MIXED PICKLES'
Vintage Dance FAQ


 What is Vintage Dance?

 How do researchers reconstruct vintage dances?

 What are some problems encountered in reconstructing old dances?

 Can Vintage Dance be divided into periods?

 What dances were done in each period?

 How can I learn to do Vintage Dance?


 

What is Vintage Dance?
 
 
Vintage Dance is the term used to refer to dance, whether ballroom or theatre, from about 1800 to the middle of the 20th century. Dance before this period is usually referred to as "Historic Dance.

 
The study, reconstruction and performance of vintage dances has grown amazingly in popularity in the past 20 years. There are vintage dance performing groups, researchers and performers across the country. 
How do researchers reconstruct vintage dances?
 
 
Dance researchers use a great variety of materials in their work. They study old dance manuals, etiquette books, diaries and correspondence, newspapers and magazine articles. They must also learn about period fashions, music, history, aesthetics and customs to give the right feel and look when translating verbal descriptions of steps into living dances. For newer dances they can utilize films and take oral histories. A good reconstructor takes all this into account when reconstructing a period dance. 
What are some problems encountered in reconstructing old dances?
 
 
There are many difficulties inherent in translating a verbal description into a physical movement. The greatest problem is often how to fill in the blanks - to add the movements and styling points the writer has left out either unknowingly or because he or she supposed that the contemporary reader took them for granted.
Often the step descriptions themselves can be inaccurate or unclear. Has the writer or editor made an error? How do the movements fit the counts of the music? What style should be used? Has the writer always defined his or her terminology clearly? Because of all these factors different reconstructors often reconstruct the same dance with slight personal variations. There is never only one correct way to interpret any dance from the past, but there is a parameter within which individual interpretation can be seen to be "correct" or acceptable.

 

 
 
 



Can Vintage Dance be divided into periods? What dances were done in each period?
 
 
Just as in art and music, divisions of dance into distinct periods are arbitrary but convenient for study purposes. For a brief outline of social dancing in the last two hundred years please see the 


- Mixed Pickles Dance Timeline -


How can I learn to do vintage dances?
 
 
The best way to learn more about Vintage Dance is from a good teacher. Mixed Pickles offers classes and workshops in the Philadelphia area, and our teachers are available to come to your city. Please check the links on the Mixed Pickles' Homepage for other vintage workshops that take place across the U.S. The "Vintage Dancing Page" in particular provides a good list of current Vintage Dance events.

 

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