November 14, 1975

Period Dance is filmed for national distribution by Newsweek Magazine. With a generous grant from the Athens Junior Woman's Club, we construct replicas of six First Ladies' gowns.

fall sometime

Parts of Five Centuries travels to Anderson, SC, to dance at an arts festival in a park. On the way back, the bus breaks down at the border and we have to wait until a replacement comes to pick us up.

This must have been in October, because it was still warm, and didn't Kevin Reid and Roberta Illg have to get back to Athens for a performance of Hot L Baltimore?

November 14, 1975

Article in the Athens Banner-Herald:


"The upcoming Bicentennial program of the Period Dance Group of the Department of Drama and Theatre of the University of Georgia is scheduled to be the subject of a television feature for telecast on station WSB, Channel 2, Atlanta, during the Six O'Clock Evening News on Saturday.
"Filmed last week in the Founders' Memoral Garden on the University campus by a crew from New York City, the feature will be distributed by Newsweek Magazine to 62 television stations across the country with a potential audience of 50 million viewers.
"Under the direction of Dr. Jackson Kesler of the Department of Drama and Theatre, the Period Dance Group is preparing its Bicentennial Program, "Two Hundred Years of American Dance," which will be centered around the Inaugural Balls of six presidents and their first ladies—Washington, Madison, Jackson, Lincoln, Cleveland, and Coolidge. With the support of a generous grant from the Athens Junior Woman's Club, the inaugural gowns of the respective first ladies have been recreated as closely as possible.
"Research is progressing in connection with the Smithsonian Institute and the Library of Congress into historical details connected with the arrangements and dances of each of the inaugural balls. Among the more than 30 dances to be performed are the Cotillion, Quadrille, Hull's Victory, Sir Roger de Coverly, Five-Step Waltz and Tango. Appropriate period entertainments will also be a feature of the performance.
"The Period Dance Group's Bicentennial Program, which is listed on the National Calendar of Events, will be presented in Athens on April 1 and 2 at 8 p.m. in the newly renovated Balcony Theatre III in the Fine Arts Building.
"Now in its third year of operation, the Period Dance Group is totally unique in the United States. The group functions as a cooperative, extracurricular activity in the Department of Drama and Theatre and as a Student Union activity. Volunteers from among the 32 members of the group research, choreograph and teach the dances. The design of the costumes and the direction of the productions are handled by Dr. Kesler. All costumes and [sic] constructed by student costume assistants in the Department of Drama and Theatre."

photo here


December, 1975

Jennifer Jenkins and Dale Lyles spend a week in Washington, DC, researching inaugural balls at the Library of Congress, the White House archives, and the Smithsonian.

January 13, 1976

We perform once again for the University Women's Club.

February 3, 1976

Article in the Athens Banner-Herald:


"During the Christmas vacation when most U. of Ga. students left studies and academic affairs far behind, two members of the Period Dance Group engaged in quite a different activity from the majority of students. In preparation for the April Bicentennial production of the Period Dance Group of the Department of Drama and Theatre, two officers of the group, Jennifer Jenkins, secretary, and Dale Lyles, president, braved the inclement weather of Washington, D.C., to uncover additional research material concerning the inaugural balls of six presidents—Washington, Madison, Jackson, Lincoln, Cleveland, and Coolidge. These presidents and their wives will be the subjects of the presentation of the Period Dance Group's 'Two Hundred Years of American Dance.' The history and development of American dance will be presented in recreated settings of each of the six presidential inaugural balls.
"The areas of the two student's [sic] research covered three main topics including historical American dances, appropriate dance music and the gowns of the First Ladies. The first stop was at the National Museum of History and Technology of the Smithsonian Insitution [sic] where the director of the Division of Musical Instruments, James Weaver, provided much helpful material. In fact, he released a recording of historical American ballroom music performed with historical musical instruments which will provide much of the music for the performance of such dances as Hull's Victory, Sir Roger de Coverly, Crown Imperial Quadrille and Eccoaisse [very sic]. He also provided such information of American musical history as the fact that the marches of John Philip Sousa were originally composed as dances. The Period Dance Grup will be performing the dance for the Washington Post March.
"Also at the Smithsonian the students visited the Collection of Dresses of the First Ladies of the White House. With the assistance of the Collection's curator, Ms. Margaret Clapthorp, the students were able to examine closely the garments and ask questions about construction details which would facilitate the process of duplicating the gowns of the six First Ladies. This phase of the production is being executed by the Costume Shop under the direction of Dr. Jackson Kesler. This project is being made possible through the generous support of the Athens Junior Woman's Club.
"The students learned that the material for Martha Washington's dress had been hand painted in France. The dress was decorated with native American wildflowers—violets, buttercups, daisies, morning glories, and arbutus. The only method of duplication such a pattern was to paint modern material in a similar design. A newly developed scenic paint was used by students to approximate the intricate fabric from which was then constructed into a gown almost exactly duplicating the dress in the Smithsonian. [ed.: What??]
"The most valuable source of information for the students was the Archives of the White House where the students met the curator, Clement Congur, and his assistant Ms. Betty Monkman. The officals of the White House collection allowed the students access to invaluable files on each of the presidential inaugurations. The curator supplied them with copies of the original presidential marches composed especially for the inaugural balls.
"The last stop was the Library of Congress where many hours of searching the card catalog produced a number of books that record proper manners and decorum throughout the last 200 years. The members of the Period Dance Group strive not only to produce the dances of each period but also the accompanying style. Each of the dancers has assumed the characterization of a historical figure that was present at the ball.
"In addition to learning the dances, the members have had to read much historical and biographical material about the period and its personalities. Under the direction of Dr. Kesler, the Period Dance Group will be incorporating much of the inormation gatehred by these two students into the production which is scheduled for April1 and 2 in Theatre III, Balcony in the Fine Arts Building. The Period Dance Group is an extracurricular activity composed of 30 members and has appeared throughout the Southeast and recently on a national TV news feature."

photo here


March 7-9, 1976

Two Hundred Years of American Dance travels to Memphis for a performance at SETC. It will live in infamy.

March 26, 1976

The old 18th Century is dusted off and performed for the American Musicological Society's South-Central Chapter meeting.

March 27, 1976

??? performs for the Georgia Theatre Conference.

March 28, 1976

Article appears on the front page of the "World of Women" section (!) of the Athens Banner Herald:


"On Thursday and Friday nights, April 1 and 2, the University of Georgia Period Dance Group of the Department of Drama and Theatre, sponsored by the Athens Junior Woman's Club, will present its Bicentennial Program—'Two Hundred Years of American Dance.' The program will use the format of six inaugural balls for the performance of 24 dances from the Cotillion to the Charleston. The program is under the direction of Dr. Jackson Kesler.
"The six presidents and their first ladies to be featured are Washington, Madison, Jackson, Lincoln, Cleveland, and Coolidge. All the dancers will be historically costumed with the first Ladies wearing copies of their respective dresses as displayed in the Smithsonian Insititute. The costume assistants in the Department of Drama and Theatre have created approximately 55 totally new costumes especially designed for this production.
"In addition to the dances, various types of entertainments such as period songs and instrumental selections will be included in the program. Also to be presented will be historical information pertaining to the presidents and first ladies, other important historical personalities, and the inaugurations. This information was obtained from research done at the Library of Congress, The White House, and the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC.
"The public is invited to be the guests of the Period Dance Group for this presentation which will be at 8 p.m. in the Balcony Theatre in the Fine Arts Building. Reservations are necessary and can be made by calling..."

Photos of the Washingtons, the Lincolns, and the Clevelands were featured.



A short version of Two Centuries performs at Gainesville Junior College.

April 1976

We are featured on the cover of the Georgia Alumni Record.


"A teacher can hope for but seldom count on the kind of response Jackson Kesler get from his 'Period Dress, Manners and Movement' drama class two and a half years ago. The interest he stirred then in the study of Elizabethan dances led to the development of one of U.Ga.'s most unusual and currently most popular extra-curricular organizations, the Period Dance Group
"Last year the group gave some two dozen performances throughout the Southeast. This year, with a special program entitled '200 Years of American Dance,' they are even busier. Included in their 1975-76 schedule has been a performance before the Georgia legislature, participation in various arts festivals, and concerts ni numerous cities, on several campuses and at various theatre conferences.
"The organization consists of 32 students, selected from more than a hundred who tried out in September. Some 60% are drama majors, the rest representing such diverse areas as landscape architecture, anthropology, and education. They rehearse every afternoon throughout the year, from 5:30 until 6:30 p.m.
"In addition to learning the historic dances, the group makes all its costumes, over 100 this season, and then only after careful research to authenticate them. They went ot the Smithsonian in Washington some months ago to duplicate the gowns worn at the inaugural balls of the U.S. presidents whose eras they chose to spotlight in the current show.
"While the group has studied and developed more than 60 dances from the Elizabethan era through Broadway tap, the current program, featuring the dances and costumes of Presidents Washington, Madison, Jackson, Lincoln, Cleveland and Coolidge and their first ladies, represents only a small portion of that total repertoire.
"Among the interesting things brought out in their American presentation is that the waltz is the one dance that survived al the eras, but with variations. And if the music from the Cleveland era sounds familiar, it's because many of Sousa's famous marches were played in another tempo for the inaugural dances.
"The activity for students and Kesler alike is a labor of love. There is no academic credit or reduction in teaching load. The Student Government Association allocates some of the student activity fee budget for the group's travel; costumes are underwritten by the Athens Junior Woman's Club.
"This year's program has even become a family affair for Dr. Kesler. The native Virginian, who holds degrees from Randolph-Macon, Peabody, and Texas, and who is in his eighth year on the U.Ga. faculty, drafted his six-year-old son, Andy, and his seven-year-old daughter, betsy, to play the roles of Mr. and Mrs. Tom Thumb in the Lincoln Inaugural Ball number.
"And now the Period Dance Group has been flattered in the sincerest way, according to the old maxim. Two U.Ga. graduates who participated in Kesler's program have started similar groups at the University of Alabama and St. Andrews College."

Photos here.


April 1-2, 1976

Two Hundred Years of American Dance's gala performance in the upstairs theatre.

April 25, 1976

We perform at the Athens Junior Assembly's "Sunday Afternoon in the Park," at the historic Taylor-Grady House. Photo here.


We travel to south Georgia... somewhere... to perform on a postage-stamp-sized stage. Lincoln's ball will barely all fit onstage at the same time, much less waltz.



Members of the Period Dance Group attend their first and only banquet at Mrs. Cobb's house on Milledge Avenue. Afterwards, they retire to Dale's house at 171 Milledge for further refreshments. It is the end of an era.

Photos here.