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sheet music phot circa 1830s of a contradanse
Contredanse dance history Origin title       Contredanse (con·tre·danse) is considered an English dance but originally came from France and was introduced to the rest of society about 1690. "Contre dancing" (Contredanse Français) was very popular in French ballrooms of the upper classes and known as the 'Contredance or Contredanse' in France (contradanze in Italian). A very old American Encyclopedia, which says that "in the late fourteenth century, the dance was banished from the cities and took refuge in the country, which became the delight of the peasants, who were excluded earlier from the chivalric diversions of the nobles.

     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.).

 

Birth Place

Creation Date

Creator

Dance Type

France 14th century? n/a Court
       
 

Posters, Lobby Cards etc.

Sheet Music Covers

Other / Misc.

n/a n/a n/a
     

Various Music Titles

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Acante et Céphise (Pastorale héroïque (1751) Sorry, Clip is not available at the moment Contretanz In B Flat Major - Beethoven Sorry, Clip is not available at the moment les Contredanse Nouvelle (1780)
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Anacreon - J. P. Rameau (1757) Sorry, Clip is not available at the moment Four Contredanses Sorry, Clip is not available at the moment les Contredanse Polonese (1780)
Sorry, Clip is not available at the moment Anglais. Contredanse (1780) Sorry, Clip is not available at the moment God Save The Queen Sorry, Clip is not available at the moment Mazurka in D Minor - Chopin
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Contredanse in d major - Hayden Sorry, Clip is not available at the moment l' Contredanse Française (1780) Sorry, Clip is not available at the moment Mozart: Dances; Marches [CD]
Sorry, Clip is not available at the moment Contredanse de Plessala Sorry, Clip is not available at the moment la Contredanse Nouvelle (1764) Sorry, Clip is not available at the moment Three Contredanses [MP3]
Sorry, Clip is not available at the moment Contredanse In G-Flat Major [MP3] Sorry, Clip is not available at the moment les Contredanse Allemande (1780)
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Zéphyre - J. P. Rameau
Sorry, Clip is not available at the moment Contredanse tres vive - Rameau [MP3]
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Les Boreades - Contredanse Tres Vives    
 

Night Clubs

Theaters

Ballets / Stage

Woods Tavern (PA.) n/a n/a
                 
 
Video Clips (pop-up)

Films / Movies

COSTUME

Locations

Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1938 - Marie Antoinette [DVD] n/a England
Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1960 - Saint mène la danse, Le ? The Art Of Dress 1500 to 1914
France
Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1969 - Antonio das Mortes USA
Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1986 - Dancing in the Dark Lyons
Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.  

Publications

Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.   $ Square Dance & Contra Dance Book
Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.   $ Art Of Dress 1500-1914      
 

Other Related Dances of the time...

Allemande Clog / Gigues Hornpipe Polka
Anglaise or Angloise Contredanse, La Gavotte Quadrilles
Ballet (balloté) Contradanza Habanera Lancers Reels
Basse, La Danse Country Dance Landler Roger De Coverly
Boulangère, La Courante Mazurka Square Dance
Bourrée English Country Dance Moresca Strathspey
Branle, La Gagliarde Moulinet Volta
Cabriole Gaillarde Pavane Waltz
 

Associated Contre Danses...

Assembly L' Anagliacca La Sciavelof Old Father George
Cape Breton L' Incognita La Tionfo dell'Amistatt Orange Tree
Constancy La Bernini La Vigano Petty Coatee
Contredanse Allemande La Capizucchi Lady's Choice, The President, The
Contradanza Habanera La Gavotti Le Carillon de Dunkerque Priest's House
God Save The Queen La Nobless Leather the Strap Rolling Hornpipe
High Betty Martin La Pellegrina Miss Foster's Delight Springfield
L' Amer Giardinero La Rinaldi    
 

Dancers, Choreographers etc.

Political

Samuel Perpoint n/a Catherine de Medici (1519-1582)
dance master Isaac   Charles VI (1685-1740)
    Duke of Alva
    Louis XVI (1754-1793)
    Marie Antoinette (1755-1793)
 

Books, Magazine Articles on the dance...

Title Author Date Publisher
Le répertoire des bals La Cuisse 1762 n/a
Erweiterung der kunst C. J. von Feldtenstein's 1772 n/a
Méthode pour exercer l'oreille Alexis Bacquoy-Guédon 1785 n/a
Trattato teorico-prattico di ballo Gennaro Magri's 1779 n/a
Asa Willcox's book of figures Asa Willcox 1793 USA
The scholars' companion M. J. C. Fraisier 1796 Boston
18th C. Italian Contredanse Manuscript Italian Writer c.1800s n/a
The dance of society: William B. De Garmo. 1875 n/a
Coulon's Hand Book Coulon, Eugène 1880 Jullien
The Dance, ancient and Modern Moore, Arabella C. 1880's? n/a
A History Of Dancing Johnston, Reginald S. 1905 Simpkin...Kent & Co.
Dance A While Pitman, Anne 1950  
Down Memory Lane Murray, Arthur 1954 Greenberg
 

Musicians

Poets / Writers

Danternaux n/a
Frederic Chopin (1810-1849)  
Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)  
Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770-1827)    
Mozart Wolfgang (1756-1791)
   
J. Pierre Rameau (1674-1748)    
 

Misc. Research Words that may be related ... to help your searches

Country Dance's Dancing Masters Round Dancing Square Dancing
anglaise danses à deux Terpsichore    
 

Other...