Reviving Dance in History

I have not written very much for Dance in History in recent months and it has been a while since my last post. My excuses? I have been busy, not just writing a short essay and some talks but also doing quite a lot of more modern dancing (I am a recent convert to ballroom and Latin dancing and I also make occasional forays into Victorian and even ragtime dance). I have various dance history projects lined up for next year, so I’m hoping I will be able to return to writing more regularly from January.

2017 is, of course, a notable year for the history of ballet. It marks the 300th anniversary of the first performance of the first modern ballet, John Weaver’s The Loves of Mars and Venus. This ‘Dramatick Entertainment of Dancing’ was given at London’s Drury Lane Theatre on 2 March 1717. I am involved in an exciting project to celebrate that event, and I will report on it elsewhere as well as adding a variety of posts on Weaver’s ballet to these pages.

My longstanding interest has been dancing on the London stage, which I will try to pursue during 2017 with a variety of posts on dances, dancing and dancers in London’s theatres from the Restoration of Charles II in 1660 to the eve of the Romantic ballet in 1830. I will probably be focussing on the 18th century for much of the next year, not only because of The Loves of Mars and Venus but also because 2017 is the 300th anniversary of the birth of the great actor David Garrick. He was born just a couple of weeks before the first performance of John Weaver’s dance drama. Garrick later became manager of the Drury Lane Theatre, and he married a dancer – the Viennese ballerina Eva Maria Veigel, known as Violette. I am exploring dancing at Drury Lane during the period of Garrick’s management for a paper I am giving in February, so there may be posts on that topic too.

It isn’t easy to keep up my baroque dance practice, but I hope to continue with my solo sessions and to write about some of the dances I’ll be revisiting or learning afresh. Maybe I’ll find time to write about some of the baroque solos I have danced, and loved so much, in the past. If I have the chance to take part in workshops on regency, Victorian or even ragtime dancing, one or two posts might look in those directions. There is always the possibility that a little modern ballroom and Latin might sneak in (sequence dancing has an interesting relationship to the social dancing of earlier periods).

So, I’ve got plenty of ideas – all I need to do is get on with the work!

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