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September 11, 2014

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...not about this...but something else. Do you/anyone have any illustrations/instructions for the STEPS for/of "LA PATINEURS?"

We know that in Russia there was an English country dance called Соваж, and this looks like a transliteration of the French Sauvage. This dance is said to be danced at the end of the 18th century (probably a bit to the beginning of the 19thc). On the other hand I've seen this dance in some German books with choreographies and there it is stated that Sauvage is a special kind of Anglaise just as a Matredour is a special kind of Ecossaise. I've never tried to dance it because I had no music but now it seems to me that it could be a special dance popular in many countries.

I believe the Savage Dance was used in the documentary because it's probably the only dance ever notated by Jane Austen. Dr Anne Daye, chairman of Dolmetsch Historical Dance Society, was researching the Austen family papers at Chawton for her teaching at the 2012 DHDS Summer School. She came across a scrap of paper headed "Savage Dance" and the figures mentioned above, in what the curator confirmed as JA's writing. The Austen papers have plenty of tunes written in the handwriting of JA and her family but no figures given except for this. I gathered from the anecdote that the curator hadn't recognised it as dance notation, and (therefore?) hadn't published its existence to the historical-dance world.
We in Anne's class, and Stuart Marsden who was acting as repetiteur, found this quite exciting, despite the dance being the reverse of exciting, as you note. Anne also mentioned that the dance appears in a German dance manual -- sorry I can't presently give the reference but perhaps one seen by your correspondent Dmitry -- from which, or maybe the Weyland, JA had presumably copied it, thinking of Mr Darcy's infamous remark.
I imagine Stuart, a knowledgeable and inspired dancing master, will have said all this to the BBC while he was making the documentary with them; he can't be blamed if the narrator got it wrong!

Hi,
I am the dancing master that you saw on the programme- Pride & Prejudice Having a Ball.
The reason that the 'Savage Dance' was included in the programme was very simple; it came from J.A's own handwritten collection. The music and dance instructions are in her own neat and economic script hand and we wished to include dances that she either mentions in her books or were from her own collection.
I have also found the same dance figure (exact) also called The Welsh Question and The Princes' Favourite.
Hope this helps.
Stuart Marsden

Coming late to this conversation. As stated above, the tune and one set of figures are on a scrap of paper in one of the Austen family music books. As the dance advisor to Pride and Prjudice Having a Ball, the choice of dances were mine, and linked to Jane Austen as closely as possible, rather than being merely of the period in general. Austen probably copied the tune and figures from a publication owned by richer family or friends. One of these is Werner 1784, which gives 2 sets of figures, the set Austen did not copy is more unusual. The set of figures she did copy and was danced on the programme is very common, and found with many other tunes. This suggests she was amused or intrigued by the combination of a 'savage' tune and a very familiar dance. The tune originated from the pantomime of Robinson Crusoe, and clearly had some appeal c.1784 for Werner to publish it with dance figures. Exaggeration and distortion by documentary producers is endemic, but at least this one has triggered investigation. The Historical Dance Society (historicaldance.org.uk) sells dance instructions and CDs, with full information on sources, for Jane Austen's era and others. So if you want to enjoy the dance, you can do so, and attend workshops around the country.

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