Mrs. Parks very kindly suggests you think of two things: Jane Austen and air conditioning.
If period costumes and Regency England are your cup of tea, you won’t want to miss the grand event known as “Mrs. Parks’ Regency Rout” featuring English country dancing and lots of ladies’ gloves. It’s one of my top arts picks for the week.
The event: Hosted by Period Entertainments and Recreational Costuming of Fresno, the dance will feature live musicians, light refreshments and the chance to experience a little taste of a bygone era, organizers say. Dances will be taught before they are danced, with calling by popular folk musician Evo Bluestein.
A rout? Yes, you read that correctly. A “rout” was a slang term meaning any very lively party or gathering. “Our evening will be very similar to the ‘Assemblies,’ or the local community dances that were often held in English counties in the early 1800s,” says Heather Parish, a co-organizer along with Brooke Aiello Parks. You can see those gatherings in such films as “Pride and Prejudice.”
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Do I have to dress up? No, although period costumes are encouraged. “About half of our attendees come in historical costume or vintage wear, while others come in their ‘Sunday Best,’ a lovely dress or handsome suit, waistcoat or tie,” Parish says. “Dressing up helps everyone rise to the sense of occasion that a party with dancing would have been in the early 1800s.”
The approximate time period: Think any Jane Austen story, during the Napoleonic wars or during the early years of the American republic. Thomas Jefferson’s presidency sits squarely in the middle of the time period.
Age recommendation: The event is family friendly, and the dancing is appropriate for children ages 10 and older.
What you’ll find that isn’t 18th century: Central air conditioning, indoor plumbing, electricity and no requirement for women to arrive with an escort. “Please feel free to gender self-identify and dance with whomever your heart desires, regardless of whether they wear a gown or pantaloons,” Parish says.
What Mrs. Parks is wearing: In the accompanying photo, she models an Empire waist white muslin gown with a hyacinth silk open robe in the style of the year 1800. Her ensemble is accessorized with a gold brooch pendant, a pearl bracelet and ebony fan. Her hair is done up in the high style with one of her signature tiaras.
Details: 6:30 p.m. Saturday, June 25, Cal Arts Academy, 1401 N. Wishon at Floradora in Fresno. www.percfresno.com, 559-901-1022. Tickets $10 at the door or $8 in advance online.
A Mahler spectacular
The event: The annual Fresno Summer Orchestra Academy, popularly known as FOOSA, provides a monster Mahler finale on Sunday, June 26, featuring the composer’s 2nd Symphony performed by a 120-member orchestra.
The draw: The concert, conducted by Thomas Loewenheim, will be a reprise of the summer academy’s performance on Friday, June 24, at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Now in its fourth year, the festival brings together a star music faculty and talented young musicians from around the world. The program will include FOOSA concerto competition winner solos with orchestra, FOOSA half-day program participants and – the main event – the FOOSA Philharmonic.
“There are musicians from all over the world here in Fresno just to participate in FOOSA,” says Julia Copeland of the Youth Orchestras of Fresno, which is co-sponsoring the festival along with Fresno State. “The program has grown astoundingly – and wonderfully. The faculty principals would be at home in any professional orchestra in the world
Details: 4 p.m. Sunday, June 26. The finale was originally scheduled for the Fresno State Concert Hall but because of demand has been moved to the Roosevelt High School Auditorium, 4250 E. Tulare Ave. Free ($15 suggested donation). www.foosamusic.org.