[Frontispiece showing dancers and violinist omitted (Essex, Rameau)]

The Art of DANCING

Wherein the Manner of Performing all Steps in Ball Dancing is made easy by a new and familiar Method.


The First, Treating of the proper Positions and different Attitudes for Men and Women, from which all the Steps are to be taken and performed ; adorned with instructive Figures : With a Description of the Menuet Figure, shewing the beautiful Turns and graceful Motions of the Body in that Dance.

The Second, Of the Use and graceful Motion of the Arms with the Legs in taking the proper Movements and forming the Contrasts, with Figures for the better Explanation.

The Whole containing SIXTY FIGURES drawn from the Life, and curiously Engraved on COPPER PLATES.

Done from the French of Monsieur RAMEAU,
J. ESSEXDancing-Master.

LONDON Printed, and Sold by him at his House in Rood-Lane, Fenchurch-street ; and J. BROTHERTON, Bookseller, at the Bible in Cornhill. M.DCC.XXVIII.

To Mr. Groscourt.


THE general Character you bear in the World will, I doubt not, appear Motive sufficient why I address you in this Kind ; for as you have an indisputable Claim among the Masters of our Profession to be esteemed one of the First, so the Delicacy of your Judgment will vindicate my Choice, as well as recommend this Undertaking, which will shine in a better Light under your Protection.

AS I have had the good Fortune as well as Happiness to have known you for many Years, so I have made it a constant Observation that your Scholars of both Sexes have distinguished themselves by a singular Merit in their Performances, which joined to a just Cadence, an handsome and agreeable Manner, and an unaffected Deportment, evidently shew you to be that great Master you have always been taken for by those of the nicest Taste and Politeness : And as all these Advantages in the Scholar must have been acquired from a correct Imitation of the Master, you have been that happy Man, who by your Example have shewn them what it is to be genteel Dancers.

I could enlarge upon this Subject, but that I am unwilling to be thought guilty of Flattery ; however I may say this, that I have been acquainted with your easy Manner of Teaching ; and must own I admire that particular Elegancy which hath always been your utmost Care and Study.

THEREFORE with the greatest Esteem for your Person and Merit, I declare my self,

Your most Obedient
Humble Servant,
J. Essex.


DANCING being the peculiar Genius of the French Nation, they have for many Years taken great Pains to find out its Beauties as well as Advantages to Mankind in all Respects, so as to qualify Persons, of what Condition soever, to dance well, and give them a good Carriage and genteel Behaviour in Conversation. The Book I here recommend I have translated from the French of Monsieur Rameau, which is in great Esteem among the Masters there.

MY natural Inclination to serve the Profession, as well as to improve the Art, invited me to take this Work in hand, finding of what singular Use and Advantage it would be to the Masters and their Scholars to know the just Positions of the Body, and the Length of all Manner of Steps in Dancing.

I shall not trouble the Reader with Encomiums upon my Author concerning his Work, it will sufficiently shine by its own proper Merit when we come to shew what Pains he hath taken to find out so familiar and easy a Method in teaching a Manner of Dancing which will be of such vast Use to Masters to instruct their Scholars, who by this Means will not lose by changing them for new ones, which is too commonly done, but on the contrary by observing this Method duly, they will rather make a better Improvement.

DANCING here in England has been very much advanced within this twenty Years, which I must confess hath been chiefly owing to the Masters now in Being, particularly Mr. Weaver, who gave us the Institutions for Dancing, which I shall here take Notice of ; and in the next Place mention his History of Dancing, with the Rise of the Pantomimes, which are now so much in Vogue : His Mars and Venus, a Dramatick Entertainment, was the first of this Kind produced on the British Stage, or in the Kingdom ; it was well performed and had great Applause ; all the Characters are justly drawn and finely executed. He performed Vulcan himself, and shewed the Passions to great Advantage ; like a second Laberius to whom Augustus Cæsar gave a Ring of Gold for his extraordinary Action ; a Present not used to be given to any but those who had served their Country in the Wars.

IN his Anatomical Lectures upon Dancing, he has laid down Rules for Standing, Walking, Leaping or Springing, wherein he gives us the five Positions and their Uses : He goes on and calls the Institutions for Dancing ; as first the half Coupee, secondly a Coupee, thirdly a March, fourthly a Bound, and fifthly a Contretem or composed Hop : And these he lays down as the first Principles to all manner of Steps in Dancing.

HE was the first that transtated Monsieur Feuillet, concerning the Writing down of Dances in Character, into the English Language. Our Profession in general are obliged to him for the many Proofs of his Knowledge, that are so many Helps to our Art, which in Reality he has rather made a Science.

I hope the Reader will not be prejudiced against me for making mention of some of our English Masters and Performers, since they bear an equal Merit with any in Europe, though they cannot extend the Reputation of their Names so far as those of the French Nation, because we are Islanders, and confined to our Language ; and the principal Masters living in Paris, have the Advantage of the Universality of their Language ; and the Situation of their Metropolis being upon the main Continent, and the Place of Reception for Strangers of all Nations, whereby the Fame of their Performances can spread itself to the remotest Parts of Europe, and even into many of the politest Cities of Asia and Africa.

THE late Mr. Isaac, who had the Honour to teach and instruct our late most excellent and gracious Queen when a young Princess, first gained the Character and afterwards supported that Reputation of being the prime Master in England for forty Years together : He taught the first Quality with Success and Applause, and was justly stiled the Court Dancing-Master, therefore might truly deserve to be called the Gentleman Dancing-Master. His Qualifications were great ; for he was both generous and charitable to all : He was an agreeable Figure in his Person, and had a handsome Mein joined to an easy Address and graceful Deportment, which always appeared without Affectation.

MONSIEUR L'Abbe, who came from France about the Year 1700, succeeded him at Court. He is an excellent Master, and was a great Performer when upon the Stage : Nobody gave greater Satisfaction to the Spectators than he did in his Performances. His Talent chiefly lay in the grave Movement, and he excelled all that ever appeared on the English Stage in that Character ; and what more eminently makes him shine, is his excellent Instructions of those of the Royal Family whom he hath the Honour to teach, and who by their noble Presence, easy Deportment, and graceful Carriage proclaim the Merit of their Master.

Mr. L'Abbe bred up Mr. D' la Garde, who maintained the genteel Part of Dancing upon the Stage many Years after his Master, and with great Honour supported the Character the World had long before entertained of Mr. L'Abbe being a com-

Mr. D' la Garde was happy enough in his Comic Performances, but more graceful and pleasing in the Serious.

Mr. Firbank was for some time Competitor to Mr. D' la Garde ; for he was strong and active in his Way of Dancing, yet very taking and genteel, which he kept up so long as he performed on the Stage. The World must allow him an extraordinary Genius in Musick, and his happy Compositions in several Dramatick Entertainments by their great Success confirms this to a Demonstration.

THERE are many more excellent Masters in England that I could mention but it would swell this beyond a Preface. The Performers upon both Stages at this Time are very eminent in Serious as well as Comic, which shews what I have said before to our Improvement.

AND since I am speaking of Performers, I cannot omit the late Mr. Shaw, who has so often appeared with Mrs. Booth, of whom I shall speak by and by : He was very excellent in many Characters ; the last he performed was Mercury in Dr. Faustus, which he did with that Correctness and Truth in all its Attitudes, that those who have attempted that Character fall but short of him.

HE was bred under Mr. Caverley, whom I take to be the first Master in teaching young Ladies to dance, by applying a long Train of Observations collected from Practice and the Strength of his own Genius, how to form a young Female Scholar, as to Position, Carriage, and Behaviour ; for if the First is just, the Second or Motion will be easy, consequently genteel, and the Behaviour or Result of these Applications may be very agreeable. This is a Character that evidently shines in Mr. Caverley, and by the Merit of which he has undeniably produced many excellent Scholars : I may venture to say he was the first Master that ever brought a Boarding-School to that height of Reputation as it now stands at this Time. He keeps up so fine an Oeconomy in his Family by his prudent manner of educating and instructing so many young Ladies according to their Capacities, that it produces an admirable Effect, whereby none go from him unimproved. He is now in the eightieth Year of his Age, and stands firm upon his Legs, his Body is upright and erect, and his Eye-sight and Memory in Perfection. He has taken a Partner to his Assistance, Mr. Aylworth, a Person so well qualified and so equal to the Task, yet he himself bears half the Burthen still, and teaches with as much Life and Spirit as if he was but half that Age. Wonderful ! what will not Exercise and Application do ?

WE have had a great many Women attempt to be Theatrical Dancers, but none ever arrived to that Height and Pitch of Applause as the incomparable Mrs. Booth, in whom Art and Nature are so beautifully wove together, that the whole Web is of a Piece so exquisitely formed to Length and Breadth, that the Produce of the many different Characters she represents is the Wonder and Admiration of the present Age, and will scarce be credited by the Succeeding. I shall beg leave to mention the Chaconne, Saraband, Menuet, in all which she appears with that Grace, Softness, and Address none can look on but with Attention, Pleasure, and Surprise. She far excels all that went before her, and must be the just Subject of Imitation to all that dare attempt to copy after her. Besides all these, the Harlequin is beyond Description, and the Hussar another opposite Character in which she has no Rival. All which shew how many extensive as well as extraordinary Qualifications must concentre in one Person to form so bright a Genius : A Subject becoming the most elevated Wit to describe, and the politest Taste to contemplate.


IF I have given this Book the Title of The Dancing-Master, 'tis not out of a rash Presumption to attribute such a Title to my self : But as there is not one among all the Masters who teach the Art of Dancing with Applause, that has communicated the Rules in Writing, I have ventured to undertake it : And though I have all my Life studied the Positions and true Address of the Body, to be the better able to instruct my Scholars, I have not so much grounded them on my own Experience as the Abilities of the greatest Masters with whom I have had the Opportunity of conversing ; that is to say, I have delivered in Print the Lessons which I have often seen them teach ; therefore without examining whether I have held the first Rank in my Profession or not, the Rules I lay down may justify the Title of this Work.

I dare flatter my self that the Pains I have taken will be of Service to young People, who by pursuing this Method may comprehend and more exactly perform what their Masters had taught them ; to this End I have caused many Copper Plates to be engraved, which represent the Dancer in the several Positions : For Precepts communicated by the Eye have always a better Effect than those that want such Assistance.

THE Publick will not expect a long Discourse on the Rise and Antiquity of this Art from me, who have spent all my Time in studying and teaching to dance, a Task I shall leave to the Learned, among whom some celebrated Authors have taken Notice of it, whose Works I shall not take upon me to quote.

BUT the Reader would have Reason to complain if at a Time when Dancing is arrived to the greatest Perfection, I should not take notice of the Progress it made towards the latter End of the last Age, and still makes every Day by the Emulation which the Entertainments of the Royal Academy of Musick excite ; for Dancing ought not to be looked upon as an Exercise only invented for Pleasure, though I believe it had its first Rise from the Joy and Mirth at Feasts and Banquets, but it is upon the same Footing with Comedy. Mankind have endeavoured to draw an Advantage from what their Pleasures alone first made them invent.

IF Dancing was only to be practised on the Stage, it would be the Employment of very few Persons, but I may say nobody ought to be a Stranger to it, were it only to be practised in their Youth : For Dancing gives a Grace to the Advantages we receive from Nature, by regulating all the Motions of the Body, and strengthens it in its just Positions ; and if it doth not quite efface the Defects we are born with, it softens or conceals them. This Definition alone is sufficient to shew the Use of it, and to excite a Desire of becoming a Proficient.

WE may say to the Glory of our Nation that it has a true Taste of fine Dancing. Almost all Foreigners far from disallowing it, have very near an Age admired our Dancing, and formed themselves in our Academies and Schools : Nay, there's not a Court in Europe but what has a Dancing-Master of our Nation.

THE Reign of Lewis the Great will always be looked upon with Justice as a Reign in which the most illustrious Men flourished. Among all the Arts brought to Perfection by the Encouragement and Liberality of so powerful a Monarch, Dancing made the quickest Progress ; every thing seemed to favour it. That Prince, who was endowed by Nature with a noble and majestick Figure, loved from his Infancy all manner of Exercises, and had all the Graces added to those natural Gifts which could be acquired. The Taste he had of Dancing engaged him in the peaceable Times of his Reign to give those magnificent Entertainments of Dancing, Ballets, at which this Prince was pleased to be present, with all the Princes and Lords of his Kingdom. How great was the Emulation of all the young Courtiers with the Hopes of being admitted to the Pleasures of so splendid a Court ? Nevertheless Dancing did not appear in all its Lustre till the Birth of Opera's. Lully the Italian, coming into France at nine Years of Age, learnt Musick here ; and having an extraordinary and sublime Genius, soon raised himself above all the Composers of his Time. After having composed the Musick of several Ballets, he undertook to entertain the Court and Town with those Lyrick Tragedies which still charm, and are the Admiration of all Spectators. 'Twas then this new kind of Entertainment appeared on the Theatres at Paris, under the Name of Opera's, till then known only to the Italians.

LULLY, who from his Youth was attached to the Court of Lewis the Great, in a manner forgot his Country, and by his Performances made France triumph even over Italy by the Charms of those very Sights which Rome and Venice had invented. Not satisfied with setting them off with all the Lustre Musick was capable of, as he was obliged to represent Triumphs, Sacrifices, Enchantments, and noble Banquets, which required Dances in Characters, he made choice of the most able Dancers in France.

BEAUCHAMP, who was the Composer then at Court of the King's Ballets, as Lully was of his Musick, was pitched upon to compose the Opera Dances. I cannot bestow too much Praise on the just Reputation he acquired : His first Essays were Master-strokes, and he always equally shared the Suffrages the Musician daily gained. He was learned and curious in his Compositions, and stood in need of Persons capable of executing what he had invented. Happy was it for him that there were at Paris, and at Court these most able Dancers, viz. St. Andre, Favier the Elder, Favre, Boutteville, Dumiraille, and Germain : But how excellent soever their Talents were, the Palm, by their own Confession, was reserved for Pecour and L'Estang, who from that Time became the Models of all that would shine in the same Sphere. Tho' their Characters were different, they were both formed by Nature with all the Graces and Dispositions of fine Dancing.

L'ESTANG danced with a Nobleness and Exactness, and Pecour appeared in all Characters with a Grace, Justness and Activity ; and both so agreeable in their Conversations, that the greatest Lords took a Pleasure to have them in their Companies.

LULLY, who lived long enough to gain himself a Reputation, but who might have added to the Glory of France by the new Productions he was capable of, died in the Year 1687. Upon his Death Beauchamp left the Opera. Pecour, who at that Time had gained a great Reputation by his Performances in Dancing, and who had also made his Essays on Ballets for the Court, was made choice of to compose the Dances for the Opera, and soon shewed that he had a superiour Genius. He stood in need of all his Qualifications to succeed worthily the former Master, which he compleated by the infinite Variety and new Charms with which he set off those same Ballets which Beauchamp had before performed.

THE Women who for some Time had been admitted into the Opera Dancing, contributed much to its Magnificence. Mademoiselles de la Fountain, and Subligni, who distinguished themselves, raised an Emulation in several young Women Dancers that came into the Opera, who were made Use of to figure with some of the most able Dances.

BLONDY, the Nephew and worthy Pupil of Beauchamp, began then to shew himself, and disputed the Glory with Balon whose Reputation is so justly established. This last had a great deal of Judgment and a prodigious Activity : He was for many Years the Pleasure and Admiration of all Spectators, which Merit of his was recompensed by the Honour he had of being the first Master to Lewis the Fifteenth, our august Monarch, the Love of his People, and the Hopes of all Arts.

BALON having quitted the Opera, all Lovers of Dancing were sensible of that Loss, and the most promising young Dancers strove to succeed him.

DU MOULIN, the Youngest of the four Brothers, who are all very deserving, and who at this Time distinguish themselves in several Characters, was the Person that came the nearest up to Balon, and who in some measure afforded the Publick some Consolation. He had the Advantage at first of being the Partner in a double Dance with Mademoiselle Guiot, who was an excellent Dancer, and by his successful Attempts made himself capable of figuring with the incomparable Mademoiselle Prevoit.

'TIS here that I wish it in my Power to pay that just Tribute of Praise her Merit calls for. In one single Dance of hers are contained all the Rules we are able to give on our Art, and she puts them in Practice with such a Grace, Justness, and Activity, that she may be looked on as a Prodigy in this Kind. She justly deserves to be regarded as Terpsichore the Muse, whom the Ancients made to precide over Dancing, and has all the Advantages over Proteus in the Fable. She at Pleasure assumes all manner of Shapes, with this Difference only, that Proteus oftentimes made use of them to frighten curious Mortals that came to consult him, and she to inchant the greedy Eyes of those that look on her, and to gain the Applause of every Body, which excites a noble Emulation among the other Women Dancers.

MADEMOISELLE MENESE, who dances always with Marcel in double Dances of a particular Kind, embellishes the Entertainment and gains the Praises of the Publick.

THE Rise of Marcel's Reputation is an Epocha remarkable enough in the Opera.

CAMPRA, who of all the Successors of Lully in Composition of Musick, has obliged the Theatre with a Number of fine Performances brought on the Venetian Feasts. There was a very singular Scene in this Ballat, in which a Dancing-Master in a Song boasts of all the Advantages of his Art ; and as at the same Time he performed the different Characters of Dancing in the Ballets, and had a small Voice and a good Taste of Singing, he undertook this Flight, and succeeded so well in it, that from that Time he engaged the Publick to observe with more Attention his Talent for Dancing, where he has constantly maintained what could be expected from him.

I may say that the double Dance which he performed and does now every Day with Blondy, is like a Picture in which the Likenesses are so just and the Colours so lively, that one cannot forbear admiring them.

THESE are the Masters who have furnished me with the Rules I have laid down in this Work, which has been revised by the Master who since the Death of Lully composed the Ballets of the Opera, and under whom the most able Dancers are now bred, from whom I have received too advantageous an Approbation not to flatter myself with some Success.

The End of the Preface.