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How To Dance Through Time Review by Emily Van Der Linden

Carol T-ten
Dancetime Publications
P.O. Box 845
Kentfield, CA 94914

How to Dance through Time is a set of six DVDs, each ranging from thirty-five to fifty-four minutes in length. The course goes through several points in history and teaches the most popular dances of that era. The time periods covered are the mid 19th Century, the Ragtime Era, the Renaissance, the18th Century (Baroque Social Dance), and the Victorian Era, as well as a DVD particularly covering the group dances in the 19th Century. Some of the dances taught include the Waltz, Polka, Animal Dance, Castle Walk, Hesitation Waltz, Minuet, Allemande, Mazurka, and Grand March.

At the beginning of each disc and before each new dance, the instructor, Carol T-ten, gives background information about the cultural ideas going on in the time period that led up to the development of the particular dances. And then on to the dance instruction! All that is required is to pop in the DVD, pull back some living room furniture, and grab a willing family member to learn along with you. The men's and women's parts (when different) are separately illustrated by accomplished dancers, often from front and back view. At the start the moves are performed at a slow pace, to help the learner follow along, and next at a quicker pace. In spite of the repetition of each move, I have found it best to keep the remote control in hand to watch the moves additional times. At the very end of each disc, the dancers perform all the dances, in period costume, at the ideal dancing pace, so that the viewer can see what can be accomplished once they have mastered the dances. I would consider that this course is for age thirteen and older. There may be some simple dances that can be learned by younger children, but the bulk would be too difficult.

Ultimately, one-on-one instruction with a real live teacher is the easiest way to learn dances, but, as that is not always accessible or convenient, this is a very concise, clear, and practical way of learning a wide assortment of dances. Some of the dances are simple. Others are a bit more complicated. But with enough watching of the moves, and practicing with your partner, I am sure that you can master any of the dances. Depending on your reasons for learning these dances, some of them might be more helpful than others. Unless I was involved in some Ragtime, Renaissance, or 18th Century reenactment, I would personally not be as interested in learning those dances, whereas the mid 19th Century couple dances, group dances, and the Victorian Era dances, are still done nowadays, and could be included in any social ball.

At certain points while giving historical background to particular dances, the dance instructor pointed out how, in the time period, the dance would express the dancers' "desire", or how in a motion the dancer would be "showing off" to their partner. I only observed such comments in the historical background portions of the Ragtime Era and the 18th Century (Baroque) volumes, and sprinkled throughout the entirety of the Renaissance volume.

Over all, I did enjoy this set, and would indeed recommend it to any who have interest in learning dances in these particular eras. But I do recommend that, unless you are interested in all of the time periods, you just purchase the dance DVDs for the time periods you particularly want to learn.

Product Review by Emily Van Der Linden, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, May, 2010