Quantcast I absolutely love 18th and 19th century dance scenes in period movies.  And no one does them better than the British.   So romantic and beautiful, and did I mention romantic?  Some of the best dance scenes are in the various films based on Jane Austen novels, but there are many, many others too.  There’s a delightful one in Miss Potter and Becoming Jane.  The Young Victoria is a visual feast...
I’m drawn to these scenes like a moth to a flame.  Sigh.  Why can’t we still dance like that today?

Naturally, I’ve studied up on these old dances, even consulted an elderly expert at one point who then gave me his large collection of notes and research info.  Entrusted me with this rich legacy which has been invaluable in my writing.  He said no one else had expressed the interest in his research material that I had and he was getting on in years  and wanted to pass it on to someone who would appreciate it.  That would be me.  The best dance scene I ever wrote based on his copious notes hasn’t yet been published.  But it will, eventually.   First, I must finish the book.

Of course, I’ve included various dances in many of my books.   I love the English Country dances, not to neglect the foot stomping jigs and reels that were enormously popular in less formal circles, but I have also included more formal dances.   Back in the day, my home state of Virginia was filled with colonists who were ‘mad about dancing” according to one historian.
He also mentioned that his 19 yr old daughter was the oldest virgin he knew as folks married quite young back then.  Come to think of it, I wed my high school sweetheart at 19.  But I digress.  Frequently.  I flit between subjects like a butterfly.  Can’t blame it on advancing years, though.  I always have.

My light paranormal/historical romance Daughter of the Wind, set among the Scots-Irish in the Alleghenies, opens with a lively dance at the McNeal homestead when the hero arrives, shot, and bangs on the door.   Breaks up that party.

My colonial American romance short A Warrior for Christmas (in The American Rose Christmas Anthology) has a charming dance scene or two that I loved writing.  The frontiersman/former Shawnee captive hero, a rugged young man more comfortable with war dances, attempts the minuet.

The waltz in light paranormal Somewhere My Love is one of my most romantic offerings ever, if I do say so myself.   Actually, that book has two waltz scenes.  And I had a blast writing the amusing and tender dance scene in Somewhere My Lass. I dabbled in dancing when writing my colonial American romance Red Bird’s Song in a most unlikely way considering it’s set in the rugged frontier.  Trust me to work in a dance somewhere.  And it’s Romantic too, most certainly.  All of these scenes are, along with the tension or whatever else is unfolding in the story.  The characters don’t just dance.  Although I happily could.  I didn’t manage to get a dance into Enemy of the King or Through the Fire although I referred to dancing.  They are both such fast-paced adventures, we really didn’t have time to linger over a dance.  Except at the cast party, of course. :)

Does anyone not love these wonderful old dances from ages past?  And the costumes…I’d love to have a different one for each day of the week (or month) from various eras.  Today I shall be Lady so and so in my voluminous colonial American gown.  Tomorrow, I’ll swirl about in my Regency do, then ride off in my carriage to attend a ball in the Victorian age.  Not to neglect the Edwardian era which had wonderful gowns.  Now and then I’d get down with the Scots and kick up my heels in full clan regalia.

I  suppose all these costumes might appear slightly eccentric to onlookers.  Like I’d care if I had them.  And filigree jewelry.  I’m quite taken with the word filigree, defined as ‘delicate, lacelike ornamental work of intertwined wire of gold, silver…’

And now, I’ll send you off with a dance!  What else?


8 comments

  1. Mona Risk // June 26, 2010 at 3:11 PM  

    Lovely pictures and video, Beth. When I was small I took ballet lessons and still have pictures of me dancing the French menuet and the waltz in the Swan Lake. To think of it, I have my hero and heroine dancing in four of my books but they dance slow or rock.

  2. Beth Trissel // June 26, 2010 at 4:18 PM  

    Very nice mental image Mona. My older daughter danced ballet for years since she was six. What precious memories.

  3. Barbara Monajem // June 26, 2010 at 10:34 PM  

    What an amazing amount of research you've done. The Beau Monde has a soiree at RWA National where they do some of those formal old-fashioned dances. I hope to attend this year!

  4. Mary Marvella // June 27, 2010 at 1:46 AM  

    Beth, you have done it again! give me fan and my dancing shoes and a man who knows how to flirt on a dance floor!
    I need a prince charming who can twirl me around in a waltz.

  5. Beth Trissel // June 27, 2010 at 1:08 PM  

    Who doesn't, Mary? :)
    Thanks Barbara. That does sound fun.

  6. Scarlet Pumpernickel // June 27, 2010 at 3:31 PM  

    Beth, loved the blog. Those wonderful dances are one of the thing I love most in period pieces. Thanks for sharing the videos. The one with Enrique was awesome! I saw him a couple years back at Chastain Park and he sang that song. It was absolutely magical to see him. You could just imagine he was singing especially to you. Loved the clip. Great choices, do share more details of the history of dance.

  7. Judy // June 28, 2010 at 7:59 AM  

    Wow, Beth! The video was hot, full of tension and shyness and happiness...loved it. Reminds me that less is more... I think we've lost so much of real connection in today's busy, busy, impersonal world!

  8. Joanne // June 28, 2010 at 7:49 PM  

    Gorgeous pictures, Beth, and great post. I love all these old dances, too. As a musician, I've also studied the instruments used to play the music for the dances.