5. Norwich (11 of 12)

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Elsewhere in the City (4 of 5)

T B Bradfield published a set of dances with notation in Norwich 15 December 1787. There is no trace of him as a dancing master but he publicised his troublesome wife whose debts ‘he will not discharge’ on 22 December 1787.

The Yarmouth dancing master Lalliet advertised his raiding party in Norwich in the Mercury 19 January 1793:

‘Lalliet. DANCING MASTER from Paris. Having met with great success and given general satisfaction in Yarmouth and Beccles … intends to open a School at the Rampant Horse, St Stephen’s … from 10 to 12 and from 2 to 4 [on Thursdays] to instruct the children of those who may please to honour him.1 guinea per quarter, 10/6 entrance.’

No more is heard of this venture; he was evidently seen off.

Of the two dancing masters trying to establish themselves in Norwich in 1803, Mr Lassells is to be found as the star of the theatre section below. He probably raised a smile among the local competition. Mr Matthews issued a challenge in the Chronicle 23 July 1803:

‘DANCING. Mr Matthews who for the space of 15 years has taught dancing in some of the Principal Schools and in Families of Noblemen and has the honour of teaching many Ladies and Gentlemen of Norwich, intends settling in this city and has engaged a commodious room in Sir Benjamin Wrench’s Court … his terms may be known on personal application at 19 Bethel Street, where the most respectable references will be given.’

He was too close to the well-established Noverre and Christian practices. No previous trace of him is to be found, but he may have advertised elsewhere or given private tuition only. Whatever his past may have been he evidently had no future in Norwich.

Lalliet’s pupil John Eager followed his master’s tactics with bare-faced cheek in 1805. He was already to be found everywhere in the local music scene as musician and teacher by 1802; on 1 August Neech’s Ranelagh and Pantheon – a pleasure garden with a pavilion/concert hall – advertised Eager as band leader/first violin and soloist in entertainments for Assize Week. On 5 February 1805 Eager (must have been called Overeager) advertised in the Mercury as teaching harp, piano, violin, clarinet and singing, £1 per instrument, £2 for piano and voice. In the Chronicle 22 June 1803 he announced his return from London ‘where he has been to perfect himself’ under no less than three dancing masters, in a remarkably short time, in order to teach music, fencing and dancing and to make:

‘… every movement in dancing correctly agreeable to time and measure, and thus effectively removing the prevalent art of dull motion generally taught by professional men destitute of musical knowledge.’

Now we understand why dancing masters needed proficiency with a sword. Mr Eager claimed to have been taught fencing in London by Mr Angelo, the foremost riding and fencing master in the capital and famous coach of stage duels. Mr Eager evidently got his comeuppance, and probably some derisive snorts into the bargain. He continued as music master at King Street but retreated to his Yarmouth dance practice. He finally hung up his dancing shoes in 1812.

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