Captain James Cook: a culture of music and dance.
Captain Cook wisely thought that dancing was of special use to sailors. This famous navigator, wishing to counteract disease on board his vessels as much as possible, took particular care, in calm weather, to make his sailors and marines dance to the sound of a violin, and it was to this practice that he mainly ascribed the sound health which his crew enjoyed during voyages of several years continuance.
The Code of Terpsichore (1830) Carlo Blasis.
2020 will mark the 250th anniversary of the visit of James Cook to Australia. Celebrations are planned nationwide.
Cook was renowned during his lifetime as a brilliant explorer; after his death he was elevated to the status of mythical hero, and in more recent times, he has been demonized for his treatment of Indigenous people and for introducing Western civilization into the Pacific. This series presents a hitherto uncharted facet of his life.
A fascinating aspect of Cook’s story concerns the culture of music and dance in which he was immersed, and which celebrated his discoveries and his death. Until now, this has not been examined.
Cook recognised the benefits of dance, using it to good effect as the leader of extensive voyages in the Pacific. Not only did he encourage his crew to dance for their good health, 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 captivating stories as they become available. We’re hoping to produce some recordings of the music – at the moment we’ve included a basic recording of each tune.
Lord Morton’s hints
A Trip to Tahiti
The Tahitian celebrity
The Death of Captain Cook
– In European theatre
– Grand Equestrian Dramatic Spectacle
Captain Cook’s Country Dance
Dance Resources for Primary Teachers – available early 2020
Captain Cook’s Country Dance – book & CD – available early 2020
1. Portrait of Captain Cook by Nathaniel Dance-Holland [Public domain] 2. A jig on board by Cruikshank. Courtesy of The Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University
3. View of the South Seas by John Cleveley the Younger [Public domain]
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