Tag Archives: John Weaver

The Mr. Isaac mystery

The celebrated late–17th- and early–18th-century English dancing master known in historical sources only as Mr. Isaac may have been Edward Isaac, who was baptized in 1643 and whose particulars fit in circumstantial ways with what little is known about the choreographer.

By the mid-1670s Mr. Isaac was well-connected in the court and theaters, and recognition of his work continually grew, lasting into the reign of George I. His extant dances, notated by John Weaver and others in the Beauchamp–Feuillet system, show a typically English love of formal complexity and occasional departures from fashionable French models, yet they share qualities that mark them as definitively his own.

This according to “Mr. Isaac, dancing-master” by Jennifer Thorp (Dance research XXIV/2 [Winter 2006] pp. 117–137).

Related article: Mr. Isaac and The Union

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Filed under Baroque era, Dance

Mr. Isaac and The Union

The 1707 Act of Union joined England and Scotland as a single entity. For the birthday of Queen Anne that year the choreographer Mr. Isaac created The Union, a couple dance that conveyed some of the tensions involved in forging a new national identity.

The doctrine of affections linked the genres of the dance’s loure and hornpipe sections with specific emotions. The loure was connected with pride, even arrogance, as well as a tinge of nostalgia; in this section of The Union, the two dancers pass and join with an air of circumspect ambivalence, expressing cultural rapprochement. Associated with Scotland, the hornpipe was linked with vigor and vitality, and the second section of The Union presents an idealized, anglicized vision of Scottishness.

This according to “Issues of nation in Isaac’s The Union” by Linda J. Tomko (Dance research XV/2 [winter 1997] pp. 99–125). Above, excerpts from John Weaver’s notation of the piece using the BeauchampFeuillet system.

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Filed under Baroque era, Dance, Politics