The Quadrille


For a refresher on what dances you will need under your belt in the Victorian Ballroom please see:

The Quadrille is far more refined and elegant than the German. There are no ‘mysterious sheets’ or ‘magic hats’ here. It is a safe and satisfactory option for a public ball as there is no call to be overly familiar with your partner.

In A Full Description of Modern Dance by C. H. Rivers the quadrille is accompanied by ‘preparatory explanations’, wherein dancers are enjoined to form sets in a quiet manner and should not angle for a favoured position. Once a position is taken it should under no circumstances be relinquished.

“Nor should their place be left in temporary charge of others in the set to retain for them while they hold flirtations in some other part of the room, or leisurely take seats, waiting for the dance to begin.”

Leaving a Quadrille set is a disrespectful act, should such rudeness actually occur another couple may take their position. This new couple is to be welcomed with honour by the master of ceremonies, host or hostess who are to uphold their right to the vacated position.

The expression ‘ballroom politics’ begins to make sense. Also, we see how an unsteady-devil-may-care younger brother could be a real disgrace.

Perhaps Sir William Lucas was right, dancing is after all the mark of refined society, if that dancing includes the quadrille of course.

Or better still we can surmise the degree of refinement in society by observing their manner of dancing.

Think modern day-Mosh Pit. I rest my case.

For those with a keen interest in how to quadrille

The quadrille as far as I can tell is the same as square dancing. (Quad=4, a square has four sides,  but it sounds so much more elegant in French, oui?) The dance is made up of five numbers containing two or more figures each in 4, 8 and 16 bars.

I’m sure it makes sense if you have studied Ballet or another form of dancing.

Which I haven’t.

The leader of the orchestra calls the figures. In the refined society to which Sir William Lucas referred the figures will be called in French. But in Little House in the Big Woods Pa calls the figures.

In English.

Which suits me just fine.

The fourth and Fifth figures of a quadrille can be replaced with a “Basket”,  a “star” or a “Social” and are designated “Promiscuous figures” which sounds very daring but I assure you there is nothing in them to shock the modern chaperone so…

Remember to make time for a little dancing