the most graceful expression.

A woman, who should only depend on the exertion of strength in
her legs or limbs, without attention to expression, would
possess but a very defective talent. Such an one might surprize
the public, by the masculine vigor of her springs; but should
she attempt to execute a dance, where tender expressions are
requisite, she would certainly fail of pleasing.

The female dancers have also an advantage over the men, in that
the petticoat can conceal many defects in their execution; even,
if the indulgence due to that amiable sex, did not only make
great allowances, but give to the least agreeable steps in them,
the power of obtaining applause.

At the Italian theatres at Rome, in the Carnaval, where the
female dancers are not suffered to perform the dances, and where
the parts of the women are perform'd by men in the dresses of
women, it appears plainly, how much the execution suffers by
this expedient. However well they may be disguised, there is an
inherent clumsiness in them, which it is impossible for them to
shake off, so as to represent with justness the sprightly graces
and delicacy of the female sex. The very idea of seeing men
effeminated by such a dress, invincibly disgusts. An effeminate
man appears even worse than a masculine woman.

But however the consulting a looking-glass gives to men, in
general, the air of fops or coxcombs; it is to those who would
make a figure in dancing a point of necessity. A glass is to
them, what reflexion is to a thinking person; it serves to make
them acquainted with their defects, and to correct them. To
practice then before it is even recommendable, that practice
will give the advantage of expertness, and expertness will give
the grace of ease, which is invaluable; nothing being such an
enemy to the graces as stiffness or affectation. This is a
general rule both for composition and performance.

Education has doubtless a great share in giving early to the
body a command of graceful positions, especially for the grand
and serious dances, which, as I have before observed, are the
principal grounds of the art. And once more, the great point is
not to stick at mediocrity; but to aim at an excellence in the
art, that may give at least the best chance for not being
confounded with the croud. If it is true, that, among the
talents, those which are calculated for pleasing, are not those
that are the least sure of encouragement; it is also equally
true, that for any dependence to be had on them, it is something
more than an ordinary degree of merit in them that is required.

In support of this admonition, I am here tempted to enliven this
essay with the narrative of an adventure in real life, that may
serve to break the too long a line of an attempt at instruction.

A celebrated female dancer in Italy, designing to perform at a
certain capital, wrote to her correspondent there to provide her
an apartment suitable to the genteel figure which she had always
made in life. On her arrival, her acquaintance seeing she had
brought nothing with her, but her own person and two servants,
asked her when she expected her baggage. She answered, with a
smile, "If you will come to-morrow morning and breakfast with
me, you, and whoever you will bring with you, shall see it, and
I promise you it is worth your while seeing, being a sort of
merchandize that is very much in fashion."

Curiosity carried a number early to the rendezvous, where, after
an elegant breakfast, she got up, and danced before them in a
most surprizingly charming manner.

"These, said she, (pointing at her legs,) are all the baggage I
have left; the Alps have swallowed up all the rest." The truth
was, she had been really robbed of her baggage in her journey,
and the merchandize on which she now depended, was her talent at
dancing. Nor was she deceived, for her inimitable performance,
joined to the vivacity with which she bore her misfortunes, in
the spirit of the old Philosopher, who valued himself upon
carrying his all about him, made her many friends, whose
generous compassion soon enabled her to appear in her former

As to the composition of dances, it is impossible for a
professor of this art, to make any figure without a competent
stock of original ideas, reducible into practice. A dance should
be a kind of regular dramatic poem to be executed by dancing, in
a manner so clear, as to give to the understanding of the
spectator no trouble in making out the meaning of the whole, or
of any part of it. All ambiguity being as great a fault of stile
in such compositions, as in writing. It is even harder to be
repaired; for a false expression in the motions, gestures, or
looks, may confuse and bewilder the spectator so as that he will
not easily recover the clue or thread of the fable intended to
be represented.

Clearness then is one of the principal points of merit which the
composer should have in view; if the effect, resulting from the
choice and disposition of the ground-work of his drama, does
honor to his inventiveness or taste; the justness, with which
every character is to be performed, is not less essential to the
success of his production, when carried into execution.

To be well assured of this, it cannot but be necessary that the
composer of the dance or ballet-master, should be himself a good
performer, or at least understand the grounds of his art.

He must also, in his composition, be pre-assured of all the
necessaries for their complete execution. Otherwise decorations
either deficient or not well adapted; an insufficient number of
performers, or their being bad ones; or, in short, the fault of
a manager, who, through a misplaced economy, would not allow the
requisite expences; all these, or any of these, might ruin the
composition, and the composer might, after taking all imaginable
pains to please, find his labor abortive, and himself condemned
for what he could not help. There is no exhibiting with success
any entertainment of this sort without having all the necessary
performers and accompaniments. It will be in a great measure
perfect or imperfect in proportion as they are supplied or

A good ballet-master must especially have regard to both
poetical and picturesque invention; his aim being to unite both
those arts under one exhibition. The poetical part of the
composition being necessary to furnish a well-composed piece
that shall begin with a clear exposition, and proceed unfolding
itself to the conclusion, in situations well chosen, and well
expressed. The picturesque part is also highly essential for the
formation of the steps, attitudes, gestures, looks, grouping the
performers, and planning their evolutions; all for the greatest
and justest effect.

He should himself be thoroughly struck with his initial idea,
which will lead him to the second, and so on methodically until
the whole is concluded, without having recourse to a method
justly exploded by the best masters, that of choregraphy or
noting dances, which only serves to obstruct and infrigidate the
fire of composition. When he shall have finished his
composition, he may then coolly review it, and make what
disposition and arrangement of the parts shall appear the best
to him. Every interruption is to be avoided, in those moments,
when the imagination is at its highest pitch of inventing and
projecting. There are few artists who have not, at times,
experienced in themselves a more than ordinary disposition or
aptitude, for this operation of the mind; and it is these
critical moments, which may otherwise be irretrievable, they
ought particularly to improve, with as little diversion from
them as possible. They should pursue a thought, or a hint of a
thought, from its first crudity to its utmost maturity.

A man of true genius in any of the imitative arts, and there is
not one that has a juster claim to that title than the art of
dancing, sensible that nature is the varied and abundant spring
of all objects of imitation, considers her and all her effects
with a far different eye from those who have no intention of
availing themselves of the matter she furnishes for observation.
He will discover essential differences between objects, where a
superficial beholder sees nothing but sameness; and in his
imitation he will so well know how to render those differences
discernible, that in the composition of his dance, the most
trite subject will assume the air of novelty with the grace of

There is nothing disgusts so much as repetitions of the same
thing; and a composer of dances will avoid them as studiously as
painters do in their pieces, or writers tautology.

The public complains, with great reason, that dances are
frequently void of action, which is the fault of the performers
not giving themselves the trouble to study just ones: satisfied
with the more mechanical part of dancing, they never think of
connecting the part of the actor with it, which however is
indispensably necessary to give to their performance, spirit,
and animation.

A dance without meaning is a very insipid botch. The subject of
the composition should always be strictly connected to the
dances, so as that they should be in equal correspondence to one
another. And, where a dance is expletively introduced in the
intervals of the acts, the subject of it should have, at least,
some affinity to the piece. A long custom has made the want of
this attention pass unnoticed. It is surely an absurd and an
unnatural patchwork, between the acts of a deep tragedy, to
bring on, abruptly by way of diversion, a comic dance. By this
contrast both entertainments are hurt; the abruptness of the
transition is intolerable to the audience; and the thread,
especially of the tragic fable, is unpleasingly broken. The
spectators cannot bear to be so suddenly tossed from the serious
to the mirthful, and from the mirthful to the serious. In short,
such an heterogeneous adulteration has all the absurdity
reproached to the motley mixture in tragi-comedy, without any
thing of that connection which is preserved in that kind of
justly exploded dramatic composition. How easy too to avoid this
defect, by adapting the subjects of the dances to the different
exigences of the different dramas, whether serious, comic, or

One great source of this disorder, is probably the managers
considering dances in nothing better than in the light of merely
a mechanical execution for the amusement of the eye, and
incapable of speaking to the mind. And in this mistake they are
certainly justifiable by the great degeneracy of this art, from
the pitch of perfection to which it was antiently carried, and
to which the encouragement of the public could not fail to
restore it. The managers would then see their interest too
clearly in consulting the greater pleasure of the public, not to
afford to this art, the requisite cultivation and means of

The composer, who must even have something of the poet in him;
the musician, the painter, the mechanic, are essentially
necessary to the contribution of their respective arts, towards
the harmony and perfection of composition, in a fine dramatic
dance; even the dresses are no inconsiderable part of the
entertainment. The _costume_, or in a more general term,
propriety, should have the direction of them. It is not
magnificence, that is the great point, but their being well
assorted to character and circumstances. The French are
notoriously faulty in over-dressing their characters, and in
making them fine and showy, where their simplicity would be
their greatest ornament. I do not mean a simplicity that should
have any thing mean, low or indifferent in it; but, for example,
in rural characters, the simplicity of nature, if I may use the
expression, in her holy-day-cloaths.

As to the decorations and machines especially, I know of no
place where there is less excuse for their being deficient in
them than in London, where they are too manifestly, to bear any
suspicion of flattery in the attributing it to them, executed to
a perfection that is not known in any other part of Europe. The
quickness with which the shifts and deceptions in the pantomime
entertainments are performed here, have been attempted in many
other parts; but the persons there employed, not having the same
skill and depth in mechanics as the artists here, cannot come up
to them in this point. And it is in this point precisely that a
composer of dances may be furnished with great assistence in the
effects from the theatrical illusion. And in an entertainment,
where by an established tacit agreement between the audience and
performers, there is such a latitude of introducing superhuman
personages, either of the heathen deities, or of fairy-hood,
inchanters, and the like, those transformations and deceptions
of the sight are even in the order of natural consequences, from
the pre-supposed and allowed power of such characters to operate
them. At the same time the rules of probability must even there
be observed. Nor is it amiss to be very sparing and reserved in
the composition of those dances, grounded on the introduction of
purely imaginary beings, such as the allegorical impersonation
of the moral Beings, whether the Virtues or the Vices. Unless
the invention is very interesting indeed, the characters
distinctly marked, and the application very just and obvious;
their effect is rarely answerable to expectation, especially on
the audiences of this country. The taste here for those airy
ideal characters is not very high, and perhaps not the worse for
not being so.

Among the many losses which this art has sustained, one surely,
not the least regrettable, even for our theatres, was that of
the dances in armour, practised by the Greeks, which they used
by way of diversion and of _exercise_ for invigorating their
bodies. Sometimes they had only bucklers and javelins in their
hands: but, on certain occasions they performed in panoply, or
complete suits of armour. Strengthened by their daily and
various manly exercises, they were enabled to execute these
dances, with a surprising exactness and dexterity. The martial
simphony that accompanied them, was performed by a numerous band
of music; for the clash of their arms being so loud, would else
have drowned the tune or airs of the musicians. It is impossible
to imagine a more sublime, splendid and picturesque sight than
what these dances afforded, in the brilliancy of their arms, and
the variety of their evolutions; while the delight they took in
it, inspired them with as much martial fire, as if they had been
actually going to meet the enemy. And indeed this diversion was
so much of the nature of the military exercise, that none could
be admitted who were not thoroughly expert in all martial
training. In time of peace, this kind of dance was considered as
even necessary to keep up that suppleness and athletic
disposition of body, to bear action and fatigue, essential to
the military profession. If the practice had been neglected, but
for a few days, they observed a numbness insensibly diffuse
itself over the whole body. They were persuaded then that the
best way of preserving their health, and fitness for action, and
consequently to qualify them for the most heroic enterprizes,
was to keep up this kind of exercise, in the form of diversion.

These martial dances, have, in some operas of Italy, been
attempted to be imitated, with some degree of success: but as
the performers had not been trained up to such an exercise, like
the Greeks, it was not to be expected that the representation
should have the same perfection, or color of life.

The composition of the music, and the suiting the airs to the
intended execution of a dance, is a point of which it is scarce
needful to insist on the importance, from its being so obvious
and so well known. Nothing can produce a more disagreeable
discordance than a performer's dancing out of time. And here it
may be observed, how much lies upon a dancer, in his being at
once obliged to adapt his motions exactly to the music and to
the character: which forms a double incumbence, neither point of
which he can neglect, without falling into unpardonable errors.

Where dances are well composed, they may give a picture, to the
life, of the manners and genius of each nation and each age, in
conformity to the subject respectively chosen. But then the
truth of the _costume_, and of natural and historical
representation must be strictly preserved. Objects must be
neither exagerated beyond probability, nor diminished so as not
to please or affect. A real genius will not be affraid of
striking out of the common paths, and, sensible that
inventiveness is a merit, he will create new theatrical
subjects, or produce varied combinations of old ones. And where
the decorations, or requisite accompaniments are not supplied as
he could wish, he must endeavour to make the most of what he can
get, towards the exhibition of his production; if not with all
the advantage of which it is susceptible, at least with all
those he can procure for it. Where the best cannot be obtained,
he must be content with the least bad. But especially a composer
of dances should never lose sight of his duty in preserving to
his art its power of competition, as well as its affinity with
the other imitative arts, in the expression of nature; all the
passions and sentiments being manifestly to be marked by motion,
gestures, and attitudes, to the time of a correspondent and well
adapted music. While all this aided and set off, by the
accompaniments of proper decorations of painting, and, where
necessary, of machinery, makes that, a well composed dance, may
very justly be deemed a small poem, thrown into the most lively
action imaginable; into an action so expressive as not to need
the aid of words, for conveying its meaning; but to make the
want of them rather a pleasure than matter of regret; from its
exercising, without fatiguing, the mind of the spectator, to
which it can never be but an agreeable entertainment, to have
something left for its own making out, always provided that
there be no perplexing difficulty or ambiguity. Nothing of which
is impossible to an artist who has the talent of making a right
choice among the most pleasing objects of nature; of
sufficiently feeling what he aims at expressing; of knowing how
far it is allowable for his art, to proceed towards the
embellishing nature, and where it should stop to avoid its
becoming an impertinence; and especially of agreeably disposing
his subject, in the most neat and intelligible manner that can
be desired.



               On the UTILITY of

               LEARNING TO DANCE,

            And Especially upon the


Was I, in quality of a dancing-master, to offer even the
strongest reasons of inducement to learn this art, they could
not but justly lose much, if not all, of their weight, from my
supposed interest in the offering them; besides the partiality
every artist has for his art.

It would however exceed the bounds prescribed to modesty itself,
were I to neglect availing myself of the authority of others,
who were not only far from being professors of this art, but who
hold the highest rank in the public opinion for solidity of
understanding, and purity of morals, and who yet did not disdain
to give their opinion in favor of an art only imagined
frivolous, for want of considering it in a just and inlarged

After this introduction, I need not be ashamed of quoting Mr.
Locke, in his judicious treatise of education.

  "Nothing (says he) appears to me to give children so much
  becoming confidence and behaviour, and so to raise them to
  the conversation of those above their age, as dancing.
  I think they should be taught to dance as soon as they are
  capable of learning it; for though this consists only in
  outward gracefulness of motion, yet, I know not how, it
  gives children manly thoughts and carriage more than any

In another place, he says,

  "Dancing being that which gives graceful motions to all our
  lives, and above all things, manliness, and a becoming
  confidence to young children, I think it cannot be learned
  too early, after they are once capable of it. But you must
  be sure to have a good master, that knows and can teach what
  is graceful and becoming, and what gives a freedom and
  easiness to all the motions of the body. One that teaches
  not this, is worse than none at all; natural awkwardness
  being much better than apish affected postures: and I think
  it much more passable, to put off the hat, and make a leg
  like an honest country-gentleman, than like an ill-fashioned
  dancing-master. For as for the jigging, and the figures of
  dance, I count that little or nothing better than as it
  tends to perfect graceful carriage."

The Chevalier De Ramsay, author of Cyrus's travels, in his plan
of education for a young Prince, has (page 14.) the following
passage to this purpose.

  "To the study of poetry, should be joined that of the three
  arts of imitation. The antients represented the passions, by
  gests, colors and sounds. Xenophon tells us of some
  wonderful effects of the Grecian dances, and how they moved
  and expressed the passions. We have now lost the perfection
  of that art; all that remains, is only what is necessary to
  give a handsome action and airs to a young gentleman. This
  ought not to be neglected, because upon the external figure
  and appearance, depends often the regard we have to the
  internal qualities of the mind. A graceful behaviour, in the
  house of Lords or Commons, commands the attention of a whole

And most certainly in this last allegation of advantage to be
obtained by a competent skill, or at least tincture of the art,
the Chevalier Ramsay, has not exagerated its utility. Quintilian
has recommended it, especially in early years, when the limbs
are the most pliable, for procuring that so necessary
accomplishment, in the formation of orators gesture: observing
withall, that where that is not becoming, nothing else hardly

But even independent of that consideration, nothing is more
generally confessed, than that this branch of breeding qualifies
persons for presenting themselves with a good grace. To whom can
it be unknown that a favorable prepossession at the first sight
is often of the highest advantage; and that the power of first
impressions is not easily surmountable?

In assemblies or places of public resort, when we see a person
of a genteel carriage or presence, he attracts our regard and
liking, whether he be a foreigner or one of this country. At
court, even a graceful address, and an air of ease, will more
distinguish a man from the croud, than the richest cloaths that
money may purchase; but can never give that air to be acquired
only by education.

There are indeed who, from indolence or self-sufficiency, affect
a sort of carelessness in their gait, as disdaining to be
obliged to any part of their education, for their external
appearance, which they abandon to itself under the notion of its
being natural, free, and easy.

But while they avoid, as they imagine, the affectation of
over-nicety, they run into that of a vicious extreme of
negligence, which proves nothing but either a deficiency of
breeding, or if not that, a high opinion of themselves, with
what is not at all unconsequential to that, a contempt of

Such are certainly much mistaken, if they imagine that an art,
which is principally designed to correct defects, should leave
so capital an one subsisting as that of want of ease, and
freedom, in the gesture and gait. On the contrary, it is as
great an enemy to stiffness, as it is to looseness of carriage,
and air. It equally reprobates an ungainly rusticity, and a
mincing, tripping, over-soft manner. Its chief aim is to bring
forth the natural graces, and not to smother them with
appearances of study and art.

But of all the people in the world, the British would certainly
be the most in the wrong for not laying a great enough stress on
this part of education; since none have more conspicuously the
merit of figure and person; and it would in them be a sort of
ingratitude to Nature, who has done so much for them, not to do
a little more for themselves, in acquiring an accomplishment,
the utility of which has been acknowledged in all ages, and in
all countries, and especially by the greatest and most sensible
men in their own.

As to the ladies, there is one light in which perhaps they would
not do amiss to view the practice of this art, besides that of
mere diversion or improvement of their deportment: it is that of
its being highly serviceable to their health, and to what it can
never be expected they should be indifferent about, their
beauty, it being the best and surest way of preserving, or even
giving it to their whole person.

It is in history a settled point, that beauty was no where more
florishing, nor less rare, than among such people as encouraged
and cultivated exercise, especially in the fair sex. The various
provinces and governments in Greece, all agreed, some in a less,
some in a greater degree, in making exercise a point of female
education. The Spartans carried this to perhaps an excess, since
the training of the children of that sex, hardly yielded to that
of the male in laboriousness and fatigue. Be this confessed to
be an extreme: but then it was in some measure compensated by
its being universally allowed, that the Spartan women owed to it
that beauty in which they excelled the rest of the Grecian
women, who were themselves held, in that point, preferable to
the rest of the world. Hellen was a Spartan. Yet the legislator
of that people, did not so much as consider this advantage among
the ends proposed in prescribing so hardy an education to the
weaker sex. His views were for giving them that health and vigor
of body, which might enable them to produce a race of men the
fittest to serve their country in war.

But as the best habit of body is ever inseparable from the
greatest perfection of beauty, of which its possessor is
susceptible, it very naturally followed, that the good plight to
which exercise brought and preserved the females, gave also to
their shape, that delicacy and suppleness, and to their every
motion, that graceful agility which caracterized the Grecian
beauties, and distinguished them for that nymph-stile of figure,
which we to this day admire in the description of their
historians, of their poets, or in the representations that yet
remain to us in their statues, or other monuments of antiquity.

But omitting to insist on the Spartan austerity, and especially
on their gimnastic training for both sexes, and to take the
milder methods of exercise in use among the Grecians, we find
that the chace, that foot-races, and especially dancing,
principally composed the amusement of the young ladies of that
country; where, in the great days of Greece, no maxim ever more
practically prevailed, than that sloth or inactivity was equally
the parent of diseases of the body, as of vices of the mind.
Agreeable to which idea, one of the greatest physicians now in
Europe, the celebrated Tronchin, while at Paris, vehemently
declaimed against this false delicacy and aversion against
exercise; from which the ladies, especially of the higher rank
of life, derived their bad habits of body, their pale color,
with all the principles of weakness, and of a puny diseased
constitution, which they necessarily intail on their innocent
children. Thence it was that he condemned the using oneself too
much to coaches or chairs, which, he observed, lowers the
spirits, thickens the humors, numbs the nerves, and cramps the
liberty of circulation.

Considering the efficacy of exercise, and that fashion has
abolished or at least confined among a very few, the more robust
methods of amusement, it can hardly not be eligible to cultivate
and encourage an art, so innocent and so agreeable as that of
dancing, and which at once unites in itself the three great
ends, of bodily improvement, of diversion, and of healthy
exercise. As to this last especially, it has this advantage, its
being susceptible at pleasure, of every modification, of being
carried from the gentlest degree of motion, up to that of the
most violent activity. And where riding is prescribed purely for
the sake of the power of the concussion resulting from it, to
prevent or to dissipate obstructions, the springs and agitations
of the bodily frame, in the more active kind of dances, can
hardly not answer the same purpose, especially as the motion is
more equitably diffused, and suffers no checks or partiality
from keeping the seat, as either in riding, or any other method
of conveyance. At least, such an entertainment, one would
imagine, preferable, for many reasons, to an excess of such
sedentary amusements as those of cards, and the like.

Certainly those of the fair sex who use exercise, will, in their
exemption from a depraved or deficient appetite, in the
freshness or in the glow of their color, in the firmness of
their make, in the advantages to their shape, in the goodness in
general of their constitution, find themselves not ill repaid
for conquering any ill-habit of false delicacy and sloth, to
which so many, otherwise fine young ladies, owe the disorders of
their stomach, their pale sickly hue, and that languid state of
health which must poison all their pleasures, and even endanger
their lives. These are not strained nor far-fetched

But even as to those of either sex, the practice of dancing is
attended with obviously good effects. Such as are blessed by
nature with a graceful shape and are clean-limbed, receive still
greater ease and grace from it; while at the same time, it
prevents the gathering of those gross and foggy humors which in
time form a disagreeable and inconvenient corpulence. On the
other hand, those whose make and constitution occasion a kind of
heavy proportion, whose muscular texture is not distinct, whose
necks are short, shoulders round, chest narrow, and who, in
short are, what may be called, rather clumsy figures; these will
greatly find their account in a competent exercise of the art of
dancing, not only as it will give them a freedom and ease one
would not, at the first sight, imagine compatible with their
figure, but may contribute much to the cure, or at least to the
extenuation of such bodily defects, by giving a more free
circulation to the blood, a habit of sprightliness and agility
to the limbs, and preventing the accumulation of gross humors,
and especially of fat, which is itself not among the least
diseases, where it prevails to an excess. Not that I here mean
any thing so foolishly partial, as that nothing but dancing
could operate all this; but only place it among not the least
efficacious means.

Nothing is more certain than that exercises in general,
diversions, such as that of hunting, and the games of dexterity,
keep up the natural standard of strength and beauty, which
luxury and sloth are sure to debase.

Dancing furnishes then to the fair-sex, whose sphere of exercise
is naturally more confined than that of the men, at once a
salutary amusement, and an opportunity of displaying their
native graces. But as to men, fencing, riding and many other
improvements have also doubtless their respective merit, and
answer very valuable purposes.

But where only the gentlest exercise is requisite, the minuet
offers its services, with the greatest effect; and when
elegantly executed, forms one of the most agreeable fights
either in private or public assemblies, or, occasionally, even
on the theatre itself.

Yet I speak not of this dance here with any purpose of
specifying rules for its attainment. Such an attempt would be
vain and impracticable. Who does not know that almost every
individual learner requires different instructions? The laying a
stress on some particular motion or air which may be proper to
be recommended to one, must be strictly forbidden to another. In
some, their natural graces need only to be called forth; in
others the destroying them by affectation is to be carefully
checked. Where defects are uncurable, the teacher must show how
they may be palliated and sometimes even converted into graces.
It will easily then be granted that there is no such thing as
learning a minuet, or indeed any dance merely by book. The
dead-letter of it can only be conveyed by the noting or
description of the figure and of the mechanical part of it; but
the spirit of it in the graces of the air and gesture, and the
carriage of the dancer can only be practically taught by a good

I have mentioned the distinction of a good master,
most assuredly not in the way of a vain silly hint of
self-recomdation; but purely for the sake of giving a caution,
too often neglected, against parents, or those charged with the
education of youth, placing children, at the age when their
muscles are most flexible, their limbs the most supple, and
their minds the most ductile, and who are consequently
susceptible of the best impressions, under such pretended
masters of this art, who can only give them the worst, and who,
instead of teaching, stand themselves in need of being taught.
The consequence then of such a bad choice, is, that young people
of the finest disposition in the world, contract, under such
teachers, bad, awkward habits, that are not afterwards easily

Those masters who possess the real grounds of their art, find in
their uniting their practice with their knowledge, resources
even against the usual depredations of age; which, though it may
deprive them of somewhat of their youthful vigor, has scarce a
sensible influence on their manner of performance. There will
still long remain to them the traces of their former excellence.

I have myself seen the celebrated Dupré, at near the age of
sixty, dance at Paris, with all the agility and sprightliness of
youth, and with such powers of pleasing, as if the graces _in
him_ had braved superannuation.

Such is the advantage of not having been content with a
superficial tincture of this art; or with a mere rote of
imitation, without an aim at excellence or originality.

But though there is no necessity for most learners to enter so
deep into the grounds and principles of the art, as those who
are to make it their profession, it is at least but doing
justice to one's scholars to give them those essential
instructions as to the graces of air, position, and gesture;
without which they can never be but indifferent performers.

For example, instead of being so often told to turn their toes
out, they should be admonished to turn their knees out, which
will consequently give the true direction to the feet. A due
attention should also be given to the motion of the instep, to
the air of sinking and rising; to the position of the hips,
shoulders, and body; to the graceful management of the arms, and
particularly to the giving the hand with a genteel manner, to
the inflections of the neck and head, and especially to the so
captivating modesty of the eye; in short, to the diffusing over
the whole execution, an air of noble ease, and of natural

It might be too trite to mention here what is so indispensable
and so much in course, the strict regard to be paid to the
keeping time with the music.

Nothing has a better effect, nor more prepossessing in favor of
the performance to follow, than the bow or curtsy at the opening
the dance, made with an air of dignity and freedom. On the
contrary, nothing is more disgustful than that initial step of
the minuet, when auckwardly executed. It gives such an ill
impression as is not easily removed by even a good performance
in the remaining part of the dance.

There is another point of great importance to all, but to the
ladies especially, which is ever strictly recommended in the
teaching of the minuet; but which in fact, like most of the
other graces of that dance, extends to other occasions of
appearance in life. This point is the easy and noble port of the
head. Many very pretty ladies lose much of the effect of their
beauty, and of the signal power of the first impressions, as
they enter a room, or a public assembly, by a vulgar or improper
carriage of the head, either poking the neck, or stooping the
head, or in the other extreme, of holding it up too stiff, on
the Mama's perpetually teizing remonstrance, of "hold up your
head, Miss," without considering that merely bridling, without
the easy grace of a free play, is a worse fault than that of
which she will have been corrected.

Certainly nothing can give a more noble air to the whole person
than the head finely set, and turning gracefully, with every
natural occasion for turning it, and especially without
affectation, or stifly pointing the chin, as if to show which
way the wind sits.

But it must be impossible for those who stoop their heads down,
to give their figure any air of dignity, or grace of politeness.
They must always retain something of ignoble in their manner.
Nothing then is more recommendable than for those who are
naturally inclined to this defect, to endeavor the avoiding it
by a particular attention to this capital instruction in
learning the minuet. It is also not enough to take the
minuet-steps true to time, to turn out their knees, and to slide
their step neatly, if that flexibility, or rise and fall from
the graceful bending of the instep, is not attended to, which
gives so elegant an air to the execution either of the minuet,
or of the serious theatrical dances. Nothing can more than that,
set off or show the beauty of the steps.

It should also be recommended to the dancers of the minuet, ever
to have an expression of that sort of gaity and chearfulness in
the countenance, which will give it an amiable and even a noble
frankness. Nothing can be more out of character, or even
displeasing, than a froward or too pensive a look. There may be
a sprightly vacancy, an openness in the face, without the least
tincture of any indecent air of levity: as there may be a
captivating modesty, without any of that bashfulness which
arises either from low breeding, wrong breeding, or no breeding
at all.

But to execute a minuet in a very superior manner, it is
recommendable to enter into some acquaintance, at least, with
the principles of the serious or grave dances, with a naturally
genteel person, a superficial knowledge of the steps, and a
smattering of the rules, any one almost may soon be made to
acquit himself tolerably of a minuet; but to make a
distinguished figure, some notion of the depths and refinements
of the art, illustrated by proper practice, are required.

It is especially incumbent on an artist, not to rest satisfied
with having pleased: he should, from his knowledge of the
grounds of his art, be able to tell himself why he has pleased;
and thus by building upon solid principles, preferably to mere
lucky hits, or to transient and accidental advantages of form or
manner, insure the permanency of his power to please.

There is a vice in dancing, against which pupils cannot be too
carefully guarded; it is that of affectation. It is essentially
different from that desire of pleasing, which is so natural and
so consistent even with the greatest modesty, in that it always
builds on some falsity, mistaken for a means of pleasing, though
nothing can more surely defeat that intention; there is not an
axiom more true than that the graces are incompatible with
affectation. They vanish at the first appearance of it: and the
curse of affectation is, that it never but lets itself be seen,
and wherever it is seen, it is sure to offend, and to frustrate
its own design.

The simplicity of nature is the great fountain of all the
graces; from which they flow spontaneous, when unchecked by
affectation, which at once poisons and dries them up.

Nature does not refuse cultivation, but she will not bear being
forced. The great art of the dancing-master is not to give
graces, for that is impossible, but to call forth into a nobly
modest display those latent ones in his scholars, which may have
been buried for want of opportunities or of education to break
forth in their native lustre, or which have been spoiled or
perverted, by wrong instruction, or by bad models of imitations.
In this last case, the master's business is rather to extirpate
than to plant; to clear the ground of poisonous exotics, and to
make way for the pleasing productions of nature.

This admirable prerogative of pleasing, inseparable from the
natural graces, unpoisoned by affectation, is in nothing more
strongly exemplified, than in the rural dances, where simplicity
of manners, a sprightly ease, and an exemption from all design
but that of innocent mirth, give to the young and handsome
villagers, or country-maids, those inimitable graces for ever
unknown to artifice and affectation. Not but, even in those
rural assemblies, there may be found some characters tainted
with affectation; but then in the country they are exceptions,
whereas in town they constitute the generality, who are so apt
to mistake airs for graces, though nothing can be more
essentially different.

But how shall those masters guard a scholar sufficiently against
affectation, who are themselves notoriously infected with it?
Nay, this is so common to them, that it is even the foundation
of a proverbial remark, that no gentleman can be said to dance
well, who dances like a dancing-master. Those false refinements,
that finical, affected air so justly reproached to the
generality of teachers, a master should correct in himself
before he can well give lessons for avoiding them to his pupils.
And, in truth, they are but wretched substitutes to the true
grounds and principles of the art, in which nothing is more
strongly inculcated than the total neglect of them, and the
reliance on the engaging and noble simplicity of nature.

It is then no paradox to say that the more deep you are in the
art, the less will it stifle nature. On the contrary, it will,
in the noble assurance which a competent skill is sure to bring
with it, give to the natural graces a greater freedom and ease
of display. Imperfection of theory and practice cramps the
faculties; and gives either an unpleasing faulteringness to the
air, steps, and gestures, or wrong execution. And as the minuet
derives its merit from an observation of the most agreeable
steps, well chosen in nature and well combined by art, there is
no inconsistence in avering that art may, in this, as in many
other objects of imitative skill, essentially assist nature, and
place her in the most advantageous point of light.

The truth of this will be easily granted, by numbers who have
felt the pleasure of seeing a minuet gracefully executed by a
couple who understood this dance perfectly. Nay, excellence in
the performance of it, has given to an indifferent figure, at
least a temporary advantage over a much superior one in point of
person only; and sometimes an advantage of which the impression
has been more permanent.

But besides the effect of the moment in pleasing the spectators;
the being well versed in this dance especially contributes
greatly to form the gait, and address, as well as the manner in
which we should present ourselves. It has a sensible influence
in the polishing and fashioning the air and deportment in all
occasions of appearance in life. It helps to wear off any thing
of clownishness in the carriage of the person, and breathes
itself into otherwise the most indifferent actions, in a genteel
and agreeable manner of performing them.

This secret and relative influence of the minuet, _Marcel_, my
ever respected master, whom his own merit in his profession, and
the humorous mention of him by _Helvetius_, in his famous book
DE L'ESPRIT, have made so well known, constantly kept in view,
in his method of teaching it. His scholars were generally known
and distinguished from those of other masters, not only by their
excellence in actual dancing, but by a certain superior air of
easy-genteelness at other times. He himself danced the minuet to
its utmost perfection. Not that he confined his practice to that
dance alone; on the contrary, he confessed himself obliged for
his greatest skill in that, to his having a general knowledge of
all the other dances, which he had practised, but especially
those of the serious stile.

But certainly it is not only to the professed dancer, that
dancing in the serious stile, or the minuet, with grace and
ease, is essential. The possessing this branch of dancing is of
great service on the theatre, even to an actor. The effect of it
steals into his manner, and gait, and gives him an air of
presenting himself, that is sure to prepossess in his favor.
Persons of every size or shape are susceptible of grace and
improvement from it. The shoulders so drawn back as not to
protuberate before, but as it were, to retreat from sight, or as
the French express it _bien effacées_, the knees well turning
outwards, with a free play; the air of the shape noble and
disengaged; the turns and movements easy; in short, all the
graces that characterise a good execution of the minuet, will,
insensibly on all other occasions, distribute through every limb
and part of the body, a certain liberty and agreeableness of
motion easier to be conceived than defined. To the actor, in all
characters, it gives, as I have just before observed, a graceful
mien and presence; but, in serious characters, it especially
suggests that striking portliness, that majestic tread of the
stage, for which some actors from the very first of their
appearance so happily dispose the public to a favorable
reception of their merit in the rest of their part. An influence
of the first impression, which a good actor will hardly despise,
especially with due precaution against his contracting any thing
forced or affected in his air or steps, from his attention to
his improvement by dancing, as the very best things may be even
pernicious by a misuse. Whatever is not natural, free, and easy,
will undoubtedly, on the stage, as every where else, have a bad
effect. A very little matter of excess will, from his aim at a
grace, produce a ridiculous caricature. Too stiff a regulation
of his motions or gestures, by measure and cadence, would even
be worse than abandoning every thing to chance; which might,
like the Eolian harp, sometimes suffer lucky hits to escape him;
whereas affectation is as sure forever to displease, as it is
not to escape the being seen where it exists.

Among the many reasons for this dance of the minuet having
become general, is the possibility of dancing it to so many
different airs, though the steps are invariable. If one tune
does not please a performer, he may call for another; the minuet
still remaining unalterable.

There is no occasion however for a learner to be confined to
this dance. He should rather be encouraged, or have a curiosity
be excited in him, to learn especially those dances, which are
of the more tender or serious character, contributing, as they
greatly do, to perfect one in the minuet; independently of the
pleasure they besides give both in the performance and to the
sight. The dances the most in request are, the _Saraband_, the
_Bretagne_ the _Furlana_, the _Passepied_, the _Folie
d'Espagne_, the _Rigaudon_, the _Minuet du Dauphin_ the
_Louvre_, _La Mariée_, which is always danced at the Opera of
Roland at Paris. Some of these are performed solo, others are
duet-dances. The _Louvre_ is held by many the most pleasing of
them all, especially when well executed by both performers, in a
just concert of motions; no dance affording the arms more
occasion for a graceful display of them, or a more delicate
regularity of the steps; being composed of the most select ones
from theatrical dances, and formed upon the truest principles of
the art. This dance is executed in most countries of Europe
without any variation. It is generally followed or terminated by
a minuet; and these two dances, the Louvre and the minuet, are
at present the most universally in fashion, and will, in all
probability, continue so, from their being both pleasing beyond
all others, to the performers, as well as to the spectators, and
from their not being difficult to learn, if the scholar has but
common docility.

Youth being for learning this art undoubtedly the best season,
for reasons as I have before observed, too obvious to need
insisting on, the master cannot pay too much attention to the
availing himself of the pliancy of that age, to give his
scholars the necessary instructions for preparing and
well-disposing their limbs. This holds good, particularly with
regard to that propensity innate to most persons of turning in
their toes. I have already mentioned the expediency of curing
this defect, by the directing them to acquire a habit of turning
the knees outward, to which I have to add, that on the proper
turn of the knee, chiefly depend the graces of the under part of
the figure, that is to say, from the foot to the hip.

Frequent practice also of dancing, or of any salutary exercise,
is also highly recommendable for obtaining a firmness of body;
for a tottering dancer can never plant his steps so as to afford
a pleasing execution. It may sound a little odd, but, the truth
is, that in dancing, sprightliness and agility are principally
produced by bodily strength; while on the contrary, weakness, or
infirmity, must give every step and spring, not only a
tottering, but a heavy air. The legs that bear with the most
ease the weight of the body, will naturally make it seem the


                SUMMARY ACCOUNT

              Of various kinds of


        In different Parts of the WORLD.

     _Cantatur et saltatur apud omnes gentes,
         aliquo saltem modo_,


As almost every country has dances particular to it, or, at
least, so naturalized by adoption from others, that in length of
time they pass for originals; a slight sketch of the most
remarkable of them may serve to throw a light upon this subject,
entertaining to some, and both entertaining and useful to

In BRITAIN, you have the hornpipe, a dance which is held an
original of this country. Some of the steps of it are used in
the country-dances here, which are themselves a kind of dance
executed with more variety and agreeableness than in any part of
Europe, where they are also imitatively performed, as in Italy,
Germany and in several other countries. Nor is it without reason
they obtain, here the preference over the like in other places.
They are no where so well executed. The music is extremely well
adapted, and the steps in general are very pleasing. Some
foreign comic dancers, on their coming here, apply themselves
with great attention to the true study of the hornpipe, and by
constant practice acquire the ability of performing it with
success in foreign countries, where it always meets with the
highest applause, when masterly executed. There was an instance
of this, sometime ago at Venice, at an opera there, when the
theatre was as well provided with good singers and dancers, as
any other. But they had not the good fortune to please the
public. A dancer luckily for the manager, presented himself, who
danced the hornpipe in its due perfection. This novelty took so,
and made such full houses, that the manager, who had begun with
great loss, soon saw himself repaired, and was a gainer when he
little expected it.

It is to the HIGHLANDERS in North-Britain, that I am told we are
indebted for a dance in the comic vein, called the _Scotch
Reel_, executed generally, and I believe always in _trio_, or by
three. When well danced, it has a very pleasing effect: and
indeed nothing can be imagined more agreeable, or more lively
and brilliant, than the steps in many of the Scotch dances.
There is a great variety of very natural and very pleasing ones.
And a composer of comic dances, might, with great advantage to
himself, upon a judicious assemblage of such steps as he might
pick out of their dances, form a dance that, with well adapted
dresses, correspondent music, and figures capable of a just
performance, could hardly fail of a great success upon the

I do not know whether I shall not stand in need of an apology
for mentioning here a dance once popular in England, but to
which the idea of low is now currently annexed. It was
originally adapted from the Moors, and is still known by the
name of Morris-dancing, or Moresc-dance. It is danced with
swords, by persons odly disguised, with a great deal of antic
rural merriment: it is true that this diversion is now almost
exploded, being entirely confined to the lower classes of life,
and only kept up in some counties. What the reason may be of its
going out of use, I cannot say; but am very sure, there was not
only a great deal of natural mirth in it, but that it is
susceptible enough of improvement, to rescue it from the
contempt it may have incurred, through its being chiefly in use
among the vulgar; though most probably it may have descended
among them from the higher ranks. For certainly of them it was
not quite unworthy, for the Pirrhic or military air it carries
with it, and which probably was the cause of its introduction
among so martial a people. Rude, as it was, it might require
refinement, but it did not, perhaps, deserve to become quite

In SPAIN, they have a dance, called, _Les Folies d'Espagne_,
which is performed either by one or by two, with castanets.
There is a dress peculiarly adapted to it, which has a very
pleasing effect, as well as the dance itself.

In FRANCE, their _Contre-dances_, are drawn from the true
principles of the art, and the figures and steps are generally
very agreeable. No nation cultivates this art with more taste
and delicacy. Their _Provençale_ dance, is most delightfully
sprightly, and well imagined. The steps seem to correspond with
the natural vivacity and gaiety of the Provençals. This dance is
commonly performed to the pipe and tabor.

The FLEMISH dances run in the most droll vein of true rural
humor. The performers seem to be made for the dances, and the
dances for the performers; so well assorted are the figures to
the representation. Several eminent painters in the grotesque
stile, Teniers especially, have formed many diverting pictures
taken from life, upon this subject.

At NAPLES, they have various grotesque dances, which are
originals in their kind, being extremely difficult to execute,
not only for the variety of the steps, but for the intricacy and
uncommonness, or rather singularity of them.

But while I am mentioning Naples, I ought not to omit that
effect of dancing, which is attributed to it, upon those who are
bitten with the _Tarantula_. The original of this opinion, was
probably owing to some sensible physician, prescribing such a
violent motion, more likely to be kept up in the patient, by the
power of music, than by any thing else, as might enable him to
expel the poison, by being thereby thrown into a copious sweat,
and by other benefits from such a vehement agitation. This, it
is supposed, was afterwards abused and turned into a mere trick,
to assemble a croud and get money, either by sham bites, or by
making a kind of show of this method of practice in real ones.
However, that may be, the various grimaces or contortions, leaps
and irregular steps, commonly used on this occasion, to be
executed to that sort of music, or airs adapted to it, might
afford a good subject for a grotesque dance, to be formed upon
the plan of a burlesque or mock-imitation: and I am not quite
sure that the idea of such a dance, has not been already carried
into execution.

The castanets the NEAPOLITANS most frequently use, are of the
largest size. It is also from Naples that we have taken the
Punchinello dance.

At FLORENCE, they have a dance, called, _il Treschone_. The
country-women, in the villages, are very fond of it. They are
generally speaking, very robust, and capable of holding out the
fatigue of this dance, for a long time. To make themselves more
light for it, they often pull off their shoes. The dance is
opened by a couple, one of each sex. The woman holds in her hand
a handkerchief, which she flings to him whom she chuses for her
next partner, who, in his turn has an equal right to dispose of
it in the same manner, to any woman of the company he chuses.
Thus is the dance carried on without any interruption till the
assembly breaks up.

The favorite dance of the VENETIANS, is what they call the
_Furlana_, which is performed by two persons dancing a-round
with the greatest rapidity. Those who have a good ear, keep time
with the crossing their feet behind; and some add a motion of
their hands, as if they were rowing or tugging at an oar. This
dance is practiced in several other parts of Italy.

The Peasants of TIROL, have one of the most pleasant and
grotesque dances that can be imagined. They perform it in a sort
of holy-day dress, made of skins, and adorned with ribbons. They
wear wooden shoes, not uncuriously painted; and the women
especially express a kind of rural simplicity and frolic mirth,
which has a very agreeable effect.

The GRISONS are in possession of an old dance, which is not
without its merit, and which they would not exchange for the
politest in Europe; they being as invariably attached to it, as
to their dress.

The HUNGARIANS are very noisy in their dances, with their iron
heels, but when they are of an equal size, and dressed in their
uniforms, the agility of their steps, and the regularity of
dress in the performers, render them not a disagreeable sight.

The GERMANS have a dance called the _Allemande_, in which the
men and women form a ring. Each man holding his partner round
the waist, makes her whirl round with almost inconceivable
rapidity: they dance in a grand circle, seeming to pursue one
another: in the course of which they execute several leaps, and
some particularly pleasing steps, when they turn, but so very
difficult as to appear such even to professed dancers
themselves. When this dance is performed by a numerous company,
it furnishes one of the most pleasing sights that can be

The POLISH nobility have a dance, to which the magnificence of
their dress, and the elegance of the steps, the gracefulness of
the attitudes, the fitness of the music, all contribute to
produce a great effect. Were it performed here on the theatre,
it would hardly fail of a general applause.

The COSSACS, have, amidst all their uncouth barbarism, a sort of
dancing, which they execute to the sound of an instrument,
somewhat resembling a Mandoline, but considerably larger, and
which is highly diverting, from the extreme vivacity of the
steps, and the oddity of the contortions and grimaces, with
which they exhibit it. For a grotesque dance there can hardly be
imagined any thing more entertaining.

The RUSSIANS, afford nothing remarkable in their dances, which
they now chiefly take from other countries. The dance of dwarfs
with which the Czar Peter the Great, solemnized the nuptials of
his niece to the Duke of Courland, was, probably rather a
particular whim of his own, than a national usage.

  In ASIA.

In TURKY, dances have been, as of old in Greece, and elsewhere
instituted in form of a religious ceremony. The _Dervishes_ who
are a kind of devotionists execute a dance, called the _Semaat_
in a circle, to a strange wild-simphony, when holding one
another by the hand, they turn round with such rapidity, that,
with pure giddiness, they often fall down in heaps upon one

They have also in Turky, as well as India and Persia, professed
dancers, especially of the female sex, under the name of
dancing-girls, who are bred up, from their childhood, to the
profession; and are always sent for to any great entertainment,
public or private, as at feasts, weddings, ceremonies of
circumcision, and, in short, on all occasions of festivity and
joy. They execute their dances to a simphony of various
instruments, extremely resembling the antient ones, the
_tympanum_, the _crotala_, the _cimbals_, and the like, as well
as to songs, being a kind of small dramatic compositions, or
what may properly be called _ballads_, which is a true word for
a song at once sung and danced: _ballare_ signifying to dance;
and _ballata_, a song, composed to be danced. It is probable
that from these eastern kind of dances, which are undoubtedly
very antient, came the name, among the Romans, of _balatrones_.
Nothing can be imagined more graceful, nor more expressive, than
the gestures and attitudes of those dancing-girls, which may
properly be called the eloquence of the body, in which indeed
most of the Asiatics and inhabitants of the southren climates
constitutionally excel, from a sensibility more exquisite than
is the attribute of the more northern people; but a sensibility
ballanced by too many disadvantages to be envied them. The
Siamese, we are told, have three dances, called the _Cone_, the
_Lacone_, and the _Raban_. The _Cone_ is a figure-dance, in
which they use particularly a string-instrument in the nature of
a violin, with some others of the Asiatic make. Those who dance
are armed and masked, and seem to be a fighting rather than
dancing. It is a kind of Indian Pirrhic. Their masks represent
the most frightful hideous countenances of wild-beasts, or
demons, that fancy can invent. In the _Lacone_ the performers
sing commutually stanzes of verses containing the history of
their country. The Raban is a mixed dance, of men and women, not
martial, nor historical, but purely gallant; in which the
dancers have all long false nails of copper. They sing in this
dance, which is only a slow march without any high motions, but
with a great many contortions of body and arms. Those who dance
in the Raban and Cone have high gilt caps like sugar-loaves. The
dance of the _Lacone_ is appropriated to the dedication of their
temples, when a new statue of their _Sommona-codom_ is set up.

In many parts of the East, at their weddings, in conducting the
bride from her house to the bridegroom's, as in Persia
especially, they make use of processional music and dancing.
But, in the religious ceremonies of the Gentoos, when, at stated
times, they draw the triumphal car, in which the image of the
deity of the festival is carried, the procession is intermixed
with troops of dancers of both sexes, who, proceed, in chorus,
leaping, dancing, and falling into strange antics, as the
procession moves along, of which they compose a part; these
adapt their gestures and steps to the sounds of various
instruments of music.

Considering withal that the Romans, in their most solemn
processions, as in that called the _Pompa_, which I have before
mentioned, in which not only the Pirrhic dance was
processionally executed, but other dances, in masquerade, by men
who, in their habits, by leaping and by feats of agility,
represented satirs, the _Sileni_, and _Fauni_, and were attended
by minstrels playing on the flute and guitar; besides which,
there were _Salian_ priests, and _Salian_ virgins, who followed,
in their order, and executed their respective religious dances;
it may bear a question whether not an unpleasing use might not
be made, on the theatres, of processional dances properly
introduced, and connected, especially in the burlesque way. In
every country, and particularly in this, processions are
esteemed an agreeable amusement to the eye; and certainly they
must receive more life and animation from a proper intermixture
of dances, than what a mere solemn march can represent, where
there is nothing to amuse but a long train of personages in
various habits, walking in parade. I only mention this however
as a hint not impossible to be improved, and reduced into

But even, where it might be improper or ridiculous to think of
mixing dances with a procession, though it were but in
burlesque, which must, if at all, be the preferable way of
mixing them, the pleasure of those who delight in seeing
processions and pageantry exhibited on the theatre, might be
gratified, without any violence to propriety, by making them
introductory to the dances of the grandest kind. For example;
where a dance in Chinese characters is intended, a procession
might be previously brought in, of personages, of whom the
habits, charactures, and manners might be faithfully copied from
nature, and from the truth of things, and convey to the
spectator a juster notion, of the people from which the
representation was taken, of their dress and public processions,
than any verbal description, or even prints or pictures. After
which, the dance might naturally take place, in celebration of
the festival, of which, the procession might be supposed the

In order to give a more distinct idea of this hint, I have
hereto annexed the print of a Chinese procession taken from the
description of a traveller into that country; by which a good
composer would well know how to make a proper choice of what
might be exhibited, and what was fit to be left out; especially
according as the dance should be, serious or burlesque. In the
last case; even the horses might be represented by a theatrical
imitation. And certainly, bringing the personages on in such a
regular procession at first, would give a better opportunity of
observing their dresses, than in the huddled, confused manner of
grouping them, that has been sometimes practised: to say nothing
of the pleasure afforded to the eye by the procession itself.

The print annexed represents the procession of a Chinese
Mandarin of the first order. First appear two men who strike
each upon a copper instrument called a gongh, resembling a
hollow dish without a border, which has pretty much the effect
of a kettle-drum.

Follow the ensign-bearers, on whose flags are written in large
characters the Mandarin's titles of honour. Next fourteen
standards, upon which appear the proper simbols of his office,
such as the dragon, tiger, phoenix, flying tortoise, and other
winged creatures of fancy, emblematically exhibited.

Six officers, bearing a staff headed by an oblong square board,
raised high, whereon are written in large golden characters the
particular qualities of this Mandarin.

Two others bear, the one a large umbrella of yellow silk (the
imperial color) of three folds, one above the other; the other
officer carries the case in which the umbrella is kept.

Two archers on horseback, at the head of the chief guard: then
the guards, armed with large hooks, adorned with silk fringe, in
four rows one above another; two other files of men in armor,
some bearing maces with long handles; others, maces in the form
of a hand, or of a serpent: others, equipped with large hammers
and long hatchets like a crescent. Other guards bearing sharp
axes: some, weapons like scythes, only strait. Soldiers carrying
three-edged halberds.

Two porters, carrying a splendid coffer, containing the seal of
his office.

Two other men, beating each a _gongh_, which gives notice of the
Mandarin's approach.

Two officers, armed with staves, to keep off the croud.

Two mace-bearers with gilt maces in the shape of dragons, and a
number of officers of justice, some equiped with bamboes, a kind
of flat cudgels, to give the bastinado: others with chains,
whips, cutlasses, and hangers.

Two standard-bearers, and the captain of the guard.

All this equipage precedes the Mandarin or Viceroy, who is
carried in his chair, surrounded with pages and footmen, having
near his person an officer who carries a large fan in the shape
of a hand-fire-screen.

He is followed by guards, some armed with maces, and others with
long-handled sabres; after whom come several ensigns and
cornets, with a great number of domestics on horseback, every
one bearing some necessary belonging to the Mandarin: as for
example, a particular Tartarian cap, if the weather should
oblige him to change the one he has on.

From the above, it may appear, what scope or range a composer
may have for the exhibition of processions and pageantry of
other nations, as well as of the Chinese; in all which, nothing
is more recommendable than adhering, in the representation, as
much as the limitations of the theatre will admit, to the truth
of things, as they actually pass in the countries where the
scene is laid: which is but, in saying other words, in this, as
in every other imitative branch, strike to nature as close as


The spirit of dancing prevails, almost beyond imagination, among
both men and women, in most parts of Africa. It is even more
than instinct, it is a rage, in some countries of that part of
the globe.

Upon the Gold-coast especially, the inhabitants are so
passionately fond of it, that in the midst of their hardest
labor, if they hear a person sing, or any musical instrument
plaid, they cannot refrain from dancing.

There are even well attested stories of some Negroes flinging
themselves at the feet of an European playing on a fiddle,
entreating him to desist, unless he had a mind to tire them to
death; it being impossible for them to cease dancing, while he
continued playing. Such is the irresistible passion for dancing
among them.

With such an innate fondness for this art, one would imagine
that children taken from this country, so strong-made and so
well-limbed as they generally are, and so finely disposed by
nature, might, if duly instructed, go great lengths towards
perfection in the art. But I do not remember to have heard that
the experiment was ever made upon any of them, by some master
capable of giving them such an improvement, as one would suppose
them susceptible of.

Upon the Gold-coast, there long existed and probably still
exists a custom, for the greater part of the inhabitants of a
town or village to assemble together, most evenings of the year,
at the market-place to dance, sing, and make merry for an hour
or two, before bed-time. On this occasion, they appear in their
best attire. The women, who come before the men, have a number
of little bells tinkling at their feet. The men carry little
fans or rather whisks in their hand made of the tails of
elephants and horses, much like the brushes used to brush
pictures; only that theirs are gilt at both ends. They meet
usually about sunset. Their music consists of horn-blowers or
trumpeters, drummers, players on the flute, and the like; being
placed a-part by themselves. The men and women, who compose the
dance, divide into couples, facing each other, as in our
country-dances, and forming a general dance, fall into many wild
ridiculous postures, advancing and retreating, leaping, stamping
on the ground, bowing their heads, as they pass, to each other,
and muttering certain words; then snapping their fingers,
sometimes speaking loud, at other times whispering, moving now
slow, now quick, and shaking their fans.

Artus and Villault add, that they strike each another's
shoulders alternately with those fans; also that the women,
laying straw-ropes in circles on the ground, jump into or dance
round them; and clicking them up with their toes, cast them in
the air, catching them as they fall with their hands.

They are strangely delighted with these gambols; but do not care
to be seen at them by strangers, who can scarce refrain
laughing, and consequently putting them out of countenance.

After an hour or two spent in this kind of exercise, they retire
to their respective homes.

Their dances vary according to times, occurrences, and places.
Those which are in honor of their religious festivals, are more
grave and serious. There have been sometimes public dances
instituted by order of their Kings, as at Abrambo, a large town
in Widaw, where annually, for eight days together, there
resorted a multitude of both sexes from all parts of the
country. This was called the dancing-season. To this solemnity
all came dressed in the best manner, according to their
respective ability. The dance was ridiculous enough; but it
served to keep up their agility of body. And amidst all the
uncouth barbarism of their gestures and attitudes, nature breaks
out into some expressions of joy, or of the passions, that would
not be unworthy of an European's observation.

They have also their kind of Pirrhic dances, which they execute
by mock-skirmishing in cadence, and striking on their targets
with their cutlasses.

I have already mentioned that it is from Africa, the
Moresc-dances originally came. But what is somewhat surprising,
the Portugueze themselves, among whom I will not however include
the higher ranks of life in that nation, but, at least, the
number of the people who adopted, from the Caffrees, or Negroes
of their African possessions, a dance called by them
_LasCheganças_, (Approaches) was so great that the late King of
Portugal was obliged to prohibit it by a formal edict. The
reason of which was, that some of the motions and gestures had
so lascivious an air, and were so contrary to modesty, that the
celebrated _Frey Gaspar_, a natural son, if I mistake not, of
the late King of Portugal, represented so efficaciously to his
Portugueze Majesty, the shame and scandal of this dance being
any longer suffered, that it was put down by royal authority.
Nor was this done without occasioning heavy complaints against
_Frey Gaspar_, against whom there were lampoons and ballads
publickly sung, upon his having used his influence to procure
that prohibition.


In this part of the world, so lately discovered, nothing is a
stronger proof of the universality of dancing, of its being, in
short, rather an human instinct, than an art, than the fondness
for dancing every where diffused over this vast continent.

In BRAZIL, the dancers, whether men or women, make a point of
dancing bare-headed. The reason of this is not mentioned: it
cannot however be thought a very serious one, since nothing can
be more comical than their gestures, their contortions of body,
and the signs they make with the head to each other.

In MEXICO, they have also their dances and music, but in the
most uncouth and barbarian stile. For their simphony they have
wooden drums, something in form of a kettle-drum, with a kind of
pipe or flageolet, made of a hollow cane or reed, but very
grating to an European ear. It is observed they love every thing
that makes a noise how disagreeable soever the sound is. They
will also hum over something like a tune, when they dance thirty
or forty in a circle, stretching out their hands, and laying
them on each others shoulders. They stamp and jump, and use the
most antic gestures for several hours, till they are heartily
weary. And one or two of the company sometimes step out of the
ring, to make sport for the rest, by showing feats of activity,
throwing up their lances into the air, catching them again,
bending backwards, and springing forwards with great agility.
Then when they are in a violent sweat, from this exercise, they
will frequently jump into the water, without the least bad
consequences to their health. Their women have their dancing and
music too by themselves; but never mingle in those of the men.

In VIRGINIA, according to the author of the history of that
country, they have two different kinds of dancing; the first,
either single, or at the most in small companies; or, secondly,
in great numbers together, but without having any regard either
to time or figure.

In the first kind one person only dances, or two, or three at
most. While during their performance, the rest, who are seated
round them in a ring, sing as loud as they can scream, and ring
their little bells. Sometimes the dancers themselves sing, dart
terribly threatening looks, stamp their feet upon the ground,
and exhibit a thousand antic postures and grimaces.

In the other dance, consisting of a more numerous company of
performers, the dance is executed round stakes set in the form
of a circle, adorned with some sculpture, or round about a fire,
which they light in a convenient place. Every one has his little
bell, his bow and arrow in his hand. They also cover themselves
with leaves, and thus equipped, begin their dance. Sometimes
they set three young women in the midst of the circle.

In PERU, the manner of dancing has something very particular.
Instead of laying any stress on the motion of the arms, in most
of their dances, their arms hang down, or are wrapped up in a
kind of mantle, so that nothing is seen but the bending of the
body, and the activity of the feet; they have however many
figure-dances, in which they lay aside their cloaks or mantles,
but the graces they add, are rather actions than gestures.

The PERUVIAN Creolians dance after the same manner, without
laying aside their long swords, the point of which they contrive
to keep up before them so that it may not hinder them from
rising, or in coupeeing, which is sometimes to such a degree
that it looks like kneeling.

They have a dance there, adopted from the natives, which they
call _Zapatas_, (shoes) because in dancing they alternately
strike with the heels and toes, taking some steps, and
coupeeing, as they traverse their ground.

Among the savages of North-America, we are told there are
various dances practised, such as that of the calumet, the
leaders dance, the war-dance, the marriage-dance, the
sacrifice-dance, all which, respectively differ in the
movements, and some, amidst all the wildness of their
performance, are not without their graces. But the dance of the
calumet is esteemed the finest; this is used at the reception of
strangers whom they mean to honor, or of ambassadors to them on
public occasions. This dance is commonly executed in an oval

The AMERICANS, in some parts, prescribe this exercise by way of
phisic, in their distempers: a method of treatment, not, it
seems unknown to the antients: but, in general, their motive for
dancing, is the same as with the rest of the world, to give
demonstrations of joy and welcome to their guests, or to divert
themselves. On some occasions indeed, they make them part of the
ceremony at their assemblies upon affairs, when even their
public debates are preceded by dancing, as if they expected that
that exercise would rouse their mental faculties, and clear
their heads. The war-dance is also used by them, by way of
proclamation of war against their enemies.

The foregoing summary sketch of some of the various dances,
which are practised in different parts of the globe, and which,
to describe universally and minutely, would fill whole volumes,
may serve to show that nature has, in all parts of the inhabited
world, given to man the instinct of dancing, as well as of
speaking, or of singing. But it certainly depends on the nations
who encourage the polite arts, once more to carry it up to that
pitch of excellence, of which the history of the Greeks and
Romans shows it to have been susceptible, among the antients,
however the moderns may have long fallen short of it. There has
indeed lately appeared a dawning hope of its recovery; which,
that it may not be frustrated, is the interest of all who wish
well to an innocent and even useful pleasure.


As this branch of the art of dancing is often mentioned,
especially in this country, without a just idea being affixed to
it, or any other idea than what is vulgarly taken from a species
of compositions which are sometimes exhibited after the play, on
the theatre here, (not to mention Sadler's wells) and go by the
name of pantomime entertainments; it may not be unacceptable to
the reader, my laying down before him the true grounds and
nature of this diversion, which once made so great a figure in
the theatrical sphere of action.

And as, on this point, Monsieur Cahusac, an ingenious French
writer, has treated the historical part of it with so much
accuracy, that it was hardly possible to offer any thing new
upon it, beyond what he has furnished; and that not to make use
of his researches would only betray me into a fruitless
affectation of originality, I am very ready to confess, that for
the best and greatest part of what I am now going to offer upon
this subject I am indebted to his production.

That prodigious perfection to which the antients carried the
pantomime art, appeared so extraordinary to the celebrated abbot
Du Bos, that, not being able to contradict the authorities which
establish the truth of it, he was tempted to consider the art of
dancing in those times as something wholly different from what
is at present understood by dancing.

The chevalier Ramsay places it also among the lost arts. Both,
no doubt, grounding their opinion on that deficiency of
execution on the modern theatres, compared to what is
incontestably transmitted to us, by history, of the excellence
of the antient pantomimes.

But none have more contributed to establish the opinion of the
pantomime art being an art totally different from that of
dancing, and not merely an improvement of it, as was certainly
the case, than some of the professors of the art themselves, who
even exclaimed against M. Cahusac, for his attempts to give
juster notions, and to recommend the revival of it.

We are too apt to pronounce upon possibilities from our own
measure of knowledge, or of capacity. Nothing is more common
than to hear men of a profession declare loudly against any
practice attempted to be established for the improvement of
their art, and peremptorily to aver such a practice being
impossible, for no other reason than that their own study and
efforts had not been able to procure them the attainment of it.
In this too they are seconded by that croud of superficial
people who frequent the theatres, and who can believe nothing
beyond what themselves have seen: any thing above the reach of
what they are accustomed or habituated to admire, always seems
to them a chimera.

The reproach of incredulity is commonly made to men of the
greatest knowledge, because they are not over-apt to admit any
proposition without proof: but this reproach may, with more
justice, be oftenest made to the ignorant, who generally reject,
without discussion, every thing beyond their own narrow

To these it may sound more than strange; it may appear
incredible, that on the theatre of Athens, the dance of the
Eumenides, or Furies, had so expressive a character, as to
strike the spectators with irresistible terror. The Areopagus
itself shuddered with horror and affright; men grown old in the
profession of arms, trembled; the multitude ran out; women with
child miscarried; people imagined they saw in earnest those
barbarous deities commissioned with the vengeance of heaven,
pursue and punish the crimes of the earth.

This passage of history is furnished by the same authors, who
tell us, that Sophocles was a genius; that nothing could
withstand the eloquence of Demosthenes; that Themistocles was a
hero; that Socrates was the wisest of men; and it was in the
time of the most famous of the _Greeks_ that even upon those
highly privileged souls, in sight of irreproachable witnesses,
the art of dancing produced such great effects.

At Rome, in the best days of this art, all the sentiments which
the dancers expressed, had each a character of truth, so great a
power, such pathetic energy, that the multitude was more than
once seen hurried away by the illusion, and mechanically to take
part in the different emotions presented to them by the animated
picture with which they were struck. In the representation of
_Ajax in a frenzy_, the spectators took such violent impressions
from the acting-dancer who represented him, that they perfectly
broke out, into outcries; stripped, as it were, to fight, and
actually came to blows among each other, as if they had caught
their rage from what was passing on the theatre.

At another time they melted into tears at the tender affliction
of Hecuba.

And upon whom were these lively impressions produced? Upon the
cotemporaries of Mecenas, of Lucullus, Augustus, Virgil, Pollio;
upon men of the most refined taste, whose criticism was as
severe as their approbation honorable; who never spared their
censure nor their applause, where either was due. How,
especially under the eyes of Horace, could any thing pass the
approbation of the public, unless under the seal of excellence
in point of art and good taste? Would Augustus have declared
himself the special patron of a kind of entertainment that had
been deficient as to probability and genius? Would Mecenas, the
protector of Virgil, and of all the fine arts, have been pleased
with a sight that was not a striking imitation of beautiful

The proofs shown of the perfection of dancing at Athens, and
under the reign of Augustus, being incontestable, it is plain
that what now passes for the art of dancing, is as yet only in
its infancy. To display the arms gracefully, to preserve the
equilibrium in the positions, to form steps with a lightness of
air; to unfold all the springs of the body in harmony to the
music, all these points, sufficient to what may be called
private, or to assembly-dancing, are little more than the
alphabet of the theatrical dances, or of pantomime execution.
The steps and figures are but the letters and words of this art.
A writing-master is one who teaches the mechanical part of
forming letters. A mere dancing-master is an artist who teaches
to form steps. But the first is not more different from what we
call a man of letters, or a _writer_, than the second is from
what may deserve on the theatre, the name of principal dancer.

Besides the necessity of learning his art elementally, a dancer,
like a writer, should have a stile of his own, an original
stile: more or less valuable, according as he can exhibit,
express, and paint with elegance a greater or lesser quantity of
things admirable, agreeable, and useful.

Speech is scarce more expressive, than the gestual language. The
art of painting, which places before our eyes the most pathetic,
or the most gay images of human life, composes them of nothing
but of attitudes, of positions of the arms, expressions of the
countenance, and of all these parts dancing is composed, as well
as painting.

But, as I have before observed, painting can express no more
than an instant of action. Theatrical dancing can exhibit all
the successive instants it chuses to paint. Its march proceeds
from picture to picture, to which, motion gives life. In
painting, life is only imitated; in dancing, it is always the
reality itself.

Dancing is, evidently, in its nature, an action upon the
theatres; nothing is wanting to it but meaning: it moves to the
right, to the left; it retrogrades, it advances, it forms steps,
it delineates figures. There is only wanting to all this an
arrangement of the motions, to furnish to the eye a theatrical
action upon any subject whatever.

The history of the art proves that the dancers of genius, had no
other means or assistance in the world but this to express all
the human passions, and the possibilities of it are in all
times, the very same.

Both here, and in France, there have been some of these dramatic
pieces in action, by dance, attempted, which have been well
received by the public.

Some years ago, the Dutchess of Maine ordered simphonies to be
composed for the scene of the fourth act of the _Horatii_; in
which the young Horatius kills Camilla. Two dancers, one of each
sex, represented this action at _Sceaux_; and their dance
painted it with all the energy and pathos of which it was

In Italy especially many subjects of a what may be called low
comedy, are very naturally expressed by dancing. In short, there
is hardly any comic action but what they represent upon their
theatres, if not with perfection, at least satisfactorily. And
certainly the dance in action has the same superiority over
sheer unmeaning dancing, that a fine history-piece has over
cutting flowers in paper. In the last there is little more
required than mechanical nicety, and, at the best, it affords no
great pretention to merit. But it is only for genius to order,
distribute and compose, in the other. A Raphael is allowed to
take place in the Temple of Fame, by a Virgil; and the art of
dancing is capable of having its Raphaels too. Pilades, and
Bathillus were painters, and great ones, in their way.
Picturesque composition is not less the duty of a composer of
dances, than of a painter.

Among the antients, that _Protheus_, of whom fabulous history
records such wonders, was only one of their dancers, who, by the
rapidity of his steps, by the strength of his expression, and by
the employment of the theatrical deceptions, seemed at every
instant, to change his form. The celebrated _Empusa_ was a
female dancer, whose agility was so prodigious that she appeared
and vanished like a spirit.

But it was at Rome that the Pantomime art received its highest
improvement. Pilades born in Cilicia, and Bathillus of
Alexandria, where the two most surprising geniuses, who, under
the reigns of Augustus Cæsar, displayed their talents in their
utmost lustre. The first invented the solemn, grave and pathetic
dances. The compositions of Bathillus were in the lively, gay,
and sprightly stile.

Bathillus had been the slave of Mecenas, who had given him his
freedom in favor of his talents. Having seen Pilades in Cilicia,
he engaged him to come to Rome, where he had disposed Mecenas in
his favor, who, becoming the declared protector of both,
procured to them the encouragement of the Emperor.

A theatre was built for them: the Romans flocked to it, and saw,
with surprise, a complete tragedy; all the passions painted with
the most vigorous strokes of representation: the exposition,
plot, catastrophe expressed in the clearest and most pathetic
manner, without any other means or assistence but that of
dancing, executed to the simphonies the best adapted, and far
superior to any that had been before heard in Rome.

Their surprise was not to end here. To this a second
entertainment succeeded; in which an ingenious action, without
needing the voice or speech, presented all the characters, all
the pleasant strokes, and humorous pictures of a good comedy.

And in both these kinds, the executive talents of Pilades and
Bathillus corresponded to the boldness and beauty of the kind of
compositions they had ventured to bring on the stage.

Pilades especially, who was at the head of this project, was the
most singular man that had till then appeared on the theatre.
His fertile imagination constantly supplied him with new means
of perfecting his art and embellishing his entertainments.
Athenæus mentions his having written a book much esteemed on the
depths and principles of his art.

Before him, some flutes composed the orchestra of the Romans. He
reinforced it with all the known instruments. He added choruses
of dances to his representations, and took care that their steps
and figures, should always have some relation or affinity to the
principal action. He provided them with dresses in the highest
taste of propriety, and omitted nothing towards producing,
keeping up, and pushing to the highest pitch, the charm of the
theatrical illusion.

The actions on the Roman theatres were tragic, comic, or
satirical; these last pretty nearly answering to what we
understand by grotesque or farcical.

Esopus and Roscius had been, from their excellence in
declamation, the delight and admiration of Rome. But on their
leaving no successors to their degree of merit; the taste for
dramatic poetry which was no longer supported by actors equal to
them, began to decline; and the theatrical dances under such
great masters as Pilades and Bathillus, either by their novelty,
or by their merit, or by both, made the Romans the less feel
their loss of those incomparable actors. The gestual language
took place of that which was declaimed; and produced regular
pieces acted in the three kinds of tragedy, comedy, and farce or
grotesque. The spectators grew pleased with such an exercise of
their understanding. Steps, motions, attitudes, figures,
positions, now were substituted to speech; and there resulted
from them an expression so natural, images so resembling,
a pathos so moving, or a pleasantry so agreeable, that people
imagined they heard the actions they saw. The gestures alone
supplied the place of the sweetness of the voice, of the energy
of speech, and of the charms of poetry.[*]

    [Footnote *: Hanc partem Musicæ disciplinæ Majores
    mutam nominârunt, quæ ore clauso loquitur, et quibusdam
    gesticulationibus facit intelligi, quod vix narrante
    lingua, aut scripturæ textu possit agnosci.

        _Cassiod_, var. 1. 20.

    Loquacissimas manus, linguosos digitos, silentium
    clamosum, expositionem tacitam.


This kind of entertainment, so new, though formed upon a
ground-work already known, planned and executed by genius, and
adopted with a passionate fondness by the Romans, was called the
_Italic dance_; and in the transports of pleasures it caused
them, they gave to the actors of it, the title of _Pantomimes_.
This was no more than a lively, and not at all exagerated
expression, of the truth of their action, which was one
continual picture to the eyes of the spectators. Their motion,
their feet, their hands, their arms, were but so many different
parts of the picture; none of them were to remain idle; but all,
with propriety, were to concur to the formation of that
assemblage, from which result the harmony, and, with pardon for
the expression, the happy _all-together_ of the composition and
performance. A dancer learned from his very name of _pantomime_,
that he could be in no esteem in Rome, but so far as he should
be _all the actor_.

And, in fact, this art was carried to a point of perfection hard
to believe; but for such a number of concurrent and authentic

It appears also clearly from history, that this art, in its
origin, (so favored by an arbitrary prince, and who also made
some use of it, towards establishing his despotism, nay even
primordially introduced by Bathillus, a slave) could no longer
preserve its great excellence, than the spirit of liberty was
not wholly worn out in the Roman breasts; and, like its other
sister arts, gradually decayed and sunk under the subsequent

Pilades gave a memorable instance of the (as yet) unextinguished
spirit of liberty, when, upon his being banished Rome, for some
time, by Augustus Cesar, upon account of the disturbances the
pantomime parties occasioned, he told him plainly to his face,
that he was ungrateful for the good his power received, by the
diversion to the Romans from more serious thoughts on the loss
of their liberty. "Why do not you," says he, "let the people
amuse themselves with our quarrels?"

This dancer had such great powers in all his tragedies, that he
could draw tears from even those of the spectators the least
used to the melting mood.

But in truth, the effect of these pantomimes, in general, was
prodigious. Tears and sobs interrupted often the representation
of the tragedy of _Glaucus_, in which the pantomime Plancus
played the principal character.

Bathillus, in painting the amours of Leda, never failed of
exciting the utmost sensibility in the Roman ladies.

But what is more surprising yet, _Memphir_, a Pithagorean
philosopher, as Athenæus tells us, expressed, by dancing, all
the excellence of the philosophy of Pithagoras, with more
elegance, more clearness and energy, than the most eloquent
professor of philosophy could have done.

Upon considering all this, one is almost tempted to say, with M.
Cahusac, "We have, upon the stage, excellent feet, lively legs,
admirable arms: what a pity it is, that with all this we have so
little of the art of dancing!"

Our tragedy and our comedy have an extent and duration which are
supported by the charms of speech, by the interestingness of
narration, by the variety of the sallies of wit. The action is
divided into acts, each act into scenes, these scenes
successively present new situations, and these situations keep
up the warmth of interest and attention, form the plot, lead to
the conclusion or unravelment, and prepare it.

Such must have been, or such must be, (but with more precision
and markingness) tragedies or comedies represented by dancing;
as gesture is something more marking and succinct than speech.
There are required many words to express a thought, but one
single motion may paint several thoughts, and situations.

In such compositions, then, made to be danced, the theatrical
action must go forward with the utmost rapidity: there must not
be one unmeaning entry, figure, or step in them. Such a piece
ought to be a close crouded abstract of some excellent written
dramatic piece.

Dancing, like painting, can only present situations to the eye;
and every truly theatrical situation is nothing but a living

If a composer of dances should undertake to represent upon the
stage any great action or theatrical subject, he must begin by
making an extract from it, of all the most picturesque
situations. No other parts beside these can enter into his plan;
all the others are defective or useless, they can only embarras,
perplex, confound, and render it cold and insipid.

Whereas, if the situations succeed one another naturally, and in
great number; if their being well linked together conducts them
with rapidity, from the first situation to the last, which must
clearly and strikingly unravel the whole; the choice is
complete, and the theatrical effect will be sure.

It is that final effect, of which, in the execution, the
composer and performer must never lose sight. Successive
pictures must be exhibited, and animated with all the expression
that can result from the impassioned motions of the dance.

This was doubtless the great secret of the art of Pilades, who
so highly excelled in his ideas of theatrical expression: this
is, perhaps, too for all kinds of theatrical composition,
whether to be declaimed, or to be executed by dancing, a general
rule that is not to be slighted.

One instance of the regard shewn by Pilades to theatrical
propriety is preserved to us, and not unworthy of attention. He
had been publickly challenged by Hilas, once a pupil of his, to
represent the greatness of Agamemnon: Hilas came upon the stage
with buskins, which, in the nature of stilts, made him of an
artificial height; in consequence of which he greatly
over-topped the croud of actors who surrounded him. This passed
well enough, 'till Pilades appeared with an air, stern and
majestic. His serious steps, his arms a-cross, his motion
sometimes slow, sometimes animated, with pauses full of meaning,
his looks now fixed on the ground, now lifted to heaven, with
all the attitudes of profound pensiveness, painted strongly a
man taken up with great things, which he was meditating,
weighing, and comparing, with all the dignity of kingly
importance. The spectators, struck with the justness, with the
energy and real elevation of so expressive a portraiture,
unanimously adjudged the preference to Pilades, who, coolly
turning to Hilas, said to him, "_Young man, we had to represent
a king who commanded over twenty kings: you made him tall:
I showed him great._"

It was in the reign of Nero, that a cinical mock-philosopher,
called Demetrius, saw, for the first time, one of these
pantomime compositions. Struck with the truth of the
representation, he could not help expressing the greatest marks
of astonishment: but whether his pride made him feel a sort of
shame for the admiration he had involuntarily shewn, or whether
naturally envious and selfish, he could not bear the cruel pain
of being forced to approve any thing but his own singularities;
he attributed to the music the strong impression that has been
made upon him: as, in that reign, a false philosophy very
naturally had a greater influence than the real, this man was,
it seems, of consequence enough for the managers of the dances
to take notice of this partiality, or at least to be piqued
enough, for their own honor, to lay a scheme for undeceiving
him. He was once more brought to their theatre, and seated in a
conspicuous part of the house, without his having been
acquainted with their intention.

The orchestra began: an actor opens the scene: on the moment of
his entrance, the simphony ceases, and the representation
continues. Without any aid but that of the steps, the positions
of the body, the movements of the arms, the piece is performed,
in which are successively represented the amours of Mars and
Venus, the Sun discovering them to the jealous husband of the
goddess, the snares which he sets for his faithless spouse and
her formidable gallant, the quick effect of the treacherous net,
which, while it compleats the revenge of Vulcan, only publishes
his shame, the confusion of Venus, the rage of Mars, the arch
mirth of the gods, who came to enjoy the sight.

The whole audience gave to the excellence of the performance its
due applause, but the Cinic, out of himself, could not help
crying out, in a transport of delight; "_No! this is not a
representation; it is the very thing itself._"

Much about the same time a dancer represented the _labors of_
Hercules. He retraced in so true a manner all the different
situations of that hero, that a king of Pontus, then at Rome,
and who had never seen such a sight before, easily followed the
thread of the action, and charmed with it, asked with great
earnestness of the emperor, that he would let him have with him
that extraordinary dancer, who had made such an impression upon

  "Do not, says he to Nero, be surprised at my request. I have
  for borderers upon my kingdom, some Barbarian nations whose
  language none of my people could understand, nor they learn
  ours. Such a man as this dancer would be an admirable
  interpreter between us."

It would then surely be a great error to imagine, that an
habitual dexterity, a daily practice, with their arms, their
legs and feet, were the only talents of these pantomime dancers.
Their execution, without doubt, required all these advantages of
the body in the most eminent degree; but their compositions
supposed, and indispensably implied an infinite number of
combinations which belong intirely to the mind, or intellectual
faculties; as for example, especially an attentive and judicious
discernment of the most interesting truths of human nature. How
extensive a study this exacts, it is more easy to conceive than
to attain.

And surely there is an evident necessity for studying men,
before one can undertake to paint or represent them. It is not
till after a profound examination of the passions, that one
ought to flatter one's self with characterising them purely by
the powers of external signs of actions. All the passions have
affinities to each other, which it is only for a great justness
of understanding to seize; they have shades that distinguish
them, which nothing but a nice eye can perceive, and which
easily escape a superficial observer.

In serious dancing, where the character of a hero is to be
given, there are in his actions, in the course of his life,
certain marking strokes, certain incidents or extraordinary
passages, which are subjects proper for the stage, and which
must be separated from others perhaps more brilliant in history,
but which would infrigidate a theatrical composition.

In the state of dancing of our days, the dancers, and even the
composers of dances, aspire to little more than the mechanical
part of their art; and, indeed, they hardly know any thing
beyond that, and cannot in course, cultivate what they have no
conception of.

When M. Cahusac wrote, he observed that this was sufficient for
the spectators, who required nothing more than a brilliant
execution from the dancers in the old track of steps and capers;
and this is, in fact, true of the greater number now. But
lately, the taste for dances of action, animated with meaning
and conveying the idea of some fable or subject, has begun to
gain ground. People are less tired with a dance, in which the
understanding is exercised, without the fatigue of perplexity,
than by merely seeing a succession of lively steps, and
cabriols, however well executed; which, in point of merit, bear
no more proportion to that of a well-composed dance, than a
tiresome repetition of vignettes, of head-pieces and
tail-pieces, would do to the gravings of historical pieces after
a Raphael, a Michael Angelo, or a Correggio.

As hitherto the composer of the dances of action, have not been
able to recover that height of perfection to which the antient
pantomimes carried their art; the most that any composers could
do, I mean with success, (for there have been some attempts
made, that, for want of a proper plan and execution, failed,)
was to furnish certain dances, in the nature of _poemetti_ or
small dramatic poems, which, where the subject of action has
been clearly and intelligibly executed, have ever been received
with the most encouraging applause by the public.

And here the ingenious author to whom I am so much obliged in
this chapter, furnishes me with rules of composition for the
dances of action, which can hardly be too much recommended.

All theatrical compositions ought to have three essential parts.

By a lively dialogue, in a piece made to be spoken, or by an
incident dextrously introduced in one made for a dance in
action, the spectator is to be prepared for the subject that is
to be represented, and to have some acquaintance of the
character, quality, and manners of the persons of the drama:
this is what is called _the exposition_.

The circumstances, the obstacles which arise out of the
ground-work of the subject, embroil it, and retard its march
without stopping it. A sort of embarrasment forms itself out of
the actions of the characters, which perplexes the curiosity of
the spectators, from whose even guess-work, the manner how all
is to be ultimately unravelled is to be kept as great a secret
as possible: and this embarrasment is what is called _the plot_.

From this embarrasment, one sees successively break forth
lights, the more unexpected, the better. They unfold the action,
and conduct it by insensible degrees to an ingenious conclusion:
this is what is called _the unravelment_.

If any of these three parts is defective, the theatrical merit
is imperfect. If they are all three in due proportion, the
action is complete, and the charm of the representation is

As the theatrical dance then is a representation, it must be
formed of these three essentially constitutive parts. Thus it
will be more or less perfect, according as its exposition shall
be more or less clear, its plot more or less ingenious, its
unravelment more or less striking.

But this division is not the only one that should be known and
practised. A dramatic work is commonly composed of five or fewer
acts; and an act is composed of scenes in dialogue or soliloquy.
Now every act, every scene, should have, subordinately, its
exposition, its plot, and its unravelment, just as the total of
the piece has, of which they are the parts.

So ought, also every representation in dancing to have those
three parts, which constitute every thing that is action.
Without their union, there is no action that is perfect: a fault
in one of those parts will have a bad effect on the others; the
chain is broke; the picture, whatever beauty it may have in
other respects, is without any theatrical merit.

Besides these general laws of the theatre, which are in common
to those compositions of dances, that are to be executed on it,
they are subjected to other particular rules, which are derived
from the primitive principles of the art.

As the art of dancing essentially consists in painting by
gestures and attitudes, there is nothing of what would be
rejected by a painter of good taste, that the dancer can admit;
and, consequentially, every thing that such a painter would
chuse, ought to be laid hold of, distributed, and properly
placed in a dance of action.

Here, on this point, recurs that never too often repeated rule,
as infallible as it is plain: _let nature, in every thing, be
the guide of art; and let art, in every thing, aim at imitating
nature_: a rule this, than which there is not one more trite,
more hackneyed in the theory, nor less regarded in the practice.

Nature then being always Nature, always invariable in her
operations and productions; there is no false conclusion, nor
straining inferences, in avering, that the art of dancing could
not but be a great gainer by a revival of the taste of the
antients for the pantomime branch; which, upon the theatre,
converted a transient flashy amusement of the eye, into a
rational or sensible entertainment, and made of dancers, who are
otherwise, a mere mechanical composition of feet, legs, and
arms, without spirit or meaning, artists formed to paint with
the most pathetic expression, the most striking situations of
human nature: I am not afraid of using here the term of the most
pathetic expression, injuriously to the great power of
theatrical declamation; because the great effect and charm of
the moment is, evidently, the more likely to be produced by
attitudes or gestures alone, unseconded by the voice; for that
the pleasure of the spectator will have been the greater for the
quickness of his apprehension not having needed that help to
understand the meaning of them. And this is so true of the force
of impression depending on that part of bodily eloquence, that
even in oratory, action was, by one of the greatest judges of
that art, pronounced to be the most essential part of it.

This may be, perhaps, an exaggeration: but when people resort to
a theatre to unbend, or relax, they will hardly think their
pleasure tastelesly diversified by a fine pantomime execution of
a dramatic composition, to the perfection of which, poetry,
music, painting, decoration, and machinery will have all
contributed their respective contingents.

For the subjects of these poetical dances, the composer will
undoubtedly find those which are the most likely to please, in
fabulous history, especially for the serious, or pathetic stile.
This we find was the great resource of the antients, who had, in
that point, a considerable advantage, from which the moderns are
excluded, by the antient mithology having lost that effect, and
warmth of interest, which accompanied all transactions taken
from it by their poets, and brought upon the theatre. The heroes
of antiquity, the marvellous of their deities, and the histories
of their amours, or of their exploits, can never make the same
impression on the moderns so thoroughly differing in manners and
ways of thinking, from those, to whom such exhibitions were a
kind of domestic, and even religious remembrancers. The
spectators of those times were more at home to what they saw
represented upon their theatres; the ground-work of the fable
represented to the audience being generally foreknown,
contributed greatly to the quickness of their apprehension; and
its being part of their received theology, and often of the
history of their own country, procured it the more favorable

The greatest part of these advantages are wanting in the
employment of these fictions among the moderns; and to which
however they are, in some measure, compelled to have recourse,
for want of theatrical subjects striking enough to be agreeably
thrown into a dance; by which I do not mean to exclude all
subjects that have not those poetical fictions of Greek and
Roman antiquity for a basis; on the contrary, it might justly
pass for a barrenness of invention, the being reduced constantly
to borrow from them, but purely to point out a treasure, ever
open to the artist who shall know how to make a selection with
judgment and taste: always remembering, that the more
universally the fable is foreknown, the more easy will the task
be of rendering it intelligible in the execution.

There are, doubtless, some parts of the antient mithology so
obscure, and so little known, that any plan taken from them,
would, to the generality of the spectators, be as great a
novelty, as if the composer had himself invented the subject.
There are others again of which all the interest is entirely
antiquated and exploded.

As to the pieces of composition in the comic vein, there is
nothing like taking the subject of them from the most agreeable
and the most marking occurrences in real, current life; and the
stronger they are of the manners and practice of the times, the
nearer they will seem to the truth of nature, and the surer at
once to be understood, and to have a pleasing effect.

And here I shall take the liberty of concluding with offering
two instances of poetic dances; the one in the serious, the
other in the comic vein, which are furnished rather as hints of
the improvable nature of such compositions, than in the least
meant for models of them.

  The first has for title,


The decoration represents a wood intersected by several walks,
which form an agreeable perspective of distances. At the bottom
of the theatre, and in the middle, there is a grand walk,
terminated by a small mount, on the summit of which is seen a
colonnade, that forms the peristile of a temple.

Venus, preceded by the Graces and several nimphs, comes out of
the temple, descends the mount, and advances to the front of the
wood; the simphony to be the most agreeable and melodious
imaginable, to announce the arrival of the goddess of love.

The Graces and the nimphs open the action, and, by their
gestures and steps, express their endeavour to sooth the
impatience of Venus on the absence of Adonis. The agitation in
which she is, ought to be painted on her countenance, and
expressed by the discomposure of her steps, marking her anxiety
and desire of seeing her lover.

The sound of the chace is heard, which betokens the approach of
Adonis. Joy breaks forth in the eyes, the gestures, and steps of
Venus and her train.

Adonis, followed by several hunters, enters through one of the
side-walks of the wood. Venus runs to meet him, and seems to
chide him for having been so long away. He shows her the head of
a stag, which he has killed, and which is carried, as in
triumph, upon a hunting-pole, by one of the hunters; and offers
it, as the fruit of his chace, in homage to the goddess, who is
presently appeased, and graciously receives his offering. These
two lovers then express in a _pas-de-deux_, their mutual

The hunters mix with the Graces and nimphs, and form a dance
which characterises their harmony.

Soon a noisy simphony, of military instrumental music, gives
warning of the arrival of Mars. Venus, Adonis, the Graces, the
nimphs, and hunters, show signs of uneasiness and terror.

Mars, followed by several warriors, enters precipitately through
a walk opposite to that by which Adonis and the hunters came.
Venus separates from Adonis, having insisted on his getting out
of the way of the formidable god of war. He withdraws with his
train by the same way as he came. Mars, inraged with jealousy,
makes a shew of going to pursue Adonis. Venus stops him, and
employs, in her soothing and caresses, all the usual arts of
appeasing and blinding a jealous lover. She prevails at length,
not only to dissipate his passion, but to make him believe
himself in the wrong for having been jealous.

The warriors address themselves to the Graces and nimphs, and
form together a dance expressive of a sort of reconciliation;
after which Mars and his train return by the same way as they

Venus, the Graces, and the nimphs, see them go, and when they
are got a little distance from them, testify their satisfaction
at having got so well over this interruption.

Adonis returns alone: Venus springs to meet him, and gives him
to understand that he has now nothing to fear; that Mars will
not return in haste.

In the same walk from which Adonis came, the hunters of his
train are seen pursuing a wild boar, that tries to escape just
by where the Graces and the nimphs are, who, in their fright,
attempt to fly from him: but he is already so near them, that
they do not know how to avoid him. Adonis runs hastily to pierce
the boar with his javelin; but the boar gets him himself down.
The hunters arrive at that instant, and kill the boar; but
Adonis is nevertheless mortally wounded, and expires.

Here it is that the music and the dance are to display their
respective powers: the one by the most plaintive mournful
sounds; the other by gestures and steps in which grief and
despair are strongly characterised, ought to express the
profound affection into which Venus is plunged, and the share
the Graces, the nimphs, and the hunters take in it.

Venus appears to implore the aid of all the gods, to restore her
lover to her. She bathes him with her tears, and those precious
tears have such a virtue, that Adonis appears all of a sudden
transformed into an anemony or wind-flower.

The Graces and the nimphs express their surprise; but the
astonishment of the hunters should be yet more strongly marked.

Venus herself is not the more comforted by this metamorphosis.
A flower cannot well supply the place of her lover. She turns
then her eyes towards the earth, and seems to invoke the power
of some deity inhabitant of its bowels.

The flower disappears; the earth opens, and Proserpine rises out
of it, sitting on a chariot drawn by black horses, and having at
her side Adonis restored to life.

It is natural to imagine the joy that is at this to be
expressed, by the simphony, by the gestures, and steps of Venus,
of the Graces, the nimphs, and hunters.

Proserpine, getting out of her chariot, holding Adonis by the
hand, presents him to Venus. A _pas-de-trois_ or trio-dance
follows, in which the joy of the two lovers at seeing one
another again is to be characterised by all the expression, and
all the graces of the most pleasing dance, while Proserpine
testifies her satisfaction at having produced the re-union:
after which, she gets into her chariot, and re-descends into the

The Graces, the nimphs, and hunters, express how highly they are
charmed at seeing Adonis again; Venus and Adonis form a
_pas-de-deux_, or duet-dance, in which the Goddess takes off her
girdle or _cestus_, and puts it upon Adonis, in the way of a
shoulder-belt, or as now the ribbons of most orders of
knight-hood are worn, which is to him a simbol of immortality.

The Graces and nimphs testify to Adonis how pleased they are to
see him received into the number of the demi-gods: the hunters
pay their homage to him, and the whole concludes by a general

  The other specimen has for title,


The decoration represents a delicious garden, in which there
are several compartments, separated by canals and _jet-d'eaux_.
This scenery should exhibit the prospect of at once a
pleasure-garden, and a fruit-one.

In the bottom of this perspective, there appear several
gardeners busied, some in pruning the hedges, others in sowing
and planting: more towards the front are seen, some women at
work, tying up the flowers, or cleaning them from pernicious
leaves; others setting roots in vases. All this forms the
scenical picture at the drawing up the curtain.

A simphony mixed with the most rural instruments of music,
begins with soft and soothing airs.

One of the female gardeners, more showishly dressed than the
others, and who is employed upon some necessary task about the
flower-vases, seems however more attentive to the admiring the
flowers, than to do her work: and as she is standing near a
canal, she is, when she imagines none are taking notice of her,
looking _at_ her figure in the watery mirror, admiring herself,
and adjusting her dress. Though she does all this by stealth,
her companions remark her coquettry, make signs to each other,
and point her out to the gardeners, who join the laugh at her,
without the coquet's perceiving it, who is too much taken up
with herself.

The simphony should express by the sounds, as nearly as
possible, the mockery and bursts of laughter from the rest of
the gardeners.

The coquet is sadly tempted to gather some of the flowers for
her own use, but dares not. In the moment that she is expressing
the greatest mind for it, enters a gardener, who is not one of
those employed at work, and who makes up to her, shows her a
fine nosegay, and signifies to her that he is come on purpose to
offer it her. The coquet immediately leaves off her work; and
this _pas-de-deux_ begins by all the little grimaces and false
coyness that the coquette opposes to her acceptance of the
nosegay, but which at the same time only the more betray the
mind she has for it. The gardener keeps pressing her to receive
it. Her companions, curious to see how this will end, advance
little by little towards them: the gardeners follow them; and
all surrounding the coquette and her swain, form a dance, in
which the men seem to excite the lover not to take a denial, and
the women want to engage the coquette to receive the nosegay;
but all this, with a bantering air: at length the coquette
accepts it, sticks some of the flowers in her hair, and the rest
in her bosom. Her companions and the gardeners, shew by their
signs, that they were very sure she would take the nosegay and
return to their, work.

Another gardener now enters, on the side opposite to that on
which the first came, and advancing with an air of gaiety,
presents to the coquette, a small basket of fine fruit. In this
_pas-de-trois_, she a-fresh makes a great many faces, about
whether she will take the fruit or not. The swain of the nosegay
expresses his vexation at the intervention of this rival, but
the coquette manages so well that she pacifies his jealousy, and
accepts the other's basket of fruit, which she hangs upon her
arm. The gardeners do not quit their work, but they give to
understand by shrewd signs, what they think of the coquette's

It is easy to conceive, that the composer of this music will, in
the airs made for the _pas-de-deux_, and _pas-de-trois_, pay
attention to the different affections that are to be
characterised by the dance.

While the gardener who brought the nosegay, and the other who
presented the fruit, and the coquette, are all seemingly in good
harmony, enters a third gardener, gallantly dressed, of a most
engaging figure, having in his hands some pink-and-silver

The simphony should announce the arrival of this amiable
gardener, by an air all expressive of briskness and gay

The gallant gardener approaches the coquette, and shews her
those glittering ribbons, which at once catch her eye, and give
her a violent longing for them. This new-comer takes notice of
the flowers in her hair and bosom, and of the fruit-basket hung
upon her arm. He gives her plainly to understand that she must
return all this to his rivals, if she has a mind to have the
ribbons. These begin to express their resentment; but the
coquette is so transported with the pleasure of bedizening
herself with those ribbons, that no regard can with-hold her:
she returns the flowers to the one, and the fruit to the other,
and takes the ribbons. The two gardeners, who see themselves
slighted in this manner, threaten him who has given the ribbons,
and throw themselves into attitudes of falling upon him; at
which he puts on a resolute look, and does not seem to fear
them. Her companions and the gardeners leave their work, and
advance some steps forwards, being curious to see how the scene
will end.

The simphony should here express, by different airs, the
resentment of the two first swains, and the resentment of the
gallant gardener.

The coquette uses her best arts to pacify the two angry
gardeners; but it is all in vain; they express their
indignation, and are determined to take their revenge upon their
rival. Just in the instant that they are preparing to attack
him, and that he is stoutly standing upon his defence, comes in
a female gardener, amiable, lively, but without any mark of
coquettry in her looks or dress; who, by the eager and
frightened air with which she interposes, and places herself
between the gallant gardener and the others, to prevent their
hurting him, discovers the tender regard she has for him.

The two others, in respect to this charming girl, dare not
proceed; but they give her to understand that the coquette has
been so base as to return the flowers to the one, and the fruit
to the other, that she might get the ribbons from the gardener
whom she is protecting from their just resentment.

At this the offended fair one expresses to her lover her
indignation, but does not the less for that make the others
sensible that she will not suffer them to hurt him. She snatches
next, from the coquette, the ribbons. The whole company round
testify their approbation of what she has done, even the two
gardeners, who were, the moment before, so angry, burst out
a-laughing for joy, to see the coquette so well punished, being
now left without flowers, fruit, or ribbons; at which she
withdraws, overwhelmed with confusion, and with the loud laugh
and rallying gestures of her companions and the other gardeners.

The gay gardener, vexed at having been surprised by his
mistress, in an act of gallantry to another woman, wants to pass
it off to her as merely a scheme to amuse himself, and to laugh
at the coquette. At first she will not hear him; she treads the
ribbons under her feet, and is going away in a passion. He stops
her, and entreats her forgiveness with an air so moving and
penetrated, that, little by little, she is disarmed of her
anger, and pardons him, in sign of which she gives him her hand.

There is no need of specifying here what the dance in action,
accompanied by the music, should express in this _pas-de-deux_;
it is too obvious.

The gardeners, men and women, testify their rejoicing at this
reconciliation, and the dance becomes general.


       *       *       *       *       *
           *       *       *       *
       *       *       *       *       *


The word "Salii" was consistently printed as Salü (u with umlaut);
it has been corrected for the e-text. The word "Præsul" was printed
in italics and may have read "Proesul" (oe for ae ligature);
it is here given the standard spelling.

A number of words usually spelled with "y" are written with "i" in this
text: nimph, mith, simbol; and names such as Pilades, Hilas.

The form "Hetruscans" is used consistently.

Some Variations and Anomalies:

  "character" is sometimes spelled "charracter" or "caracter"
  "direct" and "dirrect" both occur
  "withall" is more common than "withal"
  "embarras" is consistently spelled with one "s"
  "exagerate" is almost always spelled with one "g"

  "choregraphy" is always written without the second "o"
  "gestual" is not an error for "gestural" but a different word

ERRORS, noted or corrected:

  _All duplications occur across a line break ("of / of ...")._

  diverting the Romans from serious thoughts  [thoughs]
  twirling it, or with a pail to draw water  [a a pail]
  Voi gli correrete dietro  [Voigli]
  "Then handing you backwards
    [_catchword has "There" for "Then"_]
  specifying rules for its attainment  [for for]
  must be strictly forbidden  [fobidden]
  a vain silly hint of self-recomdation;
    [_text unchanged: "recom/dation" at line break_]
  nothing is more strongly inculcated  [stongly]
  Persons of every size or shape  [of of]
  inhabitants of the southren climates  [_spelling unchanged_]
  called by them _LasCheganças_,  [_spacing unchanged_]
  (not to mention Sadler's wells)  [_capitalization unchanged_]
  not being able to contradict the authorities
    [_printed "be/ing" at line break without hyphen_]
  adopted with a passionate fondness by the Romans  [adoped]
  the obstacles which arise out of the ground-work
     [_printed "our of", corrected by hand to "out of"_]
  and steps of Venus  [of of]

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Treatise on the Art of Dancing" ***

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