Vernon and Irene Castle Descriptive Essay by Fengson

Vernon and Irene Castle
The paper is a description of the career of Vernon and Irene Castle preceding World War One.
# 109873 | 1,590 words | 5 sources | MLA | 2008 | US
Published on Dec 10, 2008 in Dance (History) , Art (Other Mediums) , Film (General)

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Vernon and Irene Castle were America's 'golden' couple--as well as the toast of Europe in the years immediately preceding World War I. Their innovative dance steps: Texas Tommy, Foxtrot, and Grizzly Bear, set to the syncopation of ragtime swept America, Britain and France. In the age of silent movies, film shorts of their dance routines were followed as avidly by teenagers in 1911 as are the television doings of pop stars today. The paper briefly describes the backgrounds of the couple and then examines their career as innovative dancers and choreographers in the years preceding the First World War and up to the death of Vernon Castle in a flying accident in February 1918.

The Castles, Daring Dance, and Social Innovation in Pre-War America (and Europe, as well)
The Price of War
Works Consulted in the Preparation of this Report

From the Paper:

"The Castles appeared together in The Hen-Pecks, a Broadway musical comedy in which their dance routines, set to "the music of young songwriter Irving Berlin's Alexander's Ragtime Band, [Notable Biographies]" were a regular component sketches. The caught the eye of a French theatrical agent who, in 1912, booked them for a six-month gig at the Cafe de Paris, in the city of that name. While their comedy routines received top billing, it was their dancing that caught the crowd's attention. Simply stated, the Castles appropriated black America's ragtime rhythm and social dance steps, performing them in a seemingly 'passionless and well-mannered' fashion. Susan Cook describes the Castles' approach. "Throughout their careers, the Castles responded to the discourse of dance pathology [specifically, white fears of black influence on the social attitudes of American youth] with their own carefully crafted one of propriety in which their dancing, self-described as 'modern,' was so identified by its calculated 'refinement' in opposition to the 'roughness' associated with its working-class and ethnic predecessors. They came to mark out a kind of middle ground between the informality of the working-class dance halls the constrained rigidity of the Dancing Masters [141]." (They Castles had a major impact on American middle-class acceptance of the tango. In Argentina the dance was overtly erotic. The Castles performed it in a more 'stately' manner, although of course the erotic element shimmered just beneath the surface--suitable, one might think, for a happily married couple.)"

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Cook, S., Passionless dancing and passionate reform: respectability, modernism, and the social dancing of Irene and Vernon Castle [in William Washabaugh, The passion of music and dance: body, gender and sexuality, New York: Berg, 1998], pp 138 et seq.
  • Klein, K., The history of Hicks Field, NW Times Records, November 28, 2002
  • Martin, C. T., The Castles and Europe: race relations in ragtime [MA thesis], University of Florida/Department of Dance, 2005, 93pp
  • Siegel, F., And all that jazz, New York Post [review of Vernon and Irene Castle's Ragtime Revolution, by Eve Golden, Frankfort: University of Kentucky Press, 2007, 360pp], December 16, 2007
  • Vernon and Irene Castle Biography, Notable Biographies, 1992

Cite this Descriptive Essay:

APA Format

Vernon and Irene Castle (2008, December 10) Retrieved June 04, 2023, from

MLA Format

"Vernon and Irene Castle" 10 December 2008. Web. 04 June. 2023. <>