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Victorian Dance Ensemble

Balls, Demonstrations, Classes, Displays and Lectures

2 Westminster Blvd.
Camp Hill, PA 17011
Phone: 717-732-5330 
Email :
Address Map  |  Driving Directions

Recreating a Bygone Era

The Victorian Dance Ensemble is a group of living historians who share a love for the grace and beauty of mid-nineteenth century dancing. We are devoted to fostering an appreciation for the dance and social customs of the Civil War era by presenting demonstrations, classes, balls and other related programs.

The Ensemble is primarily a dance group but we do much more than dancing. We offer a wide range of Civil War and mid-Victorian related presentations, including fashion shows, clothing try-on, and displays of period jewelry, photography, newspapers, and militaria. Individual members also present lectures on a variety of topics. 

The Victorian Dance Ensemble has conducted numerous Balls and Demonstrations for a variety of sponsors and events. Additionally, the Ensemble has also presented fashion shows, provided Victorian displays, and supplied knowledgeable “meeters and greeters” to mingle with guests at social functions. Many of these events have become annual affairs for us and others are one-time presentations at special events.

Types of Programs

The Victorian Dance Ensemble conducts several different types of programs to meet the specific needs of event sponsors. Ideas for your event include . . .

Dance Demonstrations

The Victorian Dance Ensemble has performed at the Gettysburg National Military Park’s Annual Music Muster since 1999. The event includes demonstrations at the Park’s Cyclorama Center and the historic Dobbin House (above). This is a modern color version of the wetplate photograph on our Homepage.

The Victorian Dance Ensemble can provide experienced dancers to demonstrate the various dances of the era for living history presentations, historic commemorations, or other events with a Civil War or Victorian theme. Demonstrations can range from one-half hour to an hour or more. Several demonstrations can be scheduled at day-long or weekend events.

Teaching Balls

The Annual Civil War Preservation Ball in the Rotunda of the Pennsylvania Capitol Building has raised thousands of dollars for the preservation of monuments at Gettysburg.

The Victorian Dance Ensemble has also developed a highly successful “Teaching Ball” program that leads inexperienced dancers through an evening reminiscent of an 1860s Ball. This type of event has proved to be both fun for the guests and an excellent fund-raiser for historic sites and a variety of organizations.

Fashion Shows

  Juanita Leisch Jensen (left), author of Who Wore What, used the ladies of the Victorian Dance Ensemble as models during a lecture on clothing at the National Civil War Museum.

Our dancers dress in a variety of clothing from the period. The ladies’ clothing ranges from elegant ball gowns to fancy day dresses to work dresses and the men are attired in a variety of military uniforms and civilian apparel. A fashion show can be conducted between demonstration dances or as a separate activity.

Dance Instruction

The Victorian Dance Ensemble conducts dance classes in a variety of formats to meet the needs of various groups. Options include: formal classes over several weeks; one-day seminars; several hours of instruction, usually in the afternoon, before a formal ball, or instruction during our unique “teaching ball” program. The Victorian Dance Ensemble has offered formal dance classes through Harrisburg Area Community College, the Camp Curtin Historical Society and the Pennsylvania Monument Project. For the past several years, it has offered free informal classes at The National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, Pa.

School Programs

The students at St. Patrick School in Harrisburg rented and made costumes for their
Civil War Ball.

Over the years, the Victorian Dance Ensemble has presented several special programs for schools. Unfortunately, these very rewarding programs have been small in number since they usually have to be done during the day and most of our members work full time. Evening and weekend programs, however, can be easily arranged and have proved to be great hits with the children.

Christmas and Dickens Events

The VDE joined the Civil War version of Santa in supporting the U.S. Marines’ “Toys for Tots” Program

Many of our Christmas traditions date from the mid-nineteenth century, including
Christmas trees, cards, dinner, gift-giving, caroling and our current perception of Santa Claus. The Victorian Dance Ensemble, as Dickens or Civil War era characters, can add a festive old time aura to your holiday event.

Jewelry & Accessories Displays

The Victorians were very sentimental people and displayed their family attachments by wearing jewelry made of human hair from both deceased and living family members. The Ensemble can display original examples of this hair jewelry and other jewelry types from the period.

Photography Displays

Photography was relatively new during the Civil War. Our displays include examples of original ferrotypes (tintypes), ambrotypes, cartes de visite, and stereoviews. Visitors may handle and examine many of these objects and most are fascinated by the 3-dimensional stereoviews. The displays also include enlargements of period photographs to show what people actually wore during the time period.

Clothing Displays and Try-On

Accurately made reproductions of period clothing, ranging from underpinnings to dresses to bonnets are included in these displays. Visitors may examine the clothing closely to feel the weight and texture and see construction techniques. We can even arrange for your guests to try on reproduction clothing.

Cemetery Programs

Many historic cemeteries offer tours and the Victorian Dance Ensemble members can interpret Victorian funeral practices and provide displays of mourning jewelry and accessories. We have even recreated the somewhat odd custom (to modern thinking) in the mid-nineteenth century of having a picnic at a departed relative’s grave.

Civil War Militaria Displays

For Civil War themed events and sites, we often present displays of original military equipment, including firearms, swords, insignia, and documents, along with reproductions of flags and uniforms.

Several ladies of the Victorian Dance Ensemble are enthusiastic side saddle riders and can provide demonstrations and displays at appropriate events.

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Victorian Dance Ensemble

Balls, Demonstrations, Classes, Displays and Lectures

2 Westminster Blvd.
Camp Hill, PA 17011
Phone: 717-732-5330 
Email :
Address Map  |  Driving Directions


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