March 2009

The waltz never quite goes out of fashion;
it is always just around the corner;
every now and then it comes back with a bang.
It is sneaking, insidious, charming, lovely.
It does its work, not like a college-yell or an explosion
in a munitions plant, but like the rustle of the trees,
the murmer of the illimitable sea... There is something
about a waltz that is simply irresistable.

By H.L. Mencken, 1920
As quoted by Rodney and Elvie Miller
on the cover of their 2007 CD 'Spyglass Waltzes'
(Brimstone Corner Records)

Greetings from Waltz Time! This newsletter offers a calendar of upcoming waltz dances and workshops, dance community news and informative articles. We encourage your articles to our newsletter. What would you like to know? Please send your story or suggestions for topics to staff@waltztimedances.org.

Waltz Time is an all-volunteer committee that produces the twice monthly Sunday afternoon waltz dances at Glen Echo Park's Spanish Ballroom. The March and April waltzes are listed below or view the entire year's calendar at our web site.

We hope you enjoy our newsletter. At the end of this page there are additional links that you can use to forward this newsletter to a friend or to unsubscribe.


Poetry Corner

Jenny F, one of our newsletter subscribers, wrote:

    In response to your call for additional literature to include in your newsletters, how about asking for haikus about waltzing? As you probably know, haiku is the traditional form of non-rhyming poetry with 3 lines that are 5, 7, and 5 syllables. It doesn't take long to write one — just complete the first line and think of a couple more to go with it. Could be a fun little challenge that a lot of waltzers would get into....

We think that's a great idea, so Waltz Time invites you to join our "contest" and submit a haiku about waltz music or dance. The "prize" will be seeing your work in "print" initially and being delcared the "best" if we can get a concensus by the end of the year. So send them to us, and hopefully we'll get so many responses that we'll have to decide which ones to publish! Please rate the haikus, and let us know your opinion. To enter the haiku contest, simply send your creation by email to staff@waltztimedances.org. And, to help stimulate your creative process, here are some dance haikus that we have collected in the past, authors unknown:

    Dust bunnies dancing
    Before my weaving push broom
    Spanish Ballroom's still

    Glen Echo summers
    humidity suffocates
    sweat flies ev'rywhere

    Yawning at my desk
    Got my priorities straight
    Dance first, work second

    Hint for sweaty leads
    Freshen cologne and change shirt
    Follower's delight

Library of Congress "An American Ballroom Companion"

Are you interested in dance history? The Music Division of the Library of Congress hosts an online collection of more than 200 dance instruction manuals, circa 1490-1920.

Along with the manuals, the online presentation includes histories, treatises on etiquette, caricatures and other items. "All illuminate the manner in which people have joyfully expressed themselves as they dance for and with one another."

You can see the listing of all titles in the collection online and search by author, title or subject. One of my favorites was the manuscript How to Dance in which the pages have been scanned and presented on the screen for your reading pleasure.

You can also visit their video directory and view historical dances as reenacted by today's dancers. Finally, try the conceptual categories for a more extensive list. You can spend a full day browsing — I did.

Victorian Dance Ensemble

Most likely all of you know at least something about the horrors experienced on the American Civil War battlefields, but you may not know much about domestic life in these United States during the years 1861-1865 (unless you were once an adolescent girl force-fed Little Women). According to members of the Victorian Dance Ensemble, who performed in January in the Kogod Courtyard of the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM), dancing was enjoyed during the war by almost everyone in America — young and old, rich and poor, urban and rural, Northern and Southern. Dancing was a major leisure activity.

The location of the ensemble's performance was well-chosen, since President Lincoln's second inaugural ball was held on March 6, 1865, in what is now the museum. The site remains much the same as it was in Lincoln's day; if you haven't been there, plan a visit.

The Pennsylvania-based Victorian Dance Ensemble, with music of the period provided by the Susquehanna Travellers (some of the tunes they played are ones we still hear at our Sunday waltzes) performed in authentically re-created period costumes. As the director explained to the large and appreciative audience, almost all dances in the mid-Victorian era were done in formations — circles, squares or lines — with couples interacting with other couples, much like contra or square dancing today. And most were done in open position — even the waltz, since closed position was considered scandalous (see the Waltz Time newsletter of February 2008). A caller guided movements and patterns.

Unlike our Strauss Ball's grand march, which usually concludes the first set of the evening, the typical mid-1800s ball began with a grand march; it was a way to get people into the ballroom and allow them to see who was in attendance. As today, dancers circulated; it was considered ill-mannered to dance with the same partner all evening. Everyone had a social duty to mingle and try to ensure that all ball-goers had a good time.

For more information about the Victorian Dance Ensemble, which is dedicated to re-creating the grace and beauty of a bygone era, visit their website.

German Waltz

At the conclusion of their performance, the Victorian Dance Ensemble demonstrated the German Waltz, encouraging (or compelling) audience involvement. The dancers form a circle (or two circles if there's a large number of participants) and perform an established pattern, which involves changing partners after a few measures. Waltz Time used to open every Sunday afternoon waltz with the Circle Waltz, in which couples hold hands, waltz together in out of the center, roll the partner to the other side, and eventually progress to a new partner. We might give this a try again at one of our upcoming waltzes.

Upcoming Sunday Afternoon Waltzes

Sunday Afternoon Waltzes begin with an introductory waltz lesson from 3 - 3:30 pm,
followed by dancing to live music until 6 pm. Cost is $8, including the lesson.

MARCH 2009

March 1: WALTZING STARS with Alexander Mitchell, Marty Taylor, Liz Donaldson, Ralph Gordon

March 15: AVANT GARDENERS with Laura Light, George Paul, Dan Sebring, Dave Wiesler

APRIL 2009

April 5: BLUE BAMBOO with Elke Baker, Barbara Heitz, Jonah Blaustein, John Devine, Ralph Gordon, Marc Glickman

April 19: SOME ASSEMBLY with Paul Miller, Donna Boylan, Mary Corletta Flora, Joe Klausner

All events are held at the Spanish Ballroom, Glen Echo Park, 7300 MacArthur Blvd., Glen Echo, MD and
sponsored in cooperation with the Glen Echo Park Partnership for Arts and Culture, Inc.,
the National Park Service and Montgomery County, Maryland.