Sunday, January 16, 2011

Start With Something Fancy

Dearest Dancing Friends, a quite exciting opportunity is before me. This coming weekend I shall be attending the Jane Austen Evening in Pasadena, California. This is a highly popular Regency ball, so popular it sells out at least a month in advance with a sizable waiting list to get in. I reserved my spot back in November. So in anticipation and celebration, I'll be offering some tastes of what's to come.

Most 18th Century balls began with the fancy dances first, like the minuet. Here's an example from a Napoleonic Ball held last year in Italy:

Truth be told, the minuet was on its way out during Napoleon's time, and the waltz was gaining popularity even if it was a bit... er... scandalous. Notice how the couple dancing moves about one another, taking hands only occasionally.

I used to think a minuet was only an elaborate procession dance where a gentleman led a lady in a stately manner -- like this:

Here's another minuet from some 18th Century Italian friends:

To my eyes, this resembles an English country dance from the way the couples stand at first and the patterns they form. Let's not quibble though, as we proceed to one of my favorites, as demonstrated on film by Marie Antoinette:

This comes pretty close to the dance of my dreams: dressed in my 18th Century finest (although I would prefer a tricorn to a powdered wig), taking hands with a lady I love immensely, and turning about in a ballroom full of our friends, all dressed in period clothing, all to a full orchestra. My dear friend Madame and I have improvised beautiful dances similar to this one. We call it "our minuet." She once dreamed we danced this exquisite Renaissance dance in full regalia. I think she was more than dreaming.

Dance on, my friends!

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