The Quadrille

[This is taken from Routledge's Manual of Etiquette.]

The Quadrille is the most universal, as it is 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 paterfamilias 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



First Figure.—Le Pantalon.

The couples at the top and bottom of the quadrille cross to each

other’s places in eight steps, occupying four bars of the time; then

re-cross immediately to their own places, which completes the movement

of eight bars. This is called the Chaine Anglaise. The gentleman always keeps to the right of vis-à-vis lady in crossing, thus placing her inside.

Set to partners, or balances; turn your partners. (This occupies the second eight bars.) Ladies, chain, or chaine des dames. (Eight bars more.) Each couple crosses to opposite couple’s place, gentleman giving his hand to his partner: this is called half-promenade. Couples recross right and left to their places, without giving hands, which completes another eight bars, and ends the figure.

The side couples repeat what the top and bottom couples have done.


Second Figure.—L’Ete.

The ladies in all the top couples, and their vis-à-vis gentlemen, advance four steps, and retire the same, repeating this movement once again, which makes the first eight bars.

Top ladies and vis-à-vis gentlemen cross to each other’s places; advance four steps; retreat ditto; cross back towards partners, who set to them as they advance; turn partners; which ends first half of figure.

Second ladies and top vis-à-vis gentlemen execute the same movements. Then side couples begin, the privilege of commencement being conferred on those ladies who stand at the right of the top couples.

This figure is sometimes performed in a different manner, known as double L’Ete. Instead of the top lady and vis-à-vis gentleman advancing alone, they advance with partners joining hands; cross and return, as in the single figure. This variation is, however, somewhat out of vogue, except (as will presently be seen) in the last figure of the quadrille, where it is still frequently introduced.


Third Figure—La Poule.

Top lady and vis-à-vis gentleman cross to each other’s places, giving right hand in passing; cross back again with left hand. (Eight bars.) The two couples form in a line, and join hands, the left hand of one holding the right hand of his or her neighbor, so that each faces different ways; in this position all four balancez, then half promenade with partner to opposite place; top lady and vis-à-vis gentleman advance four steps and retire ditto. (2nd eight bars.) Both top and bottom couples advance together, and retire the same; then re-cross right and left to places. (3rd eight bars.) Second lady and first opposite gentleman repeat figure. Side couples repeat, observing same rule for commencement as in L’Ete.


Fourth Figure.—La Trenise.

Top couples join hands, advance four steps and retreat ditto: advance again, gentleman leaving lady at left hand of vis-à-vis gentleman, and retiring alone, (1st eight bars.) Two ladies advance, crossing to opposite side; gentleman advances to meet his partner, vis-à-vis lady returns to hers. (2nd eight bars.) Balancez; turn partners to places. (3rd eight bars.) Second couple performs same figure; side couples repeat as before.

If La Pastorale be preferred, it will be performed thus:--Top couple advance and retreat; advance, gentleman leading lady to left hand of vis-à-vis gentleman; he advances with both ladies four steps, retreating ditto; again advancing, he leaves both ladies with first gentleman, retreating alone; top gentleman and both ladies advance and retreat; again advance, joining hands in circle, go half round, half promenade to opposite places, then return right and left to their own.  Second couples and side couples repeat as before.


Fifth Figure.—La Finale.

Begin with the grand rond or great round; that is, the whole quadrille; first and second couples and sides join hands all round, advance four steps, and retreat ditto. L’Ete is now sometimes introduced, the grand rond being repeated between each division of the figure. But it gives a greater variety and brio to the quadrille if, after the first grand rond, the following figure be performed, the galop step being used throughout. Each gentleman (at top and bottom couples) takes his lady round the waist, as for the galop; advance four steps, retreat ditto, advance again, cross to opposite places; advance, retreat, re-cross to own places. Ladies chain; half promenade across; half right and left to places; grand rond. Side couples repeat figure. Grand rond between each division and at the conclusion. Bow to your partners, and conduct your lady to seat.





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