Dancing Masters’ Advertisements

Looking through my notes on dancing masters and their various treatises, I was reminded that some of them advertised for pupils in London and provincial newspapers. I haven’t yet done a comprehensive search, but in the course of my work on cotillons I came across some interesting examples of publicity from the 1760s. I quoted from some of these advertisements in my post Teaching the Cotillon. Here are some more, of particular relevance to learning to dance and favourite ballroom duets.

Messrs Hart and Welch, advertising in the Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser for 2 May 1768, offered ‘The cotillons, minuet, louvre, passepied, matlotte, novelle, bretagne, the almand, françois and English country dances’, all of which would be ‘taught as usual at home or abroad’. In this context ‘abroad’ presumably meant their dancing school ‘at No. 109, near Exeter-change, in the Strand’. The list of dances offered is suggestive of the repertoire expected in the ballroom, although advertisements for balls refer only to minuets and country dances including (of course) the newly fashionable cotillon.

Hart and Welch appear to have been teaching several venerable danses à deux. The ‘louvre’ is probably Aimable Vainqueur,  first published in 1701. This duet was mentioned by Taubert, Rameau and Tomlinson and printed in notation, probably for the last time, as late as 1765. The ‘bretagne’, dating to 1704, was cited by the same three dancing masters. The ‘passepied’ and ‘novelle’ (perhaps La Nouvelle Forlanne of 1710) may both be linked to dances published in the early 18th century. The ‘matlotte’ may refer to a duet published by Feuillet in 1706. Is the ‘almand’ the famous duet by Pecour that was first published in 1702 and made its last appearance in print in 1765? The many references to these dances seem to suggest that they were still well-known more than fifty years after their creation.

Mr Patence also advertised in the Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser. On 14 June 1768 he offered ‘the minuet, louvre, country and other dancing’ and promised to teach ‘in the most polite and expeditious manner’. The louvre would take sixteen lessons (the minuet needed only twelve). These dances would be taught ‘with all the proper steps, such as cupees, borees, bounds, rebounds, marches, periwits, danzas, brilloes, back and fore granade’. Mr Patence’s French seems to have been entirely phonetic and he apparently also drew on other languages for his dance terminology. Periwits are presumably pirouettes, but I’ll have to think about the translations of some of his other terms. He also reveals how changing fashions were affecting ballroom dancing:

‘Mr. Patence having practised dancing some years, has just reason to think, that the excellent dance the louvre, would be more introduced in our polite assemblies, but the insufficiency of masters, in not knowing the proper graces, steps and figures, is the reason of its decline, having known some to have had scholars four years, and then know very little of the matter.’

There is more than a hint of rivalry here and Mr Patence may even have had a particular dancing master in mind. However, by the late 1760s, dancing masters may simply have been unwilling to allow time for such danses à deux alongside the minuets which were integral to their balls. Although, if that was the case, why did Hart and Welch teach so many of them?

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