"Beginning with Toya Indian dances in Florida and the Matachines dance-drama in the Southwest and moving to ordination balls pantomimes Black election celebrations and country dances called "Burgoyne’s Surrender" and "Washington’s Resignation " this study presents dance in the North American lands that would become the United States of America as a powerful yet ephemeral medium of communication and social dynamics. It integrates the history of dance and its music into cultural commercial and aesthetic aspects of life in the New World both for established native societies and newcomers.
Kate Van Winkle Keller
Kate Van Winkle Keller’s interest in colonial dance and music began just before the Bicentennial of the American Revolution in 1976. She and her family were living in a ca. 1800 tavern in Coventry, Connecticut that was to be open during the festivities. Fascinated with the question of what kind of dances had been held in this beautiful space, she started a life-long quest to bring early American dances back to life. Supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Connecticut Commission for the Arts, Country Dance and Song Society, and the Connecticut Historical Society, she co-directed several projects including The National Tune Index (published in 1980) and its online
edition, Early American Secular Music and Its European Sources, 1589–1839, and The Performing Arts in Colonial American Newspapers, 1690–1783 (published in 1997). Looking for the roots often took her to British archives, and she coauthored The Playford Ball, 103 Early Country Dances 1651–1820 as Interpreted by Cecil Sharp and His Followers. First published by the Society of Dance History Scholars in 1990, this now classic book on English country dance is in its third edition.
Choreographer for the film The Last of the Mohicans (20th Century Fox: 1992), she has served as consultant in early dance and music to many performing
organizations and individuals, archivists, collectors, composers and scholars.
A specialist in early American music and dance manuscripts, her bibliographic
studies were published by the Music Library Association and the Country Dance
and Song Society. She was a contributor to the American National Biography, the
Cambridge History of American Music and the Encyclopedia of the North American
Colonies. Her path-breaking work, “If the Company can do it!” Technique in
Eighteenth-Century American Social Dance, was first presented to the International Early Dance Institute in 1989 and is still in print.
A graduate of Vassar College (1959), Keller also studied at the Hartford
Conservatory of Music. She was an officer and Executive Director of The Society
for American Music, formerly The Sonneck Society, from 1977 to 2000, representing the Society at the American Council of Learned Societies and the National Initiative for a Networked Cultural Heritage. A tireless worker on behalf of early American music, she was honored with the Society’s Distinguished Service Citation in 1995 and Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011. She served as Curator of the Library and Archives of the Country Dance and Song Society from 1985 to 1992 and made an Honorary Member in 2004. In recognition of her scholarly achievements, Kate Van Winkle Keller was elected to membership in the American Antiquarian Society of Worcester, Massachusetts in April 2004 and presently serves on the AAS Council. With David and Ginger Hildebrand and her husband, Robert, Ms. Keller has been a partner in The Colonial Music Institute since 1998.