[Callers] 1820s-1830s Dances

Jacob Nancy Bloom jandnbloom at gmail.com
Sat Mar 29 12:37:51 PDT 2014

First, a note: Ralph Page's Heritage Dances of Early America contains
dances with publication dates from 1788 to 1817, relying heavily on the
Saltator manuscript of 1807.  It was indeed published in 1976, by the Lloyd
Shaw Foundation.

As for teaching Colonial Dance to children, here are the main points:

1. Chip Hendrickson's book Colonial Social Dancing for Children (CSDfC)
spells out how Chip would have presented colonial dance in a school setting
over a course of six lessons.

2. CSDfC was expanded from Chip's earlier book, A Colonial Dancing
Experience (CDE), which is long out of print.  While the additional
material in CSDfC is valuable, CDE explains how to teach colonial era
footwork a bit more concisely.  The one-session colonial dance workshops
that my wife and I bring into schools are based heavily upon the program
outlined in CDE.  (More information about them is available at

3. Neither CSDfC nor CDE suggests that it is possible to teach an authentic
triple minor progression contra to school children in a small number of
lessons.  The adapted "colonial style" dances which are suggested for
children are mostly four-couple whole set longways dances, with the top
couple moving to the bottom of the set at the end of the dance.  CSDfC also
has some three couple longways dances where the first couple dances a
figure with the second couple, goes down the center, return and cast off,
and then does the same figure with the third couple, and the new couple at
the top starts the dance the next time through.  CSDfC has true duple minor
contras introduced in the fifth of the six lessons.  I had a third grade
group last year that I was able to do a second session with, and I
successfully did a duple minor contra with them in the second session, but
it was a duple minor with a progression that was both understandable and
forgiving: towards the couple below forward and back, pass through and bow
to the new couple you meet.

4. Rich, Patricia Campbell has also taught colonial dance based on Chip's
program.  If you're going to the get-together at her place tomorrow, ask
her about it.  (I won't be able to make it this year.)

5. Every book of carefully researched colonial dances has to rely on the
only available printed sources about dance of the period, and those
sources, whether books written by dancing masters or notes taken by the
students of dancing masters about the dances they had learned, are talking
about dancing as taught by people who new what was the latest fashion to
people with the money to learn the most fashionable dances.  This leaves
open the question of what kind of dancing was being done out in the country
by people who had never taken lessons.  Dudley Laufman has written his
opinion on that subject on a web page on his site, at
http://old.laufman.org/Schools.htm   Other authorities claim that the
common people would have danced cut-out reels, meaning that they would have
done a hey for four, stopping sometimes to do footing steps to one of the
other dancers, and with new people taking the place of one of the dancers
when they felt like getting into the dance.

My own colonial dance workshops consist of a brief explanation to the
students of why they would have wanted to learn to dance if they had lived
in colonila times, teaching set, balance, beaten step, rigadoon, and
chassee steps, getting the students into four couple longways sets and
teaching a whole-set longways dance that lets them practice the footwork,
and then teaching a colonial-era singing game.

I hope that's of use to you.

Jacob Bloom

Date: Wed, 26 Mar 2014 23:36:14 -0400
> From: Jacob Nancy Bloom <jandnbloom at gmail.com>
> To: callers at sharedweight.net
> Subject: Re: [Callers] Callers Digest, Vol 115, Issue 11
> Message-ID:
>         <CAJPS8NjHDP=tJXqotMDojPJu=
> ra1kp0vE0bjLgFpMXGiOabFKw at mail.gmail.com>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1
> I have much experience teaching the Colonial Social Dances for Children
> program.  I'll try to write something about it tomorrow.
> By the way, Rich, are you in the Old Sturbridge Village dancers?  Art
>  Martin asked me about 'Barrel of Sugar' the same day you posted your
> question about it here.  We danced it that night at the Wayside Inn but I
> came down with a very nasty bug the next day and I'm still recovering from
> it.
> Jacob
> On Wed, Mar 19, 2014 at 12:00 PM, <callers-request at sharedweight.net>
> wrote:
> > Message: 1
> > Date: Tue, 18 Mar 2014 13:15:11 -0700
> > From: James Saxe <jim.saxe at gmail.com>
> > To: rich sbardella <richsbardella at snet.net>,    Caller's discussion list
> >         <callers at sharedweight.net>
> > Subject:
> Re: [Callers] 1820s-1830s Dances
> > Message-ID: <FCD608B4-FC13-4615-823F-D5D05E048DEB at gmail.com>
> > Content-Type: text/plain; charset=WINDOWS-1252; format=flowed;
> >         delsp=yes
> >
> > Rich,
> >
> > Two books come to mind that might have material somewhat relevant
> > to your request, though not exactly on target: _Heritage Dances of
> > Early America_ by Ralph Page (abbreviated HDoEA below) and _Colonial
> > Social Dancing for Children: Social Dancing of Washington?s Time
> > arranged for Today?s Young People_ by Charles Cyril ("Chip")
> > Hendrickson [CSDfC below].  Here's a little more information about
> > them, with the caveat that I don't have my copy of either book at
> > hand  and my memory may be faulty on some of the details.
> >
> >       *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *
> >
> > HDoEA was published in or about 1976 by the Lloyd Shaw Foundation.
> > It appears to be out of print.  It's indexed in  Michael Dyck's
> > contra dance index, and many of the dances in it (or versions of
> > them) appear in other sources.  You can find them by going to
> >
> >       http://www.ibiblio.org/contradance/index/by_title.html
> >
> > and searching for the string "HDoEA".  (The page
> >
> >       http://www.ibiblio.org/contradance/index/sources.html
> >
> > is a key to the source abbreviations.)
> >
> > IIRC, the dances in HDoEA are from sources dating from the 1790s
> > through the first decade or two of the 1800's, so a little earlier
> > the period you asked about, though some may have remained popular
> > for some time after.  All or almost all are longways triple minors,
> > though some might be of the sort that are readily adapted to duple
> > minor form.  For each dance, Page give both the description as it
> > appeared in the original source and an interpretation in modern
> > terminology.
> >
> > The part about being "easy enough for children" could be
> > problematical to say the least, for reasons that will be evident
> > to anyone who has tried teaching relatively "easy" contras to
> > groups (whether children or adults) where almost all are unfamiliar
> > with how progression works, dancing to the phrase, etc.  Even
> > experienced contemporary contra dancers could have difficulties
> > with things like triple-minor progression, right-and-left four
> > from proper position (in communities where older dances like
> > "Petronella" and "Hull's Victory" have disappeared from repertoire),
> > crossover heys for three, or choreography that asks you to turn a
> > four-person star just halfway around in eight beats.
> >
> >       *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *
> >
> > CSDfC and a companion CD appear to be currently available from the
> > Colonial Music Institute
> >
> >       http://www.colonialmusic.org/CSD-bkcd.htm
> >
> > As the title implies, the book is specifically oriented to
> > presenting the material to children.  But (without having the
> > book at hand to refresh my memory) I'm pretty sure it's mainly
> > about situations where the material can be presented over multiple
> > sessions and not just a single afternoon or evening.
> >
> > I have essentially no experience teaching/leading dance for
> > children (except for occasions when a small number of children
> > show up among a mostly-adult group), and no experience using the
> > material in CSDfC with dancers of any age.  And, while I'm a
> > dabbler in dance history, I don't know enough about the early
> > American era to have a clear idea of the similarities and
> > differences in the dancing of the era covered CSDfC vs. that of
> > small town New England in 1820-1840.
> >
> > I'd be interested in hearing from anyone who does have experience
> > using CDSfC, or from anyone who can offer knowledgeable comments
> > about how either the choreography or the general teaching methods
> > it offers would transfer to 1820-1840 era.
> >
> > --Jim
> >
> > On Mar 17, 2014, at 8:11 PM, rich sbardella wrote:
> >
> > > I am looking for some period dances that might have been danced in
> > > small New England towns in 1820-1830.  Should be easy enough for
> > > children.
> > > Any suggestions?
> > >
> > > Also, does any know the steps to "Barrel of Sugar"?  Recommended
> > > music?
> > >
> > > Rich Sbardella
> > > Stafford, CT
> > >
> > >
> > > ________________________________
> > > _______________________________________________
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> > > Callers at sharedweight.net
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> >
> >
> >
> > ------------------------------
> >
> > Message: 2
> > Date: Tue, 18 Mar 2014 21:17:53 -0700
> > From: joda_rogers <joda_rogers at altrionet.com>
> > To: callers at sharedweight.net
> > Subject: [Callers] 1820s-1830s Dances (rich sbardella)
> > Message-ID: <9A31B033-970F-4F9B-AF96-482689D35B62 at altrionet.com>
> > Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii
> >
> > There is also An Elegant Collection of Contras and Squares by Ralph Page.
> >

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