Time Traveling with Jane Austen in Connecticut

I welcome today JASNA member Janeite Bonnie, as she offers us the tale of her time-travel adventure at Jane Austen Summer Camp, sponsored by the JASNA-Connecticut Region on July 26-28, 2013. Bonnie was, alas! without a working camera, and it is with thanks that I use fellow camper Tess Quinn’s photographs!  [Tess is the author most recently of Pride Revisited.]

Enjoy all – so sorry I was not there – hopefully next year! [I was at the Middletown Inn a few years ago for a wedding, and I can attest to it being the perfect setting for anything to do with Jane Austen!]

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jasna-ct-summercamp-logo

I was a last-minute registrant for the Jane Austen Summer Camp, and registered for only the second half of the weekend, taking a miss on the workshops on Saturday morning because I had either attended similar workshops before or had skills that did not require workshops such as were offered. I drove down from VT to Middletown, CT on Saturday afternoon wondering what to expect in terms of the area in which the event took place, since such things do tend to color my experience. As I turned onto Main Street, I spied a row of 18th century clapboard houses across the street, and I thrilled to the sight. When I pulled up to the gate of the Inn at Middletown, I was immediately favorably impressed. The Inn at Middletown has the look of an early 19th century manor house, with wings, snubby portico, and miniature curved drive. When I walked inside, the Inn continued to enchant me with its central curved staircase, immense chandelier, fireplace, and patterned marble floor. The room I shared with my friend Shari was tasteful, but I barely had time to enjoy it before I had to begin my transformation into a Regency lady.

Middletown Inn-wp

 Middletown Inn [Wikipedia]

Our Saturday evening began with gathering in the second floor lobby, where alcoholic beverages were dispensed to those willing with shillings. Some faces were familiar; we have crossed paths at other JASNA, time-travel, and dance events. Most of us, I am gratified to report, were dressed in period outfits, and we exchanged compliments and admiring looks.

Dinnerbeforeball-quinn

Dinner before the Ball!

When we entered the conference room for dinner, I was pleasantly surprised to see it looking period-appropriate, too, with nicely painted woodwork, wallpaper, double-hung windows dressed up in patterned draperies, wall sconces, a boarded-up fireplace (well, it *is* summer) with a mantel and mirror above, and a sideboard in a recess with a mirror overhanging it.  Of course, I made my way to the center table so that I could have a great seat for the lecture after dinner by Irene Urban, who is known to me through Regency dance. She is a maven of Regency cookery, but more of her soon.

table-chocolate-and-fans-quinn

 Table setting

The table was dressed up with a sweet urn of colorful flowers, and everyone had gifts of a sandalwood fan and chocolates in front of her place setting. Lovely chocolates, by the way: They looked like cameos, with a milk chocolate base and a silhouette Jane Austen silhouetted in white chocolate. We started off dinner with a delicious cold soup of Lord-knows-what, but the ingredient I do remember is champagne.  More alcohol — terrific for loosening the joints and inhibitions for dancing! Everyone enjoyed their main course, too. I had already heard praise of the Inn at Middletown’s cuisine, but tasting was believing.  The presentation was also quite lovely.  Well done!

We did not enjoy a last course of dessert because that was saved for the break during the ball.  However, Irene Urban’s lecture on Regency dining was a delicious treat for the mind, and I would have willingly gone back for seconds and thirds, but it was all too quickly over, with no Q and A session.  Irene dropped tantalizing tidbits such as what was stocked in a Regency larder, including all the dead animals, which she accompanied with an etching of the same.  I would imagine that if cruel Regency parents had wanted to punish their naughty little ones, they could have locked them in a dark pantry for an hour.  Irene is not an all-talk-and-no-action lady; if you have ever attended an event with which she is connected, you are treated to period delights created from recipes that she has adapted from vague original recipes in her collection of period cookbooks.

susan-and-soldiers

Susan de Guardiola and her Soldiers

Next up was the ball, which was called by Susan de Guardiola, a Regency dance expert. The dances were simple to suit those who had never danced period dances before. The room was splendidly lit up, quite full of company, but not insufferably hot, so we were spared the trials of E. and M.  The crowd organized into two longways sets, and off we went, balancing, dos-a-dosing, slipping, turning, gazing, flirting, and attending.  I think we all acquitted ourselves rather well, and as a reward were treated to sumptuous desserts during the break, as well as the raffling off of two splendid gift baskets and several smaller gifts.

ball-everyone-quinn

Sunday’s activities began with a promenade to a local historical house museum [the General Mansfield House].  Many folks chose to dress up again, and I believe we looked fresh and charming in our day gowns, bonnets, reticules, and parasols. We gathered in the lobby, then strolled out through the front courtyard, crossed the street, and there we were.  The docent of the museum greeted us on the steps, then spent the next twenty minutes lecturing about the history of the house and its occupants while we stood, wilting.  An older woman required a chair, which my friend Shari borrowed and brought to her, and still the lecture continued!  We were finally allowed to tour the house and the grounds, which were not extensive but had a few suitable places for photo ops.

After the museum, we returned to the hotel to check out and have brunch: yummy cheese blintzes and vegetable quiche. After brunch, Dr. Mark Schenker, associate dean of Yale College, presented a lecture titled “The Richness of ‘Ordinary Life’ in Austen’s Novels”. While my author friends on either side of me scribbled away, I just sat in bliss. Dr. Schenker, while having ample notes, frequently put them down and wove witty and insightful incidental observations into his structured lecture. He is the type of speaker who leaves you glowing with happiness after you’ve been privileged to hear him.  I am embarrassed to admit that, although I

Dr. Schenker - "Is that all you can remember?!

Dr. Schenker – “Is that _really_ all you can remember?!

thoroughly enjoyed the lecture (and it made me wish that I had come for the full weekend so that I could have heard his other lecture Friday night), the only thing he said that I can quote was that he referred to Jane and Charles Bingley as the couple downstairs, the Mertzes of Jane Austen’s couples!  What a thing to remember.

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The weekend was capped with an ice cream social, the raffling off of two more marvelous gift baskets and smaller gifts, and the screening of the soon-to-be released film Austenland.  I do believe that this movie is haunting me.  I had already sat through the initial free preview for JASNA-NY members at the Sony screening room in New York and felt I had wasted two hours of my life.  I had even squeezed it into my tight schedule when it was offered because, of course, it was a one-time-only experience. However, two or three more free previews were offered after that to JASNA-NY members.  This past weekend, all the way up in mid-Connecticut I thought I could enjoy a good Austen movie with other Janeites, when, lo and behold, Austenland again popped up and put a pin in my Austen euphoria. N.B. I just received an e-mail from JASNA-NY about yet one more free preview of Austenland, to take place on Tuesday, July 30, in Manhattan!

austenland

 Austenland company

I left very glad that I had made the effort to drive for four and one-quarter hours the 260 miles from my home to the Inn at Middletown. Everyone with whom I spoke was positive about all aspects of the gathering, from the venue to the food, from the workshops to the lectures, from the ball to the gift baskets and the camp store, all were praised.  It is testament to the tremendous concerted efforts of all the organizers of this event, and I hope to see it repeated and expanded in two years.

For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn? –Jane Austen

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[Note:  all pictures c2013 Tess Quinn, with thanks!, unless noted otherwise]

Further reading:

c2013 Jane Austen in Vermont

Summering with Jane Austen II ~ Jane Austen Summer Camp in Connecticut

In need of a summer Regency Ball or a quiet Tea or how about a whole weekend listening to various talks about Jane Austen and her Times? – well the summer of 2012 has much on offer!  A previous post outlined the summer program at the University of North Carolina.

JASNA-CT summercamp-logo

Today I write about the Jane Austen Summer Camp offered by the JASNA-Connecticut Region, July 26-28, 2013 (and see below for options to participate in some of the events if you cannot give up a whole weekend to Jane):

The historic Inn at Middletown, in Middletown, CT—built in 1810—is the setting for a weekend of learning about and practicing the activities that made up Jane Austen’s daily routine, and that of her contemporaries. During the weekend of July 26 – 28, 2013, you’ll experience balls, parties, and promenades in Regency style, and write letters with a quill and ink, as Jane would have written her daily letters and her novels. Ladies and gentlemen will learn how to draw silhouettes of family and friends, to dress their hair in true Regency fashion, and to sew pretty and useful accessories. Plus, we’ll visit the Middlesex County Historical Society in its headquarters, the General Mansfield House. Period dress is encouraged and appreciated, but not required.

Inn_at_Middletown-WP

Inn at Middletown [image: Wikipedia]

 Throughout the weekend, Jane Austen scholars and experts on Regency life will speak on various topics, and local dance expert Susan de Guardiola will teach an English contra dance workshop Saturday evening and will call the dances at the ball that night. Join fellow Austen fans for a weekend of fun and “Random Acts of Regency Naughtiness” (the retreat’s theme), whether it’s dancing more than two dances with the same partner, enjoying one of the beverages created in honor of Austen’s 6 heroes, or besting everyone else in Friday night’s “Who Wants to Be a Duchess?” game.
[from the flyer: http://www.jasnact.org/summercamp.pdf]

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Dance image from Vintage Dancers.org

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 A quick outline of the weekend:

1. Lectures on Austen’s cultural impact from Yale Professor Dr. Mark Schenker:

* “Sensibility and Sense: How the 18th Century Meets the 19th in Jane Austen’s Novels” (Friday night)

* “The Richness of ‘Ordinary Life’ in Jane Austen’s Novels” (Sunday)

2.  Hands-on workshops that will let you personally experience Jane Austen’s world

  • Regency Silhouettes
  • Reticules & Wallet making
  • Regency Hairstyles
  • Penmanship

1857reticule

Reticule: capacious hold-all blog

3.  Friday night reception, all meals Saturday including breakfast, lunch, tea, and dinner, and Sunday brunch. 

4.  Saturday night Dance Workshop followed by a Regency Dinner & Ball 

5.  Sunday morning costume promenade and excursion to the Middlesex County Historical Society house and gardens 

6.  Regency Naughtiness! Play our ‘Who Wants to be a Duchess game?” Friday night or stay for our optional Ice Cream Sundays event and an Austen movie

artifacts mansfield house

 Artifacts at the General Mansfield House – from their website

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Can’t devote a whole weekend to Jane? – then beginning June 1, tickets will be available for Saturday’s events (rather than the complete weekend) until spaces are sold out. Ball-only tickets will be $30; tickets for the ball + dinner + afternoon dance lesson will be $70; and the Saturday-only tickets (breakfast not included) will be $165.

DAY PASSES REGISTRATION FEES

  • Saturday pass 9:30 a.m. to midnight (includes valet parking, workshops, lunch, tea, dance workshop, dinner, Regency food lecture, Regency ball): $165.
  • Saturday BALL PLUS pass 5:45 p.m. to midnight (includes valet parking, dance workshop, dinner, Regency food lecture, Regency ball): $70.
  • Saturday BALL ONLY pass 9 p.m. to midnight (includes valet parking, Regency ball, dessert) – Cash bar available. $30.
  • Sunday pass 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (includes visit to Middlesex County historical society, brunch, keynote lecture, Sunday ice cream social and Austen movie): $65.

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dance-JASNA-CTblog[from the JASNA-CT Summer Camp Blog]

For more information on the weekend and how to register: 

c2013 Jane Austen in Vermont

Jacqueline Schwab in Concert ~ ‘Across the Lake’ English Country Dance Weekend

A Concert open to all
at the Across the Lake English Country Dance Weekend:

 

Ken Burns’ Pianist Jacqueline Schwab in Concert 

Elley-Long Music Center
223 Ethan Allen Avenue, Colchester
Saturday, June 9, 2012
Daytime — 11:15am to 12:30pm
$10. / person 

Enjoy a concert by pianist Jacqueline Schwab, known for her music on the soundtracks of Ken Burns’ award-winning documentaries, like “Civil War” and “Baseball”, and for her work with the popular English country dance band, Bare Necessities. Jacqueline’s concert will feature vintage American and Celtic dance music. To learn more about her, see her website.

Here’s what Ken Burns says: Jacqueline Schwab brings more feeling and intensity to music than anyone I know. Her playing is insistent, physical, heartfelt and … unusually moving.

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@2012 Jane Austen in Vermont

Dance Like Jane Austen! ~ With the Burlington Country Dancers ~ June 8 – 10, 2012

The annual Across the Lake 2012 event put on by the Burlington English Country Dancers is already sold out this weekend for Dancers – but you are welcome and encouraged to join in the festivities as a Spectator, certainly more fun for those with two left feet or perhaps too shy to display an ankle to the masses! So here are the details:

Spectators are welcome to the dance sessions at the Across the Lake English Country Dance Weekend, held at the Elley-Long Music Center, 223 Ethan Allen Avenue, Colchester, VT.

Friday Night, June 8 – Welcome Dance — casual dress, 8pm to 11pm

Saturday Afternoon, June 9 – Challenging Dance Workshop in the Big Hall 1:30pm to 4:30pm

Saturday Night, June 9 – Gala Dance 8pm to 11pm — dancers are requested to wear period (typically Regency) or formal/dressy attire

The Spectator price is $10 per session — and includes the refreshments served during that session. The live music is by Bare Necessities and promises to be incredible.

Details about the Across the Lake Weekend (filled/sold out for dancers): www.burlingtoncountrydancers.org

Info about the band, Bare Necessities: http://homepages.sover.net/~marylea/bnhome.htm

Join in the fun, even if you must only stand on the sidelines – who knows, you might find yourself in a state not unlike Harriet Smith, and a Mr. Knightley might offer you his hand for a dance or two!


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Also mark your calendars for the BCD instruction series scheduled this summer at the Richmond Library: take part, learn a few steps, and next year you can advance from Spectator to Dancer, happily abandoning those left feet and ankle shyness to the sidelines…

English Country Dance

Move to joyful music in a relaxed, beginner-friendly atmosphere

Richmond Free Library
201 Bridge Street, Richmond, VT
6 Tuesday Nights in 2012: July 10, 17, 24, 31 &  August 7, 14
7:00 pm to 9:30pm

More information here: ECD class in richmond summer 2012

[from Val and Tom Medve, for the Burlington Country Dancers]

@2012 Jane Austen in Vermont

English Country Dance in Vermont ~ Put on Your Dancing Shoes!

If you love English Country Dance, then Burlington Vermont is the place to be this summer!  

There are two English Country Dance classes that are being offered:

This first one is through the UVM OLLI program  [ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute ]:

English Country Dancing in Jane Austen’s World 
 
Instructor: Judy Chaves
Date: Monday, July 11, 6-8pm
Location: Ira Allen Chapel at UVM
Price: Members – $20 / Non-Members – $30

Do you enjoy 19th-century British literature? If you’ve ever read any of Jane Austen’s novels or seen any of the recent film adaptations, English country dance plays a prominent role in the culture of the time. The forerunner of American contra dance, English country dance is done in two facing lines (sometimes in squares, less often in circles) and requires no more than a knowledge of left from right and the ability and willingness to move to simply wonderful music. Through a combination of lecture (not much) and dance (as much as we can), you’ll learn the basics of the dance, gain an insider’s appreciation of the vital role it played in the lives of Austen’s characters, understand the etiquette and logistics underpinning Austen’s dance scenes–and have a great deal of fun in the process. You may come by yourself or as a couple!

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Judy is also teaching a series of classes in Charlotte, VT… 

at the Charlotte Senior Center, Wednesdays from 4:30 to 6 pm, starting on July 22 and running for 5 weeks.  It will be geared for beginners.  Come with or without a partner.  Cost is $45 and registration is required.  Call 425-6345 to register. 

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And the fabulous Burlington Country Dancers will be hosting their annual event next weekend!

 Across the Lake

 English Country Dancing on the Vermont Side of Lake Champlain

June 10, 11, 12. 2011 

Elley-Long Music Center
223 Ethan Allen Ave.
Colchester,Vermont
(nearBurlington)

with

Joseph Pimentel
&
Bare Necessities

 plus Wendy Gilchrist, Linda Nelson,
Shepherd & Ewe, Symphony Reel 

~ ADVANCE REGISTRATION REQUIRED ~ 

Visit their website for registration and contact information.

Copyright @2011 Deb Barnum, of Jane Austen in Vermont 

Follow Friday [a day early!] ~ Regency Dances.org

Regency Dancing was how young ladies and young gentlemen met and courted, and the dance floor was often the only place they could talk without being overheard by their chaperones. As was to be expected, the dancing was lively and flirtateous. The dancing needs to be accurate and elegant, but always remember that it is also about love and young people having fun.

A lovely email from a Gentleman in England alerted me to this new website on Regency Dances [ http://RegencyDances.org ]. 

From his email:

Launched in January, the site is a free learning resource for Regency Dances. As well as providing dance notations, the dances are shown as animations.  This combination of watching the animation while following the notation has been found to be an excellent way of quickly understanding the structure of a dance.  The dances are taken from original 18th -19th century sources and written into modern notation by experienced dancers under the watchful eye of a recognised international expert. 

Two or three new dances are added each week.  To keep informed you can “follow” them on Twitter at http://twitter.com/RegencyDances

The objective of http://RegencyDances.org is to create an international shared website resource independent of any specific dance group for (a) sharing genuine Regency dances of known provenance, (b) sharing news of upcoming Regency balls, and (c) sharing information about other Regency groups. 

The site includes a history of the dances, the various dance steps presented in animations, lists of dances and music sources, plans on how to organize a Regency party, a listing of various societies and upcoming events, and a very informative section on “What to Wear” which includes the details of the era fashions and how to locate or make your very own costume.

Please visit the site if you have any interest in the dance of Jane Austen’s period – new information is being constantly added, and the site editors are “looking for sources of recorded music that we may use, videos of single dances to be selected as examples of ‘good practice’ and a few more editors.”

If you are a member of a Regency dance group, certainly add your name and events to their growing list.

[Image: Regency Dances website]

Copyright @2011 by Deb Barnum of Jane Austen in Vermont.

JASNA~Vermont’s Annual Birthday Tea!

teapot3       You are Cordially Invited to JASNA-Vermont’s

~ Annual Jane Austen Birthday Tea ~

with

The Burlington Country Dancers & “Impropriety”

[ Val Medve calling ~ Lar Duggan, piano ~ Dominique Gagne, flute ~ Laura Markowitz, violin ~ Ana Ruesink, viola ]

 

featuring

English Afternoon Tea ♦ Gift Emporium ♦ Live Music

Sunday, 7 December 2008 2 – 5 pm

Champlain College Burlington, VT ~  Hauke Center, 375 Maple St

“Such very superior dancing is not often seen!” ~ Pride & Prejudice

 

country-dance-pic

Dancers demonstrate – Audiences participate!

$10 in advance / $12 at the door / JASNA members $5

RSVP, Tickets & Information:  jasna-vt [at] hotmail [dot] com

 

Dress : regency costume ♦ holiday finery ♦ comfy clothes & shoes

 Please Join Us!