Vintage Dance FAQ
| What is Vintage Dance?
How do researchers reconstruct
What are some problems
encountered in reconstructing old dances?
Can Vintage Dance be divided
What dances were done in
How can I learn to do Vintage
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.
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.
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 -
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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Director Bob Skiba