October 13, 2009

The Baroque Dance Demonstration

The members of Bath Minuet pause for a photo.

The members of Bath Minuet pause for a photo.

I hadn’t planned originally to attend this event, but I am glad several ladies talked me into it. Bath Minuet (a group of vintage dance enthusiasts) was scheduled to perform several 17th-18th-century dances at the Pavilion across the Avon, followed by a one-hour English Country dance that anyone could join in. Since I had no plans to dance, I didn’t dress up, but the other ladies put on their ballroom finery, which was gorgeous! We asked the front desk to call us a couple of taxis, as no one wanted to walk the full mile down to the Pavilion. We then sat in the parlor for a while, watching for the cab before finally deciding to go out and sit on the front steps. Time marched on, but no taxis arrived. At five ’til seven, we were sure something dire had happened, so someone went back inside to ask the front desk gal what had become of the cabs. With a horrified look, she said that she’d thought we wanted cabs for 6:45 the following morning! Eek! She promptly called to correct her mistake, but it still took the cabs ten minutes to reach us. We arrived at the Pavilion 20 minutes late, missing the first two dances. Boo hoo! The group was just finishing up “Mr. Beveridge’s Maggot” (A&E “Pride & Prejudice” fans know exactly which dance that is!).

Three ladies from Bath Minuet demonstrate dainty steps.

Three ladies from Bath Minuet demonstrate dainty steps.

During the break, I had a lengthy talk with one of the members of Bath Minuet, who dances with his wife. He said he had never danced a single step until joining the group five years ago. His wife saw the group on television and asked him to go with her to one of their meetings. They are now devotees of historical dance and absolutely love to share it with others. The gent hand-made his entire outfit and says he cherishes an original 18th-century waistcoat that he saves for very special occasions. One thing we noticed was the shocking lack of gentlemen — the group was mostly made up of ladies. This seems to be fairly common in the US as well and is such a shame. The gentleman with whom I spoke mentioned how they have tried to get young people hooked on historical dance and how much they love it once they try it. But many are afraid to try. Our group wasn’t! Of course, we had Aylwen with us, who is a historical dance expert and loves to help others join in. And many of our ladies had either tried English country dancing before or were eager to learn, so we had a very willing group! Here are photos from our delightful evening (all taken by yours truly, so pardon the lack of expertise!):

It was wonderful to see all the scrumptious historical costumes during the demonstration!

It was wonderful to see all the scrumptious historical costumes during the demonstration!

A nice back view of a gorgeous gown.

A nice back view of a gorgeous gown.

Now the real fun begins! Participants line up to learn their steps for the first dance.

Now the real fun begins! Participants line up to learn their steps for the first dance.

Lots of lovely Regency finery...

Lots of lovely Regency finery...

Katrina (white dress) joins hands with her set.

Katrina (white dress) joins hands with her set.

Another shot of a beautiful 18th-century costume...

Another shot of a beautiful 18th-century costume...

Aylwen's gown (right) was made of a lovely embroidered silk in fall colors.

Aylwen's gown (right) was made of a lovely embroidered silk in fall colors. You can also see the back of Rebecca's lovely white muslin gown in the center.

That's Catherine in the light blue and the back of Molly in the copper silk.

That's Catherine in the light blue and the back of Molly in the copper silk.

Catherine and Molly going 'round...

Catherine and Molly going 'round...

Sarah in her lovely sari silk gown (very popular during the Regency) and Aylwen in the background.

Sarah in her lovely sari silk gown (very popular during the Regency) and Aylwen in the background.

Now you get the back view of Sarah's gown and the front view of Aylwen's.

Now you get the back view of Sarah's gown and the front view of Aylwen's.

Isn't Sarah graceful?

Isn't Sarah graceful?

I kept trying to capture Cahterine and Molly when they weren't spinning around!

I kept trying to capture Cahterine and Molly when they weren't spinning around!

Getting closer...

Getting closer...

Ah ha! Caught Catherine this time in her lovely crossover gown with silk ribbon embroidery.

Ah ha! Caught Catherine this time in her lovely crossover gown with silk ribbon embroidery.

And I finally catch a side view of Molly!

And I finally catch a side view of Molly!

A front view of Rebecca's dress and a back view of Ana. The lighting was so poor on this end of the room that all my shots turned out way too dark. :(

A front view of Rebecca's dress and a back view of Ana. The lighting was so poor on this end of the room that all my shots turned out way too dark. :-(

Katrina and another participant discuss the next step.

Katrina and another participant practice the next step.

Sarah and Aylwen again -- I just loved the fabrics under the lights!

Sarah and Aylwen again -- I just loved the fabrics under the lights!

I wish I’d managed to get a group shot of everyone. It was really hard to grab pictures of people moving in and out of sets and lines during the hour-long dance. And by the time we all made it outside to head back to the B&B, it was pitch dark. Sorry about that! I hope these at least give you a little glimpse into a lovely evening!

One more post left to go: Our stop in Lacock Village on the way back to Heathrow. :-)