Shawl Dance (1)

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X:1 T:Shawl Dance M:C| L:1/8 N:"As Performed by the Misses Abercronbie at N:the New Theatre, Baltimore." N:Printed on a single sheet with "Broad Sword Hornpipe" in 1813 Q:"Andante Grazioso" Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:D A2|d4 .c2.d2|e2f2d2a2|g3e Tgfed|~c3d eABc| d3 e/d/ c2d2|e2f2d2a2|g3e dcBA|d2f2d2:| |:a2|g3f e2d2|c>dB>c A2d2|c2d2 bagf|f4e2a2| g3fe2d2|c>dB>c A2d2|c2d2[A3f3][Ge]|[G4e4] [F2d2]!fermata!!fine!:| P:Minore M:2/4 K:Dmin |:d/>e/|ff/>e/ dd/>e/|ff/>e/ dd/>e/|fe/>d/ fe/>d/|eaa d/>e/| ff/>e/ dd/>e/|ff/>e/ dd|ee/>f/ ea|fed:| |:d/>d/|^c E/>E/ E A/>A/|eF/>F/ F e/f/|gfed|aAA A/>A/| ^c E/>/E/ E A/>A/|d F/>F/ F e/f/|gfed|!fermata!a3:|



SHAWL DANCE [1]. American (?), Stage Dance (cut time). D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). The tune was published on a single sheet (with "Broadsword Hornpipe") in Baltimore in 1813, with the heading "As Performed by the Misses Abercrombie at the New Theatre." William Burke Wood, in his memoir Person Recollections of the Stage (1855), writes that the Abercrombie sisters were with his troupe in the 1813-1814 season in Philadelphia, and called them "clever dancers" who "became general favorites." They had been brought to America in 1812 by Mr. Beaumont, who had been manager of the Edinburgh Theatre; the sisters were his wife's nieces. At first Beaumont failed to gain them a contract at the superior theater, The Chestnut Street Theater, so he started his own company at South Street Theater. However, "The Abercrombie sisters created such a furor that the managers of the Chestnut Street Theatre found it their interest to offer them an engagement, and the South Street Theatre season came to a close on the 30th of January, 1813" [1].

During this season [1812-1813] competition emerged from the Southwark Theatre. Irish dancers, the Misses Abercrombie and their brother James, were featured there in ballets, pantomimes, and melodramas. But the Abercrombies found the Southwark clientele rude and unmanageable, so the sisters accepted contracts with the Chestnut Street, allowing the Philadelphia players to present such lovely ballets as Little Red Riding Hood, Foundling of the Forest, and Mirth by Moonlight, usually under the direction of Mr. Francis. Charles Durang wrote of the Abercrombie sisters: "They were the first who brought the altered operatic style of dancing to the country. As dancers, they were not first-rate; but they performed neat 'terre-á-terre' steps with occasional 'entrechats', and their attitudes were grace itself." [2]


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  1. Scharf & Westcott, History of Philadelphia, vol. II, 1884, p. 970.
  2. Lynn Matluck Brooks, John Durang: Man of the American Stage, 2011,