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Segal, Barbara. "Pantomime in Early 18th Century London: its Perception and Reception."

Segal, Barbara. "Pantomime in Early 18th Century London: its Perception and Reception." In Perception and Reception of Early Dance [Proceedings of the Early Dance Circle Conference held on 18-20 May 2018], edited by Barbara Segal and Sharon Butler, 103-112. Cambridge: Early Dance Circle, 2020.


The perception and reception of early English pantomime gives valuable insight into the position of dance on the English stage in the early 18th century. These pantomimes contained a large amount of dance; together with entr’acte entertainments, they were the main medium for the display of dance on the London stage at the time, and they included dance of all kinds, heroic, noble, comic and grotesque. Their reception however was astoundingly varied. On the one hand, they were the most popular kind of performance on the London stage, appealing to all classes of society from the King and Queen down to the numerous London apprentices. On the other hand, they were not only considered by some to be “monstrous medleys” that threatened to subvert the very moral fabric of the nation, but also, according to others, they were leading to the complete annihilation of serious drama on the English stage. They were likewise very threatening to ballet choreographers who were trying to establish dance as a high art, devoid of meaningless virtuosity and vulgar comedy. The paper will give a short overview of London pantomimes, and present reasons to account for their very varied perception and reception.

Year of publication: 2020

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