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Pocketmags Digital Magazines
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Pocketmags Digital Magazines

Ten Dances that Shook the World

Felicity Day shows us the moves behind the dance crazes that had the power to challenge the status quo

Complements the BBC One series Strictly Come Dancing

GETTY IMAGES X1, SHUTTERSTOCK X1

LA VOLTA

You only have to hear about the intimate signature move of la volta - ‘the turn’ in Italian, a nod to its origin - to understand why the dance scandalised Elizabethan England. To perform the ‘caper’, a man clasped his female partner tightly around the waist with his left hand, took hold of the busk (the rigid point on the corset below her bosom) with his right, and lifted her high into the air so that his thigh was under her bottom.

The combination of a close embrace and athletic manoeuvre was deemed shockingly suggestive, and, it was claimed, could result in a miscarriage. Yet the greatest risk was actually to a lady’s modesty Any woman dancing la volta was advised to clamp her free hand on her skirts “lest the swirling air should catch them” and reveal a flash of petticoat, or worse, a bare thigh.

Along with the caper, there were hops, skips and turns galore. Ladies clothed in heavy embroidered dresses apparently got so hot and sweaty that they were forced to change their under-linen during court festivities, incensing the moralists even more.

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About BBC History Revealed Magazine

In AD 79, Pompeii was wiped out by a huge volcanic eruption that buried it beneath a thick carpet of ash and debris. We look back at fateful day – the day an entire Roman city died – and find out how the ruins offer us a glimpse into the lives of everyday Romans. Plus: Globetrotter Marco Polo meets Mongol warlord Kublai Khan; how the Night of the Long Knives made Hitler untouchable; inside the Victorian freak show; and all you need to know to survive an Edwardian dinner party