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Dance History Origin: Old Quadrille and Ballroom dance TERMS
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Old Dance Terms
        The figures of the Quadrille were formed by combining the elementary movements, and while most of them were very simple, some were complicated and must be thoroughly understood, as the name of the movement only was called. (In quadrille music each movement occupies four bars of the music.) Some of these Terms are still used today in dance. Some of the below is excerpted from the book: the Way to Dance (1890.)
à contre pied ...
the left foot would be slid backwards during the first movement and then right sideways during the second movement for the gentleman.
Allemand ...
The gentlemen take four steps toward lady of right-hand couple, who would advance to meet him; he then would swing her half around, right hands to be joined; he then would advance four steps toward his partner who came to meet him, and then swings her with left hand to place.
Aux Coins -- Set to Corners.
Balencez aux veins (Balance to Corners)...
Each gentleman would have turned towards the lady of the couple on his left, and take three short steps or glides to the right and then would stop, then three to the left, and steps, turns her with both hands, and return to places.
Balance in Place ... (Balencez)
Slide the right foot to the right, then bring the left foot in front of the right in third position, and slide the left foot to the left, and bring the right foot in front of the left into third position, repeating the whole thing.
Balencez- to Partners ... (Set To Partners)
Danced by each couple independently. Partners would have faced each other, taking three short steps to the right and stop, then three steps back again to the left and stop, join hands and turn once around in places.
alencez quatre en ligne ... Set four in a line (see La Poule).
Cavalier seul ... Gentleman would advance alone.
Chaine Anglaise ... Top and Bottom couples right and left.
Chaine Anglaise demi ... Half right and left Chaines.
Chaine Anglaise double ... Double right and left Chaines.
Chaine des dames ... Ladie's only Chain.
Chaine des dames double ... All ladies would commence the chain at the same time.
Chaine La Grande ...
All the couples would chassez all round, giving right and left hands alternately, beginning with the right, until all would have resumed their places.
Chassez ... Move to right and left or left to right.
Slide the foot sideways (the right foot to the right, or the left foot to the left), and would bring the other foot close up to it, repeating the same successively once to each beat or count of the music as many times as circumstances would require. In chassez across, the step was executed three times with the right foot to the right, and bring the left foot in front; then three times with the left foot to the left, bringing the right foot in front. When this step would be used in promenade, the gentleman would make seven steps with his left foot, and the lady the same number with her right foot.
Chassez All ...
Ladies chassez was four steps to the left and back; at the same time the gentlemen chassez four steps to the right and back, dancing behind their partners. Turn partners with both hands to places.
Chassez to Partners ...
Partners face each other; each would take three steps forward, passing one another on right side; then three steps backward again, turning partner in place with both hands.
Chassez croisez ( Chassez Across) ... Lady and gentleman chassez in opposite directions.
Each lady would make four steps to the left, passing across in front of her partner; at the same time each gentleman makes three steps to the right; bring left foot up. All dancers would make a short step forward and back in half time. All dancers would make three steps sideways, back again to first positions, and two short steps to fill up the space.
Cross Over ...
When a couple would cross over, each partner proceeded in a straight line across, and faces around, occupying the place exactly opposite to that from which he or she started, so that the gentleman who was on the left of his lady when he started, finds himself on her right after they have crossed over.
Cross Right Hands ...
This movement would require four persons. The two opposite persons would join right hands, and the two, other opposites would also join right hands at right angles across the hands of the first two. In this position all would make four steps to the left, stop, drop right hands, turn around and cross left hands; in this position all would make four steps to the right, then back again to former positions.
Demi-promenade ... All the couples would do a half promenade.
Dos A Dos ... (Back to back).
Both advance, passing on each other's right side, step across to the right, back to back, without turning around, and pass each other's left hands to places. Forward and Stop. Commence with the right foot, take three steps forward, and bring the left foot up behind the right. And would remain so until further orders.
Forward And Back ...
Begin with the right foot, take three steps forward, and bring the left foot behind the right; commence with the left foot, take three steps backward, and bring the right foot in front of the left.
Forward and Ladies to the Center ...
Partners would join right hands and advance four steps; then retire four steps to places; again advance four steps toward center; each gentlemen would swing his partner half around, so as to face him; she remains in center, and he retires to his place.
Gentlemen to the Right ...
Each gentleman would go through the same movement with the lady of the couple on his right, that is described: in "Ladies to the right."
Glissade ... A sliding step.
Grand Chain ...
The partners of each Couple would turn facing one another and join right hands; the gentlemen would all go around to the right, the ladies to the left. Each gentleman in starting, passes his partner on her right and drops her hand; joins left hand with next lady, Who would advance to meet him, and passes her on her left and drops her hand; joins right hands With the next advancing lady, passes her on her right, and drops her hand; and so on, alternately: right hand and left hand. With each succeeding lady until he meets his partner just half way around the quadrille; there he would salute her, and joining right hands with her would repeat the whole again back to places.
Half Grand Chain ...
Same as "Grand Chain," except that all would stop at the saluting point half way around. After "Half Grand Chain "if "Back Again" was called, each gentleman, instead of saluting his partner would join right hands with her and both would swing half around so as to face in the opposite direction, and then left and right back again to places.
Hands Around ...
Join hands in a ring, and swing around the Circle one entire revolution.
Hands all Around ...
All the couples in the quadrille join hands in a ring, and would swing entirely around in a circle back to places; or, swing eight steps to the left, stop, and eight steps to the right back again to places.
Ladies to the Right ...
Each lady takes four steps to the right, in front of her right hand couple, then dances four steps in front of the gentleman on her right, then turns him once around with both hands, and remains standing on his right side, taking the place of his partner.
Ladies' Chain ...
Two opposite couples at the same time. The opposite ladies cross over, giving each other right hands in passing; each lady joins left hands with opposite gentleman, and swings half around. Repeat, swinging partners with left hand to places. When not repeated, this was called "Half Ladies' Chain," leaving each lady standing to the right of opposite gentleman.
Ladies' Grand Chain ...
The four ladies would cross right hands in center, making a half turn; drop right hands, and each lady joins left hands with opposite gentleman, swinging him half around in place. they would Repeat the entire movement back to places.
Le moulinet ... Hands across. Demi-moulinet. Ladies would advance to center, give right hands and retire.
Le grand promenade ... All promenade round figure and back to places.
Le grand rond ... All join hands, and advance and retire twice.
Le grand tour de rond ... join hands, and dance round figure.
Pas Marche ... This is a simple walking step, three steps being taken to a bar.
Pas Balancé ...
The balance is of two kinds, the Forward Balancé and the Backward Balancé. In the forward movement step forward on the right foot, balance on that foot and extend the left to the second position. The backward movement is the reverse of this, the dancer stepping back with the left foot balancing on that foot, and extending the right to second position. All these positions should be assumed with grace and daintiness.
Pas Grave ...
Place the feet in the fifth position, with the right foot in front. Bend both knees, rise on both toes and descend on the left heel, bending the right knee by raising the right heel, and allowing the right toe to remain on the floor (one bar). This is reversed when the left foot is in front, the left heel then being elevated. The Pas Grave always precedes the Balancé, the latter following on the succeeding measure. This motion is an exaggerated one, as, indeed, are most of the minuet movements. The bending of the knees should produce a decided dip of the body, and in all the motions a rather decided manner should be displayed.
Pas Menuet ...
Place the feet in the fifth position, with the right foot in front. Bend both knees, rise, and in rising extend the right foot to the second position; then transfer the weight of the body from the left foot to the right and extend the left to the second position (one bar). This motion is continued in the same direction by passing the left foot behind the right at the moment of bending the knees for the repetition. Corresponding motions are used for passing to the left.
Pas Bouré ...
Place the feet in the second position, with the right extended, standing on the toes of both feet. Draw the right foot behind the left to the fifth position, and then step to the left. Again pass the right foot behind and step to the left. Do this three times during one bar of music. The motions are the same for passing to the right as to the left, and are sometimes accelerated to twelve to a bar and sometimes retarded to three to a bar.
Pas Sissoné ...
Place the feet in the second position of right. Pass the right behind the left to the fifth position, as in the Pas Bouré, and step to the left; then pass the.right, in front to the fifth position, and immediately place the left in the second position (one bar). Return to the right in the same way.
Pas de Basque Pirouette ...
Place the feet in the fifth position, with the right in front. Then take the second position with the right, place the left in front in the fourth position, rise on the toes and swing half round to the right, thus bringing the right foot in front in the fourth position. If it is desired to face to the left, begin with the left foot and perform the same movement to the left.
Promenade ...
Each gentleman crosses hands with his partner, right hands uppermost, and crosses over, passing to the right of the opposite advancing couple, to opposite couple's place. When this was not repeated, it was called "Half Promenade," and left the couple in opposite places.
Promenade All ...
Partners cross hands, right hands Uppermost, and all the couples would glide or chassez seven steps to the right to opposite places, and stop; repeat to places. When this was not repeated, it is called "Half Promenade All."
The Pursuit ...
What was known as the pursuit was designed merely to avoid giddiness and fatigue, and was usually followed by a reversal of the former movement. The pursuit was danced forward or backward in a straight line, the lady being guided by her partner. It was not considered correct, however, for the gentleman to require his partner to take the backward pursuit, although it was sometimes done. Unless the lady's gown is a short one, she was almost certain to step on and tear it in executing the backward movement.
Quatre en Ligne ... Set four in a line (see La Poule).
Right and Left ...
The two couples cross over, each gentleman touching right hands with opposite lady in passing. As he drops the passing lady's right band, he joins left hands with his partner, both turning half around into opposite couple's place. Repeat this, bringing the couples back to their original positions. When the movement is not repeated, it was called "Half Right and Left," and it left the couples in the places opposite to those from which they started.
Right Hand Across and Left Back Again ...
Opposite couples would cross over, the ladies inside, each lady touching right hands with Opposite gentleman in passing. All face around and return, each lady joining left hands with opposite gentleman, whose hand she retains; she then crosses her right hand over her left, and joins right hands with her partner.
Traversez ... Opposite persons would change places; retraversez, they cross back again.
Turn Partners ...
The gentleman takes his partner with both hands, and they turn once around to the left. When "Turn Partners" was called, it meant that, both hands are to be used, unless the hand was specified, in which case one hand only is used.
Vis-a-vis ... Face to face, or the opposite partner.

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Last updated: May 9, 2013