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Jane Austen Ball and events has something for everyone

Susan Heady's dress is a representative of the fashions around 1817. Because the dresses were made from thin fabric, women also would wear a shawl to keep them warm. A longtime costume enthusiast, Heady collects vintage clothing. Her research into the Jane Austen era has included books, drawings and Austen's own letters.

Ellen Pill

"We have a flurry of dance activities planned for January and February in conjunction with the Jane Austen Ball," said Susan English, a well-known dance instructor and caller.
 
The ball and workshops are Feb. 24 with numerous activities offered prior to that date for those who would like to immerse themselves in the costumes, dance and history of the era.
 
In the novels of Jane Austen, the balls of the late 18th century figured prominently in the lives of her characters. Balls at that time were extremely popular among the landed gentry and were one of the few places where men and women could mingle publicly.
 
It has become popular all over the world to hold Jane Austen-themed evenings of dance and socializing. A group of Wooster dance enthusiasts has planned a full calendar of events celebrating the era.
 
The activities will begin on the afternoon of Jan. 20 with a presentation by Susan Heady at the Wayne County Historical Society, 546 E. Bowman St., at 2 p.m. in the schoolhouse.
 
A longtime costume enthusiast, Heady collects vintage clothing. Her research into the Jane Austen era has included books, drawings and Austen's own letters.
 
"Clothing was of interest and something acceptable to write about," Heady said. "Jane Austen never wrote about war time, but she did have interesting clothes, and she wrote about them."
 
Heady explained women's clothing became less structured during the Regency era. Heavy corsets and large skirts gave way to flowing dresses with empire waists and low necklines.

Heady's presentation also will include information regarding men's dress during this time period.
Both men and women wore gloves at the balls. "There was a whole set of rules about how to behave in a ballroom," Heady said.
 
She explained the gloves ensured a man didn't actually touch a lady's skin. "In fact," she said, "men were encouraged to bring a spare pair of gloves. If you should happen to spill a drink on your glove, you would never want to offer a soiled hand to a lady or risk brushing up against her gown and causing a stain."
 
Dance classes will be offered for those who would like to get their feet moving prior to the ball. English will offer instruction in English Country Dance at the Wayne Center for the Arts on Monday nights beginning Jan. 22 for six weeks. No partner is needed. For more information or to register, call the center at 330-264-2787.
 
There also will be an English Country Dance with live music in Wooster on Jan. 27 where individuals will have the opportunity to learn, practice and enjoy the dances. Held at the Valley College Grange, 2411 Shreve Road, Wooster, from 7-9 p.m., the suggested donation is $6 for adults, $5 for students and $20 for families. For more information visit www.woosterdance.com.
 
For costume enthusiasts or those just wishing for some assistance in putting together an outfit to wear to the ball, Cherrill Wertz will offer two creative workshops on Saturday, Jan. 27 and Feb. 3.
 
Wertz is a member of The Madrigal Dancers, a Wooster-based performing group presenting music, dances and costumes of the 17th and 18th centuries.
 
She designs costumes for the group. "Sometimes I make the whole costume; sometimes I add thrift-shop dresses. I keep an eye out for dresses throughout the year," she said.
 
The costumer is creative and resourceful. "For one dress I used a sheer curtain to make the trim," she said.
 
The workshops will offer assistance to anyone at any skill level who is interested in creating or putting together a costume for the ball. The cost for each session is $5. Wertz asks individuals interested in attending to contact her ahead of time so she knows who is coming and what their needs will be. She can be reached at 330-465-1364 or tcwertz@frontier.com.
Niklas Mantz is a faculty advisor of the College of Wooster's Ballroom Dance Club. The club, along with The Madrigal Dancers, the college English department and the Cultural Events Fund, are the groups behind bringing the Jane Austen Ball to Wooster.
 
"It's one of these events where the campus and community is involved," Mantz said, "where people can mingle and meet."
 
Mantz said the ball is for everyone, not just dancers.
 
There will be live music by Four Pence, a raffle and snacks related to the Regency Period.

Organizers will make it easy to join in the fun on the dance floor for anyone who is interested.
 
"There will be people there who know the dances," Wertz said. "We will spread out on the dance floor. The figures are repeated, and they are also called, so you can't really miss."
 
The day of the event there will be numerous workshops and events planned. The afternoon will begin with a dance workshop at 2 p.m., followed by a variety of presentations related to the period.
 
"I think it is really exciting that a small community like Wooster could host such an event," English said.
 
The dance and workshops will be held at Kittredge Hall on the College of Wooster campus, 600 E. Wayne Ave., Wooster. Preregistration will be until Jan. 31 and is encouraged. It includes all afternoon events and the evening ball. Preregistration general admission is $15, and student admission is $5.
 
Email Yvonne and Niklas Mantz at jaball.wooster@yahoo.com for information regarding mailing in payment. Admission at the door is $20 for general admission, $5 for students, cash only. More information is at www.ballroom.spaces.wooster.edu/events/jane-austen-ball/.

Published: January 15, 2018
New Article ID: 2018180119998