Performance Programs

Sara & Maynard Johnson

Music, Minuetts and the Age of Powdered Wigs

Importance of dancing to colonists

    • Few social events
    • Some danced every night in winter; it helped heat the house.
    • Also a way for young people to meet.

Dances or Assemblies

    • opened with minuetts, then went to country dances, Scotch reels, and later, cotillions and Virginia reels
    • Minuett Single couple dance  an opportunity to show off clothing and dancing ability


    • Men’s buttons – breeches, waistcoat, frock coat
    • Socks with clocks - stockings and garters and single lasted shoes
    • Stays and posture and loose women
    • Wigs – blockheads, macaronis and powder rooms
    • Minuett bow and curtsey – best foot forward

Good and bad dancers

    • George Washington – a good dancer
    • Matthew Lyon – not admitted
    • Colonel Grundy – only mention in history as a bad dancer

Dance Masters 

    • Teach children
    • Private lessons for those unfortunate enough not to have learned when young
    • Teach newest dances
    • Organize and direct dance assemblies – party planner


  1. Trumpet Minuett, Lady Coventry’s Minuet, Geminiani’s Minuett, Billy Pringle’s Pig, Barberini’s Tambourine, a country dance such as Hunt the Squirrel, a Scotch Reel such as Tullaghorum or Breachanloam.