"Mr Nelson's System of Simplified Regency Dance"

Image
Trust me, it's not that hard

I am a man on a mission. My mission is to establish a basic level of historical understanding in what we refer to as "Regency Dance". The current state of things in Regency Dance is, from a historical perspective, pretty dismal. In all but a few places, the terms "Regency Dance" and "English Country Dance" are more or less interchangeable, with a slight concession that, if you are calling it a Regency Dance, you should probably keep the number of recently created dances to a minimum. The steps and stylings that gave the Country Dance of the Regency its character are entirely dispensed with, and people walk through the choreographies without any notion of what could be.

Further, when people invoke the Waltz in the era in which it was born, they keep coming back to John Hertz's "Congress of Vienna", which while it is a fine dance on its own merits, and a plausible modern re-creation of a Victorian figure Waltz, it bears no real resemblance to the Waltz of the Regency.

The most infuriating part of this is that the basic steps of the Regency era are not difficult. The basic "Chasse" step can be taught in a few minutes and the Regency Waltz, most particularly, is actually quite simple and far easier to learn than the Congress of Vienna Waltz - it's even easier than the standard Victorian rotary Waltz.

In making this system broadly accessible, I will have to make some concessions that the more serious student of historical dance might find irritating. I will, for example, not attempt, at least at first, to recreate the complex progressions of the Regency and many nuances and more complex variations will be overlooked in the process of building a sustainable system.

Nor will I attempt, also in the interests of expediency, to undertake the often complex Quadrilles, and the similarly complex, as well as athletic, Scotch Reels -- at least for now.

This is because I hope, by not getting bogged down in the details or distracted by digressions, and focusing on the "big picture", I can bring Regency Dance up to the level of, for example, modern Victorian dancing; where there is a basic, historically supportable foundation of fairly easy stuff -- upon which those who are more motivated and skilled may add their more advanced steps and patterns.

That is the purpose of "Mr Nelson's System of Simplified Regency Dance": to create a historically valid foundation upon which those who wish to take it to a higher level may build, but which is accessible to the average dancer and which does not do anything that prevents the historical Regency dancer from sharing the floor with the more pedestrian (quite literally) English Country Dancer. And perhaps, when some number of those who are walking through the figures see what fun the rest of us are having, they too will want to learn, and a fundamental change will occur in the entire culture of the modern Regency Dance.

I can dream, can't I.

In the pages linked in menu below, I provide some documentation that, I hope, will help you learn the steps and perhaps spread this information beyond the sound of my voice. It is a work in progress at the moment, in its very earliest stages. Please be patient as I fill in the gaps and clarify my thoughts.

Finally, I am extremely grateful for the scholarship, patience and instruction of Susan de Guardiola, Yvonne Vart, Joan Walton and Richard Powers. Most of what is good in my teaching I can trace to them. The flaws are all my own.

Walter Nelson