Pomegranates, Walking Tour, Dance

New Town Dance Herstory

Walking Tour | Part of Pomegranates 2024

(Sat 27 Apr: 2pm)

Join dance historian Alena Shmakova for a special festival walk and talk tour. Explore the New Town's rich and important dancing heritage from the late Georgian period and learn about the notable dancing mistresses and patronesses who frequented the city entertainment establishments. Meet Madame Violante, ex-gymnast, troup manager and the first known female dancing mistress in Scotland; Felice Mercucci, prima of the Theatre Royal, first licensed theatre in Edinburgh; Mrs Parker, star of Edinburgh Circus, famous across the kingdom for her Strathspey Minuet.

The tour will start from the Scottish Storytelling Centre with a preview of the festival exhibition Vengefully Changed Allegiance by Alison Harm of Psychomoda. The tour ends with a brief visit to the Scottish National Gallery to look at the visual references for some of the dance halls from the Georgian period in Edinburgh.


Alena Shmakova has studied historical dance since 2006. Since 2013, she has actively collaborated with and performed at historical sites including Holyrood Palace, St Cecilia’s Hall and Music Instrument Museum and Stirling Castle. Since 2022 Alena has been offering historical dance courses at the Adult Education Programme of the City of Edinburgh Council. Alena is undertaking her postgraduate studies in History at the University of the Highlands and Islands and often presents her research at international conferences and public talks.

Established in 2022, Pomegranates is Scotland’s annual festival of international dance. Initiated and produced by Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland in partnership with Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland, Moray House School of Education and Sport, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh City Libraries, Dance Base and the Scottish Storytelling Centre. This year, the festival features artists’ residencies and social dance sessions, exhibitions and tours, shows and workshops, plus our first Pomegranates Family Sunday. Find out more about Pomegranates below.


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