Dance: A Very Social History

Front Cover
"Twirling figures, gloved hands clasped, the strains of the violin..." These words from the first essay in this delightful book could be describing an eighteenth-century minuet performed by aristocratic guests at a Versailles ball, a nineteenth-century cotillion of white-gowned debutantes in new York, or a stylish moment created on the silver screen by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The steps and the music and the dresses may vary, but the exciting and elegant sight of society enjoying itself on the dance floor has persisted through the ages. In this book, published to coincide with an exhibition held at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art under the direction of Diana Vreeland, four authors look at the subject of social dancing from four different points of view. Carol McD. Wallace surveys the great balls and dancing parties of Europe, England, and America from the eighteenth century to the present, while Don McDonagh describes the dance steps themselves, from the early basse danze of Italy to the twist of modern-day America. Jean Druesedow, associate curator in charge of the Costume Institute, discusses the evolution of the ball gown and other costumes designed for dancing, and Laurence Libin, curator of musical instruments, assisted by Constance Old, analyzes the way in which dance has been depicted in works of art through the centuries. Illustrated with paintings, works of decorative art, contemporary prints and photographs, these lively essays re-create the rhythmic energy, the social proprieties, the colorful costumes and anecdotes of dances and dancers past and present. -- from dust jacket.

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Dance: a very social history

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Published to coincide with an exhibition of dance costumes at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, this brings together four essays by different authors, each treating an aspect of social dancing. Covered ... Read full review

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