By Shera Everette
Carrboro Commons Writer
Life and scenes from the Victorian era will be re-created on Saturday, March 29, when dozens of people dance the night away at the Carrboro Century Center.
The Triangle Vintage Dance will host its 6th Annual Victorian Ball, showcasing a gamut of Victorian dances, from the waltz and polka to the foxtrot and tango.
“It’s always a lot of fun,” said Dawn Imershein, who co-instructs Triangle Vintage Dance with her husband, Chris. “The costumes are sometimes amazing for the people who go all out.”
Dawn Imershein said about a quarter of the dancers get into character and dress in Victorian-era costumes, while most dress in modern dance attire, including prom dresses, gowns and tuxedos.
She also said that the skill of the dancers ranges from those with two left feet to experienced dancers. There is a warm-up lesson from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Saturday at the Triangle Dance Studio, 2603 S. Miami Blvd. in Durham.
“Some dances are more difficult than others, and everybody has different methods of learning, but we’ve taught it enough to be able to help everyone,” Dawn Imershein said. “I’m sometimes really surprised to see faces I’ve never seen before come to the ball. But for the people who take lessons, their improvement level is just amazing.”
The couple offers weekly instructions at their Durham studio, and it all began with Chris Imershein’s passion for vintage dance.
“I remember my mom bringing me to folk dances when I was a kid,” he said. “Mostly, I sat on the side and read a book, but occasionally I would get dragged into a dance. I think that exposure to music and dance when I was young has had an influence on my interest and enjoyment of dance now.”
His interest in dance continued while he was a student at Duke University, even though he often struggled with the dance steps. Once he graduated, he moved to Connecticut and tried out their local dance scene. After discovering a group that taught vintage dances, he knew he was hooked.
“I enjoyed learning the Victorian and Ragtime dances and had fun at the historical-themed dance events,” Chris Imershein said. “After I had been dancing for a while, I was invited to join a local performing troupe. I believe my dancing and teaching abilities improved considerably from the regular rehearsals of this group and with demos, teaching, and performances around New England and the U.S.”
When he moved back to North Carolina in 2000, he found a live dance community with swing dance, contra dance and ballroom dance, but no place for vintage dances.
“I decided that if I was going to do them in North Carolina, I’d have to teach some more people how,” he said.
Chris Imershein started Triangle Vintage Dance in 2001, beginning with monthly dance lessons and then increasing to weekly lessons. Two years later, his dancing became a fairy tale when he met his future wife at an event.
“We’d seen each other at dances, and then he finally asked me out,” Dawn Imershein said. “He taught me everything I know about vintage dance.”
They began dating, and she helped him coordinate the first Victorian Ball in 2003. Last year, the ball was a family affair for the Imersheins, who took their then 4-month-old son to the dance.