If the name we associate with English dancing in the 17th century is Playford, the name in the 18th century is Jane Austen. She lived from 1775 to 1817, so she was 36 when the Regency was established (and she died three years before the Regent became King). Would she still have been dancing at such an advanced age? Dancing was for young people in those days! But if we consider the Regency era as starting in 1795 she would have been 20 and she was certainly dancing then.
Two more dates for us to consider. The first edition of The Dancing Master was published by John Playford in 1651 and the final editions by John Young in 1728 — nearly 50 years before Jane was born. During that time the English Country Dance had been through a major change. In the first edition there were lots of set dances — for two, three or four couples, squares and circles, often with the “Playford” introductions of Up a Double, Siding and Arming. By 1728 the longways triple minor was king. No, Jane Austen didn't dance “Playford” — that was 100 years ago and she would never have heard of him. Country dances were still popular, especially in the earlier part of the period, but I'm assuming that readers of this page are familiar with them so I'm concentrating on the less familiar forms.
I've had a lot of useful advice from Anne Daye, Director of Education and Research of the Historical Dance Society. I'm mentioning a Jeté Assemblé here, but Anne says this wasn't necessarily used in country dancing and definitely wasn't used in cotillons. On the other hand, John Sweeney points out:
Thomas Wilson's “The Complete System of English Country Dancing” from 1815 includes Chassees, Jetté Assemblé in lots of moves, starting right at the beginning with Turn Your Partner (Two-Hand Turn) and Swing Round Your Partner (Right Hand Turn), and continuing through Hands Four Round (Circle Left) and Back to Back (which he calls an Allemande, a source of endless confusion!).
So it would appear that some people did use Chassees, Jetté Assemblé extensively in Country Dance in that period.
Since many of the dancers I work with are not as sprightly as they used to be, I quite often just pick one figure in a dance and encourage them to do the stepping in that figure. E.g. in Kitchen Lancers I will suggest they try it in the Ladies Around the Men, and the Men Around the Ladies. It usually gets a very good reaction that way, whereas trying to get them to step throughout the dance can be too tiring.
However in a Quadrille, to be authentic, you need to replace the final skip-change with a Jeté Assemblé. If you start the skip-change on your right foot, you will start the final bar of music on your left foot. Step onto your left foot while throwing your right foot out forwards and to the right — it doesn't have to be that far — then jump, landing on both feet, bending your knees to avoid injury. I'm not going to go into all the foot positions, the turnout and so on — this is just a basic introduction for English Folk Dancers who are used to walking everything and I don't want to scare you off completely! “Jeté” means “thrown” and “Assemblé” means “assembled”, so just remember that you throw one leg out and then bring everything together again.
Australia was settled in the extended Regency period so it's an area of interest. In regard to Jane Austen dances — Chris Rogers wrote an article where she states,
“The types of dance Jane mentions are the waltz, quadrille, cotillion and, of course, the country dance. The only dances she mentions by name are the Boulanger (Pride and Prejudice, chapter 3, and her letter to Cassandra Austen dated 5th September 1796) and the Minuet de la Cour (Love and Friendship, third letter).”
There is also a book by Susannah Fullerton called A Dance with Jane Austen which is well written and researched, despite Susannah not being a dancer herself (as far as I know). susannahfullerton.com.au/ store/a-dance-with-jane-austen
The dances in this era are generally very formulaic, and having trawled through innumerable dance collections both online and in dusty archives, I've developed a theory that it was the music that provided the variety rather than the choreography. In The Playford Assembly, Graham Christian mentions the characteristics of certain keys and rhythms, and how this influenced the style of the dance. There is a good site which provides further details about the musical element at www.wmich.edu/mus-theo/courses/keys.html
Adding the steps to the dances changes the quality of the movement considerably as every figure is punctuated by the jeté, assemblé. Some modern dancers are becoming more interested in these steps, but for the majority of social/recreational dancers this is an unnecessary complexity — it's also quite tiring to keep it going throughout a complete dance. It's great that Anne Daye continues to promote this aspect of country dancing as it adds a whole new dimension to the experience.
Although you write “dancing was for young people” — this may have been the case in the elite ballroom, however there are many of accounts of older people dancing in other situations. I wonder if anyone has studied this area in detail.
In some cases you might want to use the Allemande step, which is a slight spring forward on the right foot, landing on a flat foot, followed by two steps on the toes, left and right, followed in the next bar by the reverse. If you were to split a bar of reel time into four equal parts, both the skip change step and the allemande step have you moving on 1, 2 and 3, so they actually seem quite similar to me — or perhaps the allemande step is more like a pas de bas. Different people will give you different descriptions of the Allemande Step. I found some YouTube videos but Anne points out that the allemande has been a dance form since mid-16th century though much changed across time and neither of the videos bears any relation to the Regency era, so I've taken the links out — search YouTube at your peril!
If you venture into cotillions you will probably need the Pas balancé and Rigadoon (or Rigaudon) steps — see later.
James Fishar (1780) is particularly clear and methodical in his explanation:
G E N E R A L R U L E S for D A N C I N G C O T I L L O N S.
The M U S I C. The first strain of all Cotillons is played twice for the Changes, and the Figure always begins with the second Strain. The Strains must be repeated exactly as they are marked in the Music.
The C H A N G E S. The Changes are a Kind of Introduction to the Figure of the Cotillon, and may be varied as often as the Dance is repeated. Each Change, as was observed before, must take up the first Strain of the Tune, played twice over.
A Cotillon always begins with bowing all together in their Places, as in a Minuet, which must employ the first Strain, played once. Then all Ballancé and Rigaudon, and large ring half round, turning to the Right. This takes the first Strain the second Time.
Ballancé and Rigaudon, and come back with the Ring, turning to the Left to their Places ; which takes in all the first Strain three Times, including the Bowing. Then the Figure begins with the second Strain.
F I R S T C H A N G E
Ballancé and Rigaudon (the Partners facing each other) turn both Hands quite round, beginning to the Right. 1. Strain 1st Time.
Ballancé and Rigaudon, and turn as before to the Left. 1. Strain 2d Time.
S E C O N D C H A N G E
The four Ladies Ballancé and Rigaudon and Moulinet, i.e. Hands across, with the Right Hand quite round. 1. Strain 1st Time.
Ballancé and Rigaudon, and Moulinet with Left Hands back to their own Places. 1. Strain 2d Time.
T H I R D C H A N G E
The four Gentlemen Ballancé and Rigaudon, and Hands quite round to the Right. 1. Strain 1st Time.
Ballancé and Rigaudon, and Hands round to the Left to their own Places. 1. Strain 2d Time.
F O U R T H C H A N G E
All Ballancé and Rigaudon, each facing their Partners, Allemande with the Right Hand quite round. 1. Strain 1st Time.
Ballancé and Rigaudon and Allemande, with the Left round to their Places. 1. Strain 2d Time.
F I F T H C H A N G E
All Ballancé and Rigaudon, turn half round in a Ring, holding Hands. 1. Strain 1st Time.
Ballancé and Rigaudon back to their Places, half round. 1. Strain 2d Time.
S I X T H C H A N G E
All Ballancé and Rigaudon and large Ring, half round to the Right, beating Hands. 1. Strain 1st Time.
Ballancé and Rigaudon and large Ring as before to the Left, which brings all to their Places. 1. Strain 2d Time.
N. B. The Changes of every Cotillon, where there is no Ballancé and Rigaudon, will be expressed at the Bottom with proper Instructions.
The S T E P S used in C O T I L L O N S are only eight, viz.
1. Contretem forwards 5. Single Chassée upon the Right 2. Contretem backwards 6. The same upon the Left 3. Ballancé 7. Double Chassée upon the Right 2. Rigaudon 8. The same upon the Left
A small Attention to the foregoing Rules, and the Instructions annexed to each Cotillon, will in a short Time, enable any Lady or Gentleman to perform these Kind of Dances, if they are acquainted with the Steps ; a thorough Knowledge of which may be acquired in a Fortnight, by the Assistance of a Master.
Anne's book “More Dances for Jane Austen” gives guidance on cotillons. You can read about and order it at historicaldance.org.uk/ publications/page/2015 and it comes with an accompanying CD of the music.
Anne has given me permission to reproduce one of the dances from the book, though I'm rephrasing it in the way that (I hope) English Folk dancers will understand.
Le Grand Rond… 16
Les Messieurs font L'allemande avec la Dame de leur Gauche puis avec leur Dame… 8
Tous les huit la poussette avec un passe D'allemande aux Coins… 8
Les Dames font un demi tour de Molinet de la Main droite puis un tour da la Gauche avec les Messrs de vis a vis… 8
Les Messrs lememe excepte qu'ils font le Molinet de la main Gauche et tournent leur Dame de la droite… 8
Tous une demi Grande Chaine… 8
The First Dance of the Ball
Big circle… 16 bars
The gentlemen do an allemande with the lady on their left, then with their [own] lady… 8 bars
All eight poussette with an allemande turn at the corners… 8 bars
The ladies do half a right-hand star then left-hand turn the opposite gentlemen… 8 bars
The gentlemen the same except that they do the star with the left hand and turn their lady by the right… 8 bars
All grand chain half-way… 8 bars
A cotillion consists of a Figure, unique to that particular dance, and the Changes which were (fairly) standardised — the equivalent of Up a Double, Siding and Arming. For some reason the first Change isn't called the first Change, so here I'm calling it “Introduction”. You dance the Introduction, the Figure, the first Change, the Figure, the second Change, the Figure and so on, ending with the final Change — and there could be 9 or more Changes, though people probably don't do so many now. The Introduction and the final Change were “Le Grand Rond” which is a slipped circle right and then left.
The other thing that most of the old books don't mention is that there is usually stepping before each half of the Change. You would expect “Circle right and left” to take 8 bars — 8 slips in each direction — but in most cases each was preceded by Pas balancé and Rigadoon. I imagine the Pas balancé comes from setting, but the trailing foot doesn't actually touch the floor — you step with the right foot to your right, bring the left up to it but without touching the floor, then repeat to the left.
Anne gave me this description:
Rigadoon Step in two bars of duple or compound duple time:
Starting in first position, in bar 1, beat 1 hop on the L foot extending the R to the side and replacing it to first; on beat 2 open the L foot to the side (without hopping) and replace it to first; conclude the step with a jump in first position on the first beat of the second bar. (Then make a preparatory step in the direction of travel).
That “preparatory step” may catch you out! A lot of cotillion tunes start with half a bar upbeat, and you move on that rather than waiting for the bar-line. So if you're doing a rigadoon followed by the Grand Ronde, the final beat of the rigadoon is where you start to slip to the right.
A simple alternative for present-day dancers is to set to partner twice. But if you want to try the real thing, my mantra is: Step right, pause | step left, pause | hop, change, down | jump. (and then start the circle).
You will see plenty of bogus Rigadoon steps on YouTube videos!
Anne says this cotillion has the stepping in the introduction but doesn't have stepping in the changes — that's why I've chosen it! The instructions say that Le Grand Rond is 16 bars, but Anne explains that there's actually an extra A-music for honouring your partner: 4 bars doing nothing, then step right and bow or curtsey. (Some people honour on the first four bars and do nothing on the second four.) The Figure takes 40 bars, so we need to steal one A-music to complete it, leaving only one A for each of the Changes and therefore no time for the stepping in the changes.
The word “Allemande” can mean various turning moves. In this dance it has two meanings.
The Allemandes at the start of the figure are done thus. Link right arms with your corner but don't bend them as if you were doing an arm right. Instead stretch them out behind the other person's back, put your left hand behind your own back and take the other person's right hand. Turn once around, looking at the other person.
with an allemande turn in the next move is interpreted here as turning the lady under the man's arm.
You can read much more about the many different meanings of the allemande figure at https://www.regencydances.org/ paper001.php.
|A1:||Nothing for 4 bars. Step right and honour partner.|
|A2:||Pas balancé and Rigadoon. Circle right (slip-step).|
|A3:||Pas balancé and Rigadoon. Circle left.|
|B1:||All allemande right with corner. Allemande left with partner.|
|B2:||All give two hands to partner, head men move slightly to your right, side men to your left, and head couples half poussette with the couple on their right (ones with twos, threes with fours) — head men pushing, side men pulling and the heads passing outside the side couple; men let go with your left hand and turn your partner clockwise under your right arm without going anywhere yourself. Do the second half of the poussette, and again turn the lady under — anti-clockwise might flow better into the next figure.|
|C1:||Ladies right-hand star half-way (four allemande or skip-change steps). Left-hand turn the opposite man, and the men do a courtesy turn (without putting your arm round her waist) to finish all facing in, man on the left.|
|C2:||Men left-hand star half-way. Right-hand turn partner to finish back in the square, all half-way round, facing partner.|
|A1:||Grand chain half-way to return to places.|
Now you dance the first Change, the Figure, the second Change, the Figure, the third Change, the Figure, the fourth Change (and there might be many more). Anne suggests:
|A2:||Right.hand turn. Left-hand turn.|
|A2:||Two-hand turn. Reverse two-hand turn.|
|A2:||Circle right. Circle left.|
The move in C1 and C2 is similar to “All four ladies chain across — all four men chain back”, but you have twice as long as you would in an American Square, so don't rush it — four dance steps for the ladies to star half-way, and do a proper open left-hand turn with your opposite, men moving forwards throughout.
And yes, it's all danced, with an allemande step (or maybe a skip-change step), and a slip-step for the big circles, though Anne says that if you use small circles (two couples) these are danced with a skip-change step.
Anne Daye says:
The step for this should be the allemande step […] We can only make an informed guess about basic step in cotillons. My rule of thumb is to use the allemande step for duple and 3/8 tunes (allemande couple dances were in these metres) and skip-change for 6/8. Although it is likely that they often used demi-contretemps, and a full contretemps or gavotte step. And there are minuet sections too in some.
One explanation of the steps is found at https://www.regencydances.org/ steps.php.
You might also want to look inside The Extraordinary Dance Book.
I showed this page to Paul Cooper, who has written many articles for regencydances.org, and he explains:
Modern 'Regency Dancing' is a mixture of history and fantasy. We don't want to recreate a historical Ball perfectly: we'd need an army of servants, removal of amplification, dancing throughout the night, lots of standing around waiting to be involved, the active couples at risk of exhaustion (individual dances might last 15 minutes or longer), weird class-related privileges… and so forth. And the tickets might cost a fortune!
Modern Regency dancers want to have fun: we convert triple-minors into three-couple sets, make bland figure sequences more interesting, dance to favourite tunes regardless of the date, and so forth. Many of us are aware of the anachronisms, some find irony in the invented traditions, but ultimately it's a compromise; different groups handle that compromise in different ways.
Many of us do invest the time and effort to better understand the historical context, but most are happy just to enjoy the dancing for what it is. Oh, and Grrr Napoleon, long live King George, and boo to chaperones!
If anyone out there would like to attend a Regency Ball, you'll almost certainly enjoy it. Many such events are listed here: https://regencydances.org/ events.php. I myself dance with the Hampshire Regency Dancers — we're not that different from a regular folk dancing club, but we also enjoy the opportunity to entertain and educate the public at some wonderful historical venues.
With respect to music I was thinking more about the social history. I have a theory that the improving musical technology had an effect on the social dancing styles: there were more pianos in private homes, operatic music would be rearranged for dancing (especially for Quadrilles), composers (perhaps) had the dancing after-market in mind for promoting their work. It's all just a theory, but I suspect a lot of the printed dance music that was sold was bought by people learning to play instruments, and would have been used for social dancing at private homes. The Quadrille in particular was an at-home dance; you could dance it with a few friends, memorise the choreographies, then dance it out and about — you just needed someone to play the piano.
I would add that we can be confident that the dance music was being sold for the amateur home player (not just a theory). We know Jane Austen played for country dancing at home, and there is other supportive evidence. Let alone that no professional band would need such simple stuff.
I agree that the music is very different in style from the early Playford. To me it sounds like chamber music, and not particularly adventurous chamber music either! It's in 8-bar phrases, and usually the second four bars are a repeat of the first four bars with a slightly different ending in the last bar or so. Usually the first four bars end on the dominant and the second four bars end on the tonic. It's “pretty” music, but to me it doesn't have the majesty of “Fain I Would” (1651) or “Mr Beveridge's Maggot” (1701), nor the energy of “Black Nag” (1670) or “Parsons Farewell” (1651).
I agree with the light and trivial nature of the cotillon dance music, but, note that the tunes often have mineure sections (see La Brunette) matching the 'story' of the dance, and also mix different metres. Our next collection will have one with minuet, duple and 3/8 sections; the first Jane Austen collection has some. Early 18th century English and Scottish country dance tunes are the greatest, I agree.
It seems unlikely that Jane Austen danced quadrilles, but they were certainly around in the Regency period.
The earliest music there (complete with figures) is from 1816. When I was creating this page, Paine's First Set wasn't there — I contacted Nick and he has now found a copy (though missing page 6). So I looked at the Second Set: www.libraryofdance.org/manuals/1816-Paine-2nd-Set_(Powers).pdf. The title page gives the publisher as “Paine of Almacks” — Almack's was an upper-class assembly room in London where these quadrilles were danced, and James Paine was the band leader there for many years.
The instructions are given in both English and French: here are the English versions. In this set French words also appear in the music to make it clear how the movements fit to the tune.
No. 1 — La Penelope
Right and Left, Balancez and turn your partners with both hands, Ladies chain entiere, Promenade half round, half right and left.
No. 2 — La Daphne
Opposite Lady and Gentleman advance and retire, Chasse to the right and left, cross over, Chasse to the right and left, back again, Balancez and turn to your partner.
No. 3 — La Poule Anglaise
Opposite Lady and Gentleman cross over giving their right hand, back again giving their left and their right to their partner, the four balancez in line holding hands Ladies fronting one way and Gent: the other, Promenade half round, opposite Lady and Gent: advance and retire; back to back, four opposite dancers advance and retire, half right and left.
No. 4 — La Theresia
Ladies chain entiere, Balancez & turn your partner with both hands, opposite Lady and Gent: advance and retire, Chasse to the right and left, cross over chasse to the right and left, back again to your place, half Promenade, half right and left.
No. 5 — Le Wellington
The Grand Round, four opposite dancers advance and change partners, the four advance again and resume partners, balancez and turn with both hands, right and left, double promenade to your places.
No. 6 — Les Echo's
Right and Left, one Gent: advance and retire twice, the opposite Lady do the same, Balancez and turn partners the Ladies moulinet, Balance without quiting hands and then to your places
In No. 2 the French version ends
Balancez — un tour de main making it clear that the English should be
Balancez and turn your partner rather than
Balancez and turn to your partner.
Click the image on the left to see a superb display of Paine's First Set by the Dutch group Nederlands Historisch Dans-en Theaterensemble. There are elements of interpretation which some would argue with, but the style is wonderful and I believe it conveys the way it would have been danced in 1815. It has six figures, the fourth being “Trenis” which was sometimes danced instead of “Pastorelle” though sometimes both appeared, so maybe I'm wrong to say that the standard quadrille had five figures. For display purposes they have cut down some figures so that only two men lead them; normally each man would lead the figure in turn. On the right you can see Ellis Rogers and members of his Quadrille Club dancing the same set. This has the figures in full, and therefore because of a YouTube restriction they could not fit in “Trenis”.
We note that the second set also has 6 figures rather than the standard 5, so let's turn to his next set of quadrilles that Richard Powers has kindly uploaded: Paine of Almack's Fourth Set of Quadrilles. A note at the bottom of the title page informs us that:
Persons wishing to have PAINE of ALMACK'S Quadrilles, are requested to observe that Mr. Paine's Signature is written on them, and that no others are genuine, which will prevent Imposition, as a Spurious Edition of the Quadrilles , has lately been published.
La Magdonal (Pantalon.)
Right and left, Balancez to your partners and turn, Ladies chain, half promenade and half right and left.
La Nouvelle Eté (L'Eté)
Opposite Lady and Gentleman advance and retire, chasse to the right and left, cross over, chasse to the right and left, back again, Balancez & turn your partners.
La Non Chalant (La Poule.)
Opposite Lady and Gentleman cross over giving their right hand, back again giving their left and their right to their partner, four sett in line holding hands, Ladies fronting one way and Gentlemen the other, promenade half round, opposite Lady and Gentleman advance & retire; back to back, four opposite dancers advance and retire together, half right and left.
La Nouvelle Pastorale
The Gent: & Lady advance and retire twice leaving his Lady opposite, the three, Hands round, the Gentleman advance & retire twice, the 3 opposite advance & retire twice, Hands four Half round, Half right & Left,
La Veritable Chasse (Finale.)
All eight chasse across, opposite Lady & Gent: advance & retire, Chasse to the right & Left, Cross over, Chasse to the right & Left, Back again to Places, Balancez & turn your Partners, The Gentlemen turn the Ladies on their Left with both hands half round & form two Opposite lines, all Eight advance and retire, turn your Partners to Places, the Grand Promenade all round,
Chasse Eight for the finale.
This is based on the “Plain Quadrille”. The names of the standard figures are Pantalon (Trousers), L'Eté (Summer), La Poule (The Hen), Pastorale (Pastoral) and Finale (Final), and you can see that Paine has given these in brackets after four of the tune titles. In the picture of Almack's above you can see them dancing Pastorale.
We danced my version of the First and Fourth figures in the Connections workshop, so let's try my version of the Third and Fifth figures.
Figure 3: La Poule
Musicians: Play (AB AC) x 4, then final A.
|A:||Nothing for four bars. Step right and honour partner.|
|B:||First lady and her opposite man cross over giving right hands. Cross back giving left hands, keep hold and give right to partner's right forming a wave up and down the set.|
|A:||Set right and left in the wave twice, with eye contact. Take a cross-hand hold with partner and promenade across to the other couple's place. Note that the first couple are promenading with the man on the right, so instead of wheeling around as they reach the other couple's place they just face in.|
|C:||First lady and her opposite man forward and back. Back-to-back.|
|A:||Both head couples lead forward and back. Half right and left.|
|Second lady (on left of first lady) lead the same figure (apart from the initial honours), then third lady, fourth lady.|
|Some people will say that the figure should be led by the first man rather than the first lady. I've been guided by the fact that the wording says |
Opposite Lady and Gentlemanrather than
Opposite Gentleman and Ladybut I'm not saying that I'm right. Similarly in B some people slap hands as they pass, whereas the wording says
giving their right hand. There's a lot of time for both lots of crossing, so don't get there too soon — look at the Dutch video to see how well they time it.
Figure 5: Finale
Musicians: Play (AAB) x 4, then final AA.
Strangely enough, the finale usually includes L'Eté in its entirety, and it does so here. But this figure is different from the Finale of the first set, so more interpretation is needed. I'm not pretending to be an expert on quadrilles, but here's my opinion.
The A-music is 8 bars repeated and the B-music is 40 bars. Normally the honours are during the A-music and we start the figure on the B-music, but in this case there are two A's, so we start the figure on A2, then 40 bars of B, then finish the figure on A1, ready to start the next turn of the figure on A2. We then have an extra A2 after the last turn of the figure — but that's all right because the instructions finish (on a separate line, to show that it's an extra):
Chasse Eight for the finale. And that means every A2 is the chassé across. So we have 48 bars to play with for the figure.
Most interpreters seem to leave out the first Chasse for the lady and her opposite man in L'Eté and in the Finale, so I'll do the same! Counting up we then find that we've used 24 bars to do the figure up to the partner two-hand turn. We need 8 bars for the promenade, so we have 16 bars left for
The Gentlemen turn the Ladies on their Left with both hands half round & form two Opposite lines, all Eight advance and retire, turn your Partners to Places. The advance and retire will presumably be 4 bars, as will the turn with partner, and I can't imagine there would be any extra music to get from the lines back to your partner — you just have to go for it! But we can't fill up 8 bars with “two-hand turn corner half-way” (actually it's 3/8 or 5/8 but let's not get bogged down in detail). So my suggestion is that we add a balancez to corner before a slow two-hand turn half-way. After all, everywhere else the turn is preceded by a balancez, so why not here? And that gives us:
|A1:||Nothing for four bars. Step right and honour partner.|
|A2:||All chassé across past partner (man behind lady) to meet the next; set right and left to them. Chassé back (again man behind lady) set to partner.|
|B:||(40 bars): First lady and her opposite man forward and back. Cross over.|
|Facing each other (inside the set), chassé right and left. Cross over.|
|Balancez to partner. Two-hand turn to place. (Other people will tell you it's a right-hand turn.)|
|All balancez to corner. Two-hand turn about half-way into lines at the head, with the man on the left (4 bars, so take your time).|
|Join hands in lines and go forward and back. Men moving in front of your corner, all meet partner for a two-hand turn to place.|
|A1||All take a cross-hand hold and promenade round the square.|
|Second lady, third lady and fourth lady lead the same figure in turn.|
|A2:||Finally, all chassé across; set right and left, Chassé back; set to partner.|
Ralph Sweet called four figures of The Plain Quadrille at the Ralph Page Dance Legacy Weekend in 2000. Click the image on the right to see it — I've started it as the dance starts, but he gives some interesting background before that. His version comes from a book published in 1890, but I imagine he's added some moves from later American Squares. It looks and sounds like a traditional American Square, but you can see that the first figure comes from the original version and his third figure has similarities to the fifth figure of the Belle Brandon Set on my “200 Years of Anerican” page.
Here's an interesting link — I'm quoting part of the section about quadrilles:
The Quadrille was introduced into English Society by Lady Jersey and her friends at 'Almacks' in 1816. Originally figures were put together by the dancers themselves, but Wilson's Treatise on Quadrille Dancing of 1818 describes fifty different moves and suggests how they may be combined to make figures. Many of these moves were Cotillon figures already familiar to English dancers. One of the most popular books of the period was Payne's Six Sets of Quadrilles (1820) — the First of which was a Set that was already so popular in Paris that by the end of the 18th century it had superseded all the others. This was the set which Lady Jersey introduced at Almacks and ultimately the form in which the Quadrille was danced in England, as the First Set of the Quadrilles, although there were numerous variations to chose from.
It usually consisted of five distinct parts or figures — which even when new music was provided retained the name of the contredanses which made up the standard quadrille. The figures were:
Le Pantelon, adapted from a song which began 'le pantelon / de Madelon / N'a pas le fond …'
L'Ete — a contredanse popular in 1800
La Poule — a dance from 1820
La Pastourelle — based on a ballet by the cornet player Collinet, and a lively …
The fourth figure — La Pastourelle — was often replaced by a further figure La Trenis (named after the dance Trenitz) in fact, in the Viennese Quadrille both were danced — as fourth and sixth figures.
The music for the quadrille sets was made up of lively rhythmic themes of rigid 8 or 16 bar lengths — the sections much repeated within a figure. Except for La Poule and sometimes Le Pantelon (which were in 6/8) the music was in 2/4 and usually adapted from popular songs and stage works. In England the Quadrilles of Jullien, such as the British Army Quadrilles and the Grand Quadrille of All Nations were great attractions at his concerts in the Surrey Gardens and Covent Garden. Elgar also wrote music for the Quadrilles during his years as conductor at the Powick Asylum (1879-94). Elsewhere in Europe quadrilles were produced by the Strausses and all the major dance composers of the 19th century.
Both are serious academic groups, though not serious in the sober no-nonsense meaning — they enjoy themselves but they strive to research the dances and do them properly. The Historical Dance Society has published two books — “Dances for Jane Austen” and “More Dances for Jane Austen” — which are well-researched and very readable, explaining the steps and figures, with accompanying CDs of the music.
I've already mentioned regencydances.org which has a lot of information and also some animations of dances — people say a picture is worth a thousand words!
Some people say that with a few exceptions country dances didn't have names in Regency times. It was the tune which had the name, and when somebody published “24 new dances for the year so-and-so” what they were publishing was new tunes — they put some dance instructions under each but these were pretty random and in practice the leading lady chose a set of figures and the band chose a tune to fit them. Other people don't share this view. Anne says:
[…] country dances could be devised on the spot by the head couple, but that was not the only practice. Note re The Honeymoon, that Fanny Austen records dancing that by name. Although tunes were sold with a variety of figures, probably in your own community (whether local or social) some tunes and figures went together regularly — later becoming 'traditional'.
quadrilles.co.uk is Ellis Rogers' website — you can see a video of his Quadrille Club above. Ellis has led research and practice in quadrilling in the UK for many years and has published a large book, “The Quadrille — A practical guide to its origin, development and performance”. available from him. The Quadrille Club meets once a month in London.
Or you might want to try researching the cotillions yourself…
Cotillions and country dances: https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt ?id=osu.32435018220368; view=1up;seq=7
Lots of links to facsimiles of original documents: regencydances.org/ sources.php
For instance there are some quadrilles starting on page 180 of Thomas Wilson's 1816 Companion To The Ballroom
Of course, clothing affected dancing and in turn dancing affected clothing, so I'm grateful to Barbara and Bethany Lincoln for drawing my attention to a page which deals with Regency Fashion and also contains a number of links to other related websites.
Keep it really simple. These people have no concept of duple minor, progression, which way is up and which way is down, etc. You need to be aware that a lot of what you say to dancers is jargon and means nothing to non-dancers.
I've shared the calling of several Jane Austen evenings for The Round. After one of these, the other caller (a student who was Chairman of The Round at the time) said, “You were right, Colin; I should have listened to you. It's very different from calling at The Round, or at a Round Ceilidh.”
So I suggest you start with a duple minor, but don't start with the duple minor version of “The Merry Meeting” which involves the ones dancing with their own twos and the next twos (because it's been converted from a triple minor). They will get hopelessly lost. Start with something like “Sprigs of Laurel” or “The Spaniard” or “Knole Park”. You have to explain everything: set, turn single, etc. Don't rush it, and don't be afraid to get down there with them and demonstrate figures and steps. I would certainly demonstrate a skip-change step and get them doing it before starting the explanation of the dance. I would demonstrate set and turn single, though I try not to watch some people's attempts at this! Walk the dance through at least twice, so that the concept of progression starts to mean something. Keep the tone light — they're here to enjoy themselves, not at a lecture — but don't be afraid to correct people provided they can see that you're on their side rather than a school-teacher criticising them.
Run the dance for a good length, not just the seven times through that most recordings use. Give people a chance to relax, feel more confident and actually enjoy their dancing. At The Round's Jane Austen evenings the dancers are mainly students — they're quite willing to learn, to leap about and enjoy it, provided you keep things at their level.
I like to give out bits of information about how they would have danced, such as the fact that they didn't take hands four and the dance was started by just the top two or three couples, but I don't throw that at them until they've done a couple of dances and the information has some context. I stick to dances which are actually from Jane Austen's period, but I will certainly convert some of the triple minors to three-couple set dances. Again let these run say 9 times through, so that each couple gets to lead the figure 3 times.
Give them some different rhythms and steps. I would suggest one or two in waltz time (and again I would get down there and demonstrate the step), a slip-jig such as “The Physical Snob”, a step-hop dance such as “Pleasures of the Town” (make sure you know which tune the band are going to play and how the dance fits the music).
I like to do at least one triple minor, though not until the second half.
I like to finish with “La Boulanger” described here. I demonstrate Balancé and Rigadoon, though I tell people they can simply set twice. If you're going to try this, make sure you can demonstrate it with conviction!
Finally, don't kid yourself that you're going to get through the same number of dances as you would with your own dance group. No-one is judging you on the number of dances you got them through, or the complexity of the figures, or what key the tunes are in — their only criterion is whether they enjoyed themselves!
|1770||Tom Jones||Rutherford, Volume 2||Fallibroome 5||3 cu|
|1772||The Installation||Unidentified||Again Let's Be Merry||3 cu|
|1773||Devil Among the Tailors||Thompson, Compleat Collection Volume 3||Wright's Humours Vol. 1||3 cu|
|1773||The General||Thompson, Compleat Collection Volume 3||Come Let's Be Merry||3 cu|
|1773||The Goose and Gridiron||Thompson, Compleat Collection Volume 3||Come Let's Be Merry||3 cu|
|1774||The Alderman's Hat||Thompson||Apted Book||Triple / 3 cu|
|1774||The Dressed Ship||Thompson||Apted Book||Duple|
|1774||The Fandango||Thompson||Apted Book||3 cu|
|1774||The Freemason||Thompson||Apted Book||Triple|
|1774||The Lasses of Portsmouth||Thompson||Apted Book||3 cu|
|1774||The Merry Meeting||Thompson||Apted Book||Triple/Duple|
|1774||Once a Night||Thompson||Apted Book||3 cu|
|1774||A School for Scandal||Thompson||Apted Book||Triple|
|1774||The Shrewsbury Lasses||Thompson||Apted Book||3 cu|
|1774||A Trip to Highgate||Thompson||Apted Book||Triple|
|1775||The Cuckoo's Nest||Rutherford, Volume 3||Fallibroome 5||3 cu|
|1775||Miss Silvie's Delight||Rutherford, Volume 3||Fallibroome 6||3 cu|
|1775||A Trip to Castle Howard||Thompson||Playford Plus||3 cu|
|1776||The Adieu||Thompson||Hunter's Moon||5 cu|
|1776||The Comical Fellow||Thompson||Apted Book||Duple|
|1776||The Spaniard||Thompson||Apted Book||Duple|
|1777||The Pleasures of the Town||Thompson||Apted Book||3 cu|
|1778||The Bishop||Thompson||Apted Book||Triple|
|1779||Wakefield Hunt||Thompson, Volume 4||Hunter's Moon||Triple|
|1781||Miss Sayers' Allemande||Thomas Budd Jnr., Minuets etc.||Fallibroome 1||3 cu|
|1784||Prince William's Return||Thompson||Holland as seen In the English Country Dance||Triple|
|1786||The Balloon||Unknown original||Fallibroome 6||Triple|
|1786||The Hop-Pickers' Feast||Thompson, 1786||Kentish Hops 2||3 cu|
|1788||Leather Lake House||J Bishop||The Naked Truth||Triple|
|1790||The Splendid Shilling||Unknown||Fallibroome 3||3 cu|
|1790||Sprigs of Laurel||Cahusac||Fallibroome 5||Duple|
|1791||Dover Pier||Preston Collection of 24 Country Dances||Kentish Hops 1||Duple|
|1791||Long Odds||Preston Collection of 24 Country Dances||The Country Dance Club Book||Duple|
|1793||A Trip to Tunbridge||Preston Collection of 24 Country Dances||Kentish Hops 1||3 cu|
|1794||Duke of York's Fancy||Caricature Ball Fan||Bath Fan 1794||3 cu|
|1794||The Hop Ground||Preston Collection of 24 Country Dances||Kentish Hops||Duple|
|1798||The Bath Waltz||Cahusac, 24 Country Dances||This website||3 cu|
|1798||La Boulanger||Dale's Collection||This website||Square|
|1799||The Shepherd and Shepherdess||Thompson||Same figures as “The Hop-Pickers' Feast”||3 cu|
|1800||Money in Both Pockets||Unknown||This website||Duple|
|1800||The Physical Snob, The||Unidentified Source||Fallibroome 1||3 cu|
|1801||Duke of Kent's Waltz||Cahusac||Kentish Hops 2 or This website||Triple|
|1802||The Rose in June||Chas & Sam Thompson||This website||3 cu|
|1808||The Ridicule||Skillern & Challoner||This website||Square|
|1809||Knole Park||Voight||Kentish Hops 1||Duple|
|1815||Sir Roger de Coverley||Thomas Wilson||This website||Whole set|