Slingsby's Reel

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X:1 T:Slingsby's Reel M:C| L:1/8 B:Thompson’s Compleat Collection of 200 Favourite Country Dances, vol. 3 (London, 1773) Z:Transcribed and edited by Fynn Titford-Mock, 2007 Z:abc’s:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:A ABcd efec|efec B/B/B B2|ABcd efec|afec A/A/A A2:| |:B>AB>c B>AB>c|B>AB>c F/F/F F2|B>AB>c dfec|B>AB>c A/A/A A2:||

SLINGSBY’S REEL. English, Country Dance Tune (cut time). A Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. The melody is unique to London publishers Charles and Samuel Thompson’s 1773 country dance collection. Simon Slingsby was a dancer and choreographer for the London stage in the 18th century, a pupil of Aldridge well versed in Continental styles. Only through bits and pieces can his career be assembled. He was one of producer, actor and playwright David Garrick’s top dancers, among the top earners in his profession in the 1770’s. He danced with Giovanna Baccelli and A. Vestri at King’s Theatre, London, in the 1780’s and with the Paris Opera in the 1790’s. Playwright John O’Keefe, writing in his Recollections (1826), told this tale:

Aldridge, the dancer, composed a national ballet, which he called ‘The Irish Lilt’; it was made up of original Irish airs. One night, whilst dancing at the Limerick theatre, he met with an accident that likely shortened his life: springing up, and coming down, the boards gave way, and he went suddenly through the stage, a depth of about ten feet; but such was the ardour of his dancing spirit, that he ran up stairs, darted on the stage and gave a few steps, when, overcome with pain, he reeled and fell; yet I heard he afterwards taught dancing in Edinburgh: he also composed in Dublin a Scotch dance, with Scotch airs: Slingsby, when a boy, was his pupil, and indefatigable in his labours to excel. Aldridge had a ballet, called ‘The Tambourine Dance’, which Carmichael, the prompter, took for his benefit. In a part of the dance, Slingsby made one of the figures, a tall man, stand upon a pedestal, and hold the tambourine up as high as he could; Slingsby, dressed in character, dancing on, sprang up and kicked the tambourine out of the man’s hand, to the delight of the audience and the astonishment of his master, Aldridge. Barry, the manager, being a spectator of this wonderful feat, asked Carmichael who he was: the promoter answered, “Why Sir, it is little Simon Slingsby, the boy you have seen here every night, and thought very little about.” “Engage him; article him for any money,” said Barry.

Slingsby afterwards excelled all the dancers, even in Paris, where he performed before the Royal Family, and was the first dancer at Drury-lane Theatre. The rapidity of his motions was such, that the human figure was scarcely distinguishable: his forte was agility, that of Gallini, grace and attitude. They were both at Drury-lane in 1777, where I saw them. [pp. 50-51]

Additional notes

Source for notated version: -

Printed sources : - Thompson (Compleat Collection of 200 Favourite Country Dances, vol. 3), 1773; No. 2.

Recorded sources: -OCK 003, The Geckoes – “Art Geckoe” (1995).

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