May 16, 2010

Everyone Loves to Dance

You may know that we live in a house attached to a church building. When we saw the sanctuary, with its red carpet and stately stained glass, the first thing Meg said was, "Let's host Ball!" She meant the Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, Pride and Prejudice type of ball, complete with puffy sleeves and orchestra.

Being the kind of parents who like to capitalize on enthusiasm, we cringed. We had no idea how to host a ball. But over the next year, we learned. As a family, we attended a couple English Country Dancing workshops, found some music (on CD), and took the plunge.

We set a date, invited local home schoolers and their friends to come for a few classes, then hosted several of our very own English Country Dancing balls.

We discovered this type of scripted dancing is great for kids who feel awkward, and the geometry of the dances appeals to the nerdier crowd. :) And the artsy kids love it for the dressing up, party atmosphere.

I have to say, not being much of a dancer myself, I've never had more fun.

music samples
animated steps

If you search for English Country Dancing in your area, you might find a local club and workshops too.


~beautyandjoy~ said...

Oh my word - how cool. My daughter would swoon! You guys are simply amazing.

Jena said...

yes, all the girls loved this and couldn't wait for the next one. It was a great excuse to buy (or make) fancy gowns. :)

I think we held three or four balls. It's been awhile since we had one and my husband said we should do it again soon. I think our last one was a couple years ago.

Hannah said...

That sounds super cool! Although I always marvel in the Jane Austen films at how terribly formal and even stilted the dancing seems. Was it that kind of dancing? Obviously, yours was really fun!

I'd love to get a chance to waltz some day ... so if that's on the program for your next one, please send me an invitation and I will get my fairy godmother to prepare me a gown! :-)

Kerry said...

Oh, I REALLY want to attend an English Country Dance. I'm afraid my morning is shot to Google. ;)

Jena said...

Hi Hannah,

Yes, the dancing you see in the modern version of Pride and Prejudice is exactly this type of dancing, but in the 21st Century, the kids are laughing and tripping over each other, and it's anything but stuffy. :) And some of the dances are faster and crazier than they had in the movie.

Topsy--you and your family would LOVE this! Hope you find something in your area. :)

Lindsay said...

Here's a link where you can listen to lots more audio samples of ECD from "Bare Necessities," an absolutely wonderful ECD band from Boston.

Oh, our 4-H club, The Shades of Pemberley, does English Country Dancing as our "project." We did our county level presentation last Friday and took home blue ribbons and an invitation to present at the state level.

Great, great fun. We usually have a "Colonial tea dance" near the end of June when we get out 18th Century or Regency costumes and have a wonderful afternoon dancing.

We also went to a big December dance where Bare Necessities played "Live"!

Anne-Marie said...

What a terrific use for a big space like that! My aunt and uncle own a former Grange meeting hall and they often hold contradances there. The closest I've ever come to a ball is my wedding reception, which was square dance.

Could you give a guesstimate as to the minimum size room and minimum number of dancers needed for a ball like this to be fun?

Jena said...

If you only have 8 people, you can make a square and do a lot of dances. We've done that after dinner with guests!

We had around 80 people in a 60' x 40' space, and that felt like it was maxing out the space.

We demonstrated the dance before every song for those who were new. It's not hard to catch on.

Jena said...


Thanks so much for the link! I just love the music. I think I'm going to start playing it around the house. :)

Sounds like you have a great group. It's just so much fun, especially with costumes.

Karen said...

Oh, can I come to your next one?
How cool!

Traci said...

What an incredible experience for everyone! My kids would love this!

Lynn B said...

This looks like so much fun! It brings back memories of our dances in college... we spent a lot of time learning group dances and folk dances. Dressing up is the best part. TYFS

Andysbethy said...

I mean to stop by here more often - sorry this is a couple weeks "late".
Here in the deep south it is not that rare to find civil war re-enactment clubs. They go out to the old battlefields in full gear and remember the battles, according to history. They LOVE to have a Christmas ball. When I was in college I got to attend several of those, and loved every minute. We had live musicians, playing fiddles, guitars and harmonicas. Men in uniform and women in full hoop skirt ball gowns. We did a few waltzes, but more Virginia Reels and square dances.
Even when you get to college, you never really quit being a "quirky" homeschooler!

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