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Welcome to the

Victorian Dance Ensemble


Performing Troupe of the Civil War Dance Foundation


2016 President's Volunteer Service Gold Award


2011 Civil War Trust Reenactment Unit of the Year


The Victorian Dance Ensemble has performed several times at the Smithsonian American Art Museum - National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.
During the Civil War, the building was the Patent Office and was the site of Lincoln's Second Inaugural Ball.

[See below for more pictures of our Smithsonian performances.]


"Twenty-two 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 through our Ordnance Detachment and Ladies Union Relief Association impressions, including living history programs, fashion shows, clothing try-on, and displays of period jewelry, photography, newspapers, and militaria. Individual members also present lectures on a variety of topics.









The Civil War Dance Foundation is pleased to announce the release of its
Introduction to Civil War Dancing

The video is designed to provide basic instruction in mid-nineteenth century formation dances for reenactors, vintage dancers, educators, and organizations desiring to conduct a Civil War or Victorian era ball.  For a preview of the DVD, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9l6r2Ae-g4

Ladies and gentlemen in period attire swirl around the beautiful rotunda of the Pennsylvania State Capitol Building in Harrisburg, Pa., to the music of the Fort Delaware Cornet Band. Each dance is shot from floor level and above to better show the formations, moves, and synchronization of the dances.

Dances at the Ball: Grand March, Soldier’s Joy, Lancer's Quadrille 1st Figure, German Waltz, Money Musk Reel, Sicilian Circle, Lancer's Quadrille 3rd Figure, Virginia Reel, Tempest, Lancer's Quadrille 5th Figure, Gothic Dance, Spanish Waltz, Empire Quadrille, Swedish Dance, Waltz Quadrille, and La Boulangere.  

In the instructional part, filmed at the Cumberland County Historical Society in Carlisle, Pa., dancers in modern attire (so moves can easily be seen) demonstrate moves used in dances, including various turns, circles, stars, chains, promenades, and pass throughs.  The counts are shown on the screen as each move is described in detail.  The dancer couples are in the same color tops to better see who is interacting with whom.  We also demonstrate five complete dances: First Figure of the Lancer’s Quadrille, Tempest, Money Musk Reel, Spanish Waltz, and German Waltz. 

Included on the DVD is a 38 page PDF dance manual with written descriptions of the dances and information about Civil War era dancing.

To order by mail, make your check payable to: “Civil War Dance Foundation.”

$30.00 for orders sent to Pennsylvania address (includes sales tax and shipping)

$28.50 for orders sent to out-of-state address (includes shipping).

Send to: CWDF Video, 2 Westminster Blvd., Camp Hill, PA 17011.

Email Video@CivilWarDance.org if you have any questions.



Online Video Clips

DVD Preview

Lincoln Quadrille from the "For the People" Oratorio

Civil War Dance, Part I – Soldier’s Joy, Money Musk Reel, Lancer’s Quadrille

Civil War Dance, Part II – Spanish Waltz, Tempest, German Waltz

Civil War Dance, Part III – “For the People” oratorio, Lincoln Quadrille


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.

To subscribe to our bi-monthly e-newsletter
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





Check our "Schedule of Events" page for more activities.  

2018 will be coming soon as we confirm events with our event sponsors!

You can also see a summary of our 2011 through 2016 events on our "Schedule of Events" page.




14th Annual Civil War Preservation Ball

Dancers came from Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia to "dance for preservation" in the beautiful rotunda of the Pennsylvania Capitol Building on March 25. 
The event raised several thousand dollars for the Pennsylvania Gettysburg Monuments Project, which provides much-needed funds for the repair and maintenance of monuments placed on the battlefield by the veterans. 

The Pennsylvania Gettysburg Monuments Project was founded by State Representative Harry Readshaw in 1997. Commonly known as “Readshaw’s Raiders,” thousands of individuals and dozens of organizations joined in the effort to raise money for the monuments.  To mark the 20th anniversary of the Project, Harry cut a specially decorated cake with an original Civil War sword (below top left).

Dance instruction for the ball was provided by the Victorian Dance Ensemble and music was played by the Philadelphia Brigade Band. Larry Keener-Farley, Rebecca Kesler, and Gary Peyre-Ferry served as dance masters. 

For more photos, visit our Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Civil-War-Dance-Foundation-164556213606774/.  There  is  also  a  short   video  at  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mgvnN9jU3As.

Plan to attend next year’s Ball on March, 10, 2018.  To be placed on our mailing list, email PreservationBall@CivilWarDance.org.






The Victorian Dance Ensemble, the performing troupe of the Civil War Dance Foundation, received the President’s Volunteer Service Gold Award from President Barack Obama for donating more than three thousand hours of volunteer public service during 2016. 

The President's Volunteer Service Award program was created by President George W. Bush to encourage and reward volunteer service.  It is administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency.  The awards recognize individuals and groups that have achieved a certain number of hours of volunteer service during a 12-month period.  Bronze, silver, and gold level awards are presented, honoring various amounts of total hours.  One thousand hours are required for the gold group award and the VDE accumulated more than three times the number of hours needed for the gold level honor.

The VDE conducts balls, dance demonstrations, dance classes, artifact displays and living history programs for the National Park Service, museums, historical societies, historic sites, schools and senior facilities. 

Twenty-seven organizations benefited from the VDE’s volunteer service in the last year. The Gettysburg National Military Park benefitted the most, with 875 hours of service, more than one-fourth of the dancers’ 3,480 total hours.  The primary purpose of the VDE is to raise money for historic preservation and education projects, and to promote visitation to historic sites.  Since 2001, the VDE has helped to raise over $250,000 for over fifty projects, and its programs have attracted thousands of visitors to historic sites.   

The Victorian Dance Ensemble has presented programs for the Smithsonian Institution, National Park Service at Arlington House, Antietam, C&O Canal, Ford's Theater, Gettysburg, Hampton Mansion, and Harper’s Ferry, Civil War Trust, Ken Burns’ American Journeys Tours, National Civil War Museum, Maryland Historical Society, Washington’s National Theatre, Harrisburg’s Whitaker Performing Arts Center, Virginia’s Pamplin Park, North Carolina's Museum of the Cape Fear, and for numerous other historical organizations and sites.  In 2009, the VDE performed at a Presidential Inaugural Ball in Washington and in the Lincoln Bicentennial Oratorio “For the People.” 

In 2011, the group was named “Reenactment Unit of the Year” by the Civil War Trust in recognition of its service to preservation causes.  The VDE has also received commendations from the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Sons of Union Veterans, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, and Camp Curtin Historical Society.




The Civil War Dance Foundation had another very busy and productive year in 2016.

Thanks to all of our volunteers, event sponsors, and especially the guests and spectators who supported our efforts.

Raised at events conducted by CWDF for non-profit organizations
$  4,000   Donated directly donated by CWDF to preservation & education projects
$  4,950   Donated services by CWDF to non-profit organizations 
    3,480   Donated hours of service by CWDF to non-profit organizations

24 Balls and Dances         
10 Dance Demonstrations           
  9 Living History Programs and Artifact Displays        
  8 Dance Classes
  9 Rehearsals
60 Total Events     

We conducted events in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

Music was provided by Philadelphia Brigade Band, Gilmore’s Light Ensemble, Smash the Windows, Susquehanna Travellers, Wheaton’s Parlor Orchestra, and Kaydence.

We sent 228 Free Civil War Dance Manuals to 26 states and 3 foreign countries. 

The Civil War Dance Foundation is a Pennsylvania nonprofit corporation, recognized by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service as a Section 501(c)(3) non-profit charity.  All contributions to the Foundation are tax deductible.   The Civil War Dance Foundation is also registered with the Pennsylvania Department of State, Bureau of Charitable Organizations.  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. 




for Preservation and Education

The Civil War Dance Foundation recently donated $4,000 to six organizations for Civil War preservation and education projects.  With this year’s donations, the total has now reached over $53,000 directly from our treasury since we began making donations in 2001.  When combined with fundraising events we conducted for other organizations, we have now helped to raise over $250,000! This year’s donations were given to:

$1,000 - Civil War Trust 
The Civil War Trust is America's largest non-profit organization devoted to the preservation of our nation's endangered Civil War battlefields. It has saved over 43,000 acres.  The Trust also promotes educational programs and heritage tourism initiatives to inform the public of the War's history.  The CWDF has conducted several programs for the CWT’s annual conferences and teacher institutes and the CWDF was named the Trust’s Reenactment Unit of the Year in 2011.  This donation will continue our designation as a member of the CWT’s “Color Bearers” donor group.  www.CivilWar.org


$1,000 - Camp Curtin Historical Society 
The Camp Curtin Historical Society & Civil War Round Table is a nonprofit, all volunteer organization, dedicated to the preservation of the history of the Harrisburg area and Camp Curtin in the Civil War.  As part of this ongoing mission, the Society has erected two monuments and five wayside markers to create a trail that explains part of that history.  This donation will provide funds for additional wayside markers to complete the trail.  www.CampCurtin.org


$2,000 - Four National Park Service Sites
The CWDF donated $500 each to Antietam National Battlefield, Gettysburg National Military Park, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, and Monocacy National Battlefield to aid their education and interpretive programs.    

www.nps.gov/anti/index.htm                     www.nps.gov/gett/index.htm

www.nps.gov/hafe/index.htm                    www.nps.gov/mono/index.htm

The Civil War Dance Foundation urges everyone to support programs and events that aid Civil War preservation and education.

For a complete list of our donations over the years, visit http://www.civilwardance.org/history.htm  



The National Civil War Ball, the official ball of Remembrance Day in Gettysburg, was held at the Wyndham Hotel on November 19.  Over three hundred guests danced the night away to the music of the Philadelphia Brigade Band.   Dancing was led by the Victorian Dance Ensemble, with Larry Keener-Farley, Rebecca Kesler and Gary Peyre-Ferry doing the instruction and calling.  The best part of the event was that it raised several thousand dollars for preservation bringing the total to over $80,000 for preservation work at Gettysburg National Military Park.






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.  This year’s programs have included:

[Visit our Facebook for more pictures of the events https://www.facebook.com/pages/Civil-War-Dance-Foundation/164556213606774 .]

The Civil War Dance Foundation presented a very special display at the Gettysburg National Military Park Visitor Center on February 13 and 14. “The Colors of the Blue: Flags of the Union Army” featured high quality reproductions of the most common flags of the Union Army infantry, cavalry, and artillery units, and the flags designating corps, division and brigade commanders. This display gave park visitors an opportunity to see these various types of flags in all of their glory. 

In addition, we displayed several very rare artifacts from the Return of the Pennsylvania Flags Ceremony in Philadelphia at Independence Hall on July 4, 1866. The artifacts included a souvenir flag given to the war orphans who marched in the parade, perhaps the only surviving example, and a bronze version of the gold medal presented to Maj. Gen. George Meade. The bronze medals were awarded to other officers who served in the war.  This one was given to Maj. Gen. George Cadwalader. 

On May 28rd at the Visitor Center, our “Ordnance Detachment” presented the Guns of Gettysburg Display of original weapons at Gettysburg National Military Park.  This was the third year in a row that we did “double duty” in May to help attract people to the park and inspire an interest in history and preservation.  The exhibit included the most common weapons used in the Battle of Gettysburg, including muskets, rifles, rifle-muskets, carbines, revolvers, swords and sabres. It was a rare opportunity for visitors to get an up-close look at the weapons, learn how they worked, and even touch a piece of American history. Many took the opportunity to pose for photos with the historic weapons.

We also displayed reproduction flags and presented talks on the corps insignia system used by the Union Army for the first time at the Battle of Gettysburg.  Annette, our Civil War WOW (Woman Ordnance Worker), told the story of the little-known role of women and children in manufacturing ammunition and about the hundreds who died in accidents doing that dangerous work.

On Memorial Day, Monday, May 30, the Victorian Dance Ensemble returned to the Gettysburg Visitor Center to present a Demonstration of 1860s Dancing and Display of Civilian Artifacts, including  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 and the Snowball Reel. We had guests from across the country and around the world joining in the dancing and having fun 1860s style.

Four members of the Civil War Dance Foundation - Sue & Tyrone Cornbower and Annette & Larry Keener-Farley - assisted with various programs at Gettysburg National Military Park during the 153rd Anniversary Commemoration of the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1 through 3, and on  Family Day, August  6.  Annette, as a member of the Ladies Union Relief Association of Harrisburg, and Tyrone, as Gettysburg farmer George Spangler, portrayed “visitors from the past” as part of the family activities.  Along with Sue, they also assisted with clothing try-on and explained various aspects of the civilian side of the battle.  Larry served as historian in the museum, answering questions and giving presentations. One talk was on Gen. Meade’s “consolation prize” for winning the Battle of Gettysburg, a gold medal presented by the Philadelphia Union League.  Larry showed visitors a bronze version of the medal given to subordinate officers. 

The Victorian Dance Ensemble returned to the Gettysburg National Military Park for our 18th consecutive appearance at the Park’s Annual Civil War Music Muster on August 13. We began our day at the Dobbin House for a brief outdoor performance under a very hot sun. We then moved over to the Park’s Visitor Center for our main demonstration in air conditioned comfort. Each time, we demonstrated the popular dances of the 1860s and then invited the audience to come out and learn some dances. Music was provided by the Susquehanna Travellers.  Many asked to pose for pictures with our dancers afterwards and, hopefully, will have memories of their visit to Gettysburg that will last a lifetime. 

The Civil War Dance Foundation recreated Christmas in the 1860s at the GNMP Visitor Center on November 25. The displays featured a table top Christmas Tree with homemade ornaments, a soldier's box from home, original newspapers, photography and jewelry. In the tradition of the Civil War soldier's box, we also collected donations for our currently serving troops around the world and the Gettysburg Foundation gave free museum tickets to the generous donors.   Visitors were invited to make a Victorian-style ornament that they could take home. We also demonstrated dancing and invited the audience to learn a dance of the period.



The National Civil War Ball, the original and official ball of Remembrance Day, sponsored by the Sons of Veterans Reserve,
the Military Department of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, was held at the Wyndham Hotel in Gettysburg on Saturday, November 21. 
The Philadelphia Brigade Band provided the music and the Victoian Dance Ensemble led the dancing.
Over 300 people attended this year’s ball and raised several thousand dollars for preservation at Gettysburg National Military Park.

Click on thumbnails to see enlarged pictures

Earlier in the day, last year’s National Civil War Ball profit of $3,500 was donated to Gettysburg National Military Park
during the Woolson Monument Ceremony.  It brought the total raised by the ball to over $80,000.  
Thanks to all of you who came out and danced for preservation! 

Participating in the ceremony were (left to right) Annette Keener-Farley representing the Victorian Dance Ensemble,
Robert Grim, Commander of the Sons of Veterans Reserve, Ed Clark, GNMP Superintendent, and Rich Cummines of the Philadelphia Brigade Band.




The Ford’s Theatre Society and the National Park Service presented a unique commemoration of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln on April 14 and 15.  The Civil War Dance Foundation was invited to provide living historians to portray the citizens of Washington.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Bruce Guthrie Photo
Visitors filled 10th Street between Ford’s Theatre and the Petersen House and we interacted with visitors.  On the afternoon and early evening of April 14, we were celebrating Lee’s recent surrender and looking forward to ultimate the Union victory.  Ford’s Theatre Society presented “Now He Belongs to the Ages: A Lincoln Commemoration,” introduced by Gen. Colin Powell and featured operatic soprano Alyson Cambridge, singer Judy Collins, actor David Selby, political satirist Mark Russell, civil rights leader Julian Bond, historians Harold Holzer and James Swanson, columnist Eugene Robinson, the Federal City Brass Band.  The theatre presentation was sold out so it was also live-streamed to a large audience in the Kogod Courtyard at the Smithsonian American Art Museum-National Portrait Gallery.  Part of our assignment took us to the Museum, site of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Ball, where we have danced several times.  After the presentation, we led the audience to 10th Street for a candlelight vigil.    

Posing on the steps of
Ford's Theatre

Greeting visitors on the afternoon of April 14,
a time for celebration of victory before
the sadness of Lincoln's death

Part of the CWDF contingent at the National Portrait Gallery


After news of the assassination, the mood turned somber and we helped to recreate the overnight vigil as people awaited news about the condition of the President.  Several thousand people crowded onto 10th Street just as they did in 1865.  An actor portraying Lincoln’s doctor periodically reported on the President’s condition.  Several of our members stayed until 3:00AM and only got a little sleep before returning for the morning ceremonies.

CWDF member and a visitor during
the candlelight vigil

CWDF members leading guests from Ford's Theatre to the Petersen House
 Bruce Guthrie Photo

CWDF members being interviewed
by local television

Gen. Colin Powell at the vigil

On April 15, a wreath laying ceremony was held and Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and historian James Swanson spoke about Lincoln’s legacy, and actor David Selby read Walt Whitman’s poem “O Captain, My Captain.”  The crew of the USS Abraham Lincoln provided the honor guard and the Federal City Brass Band played several musical selections.

Crew of the USS Abraham Lincoln

Memorial wreath passing the crew

James Swanson, David Selby and Sally Jewell
Bruce Guthrie Photo

Shayla Roland (left) of the Ford's Theatre Society coordinated the living historians

For CSPAN coverage of the overnight vigil, see

For CSPAN coverage of the wreath-laying ceremony, see

For more pictures, visit our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Civil-War-Dance-Foundation/164556213606774
and Bruce Guthrie's Website








In 1997, soon after founding the Pennsylvania Gettysburg Monuments Project, State Rep. Harry Readshaw of Allegheny County proposed a custom license plate to benefit the preservation of the state’s more than 140 monuments and markers on the Gettysburg battlefield.  His legislation gained considerable support but enactment proved elusive.  The legislation was finally passed and signed into law on July 2, 2014. 

The cost of the plate will be $54.  Of that figure, $23 will go to a dedicated state fund to provide grants to nonprofit organizations for the Gettysburg National Military Park to clean, repair and restore a specific monument proposed by the organization. 

For information, see
http://www.dmv.state.pa.us/license_plates/special_fund.shtml (there is a link to the application form). 

The Victorian Dance Ensemble has been a long-time supporter of the Pennsylvania Gettysburg Monuments Project and urges all of our Pennsylvania fans to get one of these special license plates for their vehicle and show their support for preservation.


150th Anniversary of the Battle of Cedar Creek

The Victorian Dance Ensemble was invited to present several special programs for the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Cedar Creek in Middletown, Va. 

We conducted the Reenactor Ball on Saturday, October 18, that attracted hundreds of Union, Confederate, and civilian reenactors (and a few 21st century visitors).  Music was played by the Susquehanna Travellers.

The 150th Anniversary commemoration of the Battle of Cedar Creek began with a special Reception and Dance at the Historic Belle Grove Mansion on Thursday, October 16.  The Victorian Dance Ensemble and the Susquehanna Travellers were selected to perform at this exclusive event.  Sponsors, patrons and special guests of the commemoration enjoyed a buffet dinner, pleasant conversation, and authentic Civil War music and dancing.                                                                              Click on thumbnails for larger pictures

Reenactor Ball

Opening Reception

School Day

Weapons Display

Over 600 school students visited the Belle Grove School Day on Friday, October 17.  Groups of students from local schools moved between five stations at 15 minute intervals and learned about drilling, camp life, signaling, cavalry, and civilian life.  Living historians from the Civil War Dance Foundation presented the program on signaling during the Civil War.   

On Saturday and Sunday, October 18 and 19, , the Ordnance Detachment of the Civil War Dance Foundation presented a Display of Original Civil War Weapons at Belle Grove.  Visitors were able to get an up-close look at longarms, carbines, handguns and edged weapons. It was a rare opportunity for guests to touch a 150 year old piece of American history! 

Message from Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation:
The Civil War Dance Foundation did a very good job calling and demonstrating at the Union Reenactors Ball and Opening Reception at Belle Grove during the Cedar Creek Reenactment Weekend.  Everyone seemed to be having a good time.  We greatly appreciate your dance group's good work in making our 150th Cedar Creek event a big success!   --  Dr. Stan Hirschberg, Vice-President, CCBF

Message from Belle Grove Plantation
Belle Grove Plantation’s board and staff join me in thanking the Civil War Dance Foundation for it generous $500 grant.  These funds were used to support the educational activities associated with the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Cedar Creek.  While the entire weekend was extremely well attended and meaningful, Belle Grove was particularly proud to host tours for 630 school students and 150 adults on Friday.  We greatly appreciate the time that the CWDF members took to plan and conduct the signaling demonstration.  It engaged and excited the students to learn about this practice on the very land on which it was used 150 years ago.  It was also delightful to participate in Civil War era dancing with the Victorian Dance Ensemble on Thursday evening.  Thank you for keeping these traditions alive. – Kristen Laise, Executive Director, BGP

For more pictures, visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Civil-War-Dance-Foundation/164556213606774



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.  




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. 

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.



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

arriving guests

Guests enjoying

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




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.  

           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

We had the honor of performing three times 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 2013 performance was at the Majestic Theater in Gettysburg, Pa.

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 & 2013 performances), 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 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 the 2011 and 2012 presentations, James Getty/Abraham Lincoln was the narrator and author Jeff Shaara narrated the 2013 program.  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

Civil War Dance, Part II – Spanish Waltz, Tempest, German Waltz

Civil War Dance, Part III – “For the People” oratorio, Lincoln Quadrille






“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
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 and Gods and Generals

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. 

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 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, 2012, and 2013 (above).


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
(Copy and paste address into your email if link does not work)

Copyright 2016 Civil War Dance Foundation.
Do not reproduce any text or photographs from this website without permission.


Last updated October 17, 2017