Yesterday, my friend Miss Mona and I attended our first “Around a Cup of Tea” English Country Dance (ECD)class. (This is the style of dance often seen in film and TV versions of JA novels.) I was interested in trying this class out ever since I heard about it in a JASNA newsletter.
As soon as we walked in the door, we were welcomed by the friendly Arduina, who teaches the class with her partner Michel. Soon, Miss Mona and I were meeting the other students and learning our starting positions. Many of the dances involve partners starting by standing facing each other – Sometimes in two long lines, sometimes in smaller groups. The dancers then move in seemingly simple choreographed patterns. I found that while the steps themselves are fairly straightforward, remembering their order can be a little challenging! (Pre-class caffeination is definitely recommended!)
There was a slight scarcity of gentlemen, so a few ladies donned ties and sashes to dance the men’s parts. (This was to make them easy to spot so we would not be confused as to where the “ladies” and “gentlemen” were as we navigated the steps.) Arduina and Michel would take us through the steps in segments then put them together – And then have us try them with music.
As a neophyte, I definitely found the dances challenging. However, the learning curve is quite steep – So, I soon felt like I felt I had achieved a certain level of competence.
By we the time we were at the midway break, I was definitely warm. (These dances can be quite the workout - I can certainly see how Regency-era ladies could get some fitness benefits from dancing!) We paused for tea (of course!), coffee and light refreshment (cakes and cookies). After that, we jumped into the really challenging choreographies.
I found these new steps and sequences a little more challenging. Nonetheless, I felt quite confident with them by the end. (I also found out dancing uses a few muscles that I seem to have neglected in my regular fitness regimen – But, thankfully, nothing was protesting too much.)
Miss Mona and I had fun, met some lovely people and even got in a little cardio. We left the class with the definite desire to return – and soon!
On the research front, I finished Northanger Abbey and I am now working my way through the unfinished works Sanditon and The Watsons.
“Around a Cup of Tea” classes run roughly once or twice per month near the Berri-UQUAM metro station in Montreal. For more info, please visit: