Category Archives: Description of dances

Soldier’s Joy

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.

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Ashley’s Ride

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

York Fusiliers

We have reconsidered our reconstruction of the dance York Fusiliers.  Our thanks to Susan de Guardiola for her comments and advice on our previous interpretation.  Thanks as well to the Milne Special Collections of the University of New Hampshire, in Durham, New Hampshire, for sending us a copy of John Griffiths’ 1794 booklet.

The first known publication of the dance “York Fusiliers” was in John Griffiths’ 1794 booklet, A Collection of the Newest Cotillions, and Country Dances; Principally Composed By John Griffiths, Dancing MasterContinue reading

Bonny Lassy Take a Man

Bonny Lassi (sic) Take a Man was included in Caledonian Country Dances, published by I. Walsh in London in 1736. A page from Walsh’s book containing this dance was found in the notebook of Captain George Bush (1753-1797) of Delaware, indicating that the dance was known in America. The dance is carefully described in Social Dances from the American Revolution by Charles Cyril Hendrickson and Kate Van Winkle Keller, published in Sandy Hook, Connecticut in 1992. We have found some reason to deviate slightly from Hendrickson and Keller’s interpretation of the dance.  Continue reading

Constancy

Constancy is one of our favorite colonial dances. It combines a good tune with basic figures. For warming up at the beginning of an evening of dances, or sparing mental energy at the end of the evening, it flows naturally and comfortably.

Constancy appears in “The Gentleman & Lady’s COMPANION; containing, The Newest COTILLIONS and COUNTRY DANCES; To Which is Added, Instances of ILL MANNERS, to be carefully avoided by YOUTH of both sexes.”, published by J. Trumbull, Norwich, in 1798.  Continue reading

Come Haste to the Wedding

The tune Come Haste To The Wedding is also known as Haste to the Wedding, Come Haste, Haste To The West, Haste Ye Tae The Wedding, Hasten To The Wedding, Hasten To The Wedding Mary, Rural Felicity, The Rules of Felicity, Fast Trip To Reno, Quick Trip To Reno, Gigue Des Petits Moutons, Green Mountain Volunteers, The Long Eight, Perry’s Victory, Footprints, Granny Plays the Fiddle, Trip to the Dargle, A Trip to the Gargle, Let Brainspinning Swains, The Small Pin Cushion, Carrickfergus, Thurot, and (our favorite) Cut Your Toenails You’re Tearing All The Sheets.

This tune was introduced as the melody of a song in the stage show “The Elopement”, produced in London in 1767. The lyrics to the song are at the bottom of this post.  There are many country dances that have been written to this tune, and it is a common fiddle favorite.

There are three versions of this country dance that were written (and have survived) from the 18th century. Continue reading

Stony Point

The dance “Stony Point” has been published in at least two modern collections: Social Dances from the American Revolution, (The Hendrickson Group, 1992) and George Washington: A Biography in Social Dance, (The Hendrickson Group, 1998).  Both of these books were written by Charles Cyril Hendrickson and Kate Van Winkle Keller, and both have versions of the dance that come from unpublished personal dance collections.

The version in Social Dances from the American Revolution (SDAR) comes from the notebook of George Bush, who served in the Continental Army from 1776-1783 (and who is not an ancestor of the presidents).   Continue reading