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Welcome to the
 


Victorian Dance Ensemble

 


"Nineteen wonderful years . . . and the best is yet to come!"

Thank you for visiting our website. The Victorian Dance Ensemble, the performing troupe of the Civil War Dance Foundation, is a group of about fifty living historians who share a love for the grace and beauty of mid-nineteenth century dancing. We are devoted to promoting and advancing educational, cultural, preservation, commemoration and performing arts programs related to the Civil War and Victorian eras.

The Civil War Dance Foundation is primarily a dance group but we do much more than dancing. We offer a wide range of Civil War and mid-Victorian related presentations, including fashion shows, clothing try-on, and displays of period jewelry, photography, newspapers, and militaria. Individual members also present lectures on a variety of topics.

This photograph of the Victorian Dance Ensemble was taken at the historic Dobbin House in Gettysburg by Rob Gibson in 2008. It is a ferrotype, a wet plate photograph, made with an 1860s camera and techniques. Since 1999, the Ensemble has performed at the Dobbin House and the Visitor Center as part of the Gettysburg National Military Park’s Annual Music Muster.
 



Please browse our site to learn more about us.  We encourage anyone interested engaging
the Civil War Dance Foundation for a performance or taking a dance class to contact us.
We will be happy to speak with you.

To subscribe to our bi-monthly e-newsletter
or to receive a copy of our free dance manual (right),
Email
 Info@CivilWarDance.org                                                     
Please include your name, city, state, and name of your Civil War or other type of group (if any).


To learn more about dancing during the Civil War, visit the Camp Curtin Historical Society website and
read the article in The Bugle, the Society's quarterly journal http://www.campcurtin.org/pdfs/2009_1.pdf  

Visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Civil-War-Dance-Foundation/164556213606774

 

 

 

UPCOMING PUBLIC EVENTS 


October 25 - Lewisburg, PA - Slifer House Benefit Ball

November 1 - Friedens, PA - Civil War Gala 

November 8 - Baltimore, MD - Walters Museum Family Day

November 14 - Gettysburg, PA - Civil War Lady Military Ball 

November 15 - Gettysburg, PA - National Civil War Ball
          The Original and Official Ball of Remembrance Day
          
Benefits Gettysburg National Military Park
          
November 29 - Gettysburg, PA - 1860s Christmas at the Gettysburg National Military Park Visitor Center

December 6 - Harpers Ferry WV - Christmas Dance at Harpers Ferry National Historic Site

December 12 - New Castle, DE - Charles Dickens Fezziwig Ball
 

Click on flyers below for more information
 


November 14
Civil War Lady Ball

November 15
National Civil War Ball

For our complete 2014 schedule and a summary of our 2011, 2012 and 2013 events,
visit our "Schedule of Events" Page.

 

 

News

 

CWDF Programs at Gettysburg 

The Civil War Dance Foundation has had a long partnership with Gettysburg National Military Park and the Gettysburg Foundation.  We usually present several programs every year to support our local national park and to educate and entertain visitors to Gettysburg.

On Saturday, May 10, our “Ordnance Detachment” presented the always popular display of “The Guns of Gettysburg” under tents at the Pennsylvania Memorial on the battlefield.  We returned with the display on Saturday, May 24, in the air conditioned comfort of the GNMP Visitor Center.  More than two dozen original weapons were included in the display, featuring the most common muskets, rifle-muskets, rifles, carbines, revolvers, and various edged weapons used at Gettysburg. The artifacts were available for close inspection and “light handling” by visitors. It was a rare opportunity for guests to actually touch a piece of American history and see how they worked. Visitors of all ages were fascinated and delighted by this unique exhibit.                                                                                  Click on thumbnails for larger pictures

On Memorial Day, Monday, May 26, the Victorian Dance Ensemble returned to the Visitor Center to demonstrate 1860s dancing and to display period civilian artifacts, including music, jewelry, fans, photographs and illustrated newspapers depicting dancing during the Civil War. We had attentive audiences for our two demonstrations and plenty of eager volunteers from the audience to learn Soldier’s Joy, a Civil War era dance.  Between dance demonstrations, our assistant dance master Jeff Trace entertained the visitors with his various musical instruments, including a banjo, bones, jawbone, parlor guitar, tambourine and tin cup. 

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, August 1, 2 and 3, the Civil War Dance Foundation’s living historians brought the Spangler Farm to life.  Portraying the United States Sanitary Commission, our ladies explained the role of civilians in providing supplies and in caring for the wounded at the farm that served as the 11th Army Corps field hospital after the Battle of Gettysburg.  Some of our visitors even helped in rolling bandages.  The program included a display of original Civil War weapons and our soldiers explained their use and effect in battle.  For the first time in several years, we also presented a display of reproduction flags and discussed their important role in battle.      

On Saturday, August 16, the Victorian Dance Ensemble participated in the Annual Civil War Music Muster for the sixteenth consecutive year.  The day began with our morning demonstration at the Dobbin House under brilliant blue skies, with the Susquehanna Travellers providing the music.  We then moved over to the GNMP Visitor Center & Museum for our main performance that included demonstrations of some of the most popular dances of the Civil War.  We ended with our traditional audience participation dances and visitors from across the country and around the world had the opportunity to enjoy an 1860’s dance.

 

 

11th Annual Civil War Preservation Ball

Raises $9,000 for GNMP Monuments
 

Once again, the Civil War Preservation Ball was a great success.  The sell-out event raised over $9,000 for the Gettysburg Monument Endowment Trust Fund, bringing the total for 11 years to over $75,000.  Over 225 people came to dance in the beautiful rotunda of the Pennsylvania Capitol Building on March 29th.  Our guests came from Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia and ranged from preteens to seniors. 

Thanks to all of you who attended and joined us in dancing for preservation!



Special guests included (left to right) Carol Readshaw, Lori Moul, State Representative Dan Moul, Gettysburg National Military Park Superintendent Ed Clark and his wife Heidi and son Reid, State Representative Harry Readshaw and Gettysburg Battlefield Preservation Association President Barbara Mowery.

Also in attendance were President Abraham Lincoln, portrayed by Jim Getty, and Pennsylvania's wartime Governor Andrew Curtin, portrayed by Dave Klinepeter.  Both have been supporters of the Gettysburg Monument Project since it started twenty years ago.

Dance music was provided by the Philadelphia Brigade Band, dressed in Union Army uniforms.  The twenty member brass band, under the direction of Richard Cummines, played Civil War era music ranging from lively reels to romantic waltzes. 

Guests were greeted by the Boy Scout Venture Crew 1861, portraying the 1st Pennsylvania Reserves Fifes and Drums, playing on the steps of the Capitol.  The Red Mill Serenaders - Len Entrabartolo and Wesley Stokes - performed Civil War music and songs during the reception and intermission.

The Victorian Dance Ensemble, the performing troupe of the Civil War Dance Foundation, led the dancing.  Lawrence Keener-Farley and Jeffrey Trace were the dance masters and VDE members demonstrated each dance, served as floor managers, and assisted guests during the dancing. 

Click on thumbnails for larger pictures


Philadelphia
Brigade Band

Red Mill
Serenaders

Boy Scout
Venture Crew 1861

Victorian
Dance Ensemble


President Lincoln

VDE demonstrating
Lancers Quadrille

Gov. Curtin and
Rep Readshaw

VDE floor managers watching
swirling dancers
 

 

 



VDE Dance Master Larry Keener-Farley, GNMP Supt. Ed Clark, State Rep. Harry Readshaw,
and CWDF President Annette Keener-Farley with $9,000 check
for monument preservation at Gettysburg.
 

Visit our Facebook page to see more pictures of the ball
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Civil-War-Dance-Foundation/164556213606774

Next year’s ball is scheduled for March 15, 2015. 

 


 

In Memory of Tom Foster
 

Dr. Thomas R. Foster, Jr., founder of the Victorian Dance Ensemble, died on Sunday, March 2nd, at age 82.

Tom was born in Baltimore, attended local schools and graduated from Towson University.  After college, he served in the U.S. Army in Germany, where he worked in intelligence.  Upon his discharge, he spent his entire career in education, initially as a mathematics teacher.  Tom received a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University and a doctorate from the University of Maryland.   Eventually he rose through the Baltimore City School system administration to become deputy superintendent.  During his career, he also wrote three math textbooks and taught at several colleges and universities.    

Tom was interested in the Civil War and was a Confederate Signal Corps reenactor.  He participated in numerous reenactments and was part of the 125th Anniversary Brigade living history program at Gettysburg National Military Park.  In 1997, he led a contingent of American reenactors to Europe for a tour of several countries and reenactment of the Battle of Gettysburg in England. 

In 1994 and 1995, he began teaching Civil War Dance Classes at community colleges in Maryland and Pennsylvania.  In March 1995, some of his students demonstrated dancing at the Harrisburg Area Community College/Camp Curtin Historical Society Civil War Exposition.  The following month, Tom called for volunteers to create a permanent dance organization to demonstrate dancing and conduct balls.  The Victorian Dance Ensemble was born!  Tom led the group through its first few years and set the standards for authenticity, service and fun.  He was always proud of the VDE’s accomplishments.  The last time he and his wife Jean were able to join us was, fittingly, a school dance class in April 2012 (right).   

Tom remained active in his retirement.  After moving to Oak Crest Village, he wrote for the retirement community's newspaper. He enjoyed sailboat racing, classical music and digital photography. He was also an opera buff.

He is survived by his wife of 54 years, the former Jean Toms, a retired nurse and nursing teacher; a son, two daughters, and four grandchildren.

Tom will be deeply missed not only by all who knew him but also those who never knew him but will  be touched by all of his good work that lives on through his many students and friends.  

 

Dancers Donate $4,000 for Preservation


The Civil War Dance Foundation and its performing troupe, the Victorian Dance Ensemble, donated $4,000 to four organizations for Civil War preservation programs.  With this year’s donations, the total has now reached over $43,000 since the group began making donations in 2001.  For a complete list of our past donations, see www.civilwardance.org/history.htm.  Additionally, the CWDF’s balls and dance demonstrations have helped other organizations raise over $175,000 for preservation and education. 
 

This year’s donations were given to:

$1,000 - The Civil War Trust, Washington, D.C.  CWT is the largest non-profit organization devoted to the preservation of our nation's endangered Civil War battlefields. It has saved over 36,000 acres in twenty states.  The Trust also promotes educational programs and heritage tourism initiatives to inform the public of the war's history.  In June 2011, the CWT launched “Campaign 150: Our Time, Our Legacy” to preserve an additional 20,000 acres during the sesquicentennial of the Civil War. 
Website www.CivilWar.org 

$1,000 – Old Court House Museum, Winchester, Va.  Winchester changed hands seventy times during the Civil War.  During its occupation by both armies, the Court House served as a hospital and prison.  Today, it houses a museum with a collection of over 3,000 artifacts that tells the story of the Civil War in the Shenandoah Valley.  Included among the unique artifacts is a wall of graffiti, written by patients and prisoners housed in the Court House.  The museum is currently in the process of researching and creating a permanent display that will provide interpretative panels and graphics, a location for an audiostick, a cabinet with a notebook that provides more details on the exhibit, and a packet of information for educators in both printed and web-based format. 
Website  www.civilwarmuseum.org 

$1,000 – President Lincoln's Cottage, Washington, D.C.  The Lincoln Cottage on the grounds of the Soldiers Home in Washington and was the “Summer White House” during the Civil War.  Lincoln used it a retreat from the heat and politics of downtown Washington.  He wrote much of the Emancipation Proclamation at the cottage.  The cottage was opened to the public in 2008 but restoration work is still in progress and a current project involves restoring the vestibule.  Special thanks to the Robert H. Smith Family Foundation for matching this donation to help preserve the "Cradle of the Emancipation Proclamation."   
Website http://lincolncottage.org/

$1,000 – Gettysburg National Military Park, Gettysburg, Pa.  The 72nd Pennsylvania Infantry Monument was blown off its base during a storm just before the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.  The damaged statue was placed back on its base for the anniversary but later taken down, repaired and returned to the battlefield.   GNMP Superintendent Bob Kirby said that the CWDF “emergency” donation, “made the repair and placement process so much faster . . . we would have waited a lot longer to have the monument project completed.” 
Website www.nps.gov/gett/index.htm

We encourage everyone to support your favorite Civil War preservation causes
and to support events that make donations to preservation! 

 

2013 National Civil War Ball

The Official Ball of Remembrance Day

"Dancing for Preservation"

Over four hundred and fifty guests danced the night away at the Annual National Civil War Ball, the official ball of Remembrance Day, in Gettysburg on November 23, 2013.  This was an increase of about one hundred guests from last year.  

Sponsored by the Sons of Veterans Reserve, the Military Department of the Sons of Union Veterans, the event raised several thousand dollars for preservation and maintenance at the Gettysburg National Military Park.  This year’s ball was held at a new venue, the Wyndham Hotel’s magnificent ballroom, with its patriotic motif carpeting.  

The ball is the oldest, biggest and best dance on Remembrance Day. Its primary purpose is to have fun with friends, but it has also become a major Civil War preservation fundraiser. While other balls on Saturday evening just put money into promoters’ pockets, this ball has raised more than $70,000 for the Park. 

The Philadelphia Brigade Band, under the direction of Richard Cummines, provided the music ranging from lively reels to romantic waltzes. The Victorian Dance Ensemble demonstrated and taught the dances throughout the evening and assisted any couples having difficulties. Larry Keener-Farley and Jeff Trace served as dance masters, assisted by forty VDE floor managers.  

Guests literally came from around the country to attend the ball. Members of Civil War hereditary groups, both Union and Confederate, military and civilian reenactors as well as supporters of Civil War preservation joined in the festivities. Once again, this year’s ball also attracted a large number of new younger dancers, which bodes well not only for this very special event but also for reenacting in general.  We also had a large number of dancers from the ball that we conducted on Friday night.  Many guests said that they liked our teaching style and the band’s music.

Special thanks to Bob Grim, Henry Shaw and Bob Petrovic of the Sons of Veterans Reserve for all of their hard work in planning and administering this ball.

Click on thumbnails for larger pictures  

For additional pictures of all of the Remembrance Day activities, see
http://suvcw.org/gallery/main.php?g2_itemId=2523 (Ball coverage begins on page 20)

Mark you calendar now and join us at next year's ball on November 15, 2014.

 

2013 Cedar Creek Reenactment Ball

The Reenactment of the 1864 Battle of Cedar Creek was held on October 19-20.  This is always a very special event because it is one of the few reenactments held on the actual battlefield.   The Victorian Dance Ensemble was again invited to conduct the Saturday evening dance for the participants and we gladly accepted to help raise money for the preservation of the battlefield. 

In the hour before the ball, a downpour swept across the battlefield turning the roads into mud slides.  Since we had to move equipment in to the tent, Annette’s dress was soaked from walking through the tall grass (top left photo).  Fortunately, the rain stopped before the ball began and we had a large and enthusiastic crowd.  Jeff Trace served as dance master and eleven of our VDEs assisted as floor managers, demonstrating dances and helping guests who were having difficulties.  The Susquehanna Travellers provided their always rousing music throughout the night. 

On Saturday and Sunday, we also displayed our collection of original Civil War weapons at the Belle Grove Mansion, giving visitors and opportunity to touch a piece of American history.

Click on thumbnails for larger pictures

Guns of Cedar Creek Display at Belle Grove Mansion

 

 

Dancing at the Smithsonian



The Victorian Dance Ensemble and the Susquehanna Travellers performed at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., on Sunday, April 21, 2013.  This was our fifth performance at the Smithsonian, including our participation in the 2009 Presidential Inaugural Ball held in the museum.   

The museum is located in the former U. S. Patent Office building.  During the Civil War, the building also served as a barracks and hospital for the Union Army, and it was the site of Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural ball on March 6, 1865.
 
It is always an honor to be invited to perform at the museum since it is one of the few places we dance where a Civil War ball was actually held.  Our two dance demonstrations were held in the Kogod Courtyard in the center of the building and we attracted hundreds of spectators.  After completing our demonstrations, our dancers enticed the visitors onto the dance floor and we taught them several dances.  We even had several guests who enjoyed dancing so much that they returned so they could dance with us again after our second demonstration. 

During a break we went up to the third floor where the 1865 ball was held to take a group picture (above) and do a little dancing in the 19th century ambiance of the beautiful Great Hall (right).  

The dance demonstrations were part of a series of special events that were held in conjunction with a special exhibit entitled “The Civil War and American Art” that examined how America’s artists represented the impact of the Civil War and its aftermath.  The exhibit was part of the Smithsonian’s 150th anniversary of the Civil War commemoration and featured the artwork of Winslow Homer, Eastman Johnson, Frederic Church and Sanford Gifford.  The exhibition included 59 paintings and 18 vintage photographs.  The exhibit will be moving to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and will be on display there from May 27 to September 2, 2013.   

Click thumbnails to see larger picture
 


 


Dancers Help Fund GNMP 150th Volunteer Badge

This year marks the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg and hundreds of volunteers will be needed to assist the National Park Service.  In order to identify volunteers a special badge will be given to Gettysburg National Military Park 150th volunteers, including VIPs (Volunteers in Parks) and living historians presenting interpretive programs on the battlefield.

The badge was designed by NPS Ranger John Heiser.  He was inspired by a fiftieth anniversary badge given to Pennsylvania veterans in 1913.  It incorporates the Pennsylvania Keystone and the National Park Service arrowhead insignia.  The badge was manufactured by the Pin People Company of Spring Valley, N.Y.  The commemorative badge is for identification purposes only and will not be available for sale.

The badge was partially funded by a $1,000 grant from the Civil War Dance Foundation, whose performing troupe, the Victorian Dance Ensemble, has performed for fourteen years at the Park’s Annual Music Muster.  Additional funding was provided by the Gettysburg Foundation.  The CWDF has also presented numerous dance programs and artifact displays for the Gettysburg Foundation.  The dancers conduct two major Civil War balls each year that have raised over $100,000 for Gettysburg National Military Park.  In 2011, the CWDF was named the Civil War Trust’s Reenactment of the Year for its service to preservation causes.

“The Civil War Dance Foundation was very pleased to provide a grant to assist in obtaining a commemorative token of gratitude to all of the people who selflessly give their time to support Gettysburg National Military Park,” said Annette Keener-Farley, President of the CWDF.

 


 


 

10th Annual Civil War Preservation Ball

Raises $8,000 for Gettysburg Monuments

This year’s Civil War Preservation Ball on March 23 marked the tenth anniversary of this special event that raises money to preserve the monuments at Gettysburg National Military Park.  This year we added approximately $8,000 to the fund, bringing the total for the decade to $66,000! 
 

Over 200 guests came from Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, West Virginia, Texas and Iowa to dance the night away in the beautiful rotunda of the Pennsylvania Capitol Building.  Each guest received a special 10th Anniversary Rosette with a beautiful enamel pin with our "Dancing for Preservation" logo. 

Click thumbnails to see larger picture

Our guests have described this as the most spectacular setting of any Civil War ball in the nation.  Dancers were surrounded by stunning architecture, beautiful paintings, inspiring sculptures, and historical artifacts. The current building was built on the site of the old “Red Brick Capitol” that was destroyed by fire in 1897.  The old capitol saw Abraham Lincoln address the state legislature while on his way to be inaugurated in 1861 and his body laid in state in 1865 on the journey home to Springfield, Illinois.   The new capitol was dedicated in 1906 and no expense was spared in making it a “palace of art.” Standing in the rotunda, President Theodore Roosevelt remarked, "It is the handsomest building I've ever seen."  As always, it was a real treat to dance in such a very special place and to help us preserve our Civil War history! 

The Victorian Dance Ensemble dancers provided dance demonstrations, floor managed, and danced with guests, while Larry Keener-Farley and Jeff Trace called the dances.  The Philadelphia Brigade Band (above left), under the direction of Rich Cummines, provided the dance music and Mr. Lemuel’s Red Mill Serenaders (above right) played for the intermission in the refreshment room.  Boy Scout Venture Crew 53, portraying the 1st Pennsylvania Reserves Fifes and Drums (below right), greeted the arriving guests and played a brief concert in the rotunda at intermission. 

Special guests included Andrew Masich (above left welcoming guests and below left leading the Grand March), Chairman of the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission, State Representatives Harry Readshaw, Dan Moul and Bill Kortz, Gettysburg National Military Park Superintendent Bob Kirby, President Abraham Lincoln (Jim Getty), and General Robert E. Lee (Frank Orlando).

In addition to the dancers, sponsors helped to swell the funds raised for preservation
and to underwrite the expenses of the ball. Thanks to:
PNC Bank, Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania American Water Company,
Gmerek Government Relations, Inc., Malady & Wooten, L.L.P., Buchart Horn, Inc., Basco Associates,
Cranmer Associates, Eckert Seamans, and Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry.

 

 

2012 PRESERVATION & EDUCATION DONATIONS

The Civil War Dance Foundation and its performing troupe, the Victorian Dance Ensemble, is pleased to announce that in November 2012 it donated $4,000 to four organizations for Civil War preservation and education programs.  Each year, our dancers select organizations and causes to help support preservation and education efforts. We are very pleased to make donations to these worthy organizations to help them preserve our history.  We encourage everyone to support events that make a substantial donation to preservation.

With this year’s donations, the total has now reached over $39,000 since the group began making donations in 2001.  For a complete list of our past donations, see   http://www.civilwardance.org/history.htm. Additionally, the CWDF’s balls and dance demonstrations have helped other organizations raise over $150,000 for preservation and education.

$1,000 - The Civil War Trust, based in Washington, D.C., is the largest non-profit organization devoted to the preservation of our nation's endangered Civil War battlefields. It has saved over 35,000 acres in twenty states.  The Trust also promotes educational programs and heritage tourism initiatives to inform the public of the war's history.  Last year, the CWT launched “Campaign 150: Our Time, Our Legacy” to preserve an additional 20,000 acres during the sesquicentennial of the Civil War. 
Website www.CivilWar.org.  

$1,000 - Gettysburg National Military Park, Gettysburg, Pa., received a grant for its Civil War Sesquicentennial living history programs in 2013.  The Park is expecting an upsurge in visitation and an expanded living history program will help educate the public about history and the need for preservation. 
Website  www.nps.gov/gett/index.htm.  

$1,000 - Liberia Plantation House in Manassas. Va., was built in 1825 and served as headquarters for Confederate General P. G. T. Beauregard and as a hospital after the Battle of First Manassas.  In the Spring of 1862, as the Union Army advanced into Virginia, General Irwin McDowell used the house as his headquarters.  President Abraham Lincoln visited the house to confer with McDowell.  The Manassas Museum System has completed the first phase of structural restoration and the CWDF donation will help fund further restoration that is planned. 
Website http://va-manassas2.civicplus.com/index.aspx?NID=221  

$1,000 - The Col. Harry Gilmor Camp, Sons of Confederate Veterans, “Adopt a Confederate” project is marking the graves of Confederate soldiers buried in Loudon Park Cemetery in Baltimore, Maryland. Many of the existing markers are unreadable so new stones are being made and placed flat on the ground in front of the markers, thus saving the original historic tombstones. 
Website http://mdscv.org/1388/adopt-a-confederate/

 

 


 

2012 Civil War Lady Military Ball

The Gettysburg Hotel was filled with music and smiles as the VDE led the dancing at the Civil War Lady Military Ball on Friday, November 16, 2012, the day before Remembrance Day. The beautiful sounds of the Philadelphia Brigade Band (above), led by Rich Cummines, echoed through the hall. Under the leadership of our Dance Master for the evening, Jeff Trace (below left), the dancers whirled and twirled about the dance floor under the watchful eyes of our floor managers. This was the second year we conducted the ball for Joy Melcher and many dancers mentioned that the floor managers were knowledgeable and gracious. Once again, the ball was a sell out!  A wonderful time was had by all. 

 

 

See www.GettysburgBall.com for details about this year's ball

 

 

Ken Burns’

American Journeys Civil War Tours

The Victorian Dance Ensemble has been honored three times to be a part of Ken Burns’ American Journeys Civil War Tour. Operated by Tauck Tours in May 2011, May 2012 and October 2012, the tours have attracted over 600 guests from around the country.  The five day event featured in-depth, small-group sightseeing programs and private evening gala events in the Washington D.C. area. Tours during the day included the Lincoln’s Cottage, Ford’s Theatre, Arlington House, Library of Congress, Frederick Douglass House, African American Civil War Memorial & Museum, and the Manassas Battlefield. 


The opening welcome events featured dinner and a lecture by noted Civil War historian and Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer at the National Building Museum.  Formerly the Pension Office Building, designed by Civil War Quartermaster General Montgomery Meigs, the huge space has been the site of several Presidential Inaugural Balls.  The room is dominated by eight 75-foot tall Corinthian pillars.  Fittingly, the Victorian Dance Ensemble and Federal City Brass Band were invited to provide the entertainment in that spectacular historic setting. 
 

The VDE demonstrated several period dances and explained the role of dancing during the Civil War.  We then invited the guests to join us in learning dances from the era.  Although somewhat hesitant at first, we had plenty of enthusiastic volunteers and Harold Holzer always joined in the dancing (left) .      

The evenings closed with the band playing Tenting Tonight and Band-master Jari Villanueva explaining the history of Taps and playing those haunting 24 notes.


Later in the week, Ken Burns spoke at the National Archives and a closing reception at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery, site of President Lincoln’s second inaugural ball.  


 

Click thumbnails to see larger picture.           Special thanks to Brian Stacey for some of the pictures.


National Building Museum
Old Pension Office


Massive pillars
dominate the interior


Federal City
Brass Band


Harold Holzer
speaking on Lincoln


VDE dancers entertaining
the guests


Greeting
arriving guests

Guests enjoying
reception

Demonstrating a
Waltz Quadrille

Lined up for
Soldier's Joy

Pleasant conversation
while dancing

VDE introducing guests
to 19th century dancing

Waltz Quadrille
 

Harold Holzer
and VDE dancers

Spectacular setting of the
National Building Museum

Ken Burns
welcoming guests

Spanish Waltz
promenade on

Guests joining in
the dancing

Federal City Brass Band
between the giant columns

Guests learning a
Civil War dance

VDE dancers
relaxing afterwards


 



Reenactment Unit of the Year

 
The Civil War Dance Foundation was named the Civil War Trust’s 2011 Reenactment Unit of the Year.   

This is the first time the award was presented to a civilian living history organization.  The award is one of several presented by the Civil War Trust to individuals and groups in recognition of their outstanding commitment to preserving America’s Civil War heritage.    

“We are deeply honored by this award and hope that our work will inspire others to support historic preservation,” said Annette Keener-Farley, President of the CWDF.   

Since 2000, the Civil War Dance Foundation has donated over $31,000 from its own treasury to Civil War preservation and education projects, including $6,500 to the Civil War Trust.  It has also presented educational programs at the CWT’s Teacher Institute and provided entertainment at the CWT’s Annual Conferences.  

In addition, the Civil War Dance Foundation has helped to raise over $125,000 for various Civil War preservation projects, historic sites and museums.  Its two biggest annual events support preservation at the Gettysburg Battlefield.  For the last eight years, it has conducted the Civil War Preservation Ball in the rotunda of the Pennsylvania Capitol Building in Harrisburg, Pa., and raised over $45,000 for the Gettysburg Monuments Endowment Trust Fund.  Since 2005, the National Civil War Ball on Remembrance Day in Gettysburg, Pa., has raised another $25,000 for Gettysburg National Military Park.  

Keener-Farley said, “Musicians are often partners in our preservation efforts and we could not conduct fundraising balls and demonstrations without the excellent music and dedication of musicians such as the Philadelphia Brigade Band and the Susquehanna Travellers.”  

The Civil War Trust, formerly the Civil War Preservation Trust, is the nation’s foremost Civil War preservation organization, with over 55,000 members.  The Civil War Trust has worked to save and preserve more than 30,000 acres of battlefield land at 110 battlefields in 20 different states.  

 
CWDF President Annette Keener-Farley
is congratulated by Ed Bearss at the
Civil War Trust’s Annual Conference in
Chantilly, Virginia.  Always a good sport

in the cause of preservation,
Ed has danced
with the Victorian Dance Ensemble during an
audience participation dance at the Landon
House, site of General J.E.B. Stuart’s
“Sabers and Roses Ball” in 1862.
 

 

The Victorian Dance Ensemble had previously received awards from:
Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor Citation for promoting history and culture
Pennsylvania House of Representatives Citation for supporting historic preservation
Harpers Ferry National Historic Site Volunteer Award
Camp Curtin Historical Society Award of Merit

 


 

Sesquicentennial Soirees

 
The George Washington Ball

A Benefit for the Old Court House Civil War Museum, Winchester, Virginia

 

The Victorian Dance Ensemble has led the dancing at the George Washington Ball in Winchester, Virginia, since 2011.  The event honored the Father of Our Country, who was revered by both the North and the South during the Civil War.  The balls benefit the Winchester Old Court House Civil War Museum and was supported by Lee’s Lieutenants and the Federal Generals Corps.  As a result of their participation, we had numerous guests in blue and gray.  The opposing generals and their ladies danced together for the worthy cause of preservation. We were even graced with the attendance of Queen Victoria (Joy Melcher), who danced with several rustic Americans, including the VDE’s own John Kesler (right).  The event was sold out, with over 120 guests crowding in the beautiful ballroom of the George Washington Hotel but no one seemed to mind and smiles and laughter abounded throughout the evening.  The Susquehanna Travellers,  provided the music while our VDE members served as floor managers. 


Click thumbnail to see larger picture


 


 

Civil War Trust Launches Major Preservation Effort

To mark the sesquicentennial anniversary of the American Civil War and create a lasting legacy of that commemoration, the Civil War Trust announced an ambitious national campaign that will permanently protect 20,000 acres of battlefield land over the next five years.  The Trust, which has already protected more than 35,000 acres in 20 states, recognizes that the war’s 150th anniversary offers an unprecedented opportunity to encourage public support for a large-scale preservation initiative.  

Campaign 150: Our Time, Our Legacy kicked off on June 30, with an event held at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, a key landmark of the Civil War’s bloodiest battle, which occurred 148 years ago.  The project was announced by Civil War Trust chairman Henry Simpson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom James McPherson and the organization’s newest Trustee, country music superstar Trace Adkins.  Members of the Civil War Dance Foundation, the CWT’s Reenactment Unit of the Year, attended the press conference to show their support of this important preservation project. 

For more information, visit www.civilwar.org.

 
Larry Keener-Farley, GNMP Supt. Bob Kirby, Annette Keener-Farley, Trace Adkins,
Dianne Witmer, CWT Chmn. Henry Simpson, and Jeff Witmer.

 

2011 Manassas 150th Anniversary Commemoration

Hot . . . Hotter . . . Hottest!  We have all been to hot events but the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of First Manassas had to be the warmest in quite some time.  Temperatures were in the 100s and the heat index even higher.  The Civil War Dance Foundation participated in the Historic Manassas commemoration that was held throughout the town at various historic sites and museums. 

During the day on Thursday, Friday and Saturday we held dance classes in a nice air conditioned school gym (below right) near the Civil War encampment and sutler area.  Reenactors and spectators joined us for some basic instruction in 19th century dancing or maybe it was just to get into a cool place.  We had great fun as many children tried the dancing and everyone seemed to enjoy helping the little ones through the formations. 

In the evenings, we shifted over to the Loy E. Harris Pavilion in the center of Manassas.  The Olde Towne Brass (below left) and the Camptown Shakers provided excellent live music for our dance instruction and demonstrations on Thursday and Friday.  On Saturday evening, we conducted the first part of the Blue and Gray Ball, a fundraiser for the historic sites in Manassas.  Again, the Olde Towne Brass played.  Our good friend, Patrick Gorman (Gen. John Bell Hood in Gettysburg and Gods and Generals) served as the master of ceremonies.  He had danced with us several times at Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation balls so he was familiar with our dances.  Patrick graciously led the Grand March with our own Ana Strickland (right in white dress) and later danced with numerous ladies during the German Waltz.                                                                   (Photo by Jeannie Lindberg) 

                                                                                            
           Click thumbnail to see larger picture. 


Olde Towne Brass


Harris Pavilion


Gen. Hood & VDE Ladies


Lancer's Quadrille


German Waltz


Dance Class

 

Abraham Lincoln: Music and Dance of His Time

On February 4, 2011, and February 12, 2012,
we had the honor of performing in
“Abraham Lincoln: Music and Dance of His Time”

The 2011 performance was at the Majestic Theater in Gettysburg, Pa.
The 2012 performance was at Frederick Community College in Frederick, Md.


The first part of the program included music by the Spires Brass Band and a selection of songs by Roosevelt Credit (2011 performance), Robert Cantrell (2012 performance), Jeff Fahnestock and Kathleen Sasnett, accompanied by Scott Crowne on the piano.  Then the Victorian Dance Ensemble paraded onto the stage and demonstrated dances of the period to the music of the Susquehanna Travellers.  Jeff Fahnestock kindly narrated our program while Larry Keener-Farley and Jeff Trace called the dances.  During our time in the spotlight, we demonstrated Soldier’s Joy, Money Musk Reel, Lancer’s Quadrille, Spanish Waltz, Tempest and German Waltz.  After the intermission, we returned for a performance of “For the People” under the direction of composer Dr. John William “Buzz” Jones (see below).  For these presentation, James Getty narrated as President Abraham Lincoln.  During the “President’s Ball” movement of the piece, we performed the Lincoln Quadrille.

Videos of our 2011 performance have been posted on YouTube:

Civil War Dance, Part I – Soldier’s Joy, Money Musk Reel, Lancer’s Quadrille
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSt4MjsgTq4

Civil War Dance, Part II – Spanish Waltz, Tempest, German Waltz
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78c9cUzSPP0

Civil War Dance, Part III – “For the People” oratorio, Lincoln Quadrille
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tOo38GBNA68

 

 

 

 

LINCOLN ORATORIO PREMIERE  

“For the People,” a new oratorio, premiered at the Majestic Theater in Gettysburg as part of the Gettysburg Address Dedication Day
events on November 19, 2009. 

 
                           VDE dancers performing the Lincoln Quadrille
on the stage of the Majestic Theatre                            
Photo courtesy of Gettysburg College
    
                                                                   
To see a video of the dancing, click on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AcgYAcxNhjI
or
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZ-ro1Tm-XQ and go to 39:20 mark

The oratorio was commissioned by the Pennsylvania Lincoln Bicentennial Commission and was composed by Dr. John William Jones, Professor at the Sunderman Conservatory of Music at Gettysburg College.  The musical tribute to Abraham Lincoln featured guest narrator Stephen Lang, who has become known for work both on stage and in films, including the movies Gettysburg, Gods and Generals, and the recently released Avatar


Oratorio composer
Dr John Jones (left) and narrator Stephen Lang (right)
with ladies of the Ensemble


Kathleen Sasnett, soprano, Jeffrey Fahnestock, tenor, and Roosevelt Credit, bass-baritone, performed the arias and recitative pieces of the oratorio.  Music was provided by the Spires Brass Band and the Sunderman Conservatory Woodwind Octet.  The Victorian Dance Ensemble, the performing troupe of the Civil War Dance Foundation, performed the “Lincoln Quadrille” for the President’s Ball movement of the piece. 

The Oratorio has been combined with other music and dance to create the program "Abraham Lincoln: Music and Dance of His Time" which was performed in 2011 and 2012, with another performance scheduled for 2013.

Following the oratorio, Jeff Shaara presented the award for the best fiction Civil War book of the year to Nick Taylor for his novel, The Disagreement.  The evening concluded with the 48th Annual Robert Fortenbaugh Memorial Lecture by Michael Burlingame speaking on "Abraham Lincoln: New Information, Fresh Perspectives." 

 


The Civil War Dance Foundation is a Pennsylvania nonprofit corporation, recognized by the
U.S. Internal Revenue Service as a Section 501(c)(3) not for profit charity.

The Foundation is also registered with the Pennsylvania Department of State,
Bureau of Charitable Organizations. 

All contributions to the Foundation are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.

The organization's exempt purpose is to promote and advance educational, cultural, preservation, commemoration and performing arts programs related to the Civil War and Victorian eras.      

Civil War Dance Foundation
2 Westminster Blvd.
Camp Hill, PA 17011
Telephone 717-732-5330

                               Email: Info@CivilWarDance.org                                

Copyright 2014 Civil War Dance Foundation.
Do not reproduce any text or photographs from this website without permission.

 

Last updated October 21, 2014