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Roger de Covery dance history origins title    The Sir Roger de Coverly (or Finishing dance) is a true English Folk dance and was one of the prettiest of them all. It was probably named in 1650 after "Grandfather De Coverly" and was published in Playford's "The Dancing Master" in 1690. The dance comes from a pre-Christian Irish dance "Rinnce Fadha," which evolved into the English country dance called the Sir Roger De Coverly which was founded on the old Contre Danses (Country Dances) and was the forerunner to the Virginia Reel.

    It was first introduced to the French Ballets in 1745 and is said to have been revived at her Majesty's bal costumé in 1844. Once it became popular as an old Ballroom Dance (1800's), it was used to finish the evening's dances (last dance). It was very proper to finish the night with a simple dance everyone could and would do , The De Coverly fit

the bill. In America it was known as the Virginia Reel.

    This dance is formed in sets of six or eight couples, in two lines, the ladies on one side and their partners directly opposite. The lady at the top and the gentlemen at the bottom of the line, forward and back... 4 Bars. It was danced like all country dances, the gentlemen in a line, and the ladies in another opposite to their partners. The first gentleman at the top and the lady at the bottom of the line have to begin each figure, and then the other gentleman and lady at the opposite corner have to repeat the figure immediately.

     This dance is said to have derived its name from Addison's "Sir Roger De Coverly," which was so frequently mentioned by Addison in his popular essays in the Spectator newspaper around 1711 (London). However Playford's book predates this by many years. There was actually a non-fictional character named "Sir Roger de Coverly" who was born in Worcestershire, England and passed away on October 23, 1712 and it is Coverly's great grandfather who the dance was named.

    In 1903 here was a performer named Roger de Coverly who was in the stage play 'John Henry'.


Birth Place

Creation Date

Creator

Dance Type

England ?1650? n/a Country / Square
       

Posters, Lobby Cards etc.

Sheet Music Covers

Related Music Titles

n/a 1703 - Sir Roger de Coverly (9/8) Playford 1698 - Sir Roger de Coverly (3/9) Playford
      1941 - Turkey in the Straw 1713 - Old Roger, New Way (9/6) Playford
        1836 - the Old English Gentleman (Callcott)
        Old Roger Is Dead
        Arkansas Traveler [MP3]
        Money Musk [MP3]
        Virginia Reel
        Basically any Jig or Reel Song

Night Clubs, etc.

Theaters

Locations

Adelphi Theatre (1836) Drury Lane England
Coverly Hall Herald Square Theatre (1903) France
Westminster Abbey       U.S.A.

Video Clips (pop-up)

Related Films

Television

Ballets / Stage

Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1894 - A Highland Dance 1940 - Village Barn Dance 1903 - John Henry
Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1897 - A Country Dance 1943 - National Barn Dance  
Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1900 - A Darktown Dance ??? 1947 - Hollywood Barn Dance

Publications

Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1929 - Evolution of the Dance 1949 - ABC Barn Dance 12/1851 - Spectator - The American Whig Review, vol. 14, issue 84
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1938 - The Old Barn Dance [DVD] 1953 - Old American Barn Dance
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1949 - Square Dance Jubilee (Clip2) Grand Ole Opry 11/1851 - Spectator - The United States Democratic Review, vol. 29, issue 161
Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1950 - Square Dance Katy      
Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1970 - Country Dance       1967 - Sir Roger De Coverly (Addison)
Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1987 - Square Dance [DVD] ???        
Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.         Magazine Subscriptions
Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.         $ American Square Dance Magazine

Other Related Dances of the time...

Arkansas Traveler Farandole Lancers Reels
Barn Dances Folk Mazurka Rye Waltz
Buck Dance Galop Old Paul Jones Square Dances
Clog Hornpipe Polka Virginia Reel
Contra Dances (Contredanse) Jig Portland Fancy Volte
Country Dances Jump Jim Crow Quadrille Waltz

Dancers, Choreographers etc.

Political

Lady Fanny Fielding ?Sir Roger Burgoyne? (aka: Coverly?) George Washington
Henry Ford    

Books, Magazine Articles on the dance...

Title Author Date Publisher
Roger de Coverly GIFFARD, George 1603 London
The Dancing Master Playford 1651 n/a
Sir Roger De Coverly Addison & Steele (The "Spectator") 1711 Harpers & Bros.
Sir Roger De Coverly Essays from the Spectator 1852 Ticknor (reprint)
Modern Dancing L. De G. Brooks 1867 n/a
Coulon's Handbook Coulon, Eugene 1873 n/a
A History Of Dancing Johnston, Reginald S. 1905 Simpkin-Kent & Co.
Sir Roger de Coverly Papers Abbott, Herbert Vaughn 1907 Reprint
Christmas Carol, A Dicken's, Charles 1843 Hazell Watson and Viney Ltd
There are many reprints of the Addison Papers from the Spectator over many years.

Musicians

Singers

Poets / Writers

Callcott, William H n/a Charles Dickens (1812-1870)
Bridge, Frank (1879-1941)     Joseph Addison (1672-1719)
        Richard Steele (1672-1729)

Misc. Research Words that may be related ... to help your searches

Coverly Ducks Coverly Hunt Coverly Gypsies Whigs
Coverly Hall Coverly Ghost pochette (Small Fiddle)    

Basic Step ...

Excerpted from Coulon's Handbook in 1873: (ORIGINAL SPELLING)
    It is danced like all country dances, the gentlemen in a line, and the ladies in another opposite to their partners. The first gentleman at the top and the lady at the bottom of the line have to begin each figure, and them the other gentleman and lady at the opposite corner have to repeat the figure immediately.

    1) First lady and gentleman meet in the center of the line, give right hands, turn once round, and retire to their corners, the same for the other two at the top and bottom.
    2) First couple cross again and give left, hands and turn once; back to places. To be repeated by the others.
    3) First couple give both hands, the others the same.
    4) First couple back to back, and retire to places; the other corners the same.
    5) The first couple advance, bow to each other, and retire; the same repeated by the other couples.
    6) The top gentleman then turns to the left, and the top lady (his partner) turns to the right; all the other ladies and gentlemen turn and follow the leaders who run outside of the line, and meet at the bottom of the room, giving right hands, and raising their arms so as to form a kind of arch under which all the following couples must pass, joining hands, and running forwards when they have all passed under the arch. The first lady and gentleman remain the last at the end of the two lines, and the figures of right hands, left hands, both hands, back to back, bow, and running outside the lines are repeated by all, when the first couple will have arrived at their original place.


Another excerpt from L.G. Brookes Book-1850: (ORIGINAL SPELLING)
     The whole company range themselves in two lines down the room, ladies on the left, gentlemen on the right; partners facing each other. During the first four bars the lines advance and retreat: during the next four, partners cross to opposite places: advance and retire as before and re-cross to places. Then the lady at the top of her line, and the gentleman at the bottom of his, advance to each other halfway, courtesy and bow, and back to places. This example is followed by the gentleman at the top and the lady at the bottom, who do precisely the same. Next, top lady and bottom gentleman advance again. Clasp right hands, swing quickly round, and return to places. The gentleman at top and lady at bottom follow tiffs example also, acting in exactly the same manner.

     When properly danced, this next, takes place: The lady at top advances and gives her right hand to her own partner, who is standing opposite, then, immediately quitting him, passes behind the two gentlemen men who stand next him, and through into the space between the lines, where she meets her partner, who has meanwhile passed behind the two ladies who were standing next his partner. She gives her left hand to partner on meeting him, and then passes behind the two ladies next lowest; he passing behind the two gentlemen next lowest. They meet again, with the right hand, and so it goes on all down the line, until, at the bottom of it, the lady gives her left hand to her partner, and they promenade back to their places at the top.

     As a rule, however, this somewhat tiresome and not very exhilarating performance is omitted, and when it is, the dance proceeds, taking it up from the end of the preceding paragraph, in this way; The top couple advance to each other and bow, then the lady turns sharply off to the right and the gentleman to the left, and the respective lines follow them to the end of the room (much as in the fifth figure of the lancers). On reaching bottom of figure, top couple join bands and raise their arms, forming an arch, under which all the rest of the couples pass back to their own places, except the top couple, who remain where they are at the bottom. The second couple (now become the top couple) now report these movements from the very beginning lady at the top of her line and gentleman at bottom of his, advance, and so on, until the original top couple have worked their way back to their places at the top of the line, when the dance is finished, or may be all done over again as often as is found agreeable.