Dancing out of line: ballrooms, ballets, and mobility in by Molly Engelhardt

By Molly Engelhardt

Dancing out of Line transports readers again to the 1840s while the fad for social and degree dancing pressured Victorians right into a advanced dating with the relocating physique in its so much voluble, risky shape. Molly Engelhardt demanding situations our assumptions approximately Victorian sensibilities and attitudes towards the sexual/social roles of fellows and girls via bringing jointly old voices from quite a few fields to illustrate the flexibility of the dance, not just as a social perform but in addition as a discussion board for Victorians to interact in debate in regards to the physique and its pleasures and pathologies.
Engelhardt makes specific some of the ironies underlying Victorian practices that as much as this time have long gone not noted in serious circles via partnering cultural discourses with representations of the dance in novels akin to Mansfield Park, Jane Eyre, and Daniel Deronda. She analyzes the function of the illustrious dance grasp, who created and disseminated the manners and strikes anticipated of trendy society, regardless of his foundation as a social outsider of nebulous origins. She describes how the daughters of the social elite have been anticipated to “come out” to society within the ballroom, the main powerful area within the cultural mind's eye for licentious habit and temptation. those incongruities fueled the debates and within the technique generated new, innovative rules in regards to the physique, subjectivity, sexuality, and health.
Dancing out of Line might be of curiosity to students within the fields of Victorian stories, women’s historical past, the nineteenth-century novel, dance and theater reports, and drugs and literature.

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Extra info for Dancing out of line: ballrooms, ballets, and mobility in victorian fiction and culture

Example text

Dance literacy” in the Austen canon requires more than a cursory reading of dance manuals and private rehearsals of the steps; dance literacy also requires adeptness in looking attentively at a dance partner while listening to a nearby conversation; knowing when it is safe to look and when it is best to look away; noticing sighs, silences, intakes of breath, coughs, accelerated fanning, and absences, and measuring all of these against the rules of behavior acquired empirically or discursively through gossip or the reading of novels and conduct books.

After centuries of vilification, from church and medical authorities in particular, these dance masters wanted to vindicate their profession by celebrating the naturalness and safety of dancing. Their writings were initially published in the form of dance manuals to extend the rituals of court dancing to members of the middle and upper middle classes. However, the portions of these manuals dedicated to the histories and philosophies of dancing were reprinted in other genres to serve readers’ interests in dance history, including its debates.

39 Up until that time, male danseurs performed the pirouettes, leaps, and vigorous steps, while such technical tours de force were considered improper for women. Of course, Camargo could not have risen to the occasion and overturned conventional attitudes of femininity without rigorous training and discipline beforehand. As Michel de Certeau explains it, the working of a tactic in expanding a subject’s independence with respect to circumstances “depends on time— it is always on the watch for opportunities that must be seized ‘on the wing’” (xix), which is literally what happened when Camargo seized the moment and thereafter changed the gendering of ballet practices.

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