About The Commonwealth Vintage Dancers
The Commonwealth Vintage Dancers were founded in 1983 by Patri J. Pugliese and Hannah Roberts Artuso.
The troupe’s current artistic director Barbara Menard Pugliese,
is based in Medford, Massachusetts; the group’s approximately eighteen active
members live throughout the Boston area. We rehearse weekly, on Sunday evenings, in Waltham, MA.
Our repertoire includes several distinct periods including:
- early-19th century (Regency or Federal era, 1810s)
- mid-19th century (The Civil War Era, 1860s)
- late-19th century ( La Belle Epoque, 1890s)
- and Ragtime (The Titanic/World War I Era, 1910s)
Our costumes are accurately reproduced evening dress or day wear of the appropriate
era, perfect for balls, anniversary celebrations, garden parties, and teas.
The group performs throughout the year for various groups and organizations, at a variety of venues. In addition to performances,
each year we host several public events. The most common types of events we sponsor are: dance classes,
Regency Balls, 1890s Balls, Civil War era balls, including the Returning Heroes Ball, and Ragtime Balls. We also hosted the
magical Newport Vintage Dance Week each August in Newport County, Rhode Island for 25 years.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:
To get on our general mailing list, or to get information regarding
bookings, classes, or our Events Calendar, please contact us at the address below.
An Introduction to
The Commonwealth Vintage Dancers
Experience the elegance and charm of yesterday’s ballroom when society was in its heyday and dance was a
favorite pastime. Since 1983, the Commonwealth Vintage Dancers have been reconstructing,
performing and teaching social dances of the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries.
Combining exquisite costuming with a fine sense of period manners, style and customs, the Commonwealth Vintage
Dancers bring to life the most popular dances of their day. In addition to providing performances of these
dances, the Commonwealth Vintage Dancers can help organize and run Grand Balls, Tea Dances, Garden Parties and
other period amusements. We are experienced at teaching classes and leading workshops for beginner through
advanced dancers. Each summer our company has hosted the Newport Vintage Dance Week,
a week-long extravaganza of dance and amusements in and around the mansions of Newport, Rhode Island.
The Commonwealth Vintage Dancers perform the dances of several major
periods including: the Regency Era (1810s),the Mid-Nineteenth Century (the 1850-60s), the Late
Nineteenth Century (the 1890s), and the Ragtime Era (1900-1920s).
Each of these has its own distinctive style of dance, costume, and etiquette.
The energy and romance of the Regency Era is captured in oue Early-Nineteenth Century program which features the newly
introduced, and scandalous, waltz, as well as set dances and Quadrilles. The dances are performed with lively travelling steps;
dancers weave their way across the dance floor in intricate patterns, perhaps catching the eye of a
favourite partner on their way. The ladies wear high-waisted gowns in white cottons or brightly colored silks.
Our Mid-Nineteenth Century program features the well-established dances of the period, the Waltz and Quadrille
(a genteel ancestor of today’s square dance), as well as the more “modern” Polka and new
exotic waltz variations such as the Zingerella, Varsovienne, and Koska. The emphasis is on graceful movement
and manners as ladies in authentically reproduced hoop-skirted ball gowns glide through steps
and figures with their partners.
To capture the elegance of the Late Nineteenth Century, our ladies wear richly colored evening gowns, with
flowing skirts and extravagantly puffed sleeves. The Waltz and Polka retain their popularity, but the
variations have multiplied in number and in complexity.
In addition to the evening dress of the 1890s, CVD also performs in day wear of the period,
perfect for Summer teas and outdoor parties. Ladies in white gowns, with puffed sleeves, large
parasols and bedecked straw hats are complimented nicely by the gentlemen in crisp white suits and straw
boaters; all perfectly suited to doing a lovely Waltz or lively Cake-Walk.
The Ragtime Era saw the rise of a new style of lively, syncopated music. We capture the delightful exuberance
of the period in our performance of the “most up to date” dances: One-Step, Tango, and Hesitation
Waltz. The gowns are brightly colored and elaborately draped which mirrors the liveliness of the dances and music.
Some recent clients include: the Titanic International Society (ragtime); The Northeast Victorian Studies
Association (mid-19th century); The Charlestown, MA Navy Yard; The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
(1910s and 1920s lecture and demonstration); the Strawbery Banke museum (1800s dance and picnic), and The
Culinary Historians of Boston (mid-19th century and 1830s).
Our company has taken part in a variety of festivals and events in the US and Europe over the years
including: Guerriers Days, Charlestown, MA; Vienna (Austria) Vintage Dance Week; WGBH Jane Austen Celebration;
Boston’s “First Night,” the Statue of Liberty Summer Festival, The New England
Folk Fastival, Cambridge River Festival, the New England Antique Boat Show, and the Boston
4th of July Celebration on the Esplanade.
We have performed at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the American Textile History Museum, the New England
Conservatory of Music, the Museum of Our National Heritage and for many historical societies throughout
New England. We have performed in concert with the Meriden, Conn. Symphony Orchestra, as well as with
a variety of smaller music ensembles and with recorded music accompaniment.
In 1990, the New England Chapter of the Victorian Society in
America presented to the Commonwealth Vintage Dancers its Preservation Award in recognition of
our work in researching, reconstructing and reviving dances of the Victorian Era.
More recently CVD has been involved in several TV projects with PBS and The History Channel. These include a
dance sequence recreating a crowded 1890s Chicago ballroom in The American Experience Show Chicago: City of
the Century (2003). They also provided costumed extras for other American Experience installments, one
about Ulysses S. Grant, another A Murder at Harvard(2002), which was about a notorious 1849 murder
case, and Mill Times(2002) also a PBS show featuring two of our ladies as Lowell Mill Girls in the
1830s. For The History Channel several of CVDs (and friends) best dressed men appeared in a documentary
about Theodore Roosevelt (2003).
To get on our general mailing list or to get information regarding
bookings, classes, or our Events Calendar, please