Joan Sanderson

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JOAN SANDERSON. AKA and see "Cushion Dance (1) (The)," "Old Cushion Dance." English, Country Dance Tune (3/4 & 6/4 time). G Dorian. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABCC. The air appears in John Playford's Dancing Master of 1686 [1]. 'Joan Sanderson' (or John Sanderson, if the participant is male) is a figure in the dance-game of "The Cushion Dance" (see notes on that tune and the Scottish version called "Babbity Bowster"). The Cushion dance is described by Mrs. Groves: "The dance is begun by a single person, man or woman, who, taking a cushion in hand, dances about the room, and at the, end of a short time stops and sings: 'This dance it will no farther go,' to which the musician answers: 'I pray you, good sir, why say so?' 'Because Joan Sanderson will not come to.' 'She must come to whether she will or no,' returns the musician, and then the dancer lays the cushion before a woman; she kneels and he kisses her, singing 'Welcome, Joan Sanderson.' Then she rises, takes up the cushion, and both dance and sing' Prinkum prankum is a fine dance, and shall we go dance it over again?' Afterwards the woman takes the cushion and does as the man did." London publisher John Walsh described the dance in his 1740 collection:

This dance is began by a single person (either man or woman) who taking a cushion in their hand, dances about the room, and at the end f the tune they stop and sing, “This dance it will no farther go.” The musicians answer, “I pray, good Sir, why say you so?” Man, “Because Joan Sanderson will not come too.” Then he lays down the cushion before a woman, on which she kneels, and he kisses her, singing, “Prinkum prankum is a fine dance, and shall we go dance it once again, once again, and once again, and shall we go dance it once again.” Then making a stop, the woman sings as before, “This dance &c.” Musicians, “I pray you madam, &c.” Woman, “Because John Sanderson &c.” Musicians, “He must &c.” And so she lays down the cushion before a man, who kneeling upon it salutes her, she singing, “Welcome, John Sanderson &c.” Then he taking up the cushion, they take hands and dance round, singing as before; and thus they do till the whole company are taken into the ring. Then the cushion is laid before the first man, the woman singing, “The dance &c.” (as before), only instead of, “come too”, they sing “go fro”; and instead of “Welcome, John Sanderson &c.” they sing “Farewell John Sanderson, farewell, farewell; and so they go out one by one as they came in. Note, the woman is kiss’d by all the men in the ring at her coming in and going out, and likewise the man by all the women.”

The dance survived for several hundred years in some areas. Writing of Cornish entertainments, Davies Gilbert reported in 1823 "...at length to French-More (i.e. "Trenchmore") and the Cushion Dance, and then all the company dance; lord and groom, lady and kitchen-maid, no distinction!"

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Barlow (Complete Country Dance Tunes from Playford's Dancing Master), 1985; No. 247, p. 64. Chappell (Popular Music of the Olden Times), vol. 1, 1859; p. 287. Walsh (Complete Country Dancing-Master, Volume the Fourth), London, 1740; No. 15. Wilson (Companion to the Ball Room), 1816; p. 58.

Recorded sources:




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