On Thursday 7th April we had a talk by Dr Alena Shmakova on Dance in Sir Walter Scott’s Works and Times. She was introduced by our Hon Secretary, Dr. Michael Wood.
Alena Shmakova is a researcher and dancer with more than 15 years of experience in early or historical dance. She started dancing at the age of 4 as part of the school curriculum attending classes in folk, ballet and ballroom styles. She became interested in historical dance in 2006. She learned her first steps from the best of Early Dance specialists including Barbara Segal (Baroque and Renaissance dances), Anne Daye (Renaissance and Scottish dances), Karin Modigh (Baroque dance), Robert le Nuz (Baroque dance), Charlotte Bell (Baroque dance), Hubert Hazebroucq (Early Baroque style), Ellis Rogers (Quadrilles and 19th-century dances of Great Britain), and Richard Powers (19th and early 20th century dances). She has been performing and teaching historical dance in Edinburgh since 2013 as part of Les Danses Antiques. The group performed at Stirling Castle, Holyrood Palace and St Cecilia’s Hall: Concert Room and Music Museum as well as early dance and music festivals.
Alena combined her passion for dance with the academic development obtaining MSc and PhD degrees in Life Sciences from the Universities of Dundee and Edinburgh.
She uses her research skills to investigate Scottish early dance repertoire from the 18th and 19th centuries. Her research interests include stage and ballroom dances as well as dance professionals in Scotland during the Age of Enlightenment. She was recently awarded an Ivor Guest Research Grant from the Society for Dance Research to develop her work on Edinburgh Assemblies and female leadership in Scottish society in the Georgian period. Since 2020 Alena has been a member of the Early Dance Circle board of trustees (EDC is a charity promoting Early Dance in the UK).
Alena volunteers and collaborates with the National Trust for Scotland. She conducted special Dancing Days in the Georgian House where the visitors could learn more about fashionable dancing in Edinburgh during the Georgian period. She also led two projects recreating early 19th century dances from the manuscript "Contre Danses à Paris, 1818" located at the National Library of Scotland. Country Dance "Lady of the Lake '' was performed by the National Trust' volunteers and recorded at the Georgian House for Scott's birthday anniversary; "Strathspey for two, 1822" inspired by the descriptions from the balls during George IV's visit to Edinburgh was developed with the support from The Edinburgh Sir Walter Scott Club.