Monday, July 26, 2010

Obituary of Professor John B. Wastell


The Famous Old Dancing Teacher
Gives Up the Ghost After a
Long Illness.

Prof. John B. Wastell, the well known teacher of dancing, died this morning at 11:15 o’clock at the family residence, 2005 West Market street. His demise was not unexpected, for it has been apparent for some weeks past that his days were numbered. About four months ago, after giving a lesson to a number of members of the Louisville Light Infantry, he was taken ill of a complication of disease. Daily he grew worse and the best medical attention failed to relieve him. For the past few days he had been unconscious, experiencing no pain, but slowly dying.

A few moments before his death he opened his eyes, looking lovingly at his family who were gathered about his bedside and then breathed his last. The funeral arrangements have not been made, but the interment will be at Cave Hill cemetery.

Prof. Wastell was one of the best known men in Louisville, and everybody will be sorry to learn of his death. He was born in London in 1819, and after receiving a first class education, his parents placed him in Her Majesty’s Theater, where he served a seven years apprenticeship. Then he left the stage and began giving dancing lessons. One of his classes was the Dickens Club, composed of twelve members, of which Charles Dickens was the President. Thackeray also belonged to it.

The new world offered bright inducements to the young men of the mother country and finally Prof. Wastell came to this country. After teaching in Canada, New York and Chicago a friend persuaded him to come to Louisville. This was thirty-seven years ago and since that time he had constantly been teaching. At a recent exhibition of his classes were ladies and gentlemen whose mothers and fathers he had taught to dance. They had also learned from him and he was ten teaching their children.

Among his pupils who acquired greatness on the stage were Charlotta Grisi and Tonlona. During Jenny Lind’s career before the public he was frequently called upon to assist at rehearsals and often appeared upon the stage with her himself. In addition to being highly educated in the area of Terpsichore he was also possessed of literary talent and frequently contributed to the daily press. He composed the “Tout le Monde quadrille” which he sent to France and it became very fashionable there.

He left a wife and three children, Miss Menie E., Ernest C. and Louis W.

The Louisville Times
Wednesday, Jun 12, 1889

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