Jane Austen and The Abbey: Mystery, Mayhem, and Muslin in Portland

Dance Workshops, Grande Promenade, Bal Masqué

Line Dancing

For the Bal Program and Workshop Instruction click here.

Dance Workshops
$15 each, 4 sessions $60
Thursday, October 28 and Friday, October 29

Dance Workshop 1  Thursday, Oct 28, 1 pm-2:30 pm
Dance Workshop 2Thursday, Oct 28, 3 pm-4:30 pm
Dance Workshop 3Friday, Oct 29, 9 am-10:30 am
Dance Workshop 4Friday, Oct 29, 11 am-12:30 pm

To help prepare Jane’s terpsichoreans for the Bal Masqué on Saturday night, Dance Master Erik D. Weberg will conduct all four Dance Workshops.  Live music will be provided, and members of the local English Country Dance Society will be present to provide assistance.  All workshops will cover the basics of country dancing and several dances.  Although some of the dances may be repeated, no two classes will be identical.  All four Workshops will be in the Hilton Hotel downstairs on the Ballroom Level in the Parlor Rooms.  English Country Dancing can be enjoyed by all, no need to bring a partner.  Those of you who take the Dance Workshops will certainly have a leg up at the Bal Masqué.  (Each workshop has a minimum of 16 and a maximum of 88.)

Grande Promenade
Saturday, October 30, after the Banquet (8:00 pm)

Emma and Mr. Knightley

After dinner, members in Regency, “fancy,” or Halloween costume dress—and anyone wearing a fun mask—are invited to participate in the Grande Promenade.  Immediately after the banquet, participants will assemble in the foyer of the Grand Ballroom for a parade around the hotel and, weather permitting, around the block.  We will bow and curtsey to our neighbors and astonish and delight the passersby with our elegance.  Upon returning to the hotel, the ball will officially begin.



Bal Masqué
Saturday, October 30, 8:30pm – 11:30pm

Bal Masque

The traditional Saturday evening banquet will be followed by the Bal Masqué in the Hilton Grand Ballroom.  Whether you come to the ball in Regency dress, Halloween costume, or modern attire, you are sure to enjoy the evening.  Dance Master Erik Weberg will conduct a talented group of musicians and preside over the ball.  Mr. Weberg says he will choose dances which are accessible to all Janeites and don’t have many technical challenges.  He says his focus is on “good music, tried-and-true dances and good fellowship and humor.”  Wear your mask for fun—but it’s not required!

For those who do not wish to dance, but simply relax, there will be a card room available.  (See Fripperies.) Or maybe you will want to join The Monster Mash!  (See Special Events.) Perhaps you would rather just hang out in the foyer between ball and speakers for relaxed conversation with your old as well as newly-made freinds.

Erik Weberg, Dance Master
Mr. Weberg will be teaching all four Dance Workshops and calling the Bal Masqué

Erik Weberg Erik Weberg

Whenever Erik Weberg calls, the hall is packed with dancers who know the evening is sure to be a great one.  Here’s why:  Equally adept at contra and English calling, Erik chooses dances that are tailor-made for the occasion at hand, matching the dances to experience level of the crowd and providing a wealth of variety in the program.  (If he doesn’t have a dance that suits his needs, he will write one—many of these are widely called.)  His teaching is exceptionally encouraging, clear, and concise making it easy for all to gain a sense of mastery while keeping momentum rolling throughout the evening.  Because Erik is also an accomplished contra and English dance musician, he is unusually good at conveying the feel of the music he would like for each of the dances he calls.  Band members then have a clear idea about what to play (English musicians have a sense of the mood of the dance), and dancers reap the rewards when they experience a wonderful synergy between the dance figures and the music.  Erik’s ability to connect with dancers and his sly sense of humor insure an upbeat, congenial atmosphere on the floor as well as a terrific dance experience.  This combination of attributes explains why he is in continual demand as a caller across the country.
                                                                                                    —review of Erik written by Sue Songer.

Earl Gaddis, Fiddle Player

Earl Gaddis Earl Gaddis

Earl has been fiddling for a mixture of English, Scottish, American and international dancing for more than 30 years.  After moving to Boston in 1969 he began fiddling for New England square and contra dances, then playing for English Country and ritual dancing in the early 70’s.  He now lives in western Massachusetts but is looking forward to fiddling at all four Dance Workshops and the Bal Masqué.


George Penk and Heather Pinney

George Penk and Heather Pinney George Penk and
Heather Pinney

George Penk is a dancer at heart, whether it be on the floor with his feet or on the fiddle strings with his bow.  His deep sense of the pulse of the music translates into an unusual ability to infuse his fiddling with both driving rhythm and intense emotion.  His music in turn causes dancers to respond – soaring and gliding to beautiful jigs or stomping and shrieking to fast-moving reels.  His range is very broad.  George’s powerful connection between music and dance has placed him in high demand for Saturday night dances, week end dance camps and week-long instructional events on both US coasts.

Heather Pinney’s accomplished piano accompaniment contains steady, pulsing rhythms as well as chords and bass lines that capture the essence of the melodies she is backing up. Her fluid interplay with other band members – sometimes backing off to give them space, sometimes punching the beat out to bring dynamic emphasis – contributes wonderfully to the cohesiveness of her bands.  In addition, dancers are sometimes treated to Heather’s clear and harmonious fiddling.  It is no surprise that she is frequently invited to play dance events and weekends throughout the West.

English Country Dancing at the Bal Masqué

(This description is modified by Alan Winston from text written by Linda Repasky, who dances in Amherst, Massachusetts.)

What is English Country Dancing?  You say you’ve never heard of English Country Dancing?  You’re in good company, since many people are unfamiliar with it.  But if you've watched Pride and Prejudice on TV, or seen Sense and Sensibility or Emma at the movies, you have indeed seen it.  But fear not – English Country Dancing (ECD) is not the obscure relic you might think it to be! While this traditional form of dance has been around for several hundred years, it’s still thriving today.  There is English Country Dancing all over the United States.

Why do Janeites love ECD so much?  For many, it's the music – hauntingly beautiful tunes that make the heart swell.  Some dance tunes are taken from old ballads and political satire; others come from classical music and operas.  This gives ECD music tremendous variety; sometimes sweet and melodic, sometimes melancholy, and sometimes absolutely driven with a pulsating beat.  All local dances feature live music, played by many of the area’s most accomplished musicians.  Others love ECD for the grace and elegance with which you glide as you dance.  At times, you simply get swept away as you become one with the music.  Many people love the beautiful patterns that you create as you dance and weave.  Through it all, there’s an indefinable quality to ECD that makes it energizing, mesmerizing, and just plain fun.

ECD is not hard to learn.  If you can walk and know the difference between left and right, you already have much of the basic knowledge you’ll need.  Most of the movements are based simply on a walking or skipping step.  Dancers move in a number of specific “figures,” sometimes holding hands, sometimes by themselves.  Each dance is prompted by a caller, so that each figure and movement is called in time to the music; you don’t need to rely on your memory alone to know what to do.

Beginners are welcome and encouraged to give it a try.  Partners are not necessary; you can come by yourself and be assured of dancing throughout the evening, since our tradition is to change partners for each dance.

English Country Dancing