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 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's a shipping lawyer at an international law firm, a fluent Spanish speaker, and our new esteemed Chair. She combines all of the above with her professional acting career, which covers both stage and screen acting.
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 the current 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.
Peter, full time freelance stage manager, just lives for the theatre. He's worked backstage on everything from panto to Duran Duran to the Olympics, and also reviews plays for an events website
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 retired teacher, Marc now concentrates on the things he really enjoys - dressing in period costume (he's rarely seen without a pair breeches on!), attending the Venice Carnivale (with partner Peter G) and revelling in 18th music, which all seemed in order as far we we were concerned!
A palliative care nurse by day, Lucy is experienced in many forms of dance - particularly Scottish, Country and something called "Funk"! Seeing the light, this is her first foray into our period and she's taken to it like a duck to water turning a very elegant ankle to a gavotte or minuet as required! Lucy is Secretary of the Company and will be delighted to receive your booking requests!
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.
A history teacher at a North London comp, Faith is skilled in numerous dance styles (although the hip-hop isn't so successful in baroque costume). She's an excellent baker and often makes us tasty treats to nibble between performances.
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...
A demon baker, the only thing Peter likes more than bread is baroque! He regularly attends the Venice Carnivale with his partner Marc and loves meeting friends for dinner where, one imagines, a lot of bread is on offer...
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.
Our founder's inspiration and the company's original Dancing Mistress, we were delighted to welcome Sarah back a number of years ago. She's a renowned baroque specialist, with an active career as a performer, choreographer and teacher, and a long and fruitful relationship with the English Bach Festival. Sarah has a talent for creating lyrical, logical patterns, and the patience of a saint!
Louisa is a recent addition to our occasional teaching staff, and a former pupil of Sarah's. She 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.