Thos Wilson's Quadrille Instructor - Ca 1816

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The Quadrille Instructor,
Containing Directions, for Dancing a Variety of New Quadrilles, as Introduced at the Assemblies of the Nobility and also at the Author's Balls & Assemblies.

The Figures, described in French and English, clearly illustrated by Diagrams Shewing the various Situations & Evolutions of each Person in the Dance, with the appropriate Steps and the Time they occupy in the Performance.

Adapted to original Music, and arranged for the Piano Forte, Harp, or Violin,
by Thomas Wilson

This compact book of instructions discusses the quadrille at the time it was being invented. In geometry, these early quadrilles were very much like later Victorian quadrilles (and American Square Dances for all that). However, the Victorians had largely given up on the steps that are such an integral part of the Regency Quadrille.

The publication date is an estimate. The book is not dated, but the text refers to a long forgotten French opera about the Duke of Wellington, and it seems unlikely that the French would be writing operas about the Iron Duke before the Battle of Waterloo - and also mentions "Treasures of Terpsichore", which is dated 1816.

8. Bal Musette: Parisian Dance of the Jazz Age

ImageI include this as a distinct heading, since Paris in the "Jazz Age", while absorbing the influences of the US and other countries, had its own distinctive style of dance. Given that Jazz Age Paris was the world capital of fashion, art and intellectual ferment, I think it appropriate that a survey of Jazz Age dance should take a moment to look at how people were dancing in the world of Chanel, Hemingway, Piaf and Picasso. The style of dancing seems to have persisted with very little change until the inexorable march of Rock and Roll eclipsed it in the '60s.

While lumping it all under the title of "Bal Musette" may not be precisely correct, since there was plenty of dancing taking place in France in places other than Bals Musettes, it is a convenient shorthand for this distinctive French style.

A "Bal Musette" was an informal sort of dance, hosted in bars, restaurants and dance halls, open all to social classes and often with a decidedly down market feel. It was danced on a small dance floor with a modest band (trio, quartet, quintet) that nearly always featured a "musette" accordion.

Elizabethan Dining

The Ample Pleasures of the English Table

The Elizabethan, like ourselves, generally ate three meals a day. The first was breakfast, which was eaten shortly after rising, but not before attending morning services (farmers wouldn't have time in the morning to attend services any day but Sunday, but pious townsmen, the gentry and their servants often did go to the chapel daily). Breakfast was a small, simple meal, generally consisting of cold foods, as the cook fires were just being lit as the breakfasters were rising. Leftovers, eggs, butter, bread and small beer were commonly taken with breakfast.

ImageBut, since breakfast was by definition eaten early, those who did not rise early did not eat it. Unless they were traveling or fond of the hunt, nobles generally did not rise early enough to eat breakfast, and dispensed with it in favor of a hearty mid-day meal. Working men and women however, who rose with the sun, seldom failed to fortify themselves against the day.

List of English Country Dance Groups in Southern California

ImageThanks to Sparky Sotcher for compiling this list
Information as of July 4 2012

Video of the November 2011 Victorian Grand Ball

This is a 5 minute video of the November 26th Social Daunce Irregulars Victorian Grand Ball. Purists beware. The last dance is not any dance in particular, but a pastiche of three different set dances, done to a completely unrelated piece of music.

Persistent PowerPoint Presentation Problems

ImageI have provided A/V support to a wide variety of programs and have done countless of my own simple and complex presentations over the years and I think it might be useful to set down in writing some of the issues that come over and over again. Perhaps, if I document them, people might be less likely to repeat the errors of the past.

I will focus here on technical issues. Stylistic issues like not burying your head in your notes and reading in a monotone or in that odd, artificial sing-song style many people take on when presenting; or not filling your slides with text; or not reading your slides verbatim; I address that here.

All of these technical problems, by the way, are preventable if you just do a run through on the equipment that will be used in the presentation. If you attend to these issues before hand there will be less last minute fixing required -- or horror of horrors; less likelihood of a presentation being wrecked and sunk on the rocks of technology.

Lanterman Ukulele Rendezvous - An Experiment in Event Non-management

On Sunday, May 29th 2011, we will premiere what I hope will be the first of many "Lanterman Summer Whites Picnic and Ukulele Rendezvous" annual events.

This event is a bit of a departure for me. My previous productions have been characterized by structure, scheduling and organization. A certain amount of latitude was provided for creative people to be creative, but we always knew whose job it was to do what, when. That is not the case here. This event is deliberately unstructured, and is intended to be more like a party - where the guests are not passive observers but ARE the show.

Dancing - 1899 Dance Manual by Marguerite Wilson

This is a very nice compilation from the end of the Victorian period, which provides some choreographies for many of the most popular figure dances.

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