Connected Dances in Character

More than twenty years after the first performances of Weaver’s The Loves of Mars and Venus at Drury Lane, Colley Cibber explained in his Apology (his memoirs) how and why Weaver’s experimental ballet was allowed to go ahead.

Colley Cibber
Engraved by John Simon after the portrait by Giuseppe Grisoni, Colley Cibber (London, 1720s?) © British Museum

He began with the disparity between the two companies, and Lincoln’s Inn Fields’s need ‘to exhibit some new-fangled Foppery’ if it was to compete with Drury Lane’s higher reputation.

‘Dancing therefore was, now, the only Weight in the opposite Scale, and as the New Theatre [Lincoln’s Inn Fields] sometimes found their Account in it, it could not be safe for us, wholly to neglect it. To give even Dancing therefore some Improvement, and to make it something more than Motion without Meaning, the Fable of Mars and Venus, was form’d into a connected Presentation of Dances in Character, wherein the Passions were so happily express’d, and the whole Story so intelligibly told, by a mute Narration of Gesture only, that even thinking Spectators allow’d it both a pleasing, and a rational Entertainment; tho’, at the same time, from our Distrust of its Reception, we durst not venture to decorate it, with any extraordinary Expence of Scenes, or Habits; but upon the Success of this Attempt, it was rightly concluded, that if a visible Expence in both, were added to something of the same Nature, it could not fail of drawing the Town proportionably after it.’

Colley Cibber obviously had no great respect for dancing, but he had to admit that Weaver’s The Loves of Mars and Venus was not only completely new, it was also a proper drama and a success.

We have tried to emulate Mr. Weaver with our own ‘Dramatick Entertainment’.

The Loves of Mars and Venus
Vulcan, Mars and Venus in The Loves of Mars and Venus; or, Mr. Weaver’s Dramatick Entertainment



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