about CVD
Last updated:5 jan 2015/csb


In Memoriam

Patri J. Pugliese

Please visit the
Patri Memorial

About The Commonwealth Vintage Dancers

group shot 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)

regency danceOur 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.

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

1890s couple dancing 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.

civil war dance 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.

civil war dance 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.

1860s dancing 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.

1860s dancing 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.

terry and ken 1890s 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.

1890s couple dancing 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.

ragtime dance 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.

1830s dancing 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).
1830s dancing 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.
1920s girls 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.

group shot 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 contact:

P.O. Box 9, Nahant, Massachusetts 01908
phone: (617)  819-4283