Jane Austen's Dances
Cathleen Myers, Cassandra Vlahos, & Alex Lerman
With Transit of Earth

Saturday, June 21, 2014, 1:00pm - 2:00pm
Dance 3 - South (Girls) Gym

If you've always dreamed of dancing with Mr. Darcy or with the lovely Elizabeth Bennett from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, you'll enjoy this workshop on the social dances described in Miss Austen's novels and letters and so vividly (if often inaccurately) featured in the various film versions of her works. From exhilarating "longways" English Country dances to the elegant new Waltz Country Dances to joyous Regency Scots reels, these dances are glorious fun, especially when danced to live music (provided here by our band, Transit of Earth). Though the dances allow ample opportunity for fancy footwork, they can also be danced with a simple polka step or even with a walking step. These dances don't require previous dance experience but are extremely addictive!

But not all modern Regency dancers are Jane Austen addicts and romantics. Many are also scientists, engineers, and computer professionals who enjoy the graceful, symmetrical patterns of the dances. Regency dancing has been a staple of science fiction conventions for many years!

Age suitability: Adults and teens.

Cathleen Myers is the Dance Mistress of the San Francisco Dickens Fair and the Artistic Director of PEERS (the Period Events & Entertainment Re-Creation Society), which produces full-scale historical costume balls and dance classes almost every First Saturday (for more information about PEERS and its upcoming balls and dance classes, see her website at http://www.peersdance.org). A dancer since childhood, Cathleen has researched and taught historical dance in the Bay Area since 1987. With her husband James Eric Myers and frequent teaching partner Alex Lerman, she has dance-mastered at a wide variety of Bay Area period balls, charity balls, and science fiction/fantasy conventions and teaches a weekly vintage ballroom dance class on Sunday afternoons at the Alameda Elks Lodge. An experienced historical dance choreographer, she also performs occasionally with the Alameda Vintage Dancers and with her own group, the PEERS Flying CirCUS, a historical music, dance and theater performing ensemble, most notorious for their recurring Peerless Music Hall and Theater of the Vampires. For more information about the annual Dickens Christmas Fair, particularly our all-day Fezziwig's Victorian dance party, please see http://www.dickensfair.com.

Cassandra Vlahos started dancing in college when a friend asked her to help plan a Jane Austen Ball, and her terpsichorean mania has not abated since. In addition to being an English country dance caller, she is also an avid vintage ballroom dancer and contra dancer, performing with PEERS and Fezziwigs, and calling dances for the Bay Area Country Dance Society. When not dancing and singing, she can also be found teaching knitting, crocheting, and other needle arts.

Alex Lerman has studied, performed, and co-taught vintage dance with Cathleen Myers since 2002. In 1992, before Alex knew he liked to dance, he wandered into an Irish pub with the intent of listening to music. He was unwittingly dragged into a dance lesson despite protestations. He was soon hooked, and teaching Irish Ceili dancing 18 months later. He's taught and performed various forms of vintage dance ever since, in venues as diverse as pubs, studios, weddings, formal balls, and the YMCA. Alex's fascination with improvisational performing arts extends to improv acting, and he currently teaches a popular series of improv acting classes in Berkeley.

The gifted and accomplished musicians of Transit of Earth include William Allen, keyboard & band organizer; Stanley Kramer, violin; Susan Kramer, woodwinds and vocals; Mary Tabor, violin and mandolin; Robert Powell, recorder; Daniel Soussan, various instruments; Paul Kostka, accordion and various instruments; Nancy Solomon, violin; and Robert Shultheis, string bass; They are veterans of both the Bay Area Country Dance Society and the San Francisco Free Folk Festival and can play everything from Classical to English Regency to folk music and beyond. As their name suggests, Transit of Earth is also known for playing for dances at science fiction conventions, including the annual BayCon. Best of all, they know how to play beautifully and effectively for both ballroom dancers and country dancers. Other members of Transit of Earth who play regularly at the San Francisco Free Folk Festival include David Strong, violin and viola; Craig Johnson, accordion and keyboards; and Craig Martin, accordion. David Strong, Stan & Susan Kramer, and Craig Johnson also play together as Bangers & Mash - one of the most admired and popular vintage dance and English Country Dance bands in Northern California.

Having played piano since childhood, William Allen branched out to Contra, Irish, and Old-Time music thanks to music jams organized by Darwyn Patz. In 1996, as sole musician for the Santa Cruz English Country Dance, led by Theresa Krull, he learned to accompany dancing. The next year he applied it to playing for the Palo Alto English Country Dance, led by Bob Fraley and others, and the Palo Alto Regency Dance, led by Alan Winston. He annually plays for Regency Dancing at the BayCon Science Fiction Convention and for dancing at the San Francisco Free Folk Festival. The ensembles "Fine Companions", "The Phoenix," and, of course, "Transit of Earth" count him as their pianist.