Colonial dance collections

Listing of Australian Colonial Dance Collections

Held in Australian Libraries/ not produced in Australia

New Country Dances for the year 1799
Published by Thompson. St Paul’s Church-yard, London.
Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW.
Special thanks to Amelia Powys for finding this.

New Country Dances for the year 1817. 
Rackham’s ladies’ memorandum book.
A selection of dances from Preston, Goulding, and Thompson.
Burdekin Papers, box 91.  Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW.
Special thanks to Amelia Powys for finding this.

J. Power’s Select collection of dances, waltzes, quadrilles, &c., &c., for 1820 [music] / composed and arranged for the piano forte or harp, with an accompaniment for the flute, violin or flageolet.
Author: Voigt, Augustus, b. ca. 1779.
London : Published by the Editor, [1820?] University of Melbourne Library

Seaton’s Ballroom Manual and Etiquette of Dancing.
Milton and Sowbray, Halifax, 1864.
[not sure where this is – Gulgong Museum?]

Wheatsone’s Elegant and fashionable dances. Books 1 & 2 some pages missing. 1808.  The Woodriff papers.
National Library of Australia.

White, John Charles.    [listed in catalogue but unable to be located January, 2013] White’s dances : as performed at London, Bath, Liverpool, Brighton, Cheltenham, and all fashionable assemblies, composed & arranged for the pianoforte or harp, and flute, violin, &c. ad lib. / by John Charles White.
Publisher     London : R. Cocks, [18–] Fisher Library, University of Sydney.  M 781.554 W585 1  v.2


Produced in Australia

Special thanks to Brian Samuels for helping with these details.

Anonymous A collection of hand writtten notes of  solo dances: Melbourne Clog, Highland Fling, Irish Jig, Sailor’s Hornpipe, etc. compiled by a teacher in Victoria, c.1880. Shirley Andrew’s papers. National Library of Australia.

J. H. Christison’s Manual of Dancing and Etiquette,
Maitland, NSW, 1882
State Library of NSW.

Cole’s Book Arcade The pocket guide to the dances.
Melbourne : Cole’s Book Arcade, [191-]. 1 folded card ([6] p.) ; 15 x 10 cm.
Lists the various movements of six Quadrilles, the Waltz Coltillion and the Lancers.

Ellard, Frederick   The Australian Ladies. A collection of national country dances. [music only] NLA Digital Collection .  ed. and orch. Richard Divall

Lovenberry, Ron  The Australian M.C. or Dancers Enquire Within, Containing One Hundred of the Newest Fashionable English , Irish, Scotch, French, and Colonial Dances. Woodcock & Powell, Brisbane. 1884
University of Queensland Library

Read, Mrs Chas.  Australian Ballroom Guide, The Assembly Rooms, Woolloomooloo, Sydney. Three editions: 1874, 1876, 9th edition.
State Library of Victoria, National Library of Australia, Royal Historical Society Library. (9th enlarged edition) is on-line and can be downloaded from

Roberts, Henry Manual of Fashionable Dancing.
Melbourne , 2nd ed.1875, 3rd ed.1876.
State Library of Victoria, National Library of Australia, University of Melbourne, State Library of  South  Australia, State Library of NSW, Monash University Library.
See NLA for 1875 (1st) and 1876 (2nd and 3rd editions) –[]=&submit=Find
The first edition is also available on-line from the US and is linked to the NLA cat entry.
There is also a 1912 edition (62pp) at the SLNSW
For a critique of the work in the The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), Thursday 16 September 1880, page 6, see

Scott, Edward  The ball-room guide, or, How to dance : the descriptions of dances revised, and in some cases rewritten  by Edward Scott.
Sydney : The Modern Publishing Co., [between 1895 and 1899?] State Library of New South Wales

E.J. Wivell, Professor of Dancing.  The Ballroom Companion and Pupil’s Self Help. Adelaide. c1874
State Library of NSW and State Library of South Australia.

E. J. Wivell, The Six Square Dances, or, fashionable quadrilles.
Adelaide, 1891.
For more information regarding Wivell  and the dance manuals, see Brian Samuels’ article Wivells – BS article in AF no21 2006  in Australian Folklore, 2006.

Modern books about colonial dance.

Shirley Andrews. Take Your Partners.  Traditional Dancing in Australia.
Hyland House Publishing, Melbourne, 1979.

Shirley Andrews and Peter Ellis. Two Hundred Dancing Years and how to celebrate them with a colonial ball. Australian Bicentennial Authority, 1988

Nell Challingsworth Dancing Down the Years.  The Romantic Century in Australia.
The Craftsman Press, Melbourne, 1978
Australia’s Dancing Heritage. Stories of the 19th Century.
Go Dancing Publications, Melbourne, 1994

Dr John P. Cullinane. Aspects of the History of Irish Dancing in Ireland, New Zealand, N. America and Australia. Cork, 1994.
Aspects of 170 years of Irish Dancing in Australia,  2006

J.W.C. Cumes. Their Chastity was not too Rigid.  Leisure Times in Early Australia.
Longman Cheshire/Reed, Melbourne, 1979.

Peter Ellis. The merry country dance : a description and social history of colonial and old time dance and music. Bush Dance and Music Club of Bendigo, Victoria  2005

Edward H. Pask.   Enter the Colonies Dancing. A History of Dance in Australia 1835-1940.
Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1979


Listed in Australian Library Catalogues – 18th/19th dance manuals held in overseas libraries, available on-line.
[There are rather a lot of these; not all are included]

Burbank , John. New collection of country dances : For the year 1799.
Printed at Brookfield [Mass.], : [by E. Merriam & Co.], –1799.

Farnsworth, Oliver. The Gentleman’s & ladies companion containing the newest cotillions and country dances.
Newport [R.I.]: : Printed by Oliver Farnsworth., 1799

Goulding & Comp’ys Select collection of country dances, for the pianoforte [music]
Dublin : Goulding, Phipps, D’Almaine , [17–?].

Loring Andrews A Collection of contra dances containing the newest, most approved and fashionable figures.
[Stockbridge, Mass.] : Printed and sold [by Loring Andrews] at Stockbridge., 179[4?]

John Norman. Cf. Evans. Twenty four fashionable country dances for the year 1799  with their proper figures as performed at Court, & Bath. and all the public assemblys. London printed Boston reprinted & sold by W. Norman no. 75 Newbury Street., [1799]

P. Rice. A Choice Selection of Contra Dances.
Harvard, 1801.

Mr Schaffer. A Collection of Cotillions and Contra Dances
Boston 1817

Thompson, Ann & Peter. Compleat collection of 200 favourite country dances perfor’d at Court, Bath, Tunbridge & all public assemblies.
London : Printed for Saml. Ann & Peter Thompson. No. 75, St. Pauls Church Yard London. Where may be and the yearly dances & minuets, [178-?]

Walpole [N.H.]. A Collection of contra dances, of late, approved, and fashionable figures : Printed [by David Carlisle] at the Museum press. And sold [by Thomas & Thomas] at the Walpole bookstore., 1799.
The largest collection of dance manuals available on-line is at the American Library of Congress.

The information on this website may be copied for personal use only, and must be acknowledged as from this website. It may not be reproduced for publication without prior permission from Dr Heather Blasdale Clarke.


Acknowledgement of Country.

We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the Country on which we live and work, and pay respect to Elders past, present and emerging. We acknowledge the impact colonialism has had on Aboriginal Country and Aboriginal peoples and that this impact continues to be felt today.

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