Tonight everyone in the cast besides the seniors, who are at Field Studies for the week, learned the period dances which I believe will be done during the ball scene in which Mercedes sees The Count of Monte Cristo for the first time. The dance that was learned tonight is called round dance which Mary, the choreographer, told everyone is extremely hard to learn. By the middle of rehearsal, however, Mary pointed out that everyone was doing really well for how hard the dance is to learn.
The dance is a couples dance and the rehearsal started with Mary demonstrating the first step to the dance, using one of the actors as her partner. Then each ensemble member grabbed another member near them and started practicing. Some would practice by themselves first and then try it with another or vice versa. Mary went around and made sure everyone was getting it. She then moved on to the next step. Mary started playing period music a little while into the rehearsal. The actors switched partners every now and then.
The second dance which was taught tonight was a particular 19th century slow waltz which Mary said went out of fashion because it was so hard to do. The waltz is done in a big circle where the couples move counter clockwise. The couples' orientation to the circle is extremely important in this dance. Also in this waltz, the guys and the girls have the same step, yet they are three beats apart.
An interesting fact about these dances is that in the society of the time, it was not right for women to look into the eyes of their partner for too long as it was seen as scandalous.