George Villeneuve Junior, A Collection of Cotillons, 1769

The 1769 Collection of Cotillons by George Villeneuve ‘Junior’ advertises its ‘plain and easy Directions’ on the title page. He lists seven steps and nine changes. His twelve cotillons all have French titles.

The epithet ‘Junior’ presumably distinguished George Villeneuve from his father. It is likely that he was the son of the Mr Villeneuve (also George) who danced at Drury Lane and then Covent Garden between 1734 and 1756. The elder Villeneuve married another dancer, Elizabeth Oates, at Lincoln’s Inn Chapel on 8 September 1735. George Junior was apparently born on 7 November 1738. Unusually for dancing masters at this period, his family tree can be traced a little further. George Villeneuve Junior married Susannah Smart on 20 May 1769 at St Mary in Marylebone Road, shortly before his book was first advertised. The couple had at least four children between 1770 and 1778.

There are no records to suggest that George Villeneuve Junior ever worked as a dancer on the London stage. He presumably taught ballroom dancing to amateurs, perhaps working with or in succession to his father. He may also have been a musician, as many dancing masters were, although the title page to the collection says nothing about the composer of the music. The collection was obviously designed to capitalise on the dance’s popularity and probably to draw attention to Villeneuve as a dancing master.

Henry Kingsbury. A Cotilion. [Detail, centre right]. 1788. © Trustees of the British Museum

Henry Kingsbury. A Cotilion. [Detail, centre right]. 1788. © Trustees of the British Museum

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