The quadrille, pronounced to be essentially a conversational dance, but inasmuch as the figures are perpetually calling you away from your partner, the first necessity for dancing a quadrille is to be supplied with a fund of small talk, in which you can go from subject to subject like a bee from flower to flower. The next point is to carry yourself uprightly. Time was when as in the days of the nienuet de la cow the carriage constituted the dance. This is still the case with the quadrille, in which even if ignorant of the figures, you may acquit yourself well by a calm graceful carriage. After all, the most important figure is the smile, and the feet may be left to their fate, if we know what to do with our hands; of which I may observe that they should never be pocketed.
The smile is essential. A dance is supposed to amuse, and nothing is more out of place in it than a gloomy scowl, unless it be an ill-tempered frown. The gaiety of a dance is more essential than the accuracy of its figures, and if you feel none yourself, you may at least look pleased by that of those around you. A defiant manner is equally obnoxious. An acquaintance of mine always gives me the impression, when he advances into 1, that he is about to box the lady who comes to meet him. But the most objectionable of all is the supercilious manner. Dear me, if you really think you do your partner an honor in dancing with her, you should at least remember that your condescension is annulled by the manner in which you treat her.
A lady beautiful word! is a delicate creature, one who should be reverenced and delicately treated. It is therefore unpardonable to rush about in a quadrille, to catch hold of the lady's hand as if it were a door-handle, or to drag her furiously across the room, as if you were Bluebeard. and she Fatima, with the mysterious closet opposite to you. This brusque violent style of dancing is unfortunately common, but immediately stamps a man. Though I would not have you wear a perpetual simper, you should certainly smile when you take a lady's hand, and the old custom of bowing in doing so, is one that we may regret; for does she not confer an honor on us by the action? To squeeze it, on the other hand, is a gross familiarity, for which you would deserve to be kicked out of the room.
"Steps," as the chasser of the quadrille is called, belong to a past age, and even ladies are now content to walk through a quadrille. To be graceful, however, a lady should hold her skirt out a little. In France this is done with one hand, which I am inclined to think is more graceful than holding it with both. It is, however, necessary to keep time with the music, the great object being the general harmony. To preserve this, it is also advisable where the quadrille, as is now generally the case, danced by two long lines of couples down the room, that in Fete, and other figures, in which a gentleman and advance alone to meet one another, none but gentlemen should advance from the one side, and therefore none of ladies from the other.
Dancing masters find it convenient to introduce fibres, and the fashion of La Trnise and the Grande Ronde is repeatedly changing. It is wise to know 1 last mode, but not to insist on dancing it. A quadrille cannot go on evenly if any confusion arises from the ignorance obstinacy, or inattention of any one of the dancers. it is therefore useful to know every way in which a fi may be danced, and to take your cue from the others. It is amusing, however, to find how even such a trifle as a choice of figures in a quadrille can help to mark caste, and give a handle for supercilious sneers. Jones, the other day, was protesting that the Browns were "vulgar." "Why so? they are well bred." "Yes, so they are." They are well-informed." "Certainly." " They are polite, speak good English, dress quietly and well, are graceful and even elegant." "I grant you all that." "Then what fault can you find with them." " My dear fellow, they are people who gallop round in the last figure of a quadrille," he replied triumphantly. But to a certain extent Jones is right. Where a choice is given, the man of taste will always select for a quadrille (as it is a conversational dance) the quieter mode of performing a figure, and so the Browns, if perfect in other respects, at least were wanting in taste. There is one alteration lately introduced from France, which I sincerely trust will be universally accepted. The farce of that degrading little performance called "setting" where you dance before your partner somewhat like Man Friday before Robinson Crusoe, and then as if your feelings were over come, seize her hands and whirl her round has been finally abolished by a decree of Fashion, and thus more opportunity is given for conversation, and in a crowded room you have no occasion to crush yourself and partner between the couples on each side of you.
I do not attempt to deny that the quadrille, as now walked, is ridiculous; the figures, which might be graceful if performed in a lively manner, have entirely lost their spirit, and are become a burlesque of dancing; but, at the same time, it is a most valuable dance. Old and young, stout and thin, good dancers and bad, lazy, ve, stupd and clever, married and single, can all join in it, and have not only an excuse and opportunity for ***** conversation, which is decidedly the easiest but find encouragement in the music, and in some case convenient breaks in the necessity of dance person of few ideas has time to collect them whifeW[?] part-" nerjs[?] performing, and one of many can brin tlim out with double effect. Lastly, if yOU wish to be polite or lend yto an acquaintance who dances atrociously you can select a quadrille for him or her, as the ease may [fc Intense patnot.m]? still induces some people to affirm that Preferabk to ! [lr-ta on from France] These good creatures should inquire a litle further. I think they would find that the country! dance (contre-da, came from the somewhat earlier date. But, however this may be, dance which tears me so completely away from the part Very different in object and principle are the so-called round dances, and there are great limitations as to those who should join in them. Here the intention is, physical movement under peculiar condition? and the conversion during the intervals of rest is only a secondary object. These dances demand activity and lightness, and should therefore be, as a rule, confined the young. An old man sacrifices all his dignitv in polka, and an old woman is ridiculous in a wata Corpulency too, is generally a great impediment. though some stout people prove to be the lightest dancers of round dances scarcely comes within my province.
Lead the lady through the quadrille; do not drag her, nor clasp her hand as if it were made of wood, lest she, not unjustly, think you a bear.
You will not, if you are wise, stand up in a quadrille without knowing something of the figure; and if you are master of a few of the steps, so much the better. But dance quietly; do not kick and caper about, nor sway your body to and fro; dance only from the hips downwards; and lead the lady as lightly as you would tread a measure with a spirit of gossamer.
Do not pride yourself on doing the "steps neatly," unless you are ambitious of being taken for a dancing-master; between whose motions and those of a gentleman there is a great difference.
Unless a man has a very graceful figure, and can use it with great elegance, it is better for him to walk through the quadrilles, or invent some gliding movement for the occasion.
When a lady is standing in a quadrille, though not engaged in dancing, a gentleman not acquainted with her partner should not converse with her.
"When an unpracticed dancer makes a mistake, we may apprise him of his error; but it would be very impolite to have the air of giving him a lesson.
Immediate attention should be paid to any request made by the Master of Ceremonies, and all misunderstandings respecting the dance should be referred to him, his decision being deemed final. Otherwise his superintendence of the ball will be attended with great inconvenience.
"When forming for quadrilles, if by any oversight you should accidentally occupy another couple's place, on being informed of the intrusion, you should immediately apologize to the incommoded party, and secure another position.
Contending for a position in quadrilles, at either head or sides, indicates an irritable and quarrelsome disposition altogether unsuited for an occasion where all should meet with kindly feelings.
When a company is divided into different sets, persons should not attempt to change their places without permission from the Master of Ceremonies.
No persons engaged in a quadrille or other dance that requires their assistance to complete the set, should leave the room or sit down before the dance is finished, unless on a very urgent occasion, and not even then without previously informing the Master of Ceremonies, that he may 'find substitutes'.
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