Shall We Dance: Three Centuries of Dance in America Exhibition

Winterthur, DE August 14, 2006—From the minuet to the waltz, and from the polka to hip-hop, dance has always been an important part of American culture, and Shall We Dance: Three Centuries of Dance in America, a new exhibition at Winterthur Museum & Country Estate, will trace the social history of dance from the early 1700s to the 1900s.

Drawn from the collections in the Winterthur library, Shall We Dance? features prints and drawings, dance and etiquette manuals, dance tickets, cards, and invitations, sheet music, and paper dolls and will go on view from September 2, 2006 to February 2007.

“Although dancing got off to a slow start in America due to religious objections, even the Puritans didn’t ban it completely,” said Jeanne Solensky, Librarian, Joseph Downs Collection & Manuscripts & Printed Ephemera and curator of the exhibition. “They considered dancing to be an excellent way to teach poise and good manners.”

“In the 1700s, French and English settlers brought their traditional dances to the American colonies. The same was true in the 1800s and 1900s, when immigrants from throughout the world arrived with their own native dances, such as the waltz and the polka” continued Solensky. “As America has grown, so has our country’s contribution to the world of dance through the creation of original forms and styles. Today, dance in America is constantly invigorated by exposure to diverse cultures and music. By bringing people together to socialize and celebrate, dance will always remain part of our lives.”

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