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Historical Dance Bibliography

Here is a transcription of entry with id bickham_1738:

Transcribed by Iurii Alekseevich Chernyshov

George Bickham

An Easy Introduction to Dancing: or, the Movements in the Minuet Fully Explained. Adorn'd with Twelve Figures Drawn from the Life, Representing the Different Attitudes of Young Gentlemen and Ladies, from Which All the Steps Are to Be Taken, and Performed, in That Celebrated Dance. With ad Additional Plate Representing the Form or Figure of the Said Dance. As Also Six New Minuets and Rigadoons, Likewise Their Proper Basses, for the Harpsichord, Spinned, Violin, &c. Curiously Engraved on Copper-plates

1 An easy introduction to dancing, &c

Of the Movements in General

As it is most essential in Dancing, to know how to take the Movements, the Way to perform them justly is, to know them well, and to know them thoroughly, to understand the Power of Motion, which is what I shall endeavour to make you apprehend by the Rules of Art.

There are three Movements from the Waist to the Feet, which is that of the Hip, Knee, and Instep from there principal Movements we form all the different Steps in Dancing.

But they are not brought to their Perfection, 'till the Joints have made their Bendings, and regain'd the Situation they were in before.

2 I shall begin then, by the Explanation of that of the Instep, which has two Ways of Moving, to wit, Tension and Extension, according to the Terms of Anatomists, which is, what we call raising the Toe and setting it down: In my Opinion, I find it the most tiresome Motion of all, because it supports the Weight of the Body in its Equilibrium, or Balance, and is the most necessary to dance well; 'tis by its greater or less Strength, that the Leg extends itself with most Ease, either in Dancing or Jumping; for the Instep, by its Strength, raises you with Sprightliness, and when you fall again, you light on your Toes. The Number of Steps on the Toes, in Dancing, make you seem somewhat more light, but it is the Hip that makes the Step, and the Instep that supports the Body and compleats it, by carrying it on with that Lightness.

The Movement of the Knee is different from this, because it is not in its Perfection, but when the Leg is extended, and on the Toes, as is plain in the half Coupees, where the Knee bends, and the Toe is rais'd a little; but when you make the Step and make yourself, 'tis the Instep that compleats it, therefore the Movement of the Knee is inseparable from the Instep, that of the Hip is very different; its Movement is not so apparent, but nevertheless, it governs and disposes the other Movements, since neither the Knee nor Feet could turn out, if the Hip did not turn first, which is undeniable, since it is the commanding Joint: But there are Steps in which no other joint but the Hip has any thing to do, as in the Capers in Theatrical Dancings, in which the Hips only move the Legs, which are to be well extended; therefore, neither Instep nor Knee moves.

The Manner of moving the Arms gracefully in Dancing, is as necessary as that of the Feet, because they move with the Body, and are its greatest Ornament.

Therefore the Arms ought to hang by the Side of the Body, as this first Figure of the Man represents; the Hands neither open nor shut, for if the Thumb was to press one of the Fingers, that would shew a determined Motion, which would cause the upper Joints to look stiff, and prevent that easy Motion which the Arms ought to have.

3 The Arms being thus, disposed, you let them fall below the Coat Pocket, making your first Step of the Minuet, (which is a half Coupee) with the Right Foot, the Hands turned in: But in taking the second Movement, at the fame Time from the Left Foot, the Elbow bends a little, railing the Hands imperceptibly; as afterwards you open them very easily, extending them with a Grace to the End of the Minuet Step, and so on, during the Course of your Minuet, in every Step you take, whether it be backwards, forwards, or sideways. I have seen many Persons make Balances in dancing a Minuet, in which the Arms move contrary to the Legs: For Example, the Arms should be raised to the Height of the Hips, and in making the first Balance with the Right Leg, the opposite Arm is brought a little forwards, as well as the Shoulder; the Right Arm and Shoulder drawn back, and the Head also, at the same Time, inclines a little: But at the second, both Head and Arms regain their former Situation.

For Ladies, who are not to use their Arms in a Minuet, but when they present their Hands, it is sufficient, that at the first Balance they shade the Right Shoulder, which brings the Left forwards in a kind of Opposition or Contrast to the Foot, and make also a small Inclination of the Head, which gives great Grace to this Step; but take Care of Affectation.

It is enough for the Lady, during the whole Course of the Minuet, to hold her Head upright, and in a good Situation; her Shoulders back, which inlarges the Breast, and gives a better Grace to the Body; the Arms extended by the Sides, so that the Elbows touch the Hips, but all naturally.

To give a better Idea of it, observe this Figure, in Plate the first, to which I have given all the Air and Life that a Woman ought to have in Dancing: She holds her Petticoats with her Thumb and Four Fingers, the Arms extended by the Side of the Body; the Hands turned outwards, without spreading the Petticoats out, or letting them fall in; and as to the Manner of figuring, it is the same as that of Men, as well for finding the Shoulder in the Minuet Step, as those forwards: As for presenting Hands, and the other Graces, they are equally the same in one Sex as the other.

4 Of the Minuet, and the Planner of dancing it regularly

The Minuet is become the most modish Dance, not only for the easy dancing of it, but for the easy Figure used at present, and for which we are obliged to Monsieur Pecour, who so much improved it by changing the Form S, which was the principal Figure, into that of Z, where the Number of Steps limited, keep the Dancers in a Regularity, as is seen by the Plate representing the Figure of the Dance.

After your second Honour, which is shewn by Plates 2 and 3, you must make a Minuet-Step, which is performed in this Manner; two Sinkings or Coupees, the First of the Right Foot, and the Second of the Left; then two Walks on the Toes of each Foot, one of the Right and the other of the Left, which is performed within the Compass of two Bars of Triple Time, one call'd the Cadence, and the other the Contre-Cadence; but for the better Apprehension, it may be divided into three equal Parts; the First for the half Coupee, or first Sinking, the Second for the Second, and the Third for the two Walks, which ought to take up no longer Time than one Sinking, as a half Coupee; but in the Walk it is to be observed, that the Heel be set down, to be able to make a Sink to begin another Step. When you begin the Minuet, you must take a Minuet Step in returning to the Place where you made your first Honour, forming the fourth Part of a Circle, which brings you up to your Lady again, to whom you present your Hand, as represented by Plate 4, each make two Minuet-Steps forwards, the Man's Hand undermost, the Lady's as in the said Plate. Afterwards you make two Minuet Steps forwards, keeping Hands, as by the Figure of the Minuet you are shewn, that the Man makes a Minuet-Step backwards, to let the Woman go by him, and then a Minuet-Step sideways; at the End of which, he lets go her Hand, and makes a Minuet Step forwards, and the Lady makes one also going down, as shewn by Plate 5, and the said written Form of the Minuet, which directs the Way, sand names the Steps; afterward they both make a side Step, slanting on the Right backwards, which sets them opposite to each other, by the Quarter Turn made at the first Step of the Minuet-Step aside, as is expressed: But in making this Step, the Right Shoulders of both Parties are shaded from each other, and the Head turn'd a little to the Left, looking at each other, which 5 ought to be observed throughout the whole Course of the Minuet, but above all, without Affectation: To pursue the Figure, as represented by the aforesaid Plate, two Steps must be on the left Side, with the Body upright, and in making two other Steps forwards, the Right Shoulder of both shuld be shaded, the Man always to let the Lady pass on the right Side of him, but both looking at each other: (What I call shading the Shoulder, is drawing it a little backwards, presenting the Body more full,) but nevertheless, still to make their Steps forwards, as Plate 6 shews; and is express'd in the Minuet Figure; but when you have made five or fix Turns, you must from one Corner of the Room or other, looking at each other, present your Right Hand in your Step forwards: But that you may the better understand it, when you are going over, that is, at the End of your last Step returning to the Left, raise your Right Arm to the Height of your Breast; the Hand turn'd, as represented in Plate 4. The Head being turned to the Right, looking at each other, you make a little Movement of the Wrist and Elbow raised up, with a slight Inclination in presenting the Hand, and still looking at one another, make a Turn quite round, as represented and shewn in Plate 5.

Having let go the Right Hand, you go forwards, making a half Turn to present your Left Hand, observing the same Ceremonial as in the Right; and when you have let go the Left Hand, you must make a Minuet Step aside, to the Right, obliquely backwards, as is there described in the said Plate, which brings you again into the principal Figure, which you continue for three or four Turns; afterwards you present both Hands, railing your Arms to the Height of your Breast, with your Body bent. In presenting Hands to the Lady, according to my Opinion, which I have endeavoured to express in these twelve Figures; and when you take Hands, you make a Turn or two, and the Man makes a Minuet-Step backwards, bringing his Lady up with him, whose Left Hand only he lets go, to pill off his Hat: When he has compleated his Minuet-Step, he steps with his Right Foot aside and then they both make their Honours together, the same as before they danced. I don't think it right to make a Minuet too long, for though it has always been my Opinion, that every one may be left to his own Discretion, yet it is both reasonable and becoming to set some Limits ; for though a Person dances never so well, the Figure is still the fame, therefore the shorter it's made the better.

Finis11. 7 pages of music and illustrations were omitted in this transcription

Back cover Books Printed for and Sold by George Bickham, in May's Buildings, near Covent-Garden

  1. Pastime Improved, by a new Pack of Cards, called, the Beau Mode or the Bath, Turnbridge and Scarborough Portraits,to a great Likeness, with the Round Heads, Flat Heads, Short Heads, Long Heads, Straight Heads, Covered Heads, Broad Heads and the Narrow Heads, engraved on Copper-plates, with Pips like the common Cards. Price 2 s.
  2. County cards: Containing Descriptions or all the Counties and Cities in England and Wales, as to their Foundations, Government, Trade, Fairs and Markets, Members for Parliaments, Churches in each Distances from London, Oxford and Cambridge, with their Arms and Common Seals; engraved on Copper-plates with Pips like Common Cards. Price 1 s.
  3. British Monarchy: Or a new Chorographical Description or all the Dominions subject to the King of Great Britain comprehending the British Isles, the American Colonies, the Electoral States, the African and Indian Settlements; and enlarging more particular on the respective Counties of England and Wales, with Maps of each County, in a new Taste, of the principal Roads, as a Guide to the Traveller. To which is added, full and exact Lists ot the Navy; the Army, the Officers of State, the Revenue and Justice, with all the Salaries, as fixed both by civil and military Establishment. The Whole illustrated with suitable Maps, Arms of all the Corporations, and Tables. Likewise adorned with Head and Tail-pieces, and other Embellishments, and engrav'd by George Bickham, senior and junior, on above 250 Copper-plates, and is the finest Volume ever exhibited in Europe, the Work is intirely finished.
  4. The Beauties of Stow; or a Description of the pleasant Seat and noble Gardens of the Right Hon. Earl Temple, Viscount and Baron Cobham, with above 30 Designs or Drawings engraved on Copper-plates of each particular Building in the Gardens, with two Fronts of the House, and a general Plan of the whole Gardens, being a necessary Pocket Companion for such as visit those Gardens, pointing out the Beauties and leading them in the right Path without bei, ne confus'd. Price bound 5 s.
  5. A Head of the late Lord Cobham; from a Painting of Van Loo. Price 2 s.
  6. Sixteen Perspective Views, together with a general Plan of the magnificent Buildings and Gardens at Stow, in the County of Bucks, belonging to the Right Hon. Earl Temple, Visc. and Baron Cobham; correctly drawn on the Spot, 1752, with his Lordihip's Permission and Approbation, by Mons. Chatelain: Engrav'd by George Bickham, jun. Price one Guinea, colour'd two Guineas.
  7. Delucia Britannica : Vol. I. Or the Curiosities of Hampton-Court and Windso-Castle, delineated, with occasional Reflections, and 3 Copper-plates of the two Palaces, &c. The Whole attempted with a View, not only to engage the Attention of the Curious, but to inform the Judgments of those who have the least Taste for the Art of Painting. It being a necessary Pocket Companion for such as visit those Courts. Price bound 2 s. 6 d.
  8. The Art of Fortification delineated; with Rules for Designing, Drawing, Washing and Colouring in the most elegant Talk, particular Works and Buildings, and their Plans, Elevations, Sections, Profiles and Fronts, in civil and military Architecture: As likewise the intire Survey of a Place, with its particular Charts and the Description of Provinces, States, Kingdoms, Empires, &c. A Work absolutely. necessary for the Gentlemen, Officer, and Architect. Adorn'd with 23 Cuts. Price 5 s. bound in Calf.
  9. Eighteen Folio Copper-plates of Gardening, in a new Taste, as Temples, Arches, Gates, Bridges, Alcoves, Perterres, Tarrasses, Mounts, Vistoes, Alleys, Groves, Clumps, Cascades, Basons, Lakes, Baths, Obelisks, Hermitages, ragged Ruins and Chinese House, extremely ornamental in the Gardens of the Curious, and to direct and give Hints to Gardiners in general: Likewise twenty-four different Specimens of Chinese Paling or Lettice-work, of much Esteem, and have been Patterns for most Workmen in that Taste. Price 6 s. plain, 12 s. coloured.

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