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Carroll County Times

Kick it in a quadrille: A Civil War living history ball

Whether you're a master of Victorian era dance or can't tell a quadrille from a waltz, the instructors at the Corbit's Charge Civil War Ball on March 29 will give you the steps in order to step back in time.

Although period dress is optional, according to Sherry Hartman, a member of the event planning committee, many living history enthusiasts will come to the ball in full costume to demonstrate many of the dances popular during the time of the Civil War.

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"When you come in ... you get to see people dressed in recreated period attire," said Sherry Hartman, a member of the event planning committee that she said is associated with the Pipe Creek Civil War Round Table. "It's beautiful to watch and when you see the dancers go through the steps, en masse, it's so elegant -- I don't think people get to see such things today others than going to something like this."

The ball, which is in its seventh year, will run from 8 p.m. until 11 p.m. at the Westminster Family Center and light refreshments will be served and some door prizes, including jewelry items, according to Hartman, will be given away. The event is suitable for all ages.

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"There are young children and grandparents that come and tweens and teens, it's for everybody," Hartman said. "You'll see most people in period attire, however it is admired but not required. [Contemporary dress] should be semi-formal, no jeans obviously."

Steven Carney, of Harney, has been involved in living history events for more than 10 years and will be attending the ball in a military uniform.

"I wear a captain's uniform. It can consist of a frock coat or long coat, or a short coat, traditional period shoes and period pants," Carney said. "In that time period people would try to put on as much air as they could going to a formal event like that, as flashy as they could. If you were wearing civilian stuff you would wear bright plaids or some other kind of formal outfit."

If bright plaids are not to be found in your wardrobe, Carney suggests going with something formal like one might wear to the prom.

Period music will be played live, usually with a violin or fiddle, flute and another stringed instrument of some sort, according to Hartman and dances, Virginia reels, quadrilles and waltzes -- German and Spanish -- will be preceded by a brief instruction of the steps for the unfamiliar.

According to Carney, the best way to describe the dances would be in terms of similar, contemporary forms of dance.

"It's kind of like a mix between square dancing and ballroom dancing," Carney said. "It's not very complicated, but there is a mixture of waltzes, reels, and quadrilles that are kind of done in a square pattern."

Preregistration for the event is preferred but not required, according to Hartman and is available by calling the Westminster Family Center at 410-848-9161. Tickets will be sold at the door for the same prices as in advanced, $20 for those age 18 and older, $10 for those ages 13 through 17 and children 12 and younger free.

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The proceeds go to the Pipe Creek Civil War Round Table, a nonprofit that has its finances handled by the Community Foundation of Carroll County, according to Hartman. The nonprofit not only sponsors the Corbit's Charge Civil War Ball, but also hosts the Corbit's Charge Living History event in June.

Ned Landis is a living history enthusiast and the vice president of the Pipe Creek Civil Ware Round Table, with experience re-enacting both ballroom and battlefield history. Of the two, he said, the ball is certainly more accessible and gives anyone of any age a chance to get up close and personal with, and to even step in, to take part pieces of history.

"You can't just walk out and join in at the battlefield, but you can do the dancing," he said. "We have children as well as adults, so it can be a whole family thing, which you may not have in a [battlefield] re-enactment atmosphere."


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