Tuesday, February 3, 2009

We Shall Dance a New Beginning

Jacqueline Schwab with Ken Burns

How curiously things come together.

I had been hoping to attend a piano performance this Friday at Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church by a lady named Jacqueline Schwab. I wanted to hear her because the program interested me: "solo piano arrangements of vintage American music from Mark Twain's era (1835-1910)--Stephen Foster and other parlor songs, Civil War Songs, old Scots and Irish tunes, hymns and spirituals, ballroom dance tunes, and ragtime." I had never heard of Jacqueline Schwab, though.

Last week I started researching English Country Dance recordings. I had taken Nathaniel and Emma to an English Country Dance last month, so I contacted the lady who organized, hosted, and called it. She referred me to the Country Dance and Song Society.

On their site I found a CD series featured called The English Country Dance Collection with Bare Necessities. Bare Necessities is described as a "Boston-based instrumental quartet that began playing professionally for weekly dances in 1978 and has since become known internationally for its unique presentation of English country dance music." The band is still composed of its original members. Can you guess who the pianist is?

I knew you could. You're right. It's Jacqueline Schwab.

I ordered one of the Bare Necessities CDs and the corresponding booklet of dance instructions. Just when I thought it couldn't get any better, I got this e-mail from the Houston Area Traditional Dance Society:

Jacqueline Schwab will be in Houston next week to play a free concert Friday evening at Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church. She has graciously agreed to play and call for us at a special English Country Dance on Wednesday evening.

Who is Jacqueline?

Jacqueline is the pianist in the premier English Country Dance band Bare Necessities. She is also the pianist for Ken Burns' documentaries and she is a sought-after English Country dance leader. See her web site for much more information about Jacqueline and her accomplishments — and you'll understand why we are really excited to have her play and call for us!

When: Wednesday, February 4, 2009, 7:30-9:30 PM

Where: Oxford Hall, 1135 Oxford

Cost: For this special dance we are asking a minimum donation of $5 with $10 preferred — or anything in between.

We're asking Jacqueline to teach A New Beginning, one of the "for those who know" dances to be done at the Set for Spring weekend in April. Fred Todt, Keith Holmes, and Mike Head will share the other teaching spots. We plan to do one or two of the other Set for Spring dances as well as a variety of other fun dances.

Jacqueline will play for all of the dances.

Even if you don't care to dance English Country, come listen to her play — especially if you can't go to hear her Friday evening.

I'm hoping we can attend the Set for Spring dance in Austin. Here's a picture and description of the ballroom where the dance will be held:
The Texas Federation of Women's Clubs Mansion is a Texas Historic Landmark and an Austin Historic Landmark. It is also listed with the National Register of Historic Places. It was designed by noted Dallas architect Henry Coke Knight to be the state headquarters for the Texas Federation of Women's Clubs, and is considered to be one of the best examples of Georgian Revival architecture in Texas. The main ballroom is a wonderful space for dancing, and many elegant drawing rooms are nearby for conversing and relaxing between dances.

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