March 9, 2024

Victorian Ball

with live music by Spare Parts
prompting by Chris Ricciotti

7:00-10:00 pm ET
1:00 - 4:00pm pre-ball workshops

1870 Town Hall
12 Woodward Avenue
Berlin, MA

Travel back in time to the Victorian ballroom.

Online registration is open.

Sponsors:

the Folk Arts Center of New England
New England Vintage Arts Society
What Remains, a Civil War-era living history group

Admission

  • $25 - FAC member
  • $30 - General/non-member
  • $20 - Student (up to age 21)

We invite you to step into the 19th century ballroom at a Victorian Ball. Our talented musicians will delight us with waltzes, polkas, contra dances, and more. Period costumes are encouraged but not required. Light refreshments will be served. The afternoon workshop will review the basics of period dance as well as set-dances for the evening, which will also be called during the ball.

Beginners and experienced dancers, singles, couples, and groups are all welcome!

Covid Policy

  • Masks are optional but welcome and highly encouraged.
  • Please do not attend if you are feeling ill.

Period Clothing Suggestions

Period dress is encouraged but not required - modern clothing is just fine. The music and dance will be mid to late 19th century, but styles from any decade of the 19th century are encouraged if you would like to step into the historical nature of the evening. If you have any questions about clothing for the dance please email Katy.

For more information about putting together a period ensemble please use these links:

About the Music and Dance

Music for the evening will be by Spare Parts: Bill Matthiesen, Liz Stell, and Susan Conger. Prompting will be by Chris Ricciotti. Dance workshop will be led by Chris Ricciotti and Katy Bishop

About Spare Parts

For over 25 years Liz Stell and Bill Matthiesen have been researching, recording, and performing all types of dance music: contra and English country, 19th century and ragtime, waltzes and couples dances, tangos and milongas. They've played for concerts, contradances, Mostly Waltz events, the Nahant Victorian balls, and other period events in over 20 states and provinces. In October of 2000 they traveled to Buenos Aires for research and met with music collectors and "guardia vieja" (old guard) musicians.

Bill's Waltz Books have become classics for dance musicians, harp players, and jam sessions. Liz and Bill published a collection of mid-19th century sheet music, The Civil War Ballroom Band Book, Patri Pugliesi's dance manual and Dances for the Civil War Ballroom DVD.

Susan Conger grew up playing classical violin, and as an adult was drawn to the fiddle tunes she heard while contradancing. In 1987 she followed the tunes and dances to western Massachusetts. Much to her own surprise, what began as a hobby evolved into a career. Locally, she has played for monthly and weekly contradance series in South Amherst, Amherst, Montague, and Greenfield, and for countless special events in the schools and community. She teaches private lessons in fiddle and classical violin in her Greenfield studio.

About Chris

Chris Ricciotti fell in love with dancing at age 6 in Phys Ed class, dancing to old time square dancing as a part of the curriculum. He started his own old time square dance groups in 1982, and after coming out as a gay man in 1985, decided that this would be a great activity for the LGBTQIA community. In 1996, he was introduced to and fell in love with vintage dance programs when he attended Tony Parkes’ “Christmas Cotillion”. Chris loves to dress up in period attire and being a part of recreating the beautiful magic of bringing the history of this dancing back to life.

Chris is the founder of the Lavender Country and Folk dancers (1988), an organization dedicated to organizing, coordination and marketing of gender-free local community dances and dance camps all over the US. Not only does he dance and teach vintage dancing from 1840 thru 1930, he also loves New England Contras and Squares, Western Square Dancing, International Folk Dancing, English & Scottish Country dancing, Scandinavian turning couple dances as well as pagan and sacred circle dancing. He plays the Melodeon for Contras & Squares, Morris Dancing, and English Dances, and has composed a number of his own tunes.

About Katy

Katy Bishop attended her first Victorian Ball and she fell in love with dance immediately. She joined the FAC team in 2019 as Office Manager after many years of running dance events as a volunteer. In her spare time she is a historian, dressmaker, graphic artist, and mother of three. Her Viennese mother passed on her dressmaking skills, love of dance, and sense of fun. Her father from Budapest instilled in her a love of history and a desire to preserve her family’s heritage.

She is a costume historian, vintage dressmaker, vintage dancer, and co-founder of the New England Vintage Arts Society. She and her late husband, Ben, organized the Nahant Vintage dance weekends for three decades. Last, but far from least, she is the mother of three amazing kids who are developing a love of costuming, dance, and appreciation of the joy in life.