On Dancing: Its Uses and Abuses (excerpt)
By Mrs. Alfred Webster
For Lesson One
NOTE: This is an excerpt from Dancing, as means of physical education; with remarks on deformities, and their prevention and cure by Mrs. Alfred Webster, found in An American Ballroom Companion, 1490-1920.
The object of this little book is to point out the many advantages of Dancing as an educational exercise--to endeavour to rescue it from the censure cast upon it in consequence of its abuses--to show that, properly taught and practised, it is the very best safeguard against the evils of over mental education, to which young ladies are so subject--to describe its advantages in harmonising the motions of the body, so as to produce habits of graceful ease upon all occasions--and to prove that it has very decided effects, directly and indirectly, upon the mind; by, firstly, making the body a healthy and vigorous organ for the mind's development; and, secondly, by inculcating the practice of courtesy and politeness (with which it should ever be attended), indirectly inducing its votaries to adopt those habits of self-denial and self-restraint which are so necessary to civilised society, and the best definition of which is to be found in the precept, "Do unto others as ye would be done unto."
Taking higher views of the utility of Dancing than is usual, my remarks on it in my lessons have repeatedly elicited a wish that they might be reduced to a more tangible form. This request has latterly become so frequent, that it must serve as my apology, if an apology be necessary, for thus making my appearance before the public.