Jane Austen and Those Dancing Savages

June 30, 2015

Here are some of the instructions for “Mr. Beveridge’s Maggot” which Elizabeth and Darcy danced in the 1995 movie version of Pride and Prejudice after Mr. Darcy has announced that every savage can dance:

B1 1s couple cross 2nd couple meet. B2 1st couple cast down one place 2nd couple lead up.B3-4 1st couple back to back 2nd couple cast to ends  . . . and so on

What could possibly go wrong?

Upon reading these directions, I, as would any sane person when confronted with a problem that might involve geometry, assembled a group of romance writers.  I decided that we might do better (as we could hardly do worse) if we were wearing costumes.  So our corps de ballet included three hoop shirts (go, Greer Garson!), a cathedral-length wedding veil, a poodle skirt, and what was possibly a Queen-Esther costume. We then struggled/flitted our way through the appropriately named Comical Fellow.

Except for a wedding-veil mishaps,  we managed the dance because I had the week or so  before discovered the Alexandria (VA) English Country Dancers whose dance master is Corky Ohisnthegreat.   At least I assume that that is his last name.  Mention “Corky” to anyone along the Eastern Seaboard in the English Country Dance world, and you hear “Corky? Oh, isn’t he great?”

As a result of Corky and Jack, the dance master at the Jane Austen Summer Program, in the simpler dances, I can, unlike Mr. Collins, generally manage to  the correct place at the correct time(or at least only a few beats behind)  with the correct hand extended,  but I am not dancing, I am shuffling, walking, thinking.   Okay, I am taking a big risk attempting to post a video from the JASP.  If it works,  you will see me at the right-hand edge in my dark red dress.   At this point in the evening my posterior tibia tendon tendonitis had gotten the best of me, and my progress is  . . .  let’s call it stately.  I am channeling my inner Lady Catherine.  I apologize if the video doesn’t work.  You can’t be Lady Catherine and a techno-geek at the same time.

Welcome to the Duchess of Richmond ball. #JaneAusten #JASP2015

A post shared by Jennifer Abella (@jenabella78) on



Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses to Jane Austen and Those Dancing Savages

  1. Liz Flaherty says:

    I don’t want to dance (that skill ended with the twist and, if I were drinking, the Texas Two-step), but I’d love to go watch and to sew some of those dresses. I don’t want to FIT them to anyone, but the sewing would be so much fun!

    • Kathy says:

      The sewing was great, Liz. It did take me several muslins to get the fit that I wanted, but I am picky about that. Most people aren’t, and the structure of the gowns can be very forgiving.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *