In this way originated the picturesque rural dances, which in the next century were borrowed by the Courts of France and Italy. Thus at the marriage of Charles VI (1685-1740,) six mountaineers of the Pyrénées were introduced to perform one of the native dances, and at a festival given by Catherine de Medici (1519-1582) to the Duke of Alva at Bayonne (Gascony in SW France), there were troops of shepherds and shepherdesses, each of which performed dances peculiar to their own districts."
The Contredanses gave birth to the Quadrilles around 1740. Originally called "English Country dancing" (or English Contra Dances). The Contra dance, Lancers and Quadrilles are basically what we call today as the "old country dances" and are the forerunner of Square dancing.
These are a form of old "modern dances" of French origin, and French names and technical phrases were applied to many of them and their figures and movements. A Contredanse which is neither a quadrille nor a round dance, derives its name from the manner in which the dancers are arranged. In the Quadrille, partners stand side by side, each couple forming one side of a square; while in a Contredanse, as the name implies, partners stand opposite to and facing one another, all the dancers being thus termed into parallel lines. The French term "Contredanse," was transferred into English as "country dance," but this is clearly a misnomer, since the name, it is said that if Anglicized at all should be rendered "contra-dance," as given in the title above.
The "Contra" dance and Quadrilles only differ in the position of the dancers, as the same calls or steps may be used. Contra dances have sets with some couples being "active and some being inactive." Contra dances have a beginning and end. In the Contra Dances the partners of each couple stand opposite to and face one another, forming two paralleled lines. (Saltare means to dance opposite or against each other).
... as an example:
Four couples proceed to place themselves in the middle of the room, such as for a Virginia Reel. The first couple lead off by waltzing around the couple on their right, and in the same manner make a turn round the other couples. The other three couples repeat the same figure. When all the four have done so, they return to their places, waltzing.
The Spanish dance (Quadrilles and Lancers type) were danced to slow waltz music, and by any number of couples. Arranged in a circle or in lines of couples. Every two couples face each other, and have their backs to the next couples, in the lines or circle, and dance in opposite directions. All begin at the same time, at the commencement of the second strain of the music. The Sicilian (circle?) dance is arranged the same way.
Marie Antoinette arrived in Paris as queen to Louis XVI in 1772 and by 1774, had brought Viennese dances, including the new 'Contredanse allemande'. It was performed in much the same manner as the 'Contredanse Francaise', except that at least one figure required partners to turn while changing arm positions (L.O.C.).