Dance History Alive!
Jacob and Nancy Bloom                    781-648-8230          

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Our Programs

Colonial Dance Workshop

Our colonial workshop teaches students what colonial dance was like and why it was important in colonial society. The students learn a variety of historically accurate colonial steps and perform age-appropriate colonial style dances.  We come dressed in 18th-century costumes, and bring along recorded period music, which reduces the expense to your school.  We are located in Eastern Massachusetts and would be happy to come to your school or meeting-place to help introduce your students to this aspect of colonial life.

When the students enter, we explain why they would have wanted to learn to dance if they lived in colonial times, and why their parents would have wanted them to learn to dance.  We teach an easy colonial-era step, and follow this with progressively more difficult steps.  Each student then takes another student as a partner, and learns a dance in colonial style.  The dances we teach have been adapted for 21st century kids from early American dances, require no girl-boy pairing or hand-holding, and allow the kids to enjoy themselves.  The first dance is followed by either another colonial style dance or a colonial singing game.  The workshops take 45-60 minutes each and are done with one class at a time, one after another.  There is usually time for discussion of the nature of 18th century schools, what 18th century children wore, and the manners of the 18th century.  The classroom teachers stay with the class and participate in the dancing.

Our workshop gives students practice in moving to a musical beat, working in a group, and learning and performing sequences of movements.  By the end of  the period, they have learned and performed a variety of steps and a formation dance, and have learned more about colonial society and how children of their age lived during the colonial era.  It is a wonderful sight to see 8 and 9 year olds, with no previous experience, thoroughly enjoying dancing  a “colonial” dance in less than an hour!

We provide teachers with an article about the history of dance, with bibliography, to encourage classroom discussion.

Revolutionary Dance and Politics

If a program with more historical content is preferred, we can teach some colonial steps and have the group perform a dance using those steps, to give the experience of dancing cooperatively as was done in the eighteenth century.  We then give an age-appropriate version of our program on the politics of dance (below).  The program includes information about how Joseph Warren, Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, and John Hancock interacted with an important dancing master from Boston named William Turner, who worked with them during and after the Revolution.  For a group that is studying the American Revolution in greater depth, this program may be more appropriate.

The Politics of Dance

We are excited about our new program on American colonial and Revolutionary history through the politics of dance!  We have done extensive research, and have learned a great deal about how important dance, and dancing masters, were to the people of colonial America.

American society has changed dramatically in the past 240+ years, especially the ways that people get together and socialize. Instead of meeting over drinks or dinner or on the golf course, people of various ages socialized at dancing assemblies – which usually included supper, often cards and sometimes lasted for many hours, or even days. Young people flirted and danced, older people chaperoned the younger set, and still others discussed business.

Some of the most important people of the time were the people, largely men, who taught dancing (and often also taught fencing). These dancing masters knew how to teach children and adults to look respectable and act appropriately at such assemblies. This knowledge was clearly precious to many folks back then – and they paid dearly for lessons so that they and their children could mingle with the wealthy of their towns and villages.

Thomas Pike was born in England and later lived in Charleston, South Carolina and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; William Turner was a colonist in Boston.  Both of them taught dancing in the colonies. Pike was a staunch Royalist, Turner was a Son of Liberty, and they both suffered because of their political beliefs.  We share primary sources that reveal the course of their lives, especially their financial struggles and the political choices they made,  to bring home the reality of what that long-ago war meant to early Americans.

Home Dance in Colonial America ProgramsBios Recommendations Colonial Costuming Colonial Music Thoughts on Dance

Dance History Alive!
Jacob and Nancy Bloom        781-648-8230