Never mind Ms. Austen’s characters’ obsession with money, manners, and marriage. What really matters about the Regency era is handsome clothing and English Country Dancing.
It’s okay to hate on Jane Austen and still have a good time at the Celebrate Jane Austen Event on June 7th at the beautiful, historic Ramsey House. Dance lessons will be given at the event from 2:30 p.m. until 4:30 p.m. A starlit Regency Ball commences at 7:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m.
If you really want to develop your dancing chops in time for the Ball, join the English Country Dancers at the Laurel Theatre on Sunday nights.
Come observe the fascinating and unusual Tenpenny Rapper Sword Dancing at 7:00 p.m., and learn dances like “Old Wife Behind the Fire” and “Mr. Isaac’s Maggot” at 8:00 p.m. Live music provided by Dave Greenwood on clarinet and Mark Kiser on recorder. (These dances are aerobic, so don’t forget to bring your water bottle.)
Knoxville’s English Country Dancing group began 30 years ago, says co-founding member Karan Dotson. She learned the dances at the John C. Campbell Folk School and at Berea College. Dotson acts as caller and gently reminds dancers to maintain a straight long-way line.
Joining an established group of dancers can be intimidating, but these folks were friendly, patient, and kind to this beginner. The dances are charming and neighborly with partner changes and dancing in sets of couples. At times men briefly dance with men and women briefly dance with women, thus creating a sense of community.
Dancers wear casual modern clothing at the weekly sessions. They dance in peasant style attire when performing in public.
Dancers wear evening full dress for the group’s annual Christmas fete at the Laurel Theatre. Period costume is not required to attend the Celebrate Jane Austen Regency Ball. Most of the English Country Dancers make their special occasion dance outfits. For the men, dark full-length trousers, a vest, and long sleeve shirt can pass as evening attire.
The June 7th festival will be held from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., with the starlit Regency Ball held from 7:00 p.m. until 10:00. Activities include:
For more information about English County Dance, e-mail Karan Dotson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about Celebrating Jane Austen, call historic Ramsey House at (865) 546-0745.
Cover photo by Mark Cristy.
Ryan Gosling meme from Jane Austen Ryan Gosling Tumbler.
© Debra Dylan, 2014.