Thursday, February 16, 2012

Dancing at the Academy

The history of dance at the Governor’s Academy has been long and not without controversy. While today’s dances can be filled with disagreements about what sort of dress is “appropriate,” all seem to accept the notion that dances are generally a positive part of student life. Not so when dance began at the academy, in Master Moody’s day. Moody decided that bringing a dance instructor to the academy would help his students both get exercise and develop a useful skill. Some of the alumni did not agree with his positive view of dance. One, in a letter to Moody, equated the instruction of dance to working with the devil, and was outraged that such a subject be taught.

In the 20th and 21st centuries, our views on dances have become much more modernized. Even within this narrower time frame, however, dance life at the academy has changed. No longer do we have dance cards listing the fox trot, the waltz, the one step, as the dance card from the 1920 Halloween Dance does. Likewise, a dance today is an evening, rather than an entire weekend event. The schedule from the 1959 dance reveals, with its plan for female guests staying the weekend on campus, that such a short event was not always the norm. Indeed, even looking only at the previous 100 years, our notions of dance have changed.

Thankfully for the archives, we have some wonderful artifacts from these earlier dances that give us a glimpse of student life in earlier times. A new display of some of these is set up currently in the Cobb room right outside the admissions office. If you have a chance, please stop by and check it out. Or email me at with your own memories of campus dances.