of just and regular Dancing on our Theatres. It is therefore, in my opinion, high time that some one should come in to its Assistance, and relieve it from the many gross and growing Errors that have crept into it, and over-cast its real Beauties; and to set Dancing in its true light, would shew the Usefulness and Elegancy of it, with the Pleasure and Instruction produc’d from it; and also lay down some fundamental Rules, that might so tend to the Improvement of its Professors, and Information of the Spectators, that the first might be the better enabled to perform, and the latter render’d more capable of judging, what is (if there be any thing) valuable in this Art.
To encourage therefore some ingenious Pen capable of so generous an Undertaking, and in some measure to relieve Dancing from the Disadvantages it at present lies under, I, who teach to dance, have attempted a small Treatise as an Essay towards an History of Dancing; in which I have enquired into its Antiquity, Original, and Use, and shewn what Esteem the Ancients had for it: I have likewise considered the Nature and Perfection of all its several Parts, and how beneficial and delightful it is, both as a Qualification and an Exercise; and endeavoured to answer all Objections that have been maliciously rais’d against it. I have proceeded to give an Account of the particular Dances of the Greeks and Romans, whether religious, warlike, or civil; and taken particular notice of that Part of Dancing relating to the ancient Stage, and in which the Pantomimes had so great a share: Nor have I been wanting in giving an historical Account of some particular Masters excellent in that surprising Art. After which, I have advanced some Observations on the modern Dancing, both as to the Stage, and that Part of it so absolutely necessary for the Qualification of Gentlemen and Ladies; and have concluded with some short Remarks on the Origin and Progress of the Character by which Dances are writ down, and communicated to one Master from another. If some great Genius after this would arise, and advance this Art to that Perfection it seems capable of receiving, what might not be expected from it? For if we consider the Origin of Arts and Sciences, we shall find that some of them took rise from Beginnings so mean and unpromising, that it is very wonderful to think that ever such surprizing Structures should have been raised upon such ordinary Foundations. But what cannot a great Genius effect? Who would have thought that the clangorous Noise of a Smiths Hammers should have given the first rise to Musick? Yet Macrobius in his second Book relates, that Pythagoras, in passing by a Smiths Shop, found that the Sounds proceeding from the Hammers were either more grave or acute, according to the different Weights of the Hammers. The Philosopher, to improve this Hint, suspends different Weights by Strings of the same Bigness, and found in like manner that the Sounds answered to the Weights.