We owe our existence to a chap named Simon Caradoc Evans, a successful businessman with a fondness for early music who became enthralled by the baroque dancing he saw at the Spitalfields Music Festival one year. According to legend, he had the idea of establishing a minuet company while cooking his breakfast, at the very moment an egg slipped out of his hand and fell with a splat to the floor...
An advert duly appeared in the national newspapers calling for people with a love of dance, noting reassuringly that "the minuet steps are not difficult". The very first class was held in February 1982 and many happy years of minuetting have ensued, with performances all over the UK as well as tours overseas. When Simon passed away the company was reorganised along more democratic lines, and continues to provide magical 18th century moments and absurd anecdotes and as we look forward to our fourth decade.
A mix of ages and backgrounds, we boast a wide range of interests and prior dancing experience – but are united by our love of the minuet, the ability to wear a wig without embarrassment, and a genial disposition.
Olivia spent 15 years as a shipping lawyer with an international law firm and now enjoys the freelance lifestyle. A fluent Spanish speaker, and our esteemed Chair, she combines all of the above with her professional acting career, which covers both stage and screen.
An auctioneer by trade, Charles was often tempted to resort to using his gavel in class as our former Chairman. A member of the Sherlock Holmes Society of London where he has played Watson, he is also a Past Master of the Worshipful Company of Tobacco Pipemakers which, he insists, means he 'must' take plenty of fine snuff and smoke a clay pipe!
A founder member and for many years our Dancing Mistress, Linda works for a local council. In her spare time she's a school Governor, a Justice of the Peace and now a Past Master of the Worshipful Company of Framework Knitters.
Yundi works as a translator for a Chinese firm in north London. In her spare time she can be found volunteering at the Handel House Museum, collecting gramophones and attending as many baroque events as possible!
Kate has gone down in company history for turning up to her first class sporting pink poodle-perm hair and a mini-skirt. Unofficial social secretary, she's indefatigably enthusiastic, a trait we ascribe to her lifelong membership of the Chocolate Society.
Jo has recently returned to us after a few years living in Singapore and is now brushing up on her German, crafting ceramics, and counting water voles at one of the many charities she volunteers with.
A mathematician by training, Gilbert still crunches numbers as our long-standing Treasurer. He seems to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of early music, and is the proud owner (and player) of a beautiful harpsichord.
Meriel's a librarian, a collector of antique kimono and keeper of the loveliest bees in Surrey. She owns some amazing frocks, and we are but one era of an historical dancing life that can cover several centuries in a single weekend.
Helen heads up a nearby museum and knows more about 18th century architecture than the rest of us put together. She's sung in Barts Choir for many years, sits on any number of committees and is a keen photographer.
A barrister by profession, Peter has the dubious honour of being the only one who wears a wig in his day-job as well as his hobby. His other interests include silent cinema and the Sherlock Holmes Society, where he masquerades as Moriarty.
A professional opera singer by trade, Paris-born Latana loves all things baroque (especially Versailles!), good food and red wine - describing herself as a 'child of the planet', with her Chinese-Algerian ancestry Latana is ready to try anything new , which we still think learning the minuet is, naturally...
We'd be nothing without our dedicated teachers to keep us all on our toes. They decipher cryptic diagrams when we're trying to bring original dances to life, and choreograph new ones for us to the music of the era.
We are delighted that Alison Pooley has agreed to take on the role of Dance Mistress for the Company. Alison steps ably into the shoes of our longstanding dance mistress, Sarah Cremer and the Company is looking forward to this new era. Alison has worked as a performer, choreographer and teacher specialising in pre-romantic dance forms, movement for singers and actors, and creative dance in the maintained sector.
Louisa is a longstanding guest dancing mistress for the Company, and a former pupil of our past dancing mistress, Sarah Cremer. Louisa divides her time between teaching at her parents' dance studio and performing – you would have seen her dancing in ENO's "The Mikado" at The London Coliseum a few years ago.