In the entr’actes, duets were far more popular than group or solo dances during 1725-1726. At Drury Lane 13 were given, while at Lincoln’s Inn Fields there were 22. The following duet titles were advertised at both theatres:
I will begin with these shared dance titles and go on to the other duets at each of the theatres in later posts.
The Polonese was performed at Lincoln’s Inn Fields on 1 October 1725 by Lally and Mrs Wall and then at Drury Lane on 25 November 1725 by Rainton and Miss Robinson. This duet had been advertised for the first time at Drury Lane in 1724-1725, where Rainton and Miss Robinson danced it on 18 March 1725 followed by Lally and Mrs Wall on 20 April. This duet would last for several seasons. The title must surely mean ‘Polonaise’ – perhaps prompted by the forthcoming marriage of the French King Louis XV to the Polish Princess Maria Leszcynska on 5 September 1725 (N.S.).
The Dutch Skipper was given on 21 April 1726 by Thurmond Junior and Miss Tenoe, for the shared benefit of Rainton. At Lincoln’s Inn Fields it was performed by Pelling and Mrs Ogden on 24 June. Although ‘Dutch’ dances can be traced back to the 17th century in London, the earliest known billing of the Dutch Skipper was 7 June 1704, when Philippe Du Ruel danced it with his wife at Drury Lane. The duet quickly entered the repertoire and, following the opening of the Lincoln’s Inn Fields Theatre in 1714, was regularly performed in the entr’actes at both playhouses. It was usually a duet for a man and a woman, but was sometimes danced by two men or even two women. It was also occasionally danced as a solo – in 1725-1726 it was so performed at Drury Lane by Sandham (or perhaps his son). Music for the Dutch Skipper, sometimes called ‘Du Ruel’s Dutch Skipper’ survives in several sources, none of them earlier than the second decade of the 18th century. This version comes from the Lady’s Banquet, 3d Book, published around 1732 (although an earlier edition, which does not survive, was dated 1720):
Lambranzi depicts a Dutch sailor and his wife in part 2 of his Neue und curieuse theatrialisches Tantz-Schul, who might provide a clue to the costuming of the Dutch Skipper dances on the London stage.
Although the solo Dutch Skipper was usually performed by speciality dancers, the duet was often given by those who also performed a belle danse repertoire suggesting that it was not simply a comic-grotesque number.
A Pastoral duet was danced at Lincoln’s Inn Fields on 29 September 1725 by Lally and Mrs Wall and on 5 January 1726 by Le Sac and Miss La Tour, who performed it several times before the end of the season. During the Lincoln’s Inn Fields summer season, the Pastoral was taken up by Burny and Mrs Anderson. At Drury Lane, a Pastoral duet was first given by Boval and Mrs Brett on 3 May 1726 and then taken up at later performances by Michael Lally and Mrs Walter. Were all these duets the same or different choreographies, or were they perhaps variations around a shared choreographic theme? The first Pastoral to be advertised on the London stage was a solo by Miss Schoolding at Lincoln’s Inn Fields in 1717-1718, while the duet was first given in a version danced by Delagarde’s two sons in 1718-1719. It is possible that, at Lincoln’s Inn Fields at least, the choreography for the 1725-1726 duets derived from the Pastoral performed by Glover and Mrs Wall in 1723-1724. Glover was also the lead dancer in a group Pastoral Dance given at Lincoln’s Inn Fields in 1726-1727, so he may have been the choreographer of both versions. Without music, it is difficult to have much idea of what these dances were like – although we could, perhaps, look to Myrtillo for clues.
The Saraband and Minuet are well-known as dance types and at Drury Lane and Lincoln’s Inn Fields both were performed at benefit performances as duets. In 1725-1726 at Lincoln’s Inn Fields, Glover and Mrs Laguerre danced a ‘Saraband and Minuet’ together for the benefit she shared with her husband the actor-singer John Laguerre on 14 April 1726. At Drury Lane, Boval and Mrs Brett danced the same combination at her shared benefit on 6 May 1726. As a duet, the Saraband seems to have reached the entr’actes only in 1723-1724, although it had been danced as a solo from at least 1713-1714. Similarly, the solo entra’cte Minuet dates back to at least the first decade of the 18th century. It made its first entr’acte appearance as a duet with Glover and Mrs Laguerre in 1725-1726 – also the first time that a Saraband and Minuet were billed together. The Minuet was also given with other ‘Ball Dances’, although it was rarely performed in the entr’actes other than for benefits. I give more information about both dances in my earlier posts about the Saraband and the Minuet on the London stage.
The other duet performed at both playhouses was Peasants, which might perhaps be classified as the opposite to the Pastoral duet. ‘Peasant’ dances were very popular and I included them in my post The Most Popular Entr’acte Dances on the London Stage, 1700-1760. One of the issues in 1725-1726, as in other seasons, is whether the dances variously billed as French Peasants and Peasants are actually the same dance. At Lincoln’s Inn Fields, a Peasants duet was given by Nivelon and Mrs Bullock on 19 October 1725 when he had danced a French Peasant with Mrs Laguerre on 29 September. At Drury Lane, Sandham’s children danced Peasants on 25 May 1726 (there was no entra’cte French Peasants duet there that season). Peasants duets apparently entered the entr’acte repertoire a decade later than French Peasants, in the 1710s. The first such duet to be advertised was danced by Shaw and Mrs Younger at Drury Lane in 1718-1719. Again, without music it is difficult to know what such dances might have been like, although I suspect that they were similar in many respects to the French Peasant dances, for which both music and choreography may be found in French sources.
In my next post I will look at the other duets given at Drury Lane.