Introduction | Dance
Cards | Tune Books | Websites
| Ballets with Social & National Dances in them
| Books and Articles | Electronic
In England, 'dance
rhythms' - by which we usually mean the music associated with dances
such as the polonaise, mazurka, polka, hornpipe, sarabande, tarantella
and so on, have traditionally formed a significant part of the repertoire
chosen by ballet teachers for technique classes. Our focus in researching
dance rhythms is to put them in their social and cultural context.
Why do we use them in ballet classes? How did they get there? How
can we use knowledge about dance forms through history and repertoire
in the education of dancers?
This page is an introduction to some of the ways that we can learn
about social and national dances of the 19th century, together with
some useful sources in print and on the web. Dance rhythms are by
nature things that find their expression in music and dance - the
best way of finding out about them is to watch dance, and listen
|"It's Millicent - she's got a
mazurka stuck in her hornpipe"
Dance Card Museum | Six
Dance Cards | More
Dance Cards |
Part of the paraphernalia of 19th century ballroom culture
was the dance card (called Ballspenden in Vienna), a card
- often very elaborately designed - on which the order of dances for the
evening would be written on the left hand side, with a numbered space
on the right against each one for the ball-goer to 'book' a partner. A
pencil would be attached to the card, so that you could write the name
of the person you planned to dance with against a particular dance.
You might have kept the card as a souvenir of the evening;
perhaps it was useful for trying to remember what happened the night before!
Some people of an older generation still say "sorry, my dance card
is full" - meaning "I'm fully booked". Likewise, the expression
"Save the last dance for me" probably meant rather more in the
19th century than it does now: at a ball, you'd know exactly what the
last dance was, and who you'd dance it with. Not quite the same as rushing
for cover as the houselights go up when the bar closes.
These dance cards - which were popular for a long period
between the middle of the 19th century and early decades of the 20th -
provide us with a very useful insight into what people danced when they
went to balls. The interior of the Studentenball
dance card, for example, tells us that the evening began with a polonaise
and ended with a waltz, with a number of quadrilles, waltzes, polka mazurkas
and polkas by popular composers of the day: Lanner, Strauss, Lumbye, Zeller,
Bizet. Notice, too, that the evening began with a march from Wagner's
Music Project (Salford) | Ceolas
Introduction to Celtic Dance Music |
Another source which tells us a lot about what people danced
when in the British Isles are fiddlers' tune books. These were collections
of tunes for the violin which provided musicians with a large repertoire
of music for social dance occasions (one book might contain over 400 tunes,
for example). Why Celtic music? Because that's where you'll find reels,
jigs and hornpipes (and polkas too).
Village Music Project contains a list of tunebooks currently being
researched. In some cases, such as the Browne
Family Tunebook , you can view an online index which names the tunes,
and their time signature.
probably the best known source for Celtic music on the Internet, is a
phenomenal resource. They have searchable databases (one 34,000 tunes,
the other 55,000), which will tell you exactly where certain tunes were
published and when, how to find them on the internet (if you're lucky),
and much more. Most useful for research into dance rhythms is the Ceolas
Introduction to Celtic Dance Music.
Websites about Social/National Dance generally
Social Dance (Library of Congress) | Sonny
Watson's Streetswing | Links
from the SDHS | Polish
Dance | Chris
Brady's Homepage | Mixed
Pickles Vintage Dance Company |
One of the most impressive resources in this subject is
the article (link above) which acts as an introduction to the Library
of Congress's collection of dance
instruction manuals circa 1490 - 1920 . This collection is extraordinary
in that it really is online - you can view every single page of each manual,
either in facsimile (i.e. what it really looks like) or in plain text.
If you do nothing else, read the section on Nineteenth
Century Social dance.
For a detailed and readable account of European social dancing over
three centuries, see the Earthly
Delights history pages. Well researched and written, these pages
contain many quotations from social dances from
Watson's Dance History is (to my knowledge) on of the best sources
on the Internet for information about social dances - including pre-18th
century and late 20th century dances too. What this site does best is
give you lots of related information for each dance, which is what helps
when you're trying to research a new subject - as an example, see how
many extra search terms he provides for the subject of tango.
of Dance History Scholars' links to 18th and 19th Century dance sites
has a few links to relevant pages, some of which will be useful if
you follow through more links.
Trochimczyk's site on Polish Dances is invaluable. If you are
researching the mazurka, you need to look at mazur,
since these three types of dance are often referred to in ballet circles
simply as 'mazurka'.
Chris Brady's Homepage
has some links to sites about research on traditional & social dancing
(down the left hand side of the page), particularly on quadrilles and
Vintage Dance Company "research, perform and teach American dances
from the colonial period all the way up through the 1940s". There
are more interesting dance
cards to look at here, and a lot of useful information about different
dances, including a bibliography.
Musical Elements through Listening (Rhythm) - Resources for Guided Listening
is not strictly about dance rhythms, but there is a very large table
of different pieces of music with a description of the rhythm and metre
of each one (scroll down the page to find it). Many of these are dance
pieces, and even those that aren't are still very useful as examples of
music which you might use in classes.
Social Dances in the Ballets
This is where life gets more difficult - how do you know whether there's
a dance in a ballet, unless you've seen it/heard it/read the score? Below
is the beginning of a list of sources. This is a work in progress,
so please forgive the missing details such as dates, choreographers etc.
I'll fill these in as time goes by.... Many of these works are available
on CD in the Royal Academy of Dance library, and those that are out of
copyright are available to listen to online at Naxos.
You'll need to register there, but that's free. Naxos is a terrific resource
for listening to music - don't miss out.
TABLE OF BALLETS THAT HAVE SOCIAL/NATIONAL DANCES
||Respighi (after Rossini)
||Tarantella, Mazurka, Cossack Dance, Can-Can, Waltz,
||Numerous Spanish dances
||Gavotte, Waltz, Passepied, Mazurka, Galop
||Waltz, Csardas, Mazurka
||Waltz & some 'Spanish' dances
||Polka, Foxtrot, Tango and many others
||Waltz (of the early, Ländler type), Galop
|Golden Age, The
||Waltz, March, Polka Schnell/Galop
||Waltz, Polka, Spanish dance (see La Cachucha)
||Tchaikovsky arr. Stolze
||Mazurka, Polonaise, Polka, Waltz
||There is a ballroom scene in Act II, and
a Polonaise opens Act III
||Ecossaise, Galop, Waltz, Polonaise
||This is used for Grade VIII
||Minkus et al
||Waltz, Polonaise, Mazurka, Galop, Polka Schnell
|Pas de Quatre
||Waltz, Gavotte, Polka, Czardas, Polka Schnell (coda)
|Red Poppy, The
|Romeo & Juliet
|Scènes de Ballet
||Waltz, Mazurka, Polonaise
||Waltz, Polka, Mazurka, Polonaise, Farandole, Sarabande,
||Ländler, Tarantella, Bolero
||Mazurka, Polonaise (danse des coupes, Act I), Bolero,
||Act I Pas de Trois is very similar to a quadrille. Likewise,
codas are related in tempo and feel to the Polka Schnell
||Chopin arr. Douglas
Books and Articles
IF you see the sign
by a reference, that means this is not to be missed!
L., Smith M. (1997) National dance in the Romantic ballet in Rethinking
the Sylph, New Perspectives on the Romantic Ballet. Hanover: University
Press of New England, pp. 11 - 68.
Cavalli, H. (2001) Dance and Music: A guide to dance accompaniment
for musicians and dance teachers. Gainsville, FL: University Press
Dickson-Place, G. (1988) Music in the dance studio. London:
Royal Academy of Dancing.
A. (1997) Polish Folk Dances and Songs: A Step by
Step Guide. New York, NY: Hippocrene Books.
D. (ed) (2000) Understanding Victorian Society Through Dance from
"Monarch" to "Mudlark". London: English Folk
Dance and Song Society; Dolmetsch Historical Dance Society; Grand Union
of Folk Dancers. [A CD of the same name to accompany this book is also
S. (1981) The Role of the Ballet Composer at the Paris Opéra:
1820 - 1850. Dance Chronicle, , vol. 4 no. 4, pp. 374-388.
B. (1976) May I have the pleasure? The story of popular dancing.
London: Dance Books.
Smith, M. (2000) Ballet and Opera in the Age of Giselle. Princeton,
NJ: Princeton University Press.
Teck, K. (1994) Ear Training for the body: A dancer's guide to music.
Pennington, NJ: Princeton Book Company/Dance Horizons.
Twiner, A. (1986) The Muncey Music Book. London: Dance Books.
R. J. (1988) The Dances in Eugene Onegin. Dance Research, vol.
VI, no. 2 (Autumn 1988), pp. 48 - 60
F. , trans. B.P. Coates (1970) Grammar of the Art of Dancing,
theoretical and practical. [Burt Franklin research and source works
series, 543] New York: Burt Franklin. [Translation of Grammatik der
American Hungarian Folklore Centrum. [Last accessed 22nd
May 2004] Available at: http://www.magyar.org/index.php?projectid=3
Ballet Notes (n.d) [online] [Last accessed 30th October 2002].
Columbus, Ohio: Ballet Met.
Czekanowska, A. (1990) Polish folk music : Slavonic heritage, Polish
contemporary trends. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press.
Dreisziger, K. (2000) Csárdás! [online] [Last
accessed: October 31st 2002] Teaneck, NJ: Csárdás! The
Tango of the East. Available at http://csardas.org/csardas.php
Garden, A & J (2002) History of Dance [online]. Last updated
22nd May 2002 [Last accessed November 2004]. Yarralumla, A.C.T:
Earthly Delights. Available at: http://www.earthlydelights.com.au/history.htm
Hungarian Music Special (2000) in Central European Review, Vol
2, No 12, 27 March 2000. [Last accessed May 22nd 2004]. Available at:
Kelemen, L. (2000?) trans. Peter Laki. Hungarian Music, Gypsy
Music, Folk Music from the American Hungarian Folklore Centrum,
accessed 22nd May 2004]. Available at http://www.magyar.org/index.php?projectid=3&menuid=79#99
Kodaly, Z. (1971) Folk Music of Hungary. London: Barrie &
Ling, J. (1999) A History of European Folk Music. Rochester,
NY: University of Rochester Press.
for the Nation: American Sheet Music 1870 - 1885 [online database].
[Last accessed 30th October 2002] Washington, DC: Library of Congress
(American Memory Collection)
Polish Music Journal. [online] Los Angeles, CA: Polish Music Center,
Flora L. Thornton School of Music, University of Southern California.
[Last accessed 22nd May 2004] Available at: http://www.usc.edu/dept/polish_music/PMJ/index.html
E. (1998) Resources for the Study of 19th Century Social Dance. Historical
Dance Volume 3, Number 5, 1998. [The full text of this is also available
online - if you get a free password from the Dolmetsch
Society for Historical Dance. Even without a password, you can get
the first page online]
Strajber, S. (2001) Hungarian Peasant and Folk Music. [Graduate paper
from Institute of Hungarian Studies at Indiana University: see http://www.indiana.edu/~iuihsl/1papers.html
for index]. [Last accessed 22nd May 2004]. Available at http://www.indiana.edu/~iuihsl/1thesis7.htm
A. (2000) The Felicities of Rapid Motion: Jane Austen in the Ballroom.
Persuasions: The Jane Austen Journal Online, Vol. 21 No. 1, Winter
2000 [online] [Last accessed 30th October 2002] Towson, MD: Jane Austen
Society of North America. Available at http://www.jasna.org/pol02/thompson.html
M. (2000) Polish Dance [online] Updated August 2001 [Last accessed:
31st October 2002] Los Angeles, CA: Polish Music Center, Thornton School
of Music, University of Southern California. Available at: http://www.usc.edu/dept/polish_music/dance/index.html
© Jonathan Still October 30, 2002. Last updated:
Thursday, November 11, 2004 7:13