Now-July @ UCLA Powell Building Rotunda

People often view history as just a collection of dates and events, a snooze-fest of rote memorization of things long past. What people often overlook, though, is the rich culture behind the facts – aspects that make history come alive.

Even though everybody knew what historically happened to the titular ship in 1997’s Titanic, the movie romanticized and brought out the décor, the dress and the mannerisms of the time. The UCLA College Library is now doing the same thing by taking history and fleshing out a much more interesting facet of the past: the social dances.

The College Library explores and teaches social ballroom dances from various eras. The balls include instruction, and no dance experience or partner is necessary to participate. Even though the dances are centered around a specific period of time, costumes are optional, with formal and semi-formal attire also acceptable.

On Oct. 27 of last year, Powell Library held the Valentino’s Tango & Ragtime Ball, which featured an assortment of dances such as the tango, one-step, two-step, waltz and ragtime “animal” dances, including the foxtrot and turkey trot.

The next dance was the Waltz Through Time ball on Nov. 27, which celebrated 200 years of waltzing from all over the world.

The series of balls will continue on Feb. 9 with the Romeo & Juliet Italian Renaissance Ball, which focuses on 15th and 16th century Italian dances. Complain as you might about Shakespeare, the man could write, and write well. The College Library seeks to capture the essence of the two centuries while evoking the romanticism and eloquence of the Bard of Avon.

Labeling the ball as the “Romeo & Juliet” Ball could just be a ploy to appeal to the large group of people who have read the play or watched some film adaptation of the play and (come on, admit it) at least mildly enjoyed the tale of the star-crossed lovers. But, ploy or not, this is the chance to live out that fantasy of meeting the perfect stranger at a dance and spontaneously reciting an exquisite sonnet about making out while maintaining some historical accuracy (when it comes to the dancing).

This could be a great opportunity for Shakespeare fans, ballroom dancing fans or just anyone who wants to try something new. The ball will begin at 8 p.m. and go until midnight. Space is limited, and people are required to RSVP by the Thursday before the dance.

Contact Catherine Brown at cbrown@library.ucla.edu or at (310) 206-4608 with your name and the number of people in your party.

There will also be a President’s Ball, for social dances between 1776-1876, on March 1.


Starts Feb. 8 @ UCLA Schoenberg Hall

Giuseppe Verdi’s comic opera Falstaff comes to UCLA’s Schoenberg Hall, presented by OperaUCLA and the UCLA Philharmonia. The opera will be fully staged and performed in Italian under the direction of Peter Kazaras and with Neil Stulberg conducting.

Falstaff is one of two comedies among his 26 operas. The opera is adapted by Arrigo Boito from Shakespeare’s “The Merry Wives of Windsor” and from scenes from “Henry IV.”

Along with the Romeo & Juliet Italian Renaissance Ball, Falstaff provides a different take on the Bard’s plays. There’s nothing like an evening watching an opera and feeling classy to bring out the academic atmosphere of the university.

Falstaff will be performed at 8 p.m. on Feb. 8 and 15, and at 2 p.m. on Feb. 10 and 17. Reserved seating is $20 for the general public and $10 for students (with ID).