2014, “Every Savage can Dance”: dance as a class identifier

Click here to read the paper.

“Every savage can dance,” replies Mr. Darcy sardonically in Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, mocking Sir William Lucas’s innocent pronouncement that dancing is “one of the first refinements of polished societies.”

And Mr. Darcy has a point! But of course Sir William is not referring to just ‘any old dancing’ – he is referring to the kind of dance that is current in his particular set in society; and above all, to the ‘refined’ style of performing these dances, a style that confers admission into ‘polite society’, a style that has become a ‘cultural’ identifier, and more particularly in this case, a ‘class’ identifier’ for the beau monde of the period.

Dance as a class identifier is not a new idea, and is certainly implied in Sir William Lucas’s comment. But I’d like to explore the ways in which this has influenced dance styles through the centuries.

Click here to read the paper.

Barbara Segal