From Le Bergeres Fidelle to The Yorkshire Maggot: an A to Z of ent’racte dances on the Londonstage 1700-1750
More than 600 named entr’acte dances are listed in the Index to the London Stage as having been performed in the Londontheatres between 1700 and 1750. Very few of these dances were noted or described while they were still being performed and they have since attracted no detailed study, so they are widely accepted as being lost. However, by careful scrutiny of the advertisements (which often list the dancers and occasionally name choreographers or provide other information) together with the exploration of a range of related sources, it is possible to begin to build a picture of the entr’acte dance repertoire during this period.
This paper will look at the types and genres of entr’acte dances between 1700 and 1750, with particular reference it John Weaver’s categories of serious, grotesque, and senical dancing as described in An Essay towards in History of Dancing (London, 172) and The History of the Mimes and Pantomimes (London 1728). It will chart the growth in the number and diversity of particular dance types and genres decade by decade. It will focus more closely on the dances intended to represent characters, nations and occupations in order to examine the possibility that the surviving sources might allow us to recover some features of these dances.