For the nation's Bicentennial, we decided to create a entirely new show: Two Centuries of Dance: Six Inaugural Balls. We selected six Presidents who were interesting in themselves; whose wives had interesting inaugural gowns; and in whose time the dances had been enough different from the previous one to make a difference to the audience.
We recreated the inaugural gowns on display in the First Ladies exhibit in the Smithsonian, to which Dale Lyles and Jennifer Jenkins traveled over Christmas break to research.
The dances were a challenge, because for most of the 19th century, the dances were alarmingly alike: the waltz, the polka, the quadrille. The ones that were different were different in ways that would not be obvious to an audience. We were finally able to come up with enough dances to fill each ball, although none of them were meant to be accurate recreations of any one actual event.