Meredith & Harold

ROUND DANCING — CHOREOGRAPHED BALLROOM

EDUCATIONAL ARTICLES

MAJOR SECTIONS: Figures | Articles | Links | Alph. Index | Search | Home

BROWSE
Figures in the Smooth Rhythms
Foxtrot
Quickstep
Waltz
Viennese Waltz
International Tango
American Tango
Two Step
Five Count
One Step
Polka
Rhythm
Figures in the Latin Rhythms
Cha Cha
Rumba
Jive
Single Swing
West Coast Swing
Lindy
Hustle
Bolero
Slow Two Step
Mambo
Salsa
Samba
Argentine Tango
Merengue
Paso Doble
Dance Articles
Articles Home

Dance Figures

Dance Rhythms
Lead and Follow
Dance Styling
Fred Astaire Album
Other Sections
Dance Links
Music Clips For Each Rhythm
Search Site/Web
Sources
Contact Me

Suggestions for Correct Dancing

by Sandi & Dan Finch


Do not wiggle the shoulders. Do not shake the hips. Do not twist the body. Do not flounce the elbows. Do not pump the arms. Do not hop—glide instead.

Have you heard anything like that recently? Perhaps the advice is as good today as it was at the turn of the century (that means the beginning of the last century). Those were the first entries on the Castle House Suggestions for Correct Dancing, a list of common dance mistakes that Vernon & Irene Castle hoped to correct in the early 1900s.

Ballroom Dance Magazine in its September 1960 issue, dates the modern ballroom era from the era of the Castles. “Previously,” the article read, “dancing had been the stilted pastime of the rich, or a roughneck pursuit of the saloon-goers. Just before World War I, the artistry and charm of the Castles set a whole world to dancing.”

Vernon & Irene CastleTheir rise to become household names is portrayed in The Story of Vernon & Irene Castle, a 1939 movie starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. It more or less accurately shows how, as newcomers, the Castles were to perform in Paris for one show—which closed almost immediately—but were hired to dance an exhibition in a Paris night club, where they set Europe on fire with their rendition of popular American ragtime dances, such as the Turkey Trot and the Grizzly Bear. When they returned to New York in 1912, they were in demand for shows, Broadway productions, and movies, and opened their own dance studio, called Castle House. On Broadway, their 1914 show Watch Your Step included Irving Berlin’s first score and was used by the Castles to refine and popularize the foxtrot, a new dance that evolved from Harry Fox’s vaudeville routine. The photo shows them dancing a no-hands tango from their 1914 bestseller Modern Dancing.

The Castle House rules included some rather out-of-date instruction: “Stand far enough away from each other to allow free movement of the body in order to dance gracefully and comfortably.”

And one of the most ironic instructions: “Drop the Turkey Trot, the Grizzly Bear, the Bunny Hug, etc. These dances are ugly, ungraceful, and out of fashion.“ But those are what made the Castles the sensation they became.

(Vernon, who had been a pilot for the British Royal Flying Corps in World War I, died in a plane crash on a flight training base in Texas in 1918. Irene appeared solo in a few silent films after that but mostly retired from dancing and became an animal rights activist. She died in 1969.)



From a club newsletter, August, 2014, and reprinted in the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC) Newsletter, May 2017.


dingbat




If you would like to read other articles on dance position, technique, styling, and specific dance rhythms, you may visit the article TOC.



If you are not a member of DRDC, do consider joining. The group sponsors triquarterly weekends with great dancing and teaching, and the newsletter is one of the most informative available.

Past DRDC Educational Articles archived here.

Aditional articles and dance helps by
Sandi & Dan Finch
Richard Lamberty
Gert-Jan & Susie Rotscheid (see Notebook)



Go beyond this site. Find other references on our Sources and Links pages.










Alphabetical Index to
Figures
and Technique
Dance
Figures
Dance
Articles
Dance
Search
Dance
Links
Dance
Home
Glossary of Terms
and Abbreviations
Fred Astaire
Album
Reader
Comments
Dance
Videos & Books
Sources Harold Sears
Home
Online since 2001 İHarold and Meredith Sears, Boulder, CO, harold@rounddancing.net. All rights reserved.