WOOSTER — The College of Wooster's Kittredge Hall will be transformed to resemble a scene right out of “Pride & Prejudice” on Feb. 24, as the school's ballroom dance club has organized its very own Jane Austen Ball.
Jane Austen balls are held all over the globe, an homage to the English novelist who gave the literary world novels of manners like “Sense & Sensibility,” “Emma” and “Mansfield Park.” There are such events in Ohio, which piqued the interest of Wooster physics professor Niklas Manz, who advises the ballroom dance club and who — with his wife, Yvonne — has won awards in competitive ballroom dance.
While some balls are held in venues like gymnasiums, Manz said, “If we do it in Wooster, we'll do it at Kittredge (Hall).”
The only problem, Manz said, is the hall is carpeted. Fortunately, he was able to secure a $700 grant from the school's Cultural Events Fund, which will cover the cost of bringing in a 12-by-26-foot floor.
The ball itself will be held from 7-10 p.m. and is open to the public at $20 for adults and $5 for students. Attendees are encouraged to wear Regency-style dress, though semi-formal or business casual wear is acceptable.
The dances, which will be prompted by Susan English of the Madrigal Dancers of Wooster, include Polonese Russe, The Physical Snob, Duke of Kent's Waltz and Dorset Triumph.
Don't sound familiar?
No problem, said Manz. There's a full afternoon of Austen-themed workshops to bring you up to speed: dance with English at 2 p.m.; The Jane Austen/Regency Look with Susan Heady at 3 p.m.; Pride and Prejudice at War with Christina Welsch of the history department a 3:30 p.m.; Embroidery with Rebecca Callan from the theater and dance department at 4 p.m. and concluding with a 4:30 p.m. discussion of “Mansfield Park” by Wooster student Catherine Lockwood.
“It's nice to get different departments together for this,” Manz said. “I think it's nice overall and what makes The College of Wooster a nice place.”
That spirit of cooperation has prevailed throughout the community, as Manz pointed out the Austen celebration has also been supported by Spoon Market, the Black Squirrel Inn, Templeton's Scottish Bakery, Holcomb's Classics, the Wayne Center for the Arts and NAMI. Old English country dances have been held at both the WCA and the Valley College Grange on state Route 226, while the Historical Society hosted Jane Austen/Regency Look workshop and two sessions of “From Thrift Store to the Jane Austen Ball” were held in the past few weeks at the NAMI/MOCA House activities room.
Pre-registration for the Feb. 24 event is strongly encouraged (by Feb. 14) in order for the organizers to plan for refreshments and can be done via email to JABall.Wooster@yahoo.com.
Reporter Tami Mosser can be reached at 330-287-1655 or firstname.lastname@example.org.