Monday, October 14, 2013

Regency Dances with Video Action Depicting Steps

I found this marvelous site recently that has videos showing how the various dances of the Regency period were danced. With animated figures, the graphics are basic, but very clear on who's moving and where they're moving to. Have a look at Regency Dances .org! (These are the dances demonstrated on the site.)

Regency dancing is characterised by an impression of lightness and lift, contrasting with the more stylised court dances of earlier times that were slow, heavy, and majestic.

The basics of the steps are as follows:
1. A hop is taking off on one foot and landing on the same foot.
2. A jeté is a leap from one foot onto the other.
3. An assemblé is a leap from one foot onto both.
4. When the foot is off the floor, the toes have to be pointed.
5. Any kind of leaps and hops requires toe landing with the heel then sinking quietly to the floor.

In addition to the above, various different steps are described here with links to videos demonstrating the individual steps (by a person wearing period-perfect clothing): chassé, allemande, drop, waltz traveling, fleuret or bouré, plié, strathspey traveling, balancé, schottishe, rigadon, and so on.

In his 1815 Essay on Deportment dancing master Thomas Wilson offers this advice to dancers on which errors to avoid:

•Making awkward bows
•Shuffling and rattling about the feet
•Looking at the feet
•Bending [sharply] the arm at the elbow, in giving the hand in Dancing
•Holding the hands of any person too fast
•Bending down the hands of your partner
•Bouncing the hands up and down
•Bending the body forward.

Given the complicated dance figures and number of things to remember to do and not to do, I live in fear of ever learning to dance even one dance correctly by heart. Having said that, I did manage to not mangle the steps too badly at the Beau Monde Soirée, I attended one summer. I was wearing my proper Regency regalia, mais oui.