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The Gentleman Dancing-Master

Mr Isaac and the English Royal Court from Charles II to Queen Anne

Jennifer Thorp

The Gentleman Dancing-Master: Mr Isaac and the English Royal Court from Charles II to Queen Anne is a study of the life of the most significant dancing-master at the late-Stuart court in London. It discusses his use of dance music and brings together, for the first time, reprints of the notations of all his twenty-three surviving dances created for performance at court in the presence of the monarch, including several created to celebrate the birthdays of Queen Anne or named after important courtiers or political events. This study highlights the significance of dance as a central part of court culture, and also the wider context of the London book trade within which Isaac’s notators turned his dances into a publishable form ultimately taken over by John Walsh’s music publishing firm. Using extensive archival and printed sources from his day, the book follows Isaac’s career as a dancer, teacher, and choreographer of sophisticated duets in the fashionable French style, some of which were also performed in the theatre. Isaac, however, was no slavish follower of French fashion, and by careful consideration of the extant dances from the point of view of a dancer, this study also seeks to throw light on Isaac’s often individualistic approach to choreography.

About the Author

Jennifer Thorp is a former dancer and dance historian specializing in late-seventeenth- and eighteenth-century dance for court and theatre, with particular reference to London-based dancing-masters. She is currently investigating the printing and distribution of Kellom Tomlinson's treatise, The Art of Dancing (London, 1735) and its exquisite copperplate illustrations, together with ongoing research on the career of Anthony L'Abbé (c. 1667 - c. 1753), theatrical choreographer and dancing-master to members of the royal family in early-Hanoverian London. Jennifer is the co-organizer, with Professor Michael Burden, of the now well-established annual Oxford Dance Symposium, held at New College Oxford.

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Pages: 472 pages

Published: April 2024


ISBN: 9781638040958

ISBN: 9781638040965




Studies in British Musical Cultures