1920s Dance Performance, Old Sport

The Commonwealth Vintage Dancers performed before the opening of The Great Gatsby recently, as I mentioned in my post about the construction of my new 1925 beaded evening gown. It was pretty fun! The movie was being shown at the historic Somerville Theatre, which was built in 1914.

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View from the balcony. It’s quite grand and those curtains on the stage are functional!

I never did like reading The Great Gatsby and I didn’t enjoy the movie much either (especially all the modern music! I don’t think it worked!), but it was still fun to be there with my friends having a good time and looking great.

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Standing around during our rehearsal.

The stage was a fun place to take pictures, and you know we always like to take lots of pictures of ourselves!

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Some people are much better at making picture faces than I am!

We performed a one-step, a tango, a foxtrot, and two Charlestons! One Charleston was a silly silent-video-like story of a girl trying to teach a guy how to Charleston and ending with the two of them plus an extra five ladies doing Charleston-in-a-line. (You can see some pictures of Charleston in a line from last year when we went to Newport.) The other Charleston was five ladies facing the audience and doing various Charleston things in a row.

The best pictures I have are from the five lady Charleston. We danced to the song Egyptian Ella, which you can hear in this video (there is a 30 second-ish introduction first). Our version was a little faster but this gives you the idea. I strongly recommend that you listen to the song while you look at these pictures: it makes them to come to life! (The lyrics are pretty amusing, too!)

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Charleston basics to start.

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Moving on to fancy steps. Each of us did different solo bits.

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This is my favorite! Hard to see what’s going on in a still picture… It’s a kick to one side, then the second, then twice on the first side figure. As your leg comes in to kick your arms cross, and then they uncross when you kick. I don’t actually know what it’s called, but it’s super fun! Each kick has only one beat, so it’s pretty fast.

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Final pose! It is EGYPTIAN Ella, after all!

We’ve got more Jazz Age things coming up soon, so there will be more opportunities to Charleston! In addition to some performances, there will also be a Prohibition Ball in Chelmsford, MA in July. If you’re in the area you should consider coming! If you’re not in the area, I’m sure I’ll have lots of pictures and you can live vicariously through them. Maybe you’ll also be super inspired and go find people in your area to Charleston with!

Since there will be more Charleston-ing in my life, I’ll have to learn more Charleston steps! Lauren, at American Duchess, posted some great Charleston videos awhile back. Some of them include some steps I just might have to learn and dance… who knows, maybe some of them will make it into our next performance, too! In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed the pictures.

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About quinnmburgess

Quinn M. Burgess creates reproduction and costume historic clothing. Her inspiration has a strong foundation in history: historic dress, social history, and material history. With the addition of clothing construction knowledge, her passions converge in an imaginative world of creative history that she loves to share with others.
This entry was posted in 1920s, 20th Century, Videos, Vintage Dancing: 20th Century, Wearing Reproduction Clothing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to 1920s Dance Performance, Old Sport

  1. elf says:

    The Charleston is a fun dance to do. I never knew the one-step was an actual dance though! My husband, who can’t dance at all, jokingly says he does the one-step! Do you know of a site where I can see that dance? Also, do you know what dances were popular in 1903? Love your pix and costuming! Thanks for sharing.

    • Unfortunately, I feel unable to answer your questions with much information! I don’t know of any one step videos for certain, though it seems like there probably are some on youtube. I’ve never looked. As for dances in 1903, it’s a period that my dance troupe doesn’t cover, so I don’t have much information about that either. I know for certain that in the 1890s there are waltzes and since I know there are also waltzes in the 1910s I assume that they are dancing waltzes in between those years as well. Sorry I can’t provide a better answer! I don’t want to give you wrong information.

  2. John Burgess says:

    I love the photos and the music video. It was wonderful to hear a rendition of the song that you danced to! Looking forward to seeing and hearing more.

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