George Washington, Dancing Machine

By Stephen Yoch


We think of George Washington as the old guy on the dollar bill. In fact, throughout his entire life, Washington was an active man who loved to dance.


Dancing was serious business in Virginia. Instructors traveled throughout the colony giving lessons to children of the rich. Indeed, the Washingtons had a dance master hold classes at Mount Vernon for several years. George enjoyed all types of dance, whether it was minuets or fast paced Irish jigs, his dance card was always full. His large size did not encumber him, he was always described as graceful.


While her husband was happiest on the dance floor, Martha Washington had only a mild interest in dancing. She limited her time on the dance floor to marches and minuets. Nevertheless, she did not object when Washington, as one of the best dancers in Virginia, danced well into the evening. Even French officers, who were typically stingy with praise, marveled at his skill when they saw him dance at parties during the Revolution.


Washington was not always the stiff man we see in historical paintings. Fit and graceful, despite his size (and even his age), he reveled in the joy of being a graceful dancer.



Stephen Yoch’s book Becoming George Washington, traces the early and largely unknown life of America’s leading founding father through the French & Indian War. This meticulously researched historical fiction follows Washington’s rise from a fatherless insecure boy to the Revolution’s indispensible man.