Mr Holt’s Minuet and Jigg in Performance

There are at least three versions of Mr Holt’s Minuet and Jigg on YouTube. In my opinion, this is the best of them.

The dancers are well costumed and they dance nicely. However, we have two men and two ladies, rather than the four ladies specified by the original notation. One of the videos I was able to find has four ladies, but this version has much better dancing.

The figures are accurately performed and the steps are neat, although the performance is perhaps rather too contained and even a bit stiff. Is that how they thought it should be danced? It is very difficult to find a happy medium between our conflicting ideas of 18th-century politeness and extravagance. Although there is some interaction within each couple, each pair less often acknowledges the other – which underplays the social dimension of this choreography. The second figure of the Minuet looks to me, on paper at least, to refer to the S-reversed of the ballroom minuet, a possibility that these dancers do not acknowledge. Other figures are danced prettily, particularly the circle in the second part of the Minuet where the dancers use to good effect the shoulder shading called for in the pas de menuet to the left.

The steps used in the Jigg don’t always quite work. Mr Holt calls for only a few steps in specific figures, leaving the others to the dancers’ choice. Those chosen, or rather the sequences of steps, don’t always seem choreographically quite right to me. I’m not sure why. I do like the concluding figure and the way the dancers open out into a half-circle to face their audience. This must have been charming at the time, when the dance was performed by four young ladies.

I wonder if this performance does represent the style and technique of 18th-century social dancing. There is simply no way we can tell. It is nicely danced, and those wishing to perform Mr Holt’s Minuet and Jigg can learn much from it, but I would prefer a little more freedom and liveliness – within the bounds of politeness, of course.

 

 

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