Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Dance Sensations of 1820

Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Loretta reports:

It was interesting to find, in the Fashions sections of the 1820 La Belle Assemblée, illustrations and descriptions of Parisian dances.  I can only assume that these were the latest fashions in dance.  What I can’t quite figure out, is how exactly the dances go.  This is not surprising.  When visting Colonial Williamsburg, I succumbed (against my better judgment) to the interpreters’ invitation to try 18th century dancing.  It was deuced difficult, and I continue amazed that I didn’t fall on my face or cause any injuries among the participants.  I decided to stick to writing.

Maybe some of those CW folks will recognize these.

The dance here represented, is known by the appellation of De l’Eté. The first couple advance forward, and chassez; then chassez back again across; which figure is repeated twice back again; the gentlemen then each performs the figure of balancez to his partner, whom he turns round, and which finishes the figure.

The music of this dance, is the favourite Quadrille air of L’Horatia.—The dance commences with the English figure of right and left all round. Each gentleman then performs the balancez to his partner and turns her round with both hands. The ladies take hands all round, then follows the demi promenade à quatre, and the figure finishes with half right and left, after an open chassez by each couple.

Text and illustrations from La Belle Assemblée: or, Bell’s Court and Fashionable Magazine.  Addressed particularly to the ladies.  Vol. XXI—New Series.  From January 1, to June 20, 1820.


Miss Tami Lee said...

Is it safe to assume chassez, balancez and promenade are similar or the equvalent to a chasse, balancé and promenade in modern ballet? I went through it my head and it would make sense and go with the illustrations.

Man Candy Fans said...

I tried my hand at Regency dancing last summer at the RWA Beau Monde soiree. It required changing partners and I kept getting confused - LOL. Excellent blog - kudos to you & Susan.

I love your books, Loretta, and can't wait for Last Night's Scandal.

Carmen said...

Actually I think these would be pretty easy to figure out with a little practice. The pictures and the instructions make sense to me, tho I've had a bit of dance training. Would be great fun to try out!

Count me as another who loves your books, Loretta, and can't wait for Olivia and Perengrine!

Isabella Bradford/Susan Holloway Scott said...

Oh, tut, tut, Loretta, we weren't THAT bad at dancing - and the nice gentlemen were so obliging about catching us before we crashed face-first to the dance floor. *g*

Quite by accident, there's an excellent post today with more about early 19th c. dancing over at Jane Austen's World.


nightsmusic said...

I would love to take lessons in all of those dances. Alas, no one around here teaches them at all. But as much as I love to dance, I'm sure I'd have enjoyed them.

LorettaChase said...

Miss_Tami_Lee, I'm pretty sure they are the same, since the foot positions are the same as in ballet. It would be helpful if I could remember anything about ballet...___Vicky, You describe my experience at CW. It's the kind of thing you really have to practice. And thank you--I hope LNS lives up to expectations!___Anonymous Carmen, I think the key is dance experience. You would undoubtedly do better than I. My dance training was in my elementary school days. Thank you. I was very happy with the way the book turned out, and am crossing my fingers others agree!___Susan, well it was handy, them catching us and all, and scooping the small children out of danger.___ Theo, one of my readers mentioned the similarities to square dancing--which has been pointed out elsewhere. Sometimes church groups and continuing ed teach square dancing. Then, if you ever get to CW, you can impress the other dancers with your ability to understand the instructions...unlike moi.

Finegan Antiques said...

It all looks terribly complicated but I think back to "disco dancing" and that was not a walk in the park either. Although I must admit this type of dancing holds a lot more appeal than disco every did.


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