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Dancing at the Smithsonian
The Victorian Dance Ensemble and the Susquehanna Travellers performed at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., on Sunday, April 21, 2013. This was our fifth performance at the Smithsonian, including our participation in the 2009 Presidential Inaugural Ball held in the museum.
The museum is located in the former U. S. Patent Office building. During
the Civil War, the building also served as a barracks and hospital for the
Union Army, and it was the site of Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural ball
on March 6, 1865.
It is always an honor to be invited to perform at the museum since it is one of the few places we dance where a Civil War ball was actually held. Our two dance demonstrations were held in the Kogod Courtyard in the center of the building and we attracted hundreds of spectators. After completing our demonstrations, our dancers enticed the visitors onto the dance floor and we taught them several dances. We even had several guests who enjoyed dancing so much that they returned so they could dance with us again after our second demonstration.
During a break we went up to the third floor where the 1865 ball was held to take a group picture (above) and do a little dancing in the 19th century ambiance of the beautiful Great Hall (right).
The dance demonstrations were part of a series of special events that were held in conjunction with a special exhibit entitled “The Civil War and American Art” that examined how America’s artists represented the impact of the Civil War and its aftermath. The exhibit was part of the Smithsonian’s 150th anniversary of the Civil War commemoration and featured the artwork of Winslow Homer, Eastman Johnson, Frederic Church and Sanford Gifford. The exhibition included 59 paintings and 18 vintage photographs. The exhibit will be moving to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and will be on display there from May 27 to September 2, 2013.
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Dancers Help Fund GNMP 150th Volunteer Badge
This year marks the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg and hundreds of volunteers will be needed to assist the National Park Service. In order to identify volunteers a special badge will be given to Gettysburg National Military Park 150th volunteers, including VIPs (Volunteers in Parks) and living historians presenting interpretive programs on the battlefield.
The badge was designed by NPS Ranger John Heiser. He was inspired by a fiftieth anniversary badge given to Pennsylvania veterans in 1913. It incorporates the Pennsylvania Keystone and the National Park Service arrowhead insignia. The badge was manufactured by the Pin People Company of Spring Valley, N.Y. The commemorative badge is for identification purposes only and will not be available for sale.
The badge was partially funded by a $1,000 grant from the Civil War Dance Foundation, whose performing troupe, the Victorian Dance Ensemble, has performed for fourteen years at the Park’s Annual Music Muster. Additional funding was provided by the Gettysburg Foundation. The CWDF has also presented numerous dance programs and artifact displays for the Gettysburg Foundation. The dancers conduct two major Civil War balls each year that have raised over $100,000 for Gettysburg National Military Park. In 2011, the CWDF was named the Civil War Trust’s Reenactment of the Year for its service to preservation causes.
“The Civil War Dance Foundation was very pleased to provide a grant to assist in obtaining a commemorative token of gratitude to all of the people who selflessly give their time to support Gettysburg National Military Park,” said Annette Keener-Farley, President of the CWDF.
10th Annual Civil War Preservation Ball
Raises $8,000 for Gettysburg Monuments
This year’s Civil War
Preservation Ball on March 23 marked the tenth anniversary of this special
event that raises money to preserve the monuments at Gettysburg National
Military Park. This year we added approximately $8,000 to the fund,
bringing the total for the decade to $66,000!
Over 200 guests came from Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, West Virginia, Texas and Iowa to dance the night away in the beautiful rotunda of the Pennsylvania Capitol Building. Each guest received a special 10th Anniversary Rosette with a beautiful enamel pin with our "Dancing for Preservation" logo.
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Our guests have described this as the most spectacular setting of any Civil War ball in the nation. Dancers were surrounded by stunning architecture, beautiful paintings, inspiring sculptures, and historical artifacts. The current building was built on the site of the old “Red Brick Capitol” that was destroyed by fire in 1897. The old capitol saw Abraham Lincoln address the state legislature while on his way to be inaugurated in 1861 and his body laid in state in 1865 on the journey home to Springfield, Illinois. The new capitol was dedicated in 1906 and no expense was spared in making it a “palace of art.” Standing in the rotunda, President Theodore Roosevelt remarked, "It is the handsomest building I've ever seen." As always, it was a real treat to dance in such a very special place and to help us preserve our Civil War history!
The Victorian Dance Ensemble dancers provided dance demonstrations, floor managed, and danced with guests, while Larry Keener-Farley and Jeff Trace called the dances. The Philadelphia Brigade Band (above left), under the direction of Rich Cummines, provided the dance music and Mr. Lemuel’s Red Mill Serenaders (above right) played for the intermission in the refreshment room. Boy Scout Venture Crew 53, portraying the 1st Pennsylvania Reserves Fifes and Drums (below right), greeted the arriving guests and played a brief concert in the rotunda at intermission.
Special guests included Andrew Masich (above left welcoming guests and below left leading the Grand March), Chairman of the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission, State Representatives Harry Readshaw, Dan Moul and Bill Kortz, Gettysburg National Military Park Superintendent Bob Kirby, President Abraham Lincoln (Jim Getty), and General Robert E. Lee (Frank Orlando).
addition to the dancers, sponsors helped to swell the funds raised for
and to underwrite the expenses of the ball. Thanks to:
PNC Bank, Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania American Water Company,
Gmerek Government Relations, Inc., Malady & Wooten, L.L.P., Buchart Horn, Inc., Basco Associates,
Cranmer Associates, Eckert Seamans, and Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry.
Next year’s 11th Annual Civil War
will be held on Saturday, March 29, 2014.
Plan now to attend!
For information, email PreservationBall@CivilWarDance.org
2012 PRESERVATION & EDUCATION DONATIONS
The Civil War Dance Foundation and its performing troupe, the Victorian Dance Ensemble, is pleased to announce that in November 2012 it donated $4,000 to four organizations for Civil War preservation and education programs. Each year, our dancers select organizations and causes to help support preservation and education efforts. We are very pleased to make donations to these worthy organizations to help them preserve our history. We encourage everyone to support events that make a substantial donation to preservation.
With this year’s donations, the total has now reached over $39,000 since the group began making donations in 2001. For a complete list of our past donations, see http://www.civilwardance.org/history.htm. Additionally, the CWDF’s balls and dance demonstrations have helped other organizations raise over $150,000 for preservation and education.
- The Civil War Trust,
based in Washington, D.C., is the largest non-profit organization devoted to
the preservation of our nation's endangered Civil War battlefields. It has
saved over 35,000 acres in twenty states. The Trust also promotes
educational programs and heritage tourism initiatives to inform the public
of the war's history. Last year, the CWT launched “Campaign 150: Our Time,
Our Legacy” to preserve an additional 20,000 acres during the
sesquicentennial of the Civil War.
- Gettysburg National Military Park,
Gettysburg, Pa., received a grant for its Civil War Sesquicentennial living
history programs in 2013. The Park is expecting an upsurge in visitation
and an expanded living history program will help educate the public about
history and the need for preservation.
- Liberia Plantation House
in Manassas. Va., was built in 1825 and served as headquarters for
Confederate General P. G. T. Beauregard and as a hospital after the Battle
of First Manassas. In the Spring of 1862, as the Union Army advanced into
Virginia, General Irwin McDowell used the house as his headquarters.
President Abraham Lincoln visited the house to confer with McDowell. The
Manassas Museum System has completed the first phase of structural
restoration and the CWDF donation will help fund further restoration that is
- The Col. Harry Gilmor Camp, Sons of Confederate Veterans, “Adopt a
project is marking the graves of Confederate soldiers buried in Loudon Park
Cemetery in Baltimore, Maryland. Many of the existing markers are unreadable
so new stones are being made and placed flat on the ground in front of the
markers, thus saving the original historic tombstones.
2012 National Civil War Ball
The Official Ball of Remembrance Day
Over three hundred and fifty guests danced the night away at the 19th Annual National Civil War Ball, the official ball of Remembrance Day, in Gettysburg on November 17, 2012. Sponsored by the Sons of Veterans Reserve, the Military Department of the Sons of Union Veterans, the event raised several thousand dollars for preservation and maintenance at the Gettysburg National Military Park.
The ball is the oldest, biggest and best dance on Remembrance Day. Its primary purpose is to have fun with friends, but it has also become a major Civil War preservation fundraiser. While other balls on Saturday evening just put money into promoters’ pockets, this ball has raised more than $70,000 for the Park.
The Philadelphia Brigade Band, under the direction of Richard Cummines, provided the music ranging from lively reels to romantic waltzes. The Victorian Dance Ensemble demonstrated and taught the dances throughout the evening and assisted any couples having difficulties. Larry Keener-Farley and Jeff Trace served as dance masters, assisted by twenty-one VDE floor managers. One of the highlights of the evening was our old friend, Julio Zangroniz, world-renowned photojournalist, dancing with Annette (below, second from left).
Guests literally came from around the country to attend the ball. Members of Civil War hereditary groups, both Union and Confederate, military and civilian reenactors as well as supporters of Civil War preservation joined in the festivities. Once again, this year’s ball also attracted a large number of new younger dancers, which bodes well not only for this very special event but also for reenacting in general. We also had a large number of dancers from the ball that we conducted on Friday night. Many guests saying that liked our teaching style and the band’s music.
Leading the opening Grand March at the 19th Annual National Civil War Ball (left to right) Carole Morton, National President of the Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War, Perley Mellor, Commander-in-Chief, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, Charlotte Grim, and Robert Grim, Commanding Officer, Sons of Veterans Reserve.
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Plan to attend this year's ball and join us in dancing for preservation
Saturday, November 23 at the Wyndham Hotel
2012 Civil War Lady Military Ball
The Gettysburg Hotel was filled with music and smiles as the VDE led the dancing at the Civil War Lady Military Ball on Friday, November 16, 2012, the day before Remembrance Day. The beautiful sounds of the Philadelphia Brigade Band (above), led by Rich Cummines, echoed through the hall. Under the leadership of our Dance Master for the evening, Jeff Trace (below left), the dancers whirled and twirled about the dance floor under the watchful eyes of our floor managers. This was the second year we conducted the ball for Joy Melcher and many dancers mentioned that the floor managers were knowledgeable and gracious. Once again, the ball was a sell out! A wonderful time was had by all.
See www.GettysburgBall.com for details about this year's ball
Friday, November 22 at the Eisenhower Inn
American Journeys Civil War Tours
The Victorian Dance Ensemble has been honored three times to be a part of Ken Burns’ American Journeys Civil War Tour. Operated by Tauck Tours in May 2011, May 2012 and October 2012, the tours have attracted over 600 guests from around the country. The five day event featured in-depth, small-group sightseeing programs and private evening gala events in the Washington D.C. area. Tours during the day included the Lincoln’s Cottage, Ford’s Theatre, Arlington House, Library of Congress, Frederick Douglass House, African American Civil War Memorial & Museum, and the Manassas Battlefield.
The opening welcome events featured dinner and a lecture by noted Civil War historian and Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer at the National Building Museum. Formerly the Pension Office Building, designed by Civil War Quartermaster General Montgomery Meigs, the huge space has been the site of several Presidential Inaugural Balls. The room is dominated by eight 75-foot tall Corinthian pillars. Fittingly, the Victorian Dance Ensemble and Federal City Brass Band were invited to provide the entertainment in that spectacular historic setting.
The VDE demonstrated several period dances and explained the role of dancing during the Civil War. We then invited the guests to join us in learning dances from the era. Although somewhat hesitant at first, we had plenty of enthusiastic volunteers and Harold Holzer always joined in the dancing (left) .
The evenings closed with the band playing Tenting Tonight and Band-master Jari Villanueva explaining the history of Taps and playing those haunting 24 notes.
Later in the week, Ken Burns spoke at the National Archives and the 2nd South Carolina String Band entertained at the closing reception at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery, site of President Lincoln’s second inaugural ball.
Click thumbnail to see larger picture. Special thanks to Brian Stacey for some of the pictures.
Lined up for
VDE introducing guests
to 19th century dancing
and VDE dancers
2nd S.C. String Band at
National Portrait Gallery
Guests joining in
Federal City Brass Band
between the giant columns
Guests learning a
Civil War dance
Reenactment Unit of the Year
The Civil War Dance Foundation was named the Civil War Trust’s 2011 Reenactment Unit of the Year.
This is the first time the award was presented to a civilian living history organization. The award is one of several presented by the Civil War Trust to individuals and groups in recognition of their outstanding commitment to preserving America’s Civil War heritage.
“We are deeply honored by this award and hope that our work will inspire others to support historic preservation,” said Annette Keener-Farley, President of the CWDF.
Since 2000, the Civil War Dance Foundation has donated over $31,000 from its own treasury to Civil War preservation and education projects, including $6,500 to the Civil War Trust. It has also presented educational programs at the CWT’s Teacher Institute and provided entertainment at the CWT’s Annual Conferences.
In addition, the Civil War Dance Foundation has helped to raise over $125,000 for various Civil War preservation projects, historic sites and museums. Its two biggest annual events support preservation at the Gettysburg Battlefield. For the last eight years, it has conducted the Civil War Preservation Ball in the rotunda of the Pennsylvania Capitol Building in Harrisburg, Pa., and raised over $45,000 for the Gettysburg Monuments Endowment Trust Fund. Since 2005, the National Civil War Ball on Remembrance Day in Gettysburg, Pa., has raised another $25,000 for Gettysburg National Military Park.
Keener-Farley said, “Musicians are often partners in our preservation efforts and we could not conduct fundraising balls and demonstrations without the excellent music and dedication of musicians such as the Philadelphia Brigade Band and the Susquehanna Travellers.”
The Civil War Trust, formerly the Civil War Preservation Trust, is the nation’s foremost Civil War preservation organization, with over 55,000 members. The Civil War Trust has worked to save and preserve more than 30,000 acres of battlefield land at 110 battlefields in 20 different states.
CWDF President Annette Keener-Farley
is congratulated by Ed Bearss at the
Civil War Trust’s Annual Conference in
Chantilly, Virginia. Always a good sport
in the cause of preservation, Ed has danced
with the Victorian Dance Ensemble during an
audience participation dance at the Landon
House, site of General J.E.B. Stuart’s
“Sabers and Roses Ball” in 1862.
The Victorian Dance
Ensemble had previously received awards from:
Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor Citation for promoting history and culture
Pennsylvania House of Representatives Citation for supporting historic preservation
Harpers Ferry National Historic Site Volunteer Award
Camp Curtin Historical Society Award of Merit
The George Washington Ball
A Benefit for the Old Court House Civil War Museum, Winchester, Virginia
The Victorian Dance Ensemble returned to Winchester, Virginia, on February 25, 2012, for the Second Annual George Washington Ball. The event honored the Father of Our Country, who was revered by both the North and the South during the Civil War. The ball benefited the Winchester Old Court House Civil War Museum and was supported by Lee’s Lieutenants and the Federal Generals Corps. As a result of their participation, we had numerous guests in blue and gray. The opposing generals and their ladies danced together for the worthy cause of preservation. We were even graced with the attendance of Queen Victoria (Joy Melcher), who danced with several rustic Americans, including the VDE’s own John Kesler (right). Like last year, the event was sold out, with over 120 guests crowding in the beautiful ballroom of the George Washington Hotel but no one seemed to mind and smiles and laughter abounded throughout the evening. The 2nd South Carolina String Band (lower left), with some guest musicians from the Home Front band, provided the music while our VDE members served as floor managers.
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The 3rd Annual George Washington Ball is scheduled for February 23, 2013
Civil War Trust Launches Major Preservation Effort
To mark the sesquicentennial anniversary of the American Civil War and create a lasting legacy of that commemoration, the Civil War Trust announced an ambitious national campaign that will permanently protect 20,000 acres of battlefield land over the next five years. The Trust, which has already protected more than 35,000 acres in 20 states, recognizes that the war’s 150th anniversary offers an unprecedented opportunity to encourage public support for a large-scale preservation initiative.
Campaign 150: Our Time, Our Legacy kicked
off on June 30, with an event held at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at
Gettysburg, a key landmark of the Civil War’s bloodiest battle, which
occurred 148 years ago. The project was announced by Civil War Trust
chairman Henry Simpson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Battle Cry of
Freedom James McPherson and the organization’s newest Trustee, country
music superstar Trace Adkins. Members of the Civil War Dance Foundation,
the CWT’s Reenactment Unit of the Year, attended the press conference to
show their support of this important preservation project.
For more information, visit www.civilwar.org.
Larry Keener-Farley, GNMP Supt. Bob Kirby, Annette Keener-Farley, Trace Adkins,
Dianne Witmer, CWT Chmn. Henry Simpson, and Jeff Witmer.
2011 Manassas 150th Anniversary Commemoration
Hot . . . Hotter . . . Hottest! We have all been to hot events but the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of First Manassas had to be the warmest in quite some time. Temperatures were in the 100s and the heat index even higher. The Civil War Dance Foundation participated in the Historic Manassas commemoration that was held throughout the town at various historic sites and museums.
During the day on Thursday, Friday and Saturday we held dance classes in a nice air conditioned school gym (below right) near the Civil War encampment and sutler area. Reenactors and spectators joined us for some basic instruction in 19th century dancing or maybe it was just to get into a cool place. We had great fun as many children tried the dancing and everyone seemed to enjoy helping the little ones through the formations.
In the evenings, we shifted over to the Loy E. Harris Pavilion in the center of Manassas. The Olde Towne Brass (below left) and the Camptown Shakers provided excellent live music for our dance instruction and demonstrations on Thursday and Friday. On Saturday evening, we conducted the first part of the Blue and Gray Ball, a fundraiser for the historic sites in Manassas. Again, the Olde Towne Brass played. Our good friend, Patrick Gorman (Gen. John Bell Hood in Gettysburg and Gods and Generals) served as the master of ceremonies. He had danced with us several times at Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation balls so he was familiar with our dances. Patrick graciously led the Grand March with our own Ana Strickland (above in white dress) and later danced with numerous ladies during the German Waltz. (Photo above by Jeanine Lindberg)
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Abraham Lincoln: Music and Dance of His Time
4, 2011, and February 12, 2012,
we had the honor of performing in
“Abraham Lincoln: Music and Dance of His Time”
The 2011 performance was at the Majestic Theater in Gettysburg, Pa.
The 2012 performance was at Frederick Community College in Frederick, Md.
The next performance is scheduled for September 2013 in
The first part of the program included music by the Spires Brass Band and a selection of songs by Roosevelt Credit (2011 performance), Robert Cantrell (2012 performance), Jeff Fahnestock and Kathleen Sasnett, accompanied by Scott Crowne on the piano. Then the Victorian Dance Ensemble paraded onto the stage and demonstrated dances of the period to the music of the Susquehanna Travellers. Jeff Fahnestock kindly narrated our program while Larry Keener-Farley and Jeff Trace called the dances. During our time in the spotlight, we demonstrated Soldier’s Joy, Money Musk Reel, Lancer’s Quadrille, Spanish Waltz, Tempest and German Waltz. After the intermission, we returned for a performance of “For the People” under the direction of composer Dr. John William “Buzz” Jones (see below). For these presentation, James Getty narrated as President Abraham Lincoln. During the “President’s Ball” movement of the piece, we performed the Lincoln Quadrille.
Videos of our 2011 performance have been posted on YouTube:
Civil War Dance, Part I – Soldier’s Joy, Money Musk
Reel, Lancer’s Quadrille
Civil War Dance, Part II – Spanish Waltz, Tempest,
Civil War Dance, Part III – “For the People” oratorio,
LINCOLN ORATORIO PREMIERE
the People,” a new oratorio, premiered at the Majestic Theater in Gettysburg
as part of the Gettysburg Address Dedication Day
events on November 19, 2009.
VDE dancers performing the Lincoln Quadrille on the stage of the Majestic Theatre
Photo courtesy of Gettysburg College
To see a video of the dancing, click on http://www.buzzjones.net/audio.htm and click on "President's Ball"
or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZ-ro1Tm-XQ and go to 39:20 mark
oratorio was commissioned by the Pennsylvania Lincoln Bicentennial
Commission and was composed by Dr. John William Jones, Professor at the
Sunderman Conservatory of Music at Gettysburg College. The musical tribute
to Abraham Lincoln featured guest narrator Stephen Lang, who has become
known for work both on stage and in films, including the movies
Gettysburg, Gods and Generals, and the recently released
Oratorio composer Dr John Jones (left) and narrator Stephen Lang (right)
with ladies of the Ensemble
Kathleen Sasnett, soprano, Jeffrey Fahnestock, tenor, and Roosevelt Credit, bass-baritone, performed the arias and recitative pieces of the oratorio. Music was provided by the Spires Brass Band and the Sunderman Conservatory Woodwind Octet. The Victorian Dance Ensemble, the performing troupe of the Civil War Dance Foundation, performed the “Lincoln Quadrille” for the President’s Ball movement of the piece.
The Oratorio has been combined with other music and dance to create the program "Abraham Lincoln: Music and Dance of His Time" which was performed in 2011 and 2012, with another performance scheduled for 2013.
Following the oratorio, Jeff Shaara presented the award for the best fiction Civil War book of the year to Nick Taylor for his novel, The Disagreement. The evening concluded with the 48th Annual Robert Fortenbaugh Memorial Lecture by Michael Burlingame speaking on "Abraham Lincoln: New Information, Fresh Perspectives."
The Civil War Dance Foundation is a
Pennsylvania nonprofit corporation, recognized by the
U.S. Internal Revenue Service as a Section 501(c)(3) not for profit charity.
The Foundation is also registered with the Pennsylvania Department of State,
Bureau of Charitable Organizations.
All contributions to the Foundation are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.
The organization's exempt purpose is to promote and advance educational, cultural, preservation, commemoration and performing arts programs related to the Civil War and Victorian eras.
Civil War Dance Foundation
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Camp Hill, PA 17011
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