. . .with a preview of our dances for the Regency Ball!
One of the high points of JASP is always the Regency Ball, which is back this year after a pandemic hiatus. We will have two lessons during the symposium so that everyone is ready to dance the night away, and our Dance Master, Jack Maus, has provided written directions for the dances for those who want to practice ahead of time.
Most of the dances performed at a Regency Ball were varieties of "country dances" - a name that distinguishes these lively social dances (meaning you change partners throughout the dance) from the older, more formal minuet or the sensational new waltz (neither of which were considered appropriate for unmarried young women to perform in public). Dance steps and their music were published in collections so that aspiring dancers could learn at home even if they couldn't afford to have private dance instruction. Mr. Collins' dismal performance at Netherfield makes clear that this home preparation wasn't always enough, but given that Austen's heroines can all have conversations while dancing, evidently most people could learn on their own.
In the annotations to the dances provided by Jack Maus (pdf below), the capital letters (ie A, or A1) indicate a strain of music, more or less the verse and chorus. The numbers preceding the steps (ie 1-2, 3-4) give you information about how many measures the steps take, but your best bet is just listening to the music! All dances designate "#1" and "#2" dancers or "1s" and "2s" rather than men and women. Jack will call all the dances for us at the Ball, so you don't have to memorize anything. If you are the studious type and want to take a deep dive into Regency Dances, this website is a treasure-trove, with images from Regency dancing guides.
Here is a playlist of all the videos referenced in the PDF if you're more of a visual learner. NOTE: we will not be learning three dances in the workshops: Gathering Peascods, Upon a Summer's Day, and Hole in the Wall. If you're new to country dancing, you'll want to give those videos a look. We may or may not have time to cover Mad Robin, so give it a watch too.