I always feel I happily combine my two loves – research and performing – in the study and recreation of historical and vintage dances. I come to historical dance from a strong and varied background in ballet, tap, modern and ballroom techniques. I also have a degree in linguistics which facilitates my study of original source material. I’m at home on stage, behind a podium or in a research library. I was definitely born in the wrong century.
From 1990 to 1998, I worked with Ex Machina Baroque Opera in Minneapolis, choreographing, directing and performing musical stage works written before 1800. I trained singers in 17th and 18th century acting styles. Ex Machina’s brilliant performances recreated period scenery, costumes, lighting, dance, staging and musical practice in one truly enchanting package. Working with Ex Machina gave me the rare opportunity to recreate and stage many early dance pieces.
After moving to Philadelphia in 1998 I formed my own performing group, Mixed Pickles Vintage Dance Co. We research, recreate and perform American social dances from the colonial period through the 1950s, performing and teaching all over the Greater Philadelphia Area. Mixed Pickles brings a unique and personally accessible view of history to audiences of all ages.
I’m a faculty member of the Abington Art Center in Jenkintown, PA, where I teach modern and vintage ballroom dance and I have had the privilege to tour regularly in the U.S. and Japan as choreographer and dancer with the New York Ragtime Orchestra. I perform, choreograph, lecture and conduct workshops on historical dance and etiquette for such diverse groups as Temple University, Ballet Arts Denver, Historic Philadelphia, The Bloomington, Indiana Early Music Festival, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Chautauqua Institute in upstate New York, The Mexico City Early Music Festival, and The Japan Ragtime festival in Osaka and Tokyo.
In 2003 I worked as assistant choreographer on the M. Knight Shyamalan film, The Village. I’ve choreographed for the Wilma Theater and DanceBoom and I serve on the Advisory Board of Dance USA Philadelphia. I’m also the current president of the Association of Philadelphia Tour Guides, working as a guide all over the city. In 2013, I was proud to co-author Lost Philadelphia, with my good friend and colleague, Ed Mauger. Finally, I am the archivist at the William Way Community Center on Spruce St., where I help to document the many LGBT contributions to Philadelphia life. In June of 2013, I curated an exhibit about the William Way Center’s amazing archival holdings called “Private Lives in Public Spaces,” which is at the at the Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent until the end of October, 2013.
My love for Philadelphia and my appreciation of its long historical and social heritage grow each year. My hope is that this blog will spur me on to write the much needed book on the history of social dance in Philadelphia.