Monday, January 9, 2012

The Quadrille

The quadrille is the most universal, as it is most certainly the most sociable of all fashionable dances. It admits of pleasant conversation, frequent interchange of partners, and is adapted to every age. The young or old, the ponderous pater familias, or his sylph-like daughter, may with equal propriety take part in its easy and elegant figures. Even an occasional blunder is of less consequence in this dance than in many others; for each personage is in some degree free as to his own movements, not being compelled by the continual embrace of his partner to dance either better or worse than he may find convenient.

People now generally walk through a quadrille. Nothing more than a perfect knowledge of the figure, a graceful demeanor, and a correct ear for the time of the music are requisite to enable any one to take a creditable part in this dance. Steps are quite gone out of fashion: even the chasse has been given up for some time past.

A quadrille must always consist of five parts. If a variation be made in the fourth figure, by the substitution of Pastorale for Trenise, the latter must then be omitted; or vice versa. As soon as a gentleman has engaged his partner for the quadrille, he should endeavor to secure as his vis-à-vis some friend or acquaintance; and should then lead his partner to the top of the quadrille, provided that post of honor be still vacant. He will place the lady always at his right hand.

Quadrille music is divided into eight bars for each part of the figure; two steps should be taken in every bar; every movement thus invariably consists of eight or of four steps.

It is well not to learn too many new figures: the memory is liable to become confused amongst them; besides which, it is doubtful whether your partner, or your vis-à-vis, is as learned in the matter as yourself. Masters are extremely fond of inventing and teaching new figures; but you will do well to confine your attention to a few simple and universally received sets, which you will find quite sufficient for your purpose. We begin with the oldest and most common, the


The set is composed of eight persons—four ladies and four gentlemen. Two couples to form the top and bottom, and two to form the sides. The gentlemen place themselves on the left of their partners.

Before commencing a description of the Quadrilles or square dances, in order to save a repetition of terms, I would wish the readers of this book to bear in mind the following instructions:

In all cases where you have to cross the opposite side, turn your partner, or make use of the ladies' chain, use seven walking steps, and bring the left foot up behind for the eighth.

When you have to advance and retire, or set to your partner, use three walking steps forward, and bring the left foot up behind, and retire by walking back, first with the left then with the right—with the left again, and bring your right foot up to the left to finish.

First Figure—La Pantalon.—The first part of this figure is called half right and left, because you pass on the right hand side of the first person you meet in crossing, and the left hand side of your own partner; when you get across, repeat the same to your place, turn facing your partner. Set—taking care to pass on the right hand side of each other, give the right hand and turn.

Ladies' Chain.—The ladies cross, giving their right hands to each other, and the left to the opposite gentleman—the same back to place. The gentlemen move round behind their partners, giving the opposite lady their left hand, and the same movement is repeated to meet their partners. Keep the hands—cross over to opposite side—then half right and left to finish. The side couples repeat this figure.

Second Figure—L'Eté.—Top lady and opposite gentleman advance and retire, then cross over, in a semi-circle; repeat these two movements to get to your places. Set to partners and turn. The side couples repeat the figure.

Third Figure—La Poule.—The top lady and opposite gentleman cross over, lightly touching the right hand as they pass, return again, this time retain the left hand, all four form a chain, make one small step forward, and one back, do this twice, then cross over to the opposite couples' place, the couple who are dancing the figure advance and retire twice, give the nearest hand to your partner, all four advance and retire, then half right and left, the same as in the first figure, to finish.

Fourth Figure—La Pastorale.—Top lady and her partner advance and retire, the lady now crosses, the gentleman leaving her half way, retires alone; the opposite gentleman now advances with the two ladies, taking their outside hands. The two ladies now cross to the other gentleman. The gentleman who leads them retires alone. The three advance and retire from the other side, then all three cross over, give hands round, cross over to opposite sides. Half right and left to finish. The side couples repeat the figure.

Trenise.—The top lady and her partner advance and retire, they then advance again, the gentleman leaving the lady opposite him. The two ladies cross to the opposite side. The top gentleman advances to meet his partner, the bottom lady returns to her place; set to partners and turn.

Finale.—All join hands round, advance and retire twice. The top and bottom couples advance and retire, then cross over. Repeat the same again. Ladies chain, and hands round. In crossing do not alter the side on which you stand, but go straight across.