Market Lass first appeared in The New Collection of Country Dances by John Burbank, published in Brookfield, MA in 1799. We have been enjoying this dance for many months now, and want to share it. Continue reading
“Sweet Richard” is a name that has been used for more than one tune, and more than one set of figures. What’s more, the same set of figures, danced to the different tunes, becomes a very different dance! We’ve danced more than one version. Continue reading
Penington’s Rant was published in London by John Johnson around 1748 and by Samuel and Charles Thompson in their Two Hundred Country Dances Vol. 1, published in 1758 (or, according to the Tune Archive, published in 1757). It was likely published in Thompson’s Twenty Four Country Dances for 1751 or 1752, We have not found any written record of this dance in the colonies, but it is likely that it was enjoyed on both sides of the Atlantic! Continue reading
The version of Successful Campaign which we dance was written down by George Bush during the Revolutionary War. It is reported that George Washington danced a version of this dance in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1781. Continue reading
Portsmouth Harbour is a lovely dance and tune that was first published in London in Twenty Four Country Dances for the Year 1772 by Charles and Samuel Thompson, and was also included in Thompson’s compleat collection of 200 favorite country dances: perform’d at court [,] Bath [,] Tunbridge & all public assemblies with proper figures or directions to each tune: set for the violin [,] German flute & hautboy. Vollm. 3] circa 1775. The annual Thompson volumes appear to have come out in the fall of the year previous to the year mentioned (in this case, 1771) and, as American dancers seem to have really enjoyed learning new dances, were shipped over to America within months.
Portsmouth Harbour is the earliest longways set dance we have yet uncovered that includes the allemande figure. Continue reading
The Convention is found in John Griffiths’ publication Collection of the Newest Cotillions and Country Dances Principally Composed by John Griffiths, Dancing Master. To Which is Added Instances of Ill Manners, to be carefully avoided by Youth of both sexes, Northampton, Massachusetts, 1794. *
The Convention is a cotillion. Cotillions were danced by an even number of couples, usually by four couples standing in a square set. Continue reading
Oak Stick (or The Oak Stick) is found in one publication in London (Campbell, Twenty Four Country Dances for the Year 1790) and two manuscripts in America – Nancy Shepley’s manuscript of 1794 from Pepperell, Massachusetts and Asa Wilcox’s Book of Figures from 1793. Continue reading
The Young Widow is a lovely, unusual, triple-minor longways set dance that we often dance and enjoy in Sudbury. We find no instructions or listing for this dance in England, but It apparently was a very popular dance early in United States history, where we find a copy of instructions for it published as early as 1788 Continue reading
This triple-minor dance has the first and third couples moving around the second couple. This dance keeps most of the dancers moving most of the time, and is fun both to dance and to watch.
There are many surviving eighteenth century texts, from both England and America, that contain versions of dances to this tune. Our reconstruction is based on versions from four sources.
The earliest known version of the dance Ashley’s Ride in North America is found in a manuscript by Nancy Shepley of Pepperell, Massachusetts, circa 1794. This is a hand-written manuscript of over 50 dances (dance figures are included, but no tune). Nancy Shepley’s manuscript was sent to us courtesy, American Antiquarian Society. Thank you to them for their support!
There is, as well, a copy of a dance called “Ashley’s Ride” in a book entitled Twenty Four Country Dances for the year 1790. With proper tunes and directions to each dance, etc. by W. Campbell, published in London in 1789 or 1790. The dance figures in Campbell are quite different from the figures in the Shepley manuscript, but it is interesting that the tune apparently was first introduced in England and moved to New England after the American Revolution. Continue reading