Category Archives: Description of dances

Allemande Swiss

The tune Allemande Swiss, and the dances written to go to it, were extremely popular in late eighteenth century America.  (It is not to be confused with the tune “Swiss Allemand”, and the dances which were written to go to it.)   Approximately 20 dance manuals and hand-written manuscripts from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century include both country dances and a cotillion with the name Allemand Swiss.  As spelling was not standardized in the 18th century, we find many varied spellings of the title, like Continue reading

Penington’s Rant

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

Portsmouth Harbour

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 (cotillion)

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