From the Ballroom to Hell: Grace and Folly in Nineteenth-century Dance

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Northwestern University Press, 1991 - History - 225 pages
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During the 1800s, dance and etiquette manuals provided ordinary men and women with the keys to becoming gentlemen and ladies--and thus advancing in society. Why dance? To the insecure and status-oriented upper middle class, the ballroom embodied the perfect setting in which to demonstrate one's fitness for membership in genteel society.

From the Ballroom to Hell collects over 100 little-known excerpts from dance, etiquette, beauty, and fashion manuals from the nineteenth century. Included are instructions for performing various dances, as well as musical scores, costume patterns, and the proper way to hold one's posture, fork, gloves, and fan. While of particular interest to dancers, dance historians, and choreographers, anyone fascinated by the ways and mores of the period will find From the Ballroom to Hell an endearing and informative glimpse of America's past.
 

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User Review  - Bestine - LibraryThing

Not a nuts-and-bolts dance manual. Rather, the author quotes a wide variety of period dance manuals to present a nice overview of 19th Century customs and manners in polite society, including ... Read full review

Contents

Philadelphia February 1860
27
Dancing the Most Enchanting
39
Part 1 The Spirit of Social
51
Part 3 Addressed to Women
58
Part 1 The Vulgarity of a Foul Mouth
81
Part 1 Deportment Grace
93
Part 3 Bows and Curtseys
99
Part 1 Hazards and Blunders
109
Country Dances
139
The Early Cotillion Quadrille and Mazurka Quadrille
140
E The March
151
Part 2 About Waltzing and Other Round Dances 152 A The Position
152
B Comments on the Waltz
154
A Canon for Mr Polka
156
Directions for Performing the Waltz
158
E Directions for Performing the Polka and Variations Schottische and Galop
170

Part 2 Arrangements for the Ball
116
Music and Musicians
118
Part 1 Singing and Other Diversions
125
Part 2 Music at the Ball
128
Part 3 The Manner of Playing the Tunes
131
Part 1 The Minuet and Diverse Group Dances 137 A The Minuet
137
B The Reel
138
The German Cotillion The German
181
Notes
187
Select Bibliography
193
Annotated Bibliography
199
Index
219
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About the author (1991)

Elizabeth Aldrich is director of the International Early Dance Institute and is president of the Society of Dance History Scholars. Co-founder of the Historical Dance Foundation, she is a consultant to the Smithsonian Institute and has choreographed for the American Ballroom Theatre, the New York Baroque dance Company, and the Court Dance Company of New York. Ms. Aldrich has provided reconstructions and choreography for several major feature films, including Mr. and Mrs. Bridge starring Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward.

Mina Mulvey, who wrote the forward to this volume is Executive Editor of Good Housekeeping.

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