Newport Vintage Dance Week

by The Commonwealth Vintage Dancers


Newport Dancers' Gazette

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Newport Dancers' Gazette Archives

The Commonwealth Vintage Dancers January 2001
Editor: Katy Bishop Vol VIII, Issue 1

Newport Vintage Dance Week 2001

The dates for Newport Dance week 2001 are August 13th to the 19th. Plans are underway for an exciting and event packed week. The dance week will once again be held on the campus of Portsmouth Abbey School. The Astor's Beechwood will host the 1890's ball, and the formal dinner and Ragtime ball will be at Glen Manor House. We are pleased to announce that the mid-19th Century ball will be held at Rosecliff this year! Live music for all three evenings will be provided by the New River Dance Orchestra.

Some returning favorites, as well as new teaching staff, will be joining us this year. We are delighted to welcome back Patri Pugliese, Richard Powers, and Joan Walton, who need no introduction to the vintage dance community. We are also pleased to welcome Hannelore Unfried who teaches at the University of Music and at the Conservatory of Music in Vienna, Austria. She has taught many dance workshops in Europe, but this will be her first series of workshops for the Vintage Dance community in the United States. Patri met Hannelore last April at the International Early Dance Conference in Ghent, Belgium, were she was delivering a paper on a particular 19th century quadrille. He was impressed both by the quality of her research and by her enthusiasm in reviving 19th century dance.

Around the World
in Eighty Days

Fancy Dress Ball

The theme for the 2001 turn of the Century fancy dress ball will celebrate Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days. Once again, Smoke and Mirrors (and friends) will apply their magic and transform the Abbey Auditorium into international and exotic destinations. We invite you to join Phileas Fogg and his manservant Passepartout on their breakneck journey around the world during an informal evening of dancing and merriment featuring recorded music from the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Boston Area Dance Events Calendar
Winter through Summer 2001

1890's Ball at the Astors' Beechwood
580 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, Rhode Island
Saturday February 3, 7-10pm
Co-Sponsored by CVD and The Astors' Beechwood

Ball direction will be by Patri J. Pugliese with music by the New River Dance Orchestra. Period style dress or formal wear is requested. Admission is $35 per person or $60 per couple. For further information, or to register (Mastercard, Visa and Discover accepted), please call The Astors' Beechwood Mansion, (401) 846-3772, office hours are Monday through Friday 8am-4pm. For information on costuming, please call Barbara or Patri at (781) 396-2870 or Katy at (781) 593-3038 or send e-mail to

Returning Heroes Ball
Winchester, MA, Saturday March 17

A Grand Ball to celebrate the Returning Heroes of the War between the States. Live music by Spare Parts. Period attire will be required. For more details address enquiries to: Barbara or Patri Pugliese (781) 396-2870 or e-mail

Vintage Tea Dances
February 11, March 11, April 8, May 13
Sponsored by Eclectic Enterprises, West Newton, MA

Eclectic Enterprises presents a Victorian Tea Dance series, with recorded music and a mix of teaching and dancing. Dances will be held at the Parish Hall, First Unitarian Society of Newton, 1326 Washington St., West Newton. Light refreshments will be served. Beginners especially welcome. For more information contact Michael Bergman, (617) 964-7684,

Spring Ragtime Ball
May 12 -Nahant, MA-- live music by Spare Parts

This ball will be at the Nahant Town Hall, for further information visit

Nahant Victorian Day 1890's Ball
Sponsored by: Vintage Victorian and the Nahant Historical Society
July 14, Nahant Town Hall, Nahant, MA

Live music will be provided by Spare Parts, ball direction will be by Dr. Patri J. Pugliese. Formal attire is requested, attire of the period is encouraged. For further information contact Katy at: (781) 593-3038 or e- mail view us on the web at

For more extensive event listings visit us on the web at

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Newport Vintage Costume Seminars

We are working on the costume seminar(s) topics and schedule for next year; we may even offer an expanded schedule of costume lectures and seminars. If anyone has suggestions of topics in either ladies or gentlemen's dress they would like to see covered please let us know.

New Books!

by Nancy E. Rexford

This book is a comprehensive study of ladies footwear. The first part includes the history of the American shoe industry, and the evolution of shoe styles and their influence on a lady's activities. The second part of the book is a reference guide for dating shoes, with detailed drawings or various parts of shoes organized chronologically. Ms. Rexford's research is comprehensive and will make it easy to date any pair of antique shoes. For more information on Women's Shoes in America please visit this website:

Evening Dress of the 1910's:
Between the Gibson Girl and the Flapper
by Catherine Bishop

Vintage Victorian is pleased to announce the publication of its latest book, by Catherine (Katy) Bishop, due out in February 2001! This work will be three volumes covering the years 1909-1920, with hundreds of illustrations from period magazines such as Vogue, Harper's Bazar, The Delineator, and The Designer, as well as period pattern and clothing catalogues.

The forthcoming hairstyles book will be available in the early part of 2001.

Year 2001 Vintage Costume Calendars are still available, now only $8!

For more information on these books please contact Katy Bishop at: or visit: or write to the address below attn: Vintage Victorian.

Photographs Wanted

We are always searching for interesting photographs of the various events at Newport for inclusion in publicity materials and for placement on our Newport web-pages. If you have any photos that you think would be appropriate, please send them to the address at the bottom of this page, attn: Newport photos (and let us know if you wish to have them returned).

T-shirts and Tote bags
Still Available!

Newport T-shirts, and tote bags are still available, with the image seen here, they are $15 including standard postage. Please contact Katy for size availability at or write to the address below, attn: Newport T-shirts.


"I don't know whether I like myself in this costume or not."
"I think it's stunning."
"That's just it. I'm so stunned I can't make up my mind."

Harper's Bazar, 19 October, 1895

For Further information on the Dance Week or Vintage Dance please contact: The Commonwealth Vintage Dancers at: (781) 396-2870 or e-mail visit us on the web at: or write:
CVD, c/o Katy Bishop
P. O. Box 9
Nahant, MA 01908

To submit information to the Gazette, make suggestions, or to put your name on the Gazette mailing list please contact Katy Bishop at or write:
Newport Gazette, c/o Katy Bishop
P. O. Box 9
Nahant, MA 01908
or visit the web at:

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Fashionable Dances of Today
excerpt from Harper's Bazar, 22 December, 1896

Although in every city and town throughout the country there may be dancing steps in a manner of dancing peculiar to the place, still the fashionable dances of today are in general principles much the same everywhere, and those which are the most popular here in New York, for instance, are universally recognized as the dances correct for any entertainment which may be given elsewhere, so we will concern ourselves with the ones now in vogue in our metropolis.

As far as possible, square dances are being eliminated from the order of the dancing functions of to-day, but as they will always be pleasing to the people who, although they may feel of dancing spirit inclined, are not as young as they once were, and so not quite equal to the giddy measures of the waltz or two-step, they usually have their place in the programme of any entertainment where such guests may be present, and even if the younger dancers demur at the occasional lanciers or quadrilles set down the list of evening's dances, they nevertheless are usually quite ready to take part in them. Indeed, at the lively free and easy festivities given where a house party assembles in the country, or at dances given in a private house in town, where all present know each other intimately, the same square dances are often an opportunity for the young people to indulge in a frolic and give vent to their surplus of animal spirits, for in the various figures where the low courtesies, gay promenadings, changing partners, and "all hands round" are made the occasion of much fun, many a spirited quarter of an hour may be enjoyed. Another good old dance is the Virginia reel, always a favorite as a wind-up to any dancing party of an informal kind, and in this old and young may also take an equally active part, and enter with the same glee and enthusiasm into the spirit of the sport. But although these square dances may be tolerated, round dances at present have the undisputed supremacy, and of these the most popular are the ever-enticing waltz, which seems to hold its own among all dances, the polka, and the two-step, or deux-temps.

Many are the variations on these dances, called by different names, as the Yale, York, etc., one even being called the Trilby, I have heard; but although in name their variety may be great, in character they almost always resemble the original step from which they are adapted so nearly that those dancers who are thoroughly familiar with the foundations, which are generally one of the three dances given, will be able to easily pick up the trifling changes in the steps and time of all others that are called in every place by different names. Again, dances which a few years ago were in high favor, such as dancing-in-the-barn, are now in the decline of their popularity, and, in fact, it is not unusual for a dancing entertainment to be given where the order of dances for the entire evening is made up of jolly waltzes, polkas, and two-steps, danced one after the other, with about twice as many waltzes and two-steps as polkas, and no square or any other dances.

Here in New York the waltz is danced much as in recent years, slow or fast, according to the preferences of the individual dancers, but always in rather a dignified way, and as it is ever the most graceful of modern dances, so in the long-run it is the pleasantest in motion and time. In dancing this, as in all round dances, a gentleman holds his partner's right arm out straight, his left hand holding her right hand lightly but firmly, while his right arm encircles her waist, and her left hand rests on his right arm. The polka is danced in different ways, with one, two, three, or more glides, three being the most popular, but in whichever way it must be danced in perfect time with the music, whether the movements of the dancers be slow and restful, or gay and rollicking, and degenerating occasionally into a romp. The two-step, which is now in full tide of popular favor, almost rivaling the waltz in the opinion of its devotees, is danced to march time, the fine, spirited marches of Sousa's being the music most used to accompany it. For this the time of the music and the dancers must be well marked, and the spirit of both lively, if it is to be made truly enjoyable and danced as it should be. It is a change from the waltz, easier, less fatiguing, and offering more opportunity for fun and jollity, so it is likely to maintain long its present high rank of favor.

These any ordinary dances of the present time, and in making a programme for a dancing entertainment it is safe to say that they succeeding one another, with perhaps four square dances, and a Virginia reel as a finale, will make an order of dancing agreeable to all the young people who may be present, and one in which the older people are also considered. To make such an entertainment thoroughly successful, however, the greatest care must be taken in the selection of the musicians who are to play the dance music. It is not necessary to have many of them, but those chosen must be well prepared. Their selections must be new and gay, the time well accentuated, but not too much so, and all the pieces played with the right spirit for dancing. Each selection should last about twenty minutes, and then should come a rest of about ten minutes before the next one is begun.

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1890's Costume Hints for The Grand Victorian Ball
by Patri and Barbara Pugliese and Katy Bishop

Evening dress for ladies of the early 1890's consisted of a snugly fitting bodice and a gored or bell shaped skirt, narrow at the waist, but very full near the floor. The neckline was low in front, variously cut in a square, vee, rounded-vee, or round shape. Over the course of the early 1890's, sleeve styles varied from small bands of beading or lace to puffs of fabric as small as an orange or as extravagantly large as a melon. Evening dresses could have a train, but dedicated ball dresses did not. Shoes most commonly had heels of modest (about 1") height, the concave or "Louis" heel being particularly popular. White or cream colored gloves of kid or cotton extending to just below or above the elbow were worn at all times in the ballroom, except when taking refreshments.

Typical ballroom hairstyles featured hair pinned up in a bun high on the back of the head, with waves on the side and curled bangs or waves in front. Overall, this style was trimmer than the "Gibson Girl" style which succeeded it. The hair was customarily adorned with feathers, flowers or jeweled ornaments. Chokers or very short necklaces of pearls or sparkling stones were particularly popular, as were small drop earrings. A large fan made an attractive and useful accessory.

While most of us do not have 1890's style ballgowns hanging in our closets, one might well have or be able to find an old party or prom dress which has similar lines. A plain neckline can be enlivened with a drape of lace pinned in place with a few sparkling brooches. A less than floor length skirt can be extended by adding a broad band of fabric, or by wearing the dress over a floor length skirt and perhaps pinning the shorter dress skirt into attractive puffs, scallops or swags. Unless the skirt is too narrow to allow it, a net petticoat or crinoline will contribute to the bell-like silhouette and give the skirt more flare.

The ideal evening dress for gentlemen for a ball or other formal evening activity consisted of a black tailcoat and trousers, black or white vest, white shirt with stand-up collar, white bow tie and black light-weight shoes or dress pumps. While the details of cut of a modern tailcoat differ from that of the 1890's, the differences are quite subtle, so that gentleman will find that a modern black tailcoat, whether rented for the evening or purchased at a thrift shop or used clothing store, will do very well. Modern custom dictates a white vest with this coat; but in the nine-teenth century a black vest was an equally popular alternative. The cummerbund was not invented until several decades later. A modern wing-tip collar, a style which achieved popularity early in the twentieth century, is an anachronism, but a trivial one.

It was during the 1890's that the Tuxedo jacket first became popular for evening wear. Though considered less formal and therefore less appropriate for the ballroom than a tailcoat, this remains a legitimate period style that will fit in well with the spirit of the evening. As with the tailcoat, Tuxedo jackets were worn with vests rather than cummerbunds, in this case black was usually favored over white, in addition black rather than white bow ties were favored.

As in the nineteenth century, the function of men's dress is to provide a setting that will allow the ladies to show off their own gowns all the more brilliantly. A gentleman wearing a plain dark suit can be confident that the details of his dress will pretty much escape notice and that he therefore need not be overly concerned with the matter.

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Last updated 23 April 2001/beb