From Chaucer to Fitzgerald, writers have used dancing as a vital, if subtle, element in plot and character development. The ballroom, an important element of society in real life, was a backdrop to grand passions or pivotal encounters--ideal ground for commentary on the social milieu. This work presents 88 literary selections (from etiquette manuals, diaries, poems, plays, essays and vels) that together form a survey of social dance in England and America over a span of 500 years. They illustrate specific dances, social dance behavior or the intimate reactions of participants. One finds, for example, the ultimate downfalls of Flaubert's Emma Bovary, Hardy's Eustacia Vye, and Tolstoy's Anna Karenina are all foretold in pivotal dance scenes. Fully indexed.
Allison Thompson is a writer, historian, and folk dance leader and musician. (She was the student dance leader for the Elizabethan May Day festival held at Earlham College in 1977.) She lives in Pittsburgh.