Season 2, Episode 8
On this episode of the Life in the Carolinas podcast, we were delighted to host Paige Whitley-Bauguess, a local but nationally-acclaimed baroque dancer and musician. Paige began taking ballet at age 4, much to her dismay, and by the time she was 6 or 7, dance had become her passion. When Paige was in 7th grade, she took up the clarinet, which provided her with a broader context for the rhythms and time signatures of the music, and therefore dance. Her family moved from the mountains of Virginia to Charlotte before Paige was in high school, and in Charlotte she began training with a serious dance studio. From there, she was accepted into the North Carolina School of the Arts for 11thand 12thgrade, where she was first exposed to 18thcentury dance.
She was so intrigued that she immersed herself in the history and cultural practices of the 18th century, truly recognizing and understanding the emotions and motivations behind baroque music and dance. The court of Louis XIV was a turning point in the history of dance because during this time a new standard was set for the 5 positions of the feet and particular dance steps that endure to this day in ballet. In North Carolina history, we know that the citizens held a ball in George Washington’s honor when he visited Tryon Palace in 1791 and historians have found newspaper advertisements for a dancing school in the area that same year.
Paige recognizes that most art forms experiences mountains and valleys of interest and funding, but confirms that the more modern versions of baroque dancing (square dancing and contra dancing) have been experiencing a renaissance in the last 20 years or so. Paige herself has been performing and choreographing baroque dance for her adult life, and recently performed at The 1915 in North Wilkesboro. She talks with Carl about her process as an artist and the mutual energy between performers and the audience, which helps captivate the audience and also educate them about this particular art form. Paige and her husband, Barry, run the Baroque Art Project and live in a log cabin in Wilkes County.
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