Celebrating Cook

Captain James Cook: a culture of music and dance.

2020 will mark the 250th anniversary of the visit of James Cook to Australia. Celebrations are planned nationwide.

Captain James Cook (1728-1779) by Nathaniel Dance. Courtesy of National Maritime Museum, United Kingdom, Public Domain. https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18059

Captain James Cook (1728-1779) by Nathaniel Dance. Courtesy of National Maritime Museum, United Kingdom, Public Domain

One aspect of Cook’s story which deserves to be acknowledged is the culture of music and dance which surrounded him and celebrated his life. Until now, this has not been explored.

Cook recognised the benefits of dance, experiencing it first hand as a young member of Admiral Boscawen’s Fleet, and using it to good effect as the leader of extensive voyages in the Pacific. Not only did he encourage his crew to dance, but music and dance were used in cultural exchanges as he visited new lands.

The voyages, people and places which Cook visited were captured in the popular culture of the day, and even his death was commemorated in dance.

Leading up to the anniversary, be sure to check these fascinating stories as they become available.  We’re hoping to produce some recordings of the music – at the moment we’ve just included a basic recording of each tune.

Early life in Yorkshire

Boscawen’s Frolick

Nova Scotia

Family life at Mile End

Lord Morton’s hints

The South Sea

Transit of Venus

Island of Love

Sailor’s hornpipe

Omai
– The Tahitian celebrity
– Pantomime

Trip to Tahiti

The Death of Captain Cook
– Ballet
– Grand Equestrian Dramatic Spectacle

Captain Cook’s Country Dance

HMS Resolution and Discovery in Tahiti By John Cleveley the Younger - http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/16210/lot/1/, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19961903

Cook used music and dance in his interactions with people throughout the Pacific. HMS Resolution and Discovery in Tahiti, by John Cleveley the Younger.