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The Blue & Gray Press | May 21, 2018

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Old school dance moves still in style: The Victorian Ball

KELSEY WHEATON

HISTORICPREZWEBThe Historic Preservation Club did not let a change of venue stop them from holding the 15th annual Victorian Ball. The event, typically held in the Great Hall, moved from the Jepson Alumni Center to the faculty dining room in Seacobeck Hall due to inclement weather. Nonetheless, the dancing still proved to make this a lively event.

This year’s theme was “A Walk in the Victorian Garden,” with music provided by Gilmore’s Light Ensemble, a three-piece band from Gettysburg, Pa. who, in the spirit of the dance, all dressed in period attire and played period-accurate songs.

Dances were called by Briant and Karin Bohleke, a pair of dance callers and teachers. The dances performed were all authentic of the Victorian era, including waltzes such as the Spanish Waltz and the Oslo Waltz, as well as the Virginia Reel, the Soldier’s Joy, the Gothic Reel, the Flower Girl, the Coquette Reel, the Quadrille and the Cheat.

These dances were more than just dances, however. The waltzes and the Gothic Reel were prime opportunities, in both the Victorian and modern era, for the ladies to show off their finery and the men to show off their ladies to the other dancers.

Many other dances, such as the Virginia Reel, the Quadrille, the Coquette Reel and the Cheat, are simultaneously dances and games. In the Quadrille, two couples race down an aisle created by the other couples, each trying to be the first couple down the aisle while also attempting to not fall down.

The Cheat is a fast-paced, lively dance involving couples randomly grabbing partners for a quick dance before the next step. Many of these dances left the dancers at the Victorian Ball breathless and grinning.

Though the attending population was smaller than previous years due to the event’s rescheduling, those that went were nothing if not enthusiastic.

“I would say I go to Vic Ball every year because I love learning about the different Victorian dances,” said Tionge Johnson, a junior English and theatre double major. “I’m glad they keep the Virginia Reel every year; that’s my favorite. I always come back every year because I like learning about the dances.”

The event is open to the UMW community and the general public. Often, alumni who attended the dance during their time at the university continue to return following their graduation.

“I have yet to find anything quite like it outside of the school,” said Morgan Riley, an alumna. “I keep coming back because it’s a magical evening for which I have so many fond memories.”

While it only comes around once a year, the Victorian Ball is a classic event that offers a step back in time for anyone who wants the splendor of Victorian formal wear and the opportunity to dance the night away.