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Streetswings Dance History Archives: Lancers
Lancers dancers
Quadrille of the Lancers 

            During the 1820s the Lance was becoming a very popular Cavalry weapon in the military. The real name of the Lancers dance (or Lancier) was originally called the 'Quadrille of the Lancers' and later shortened to just Lancers. The Lancers were said to be invented in 1820 by dancing master M. Laborde in Paris and was copied from a military dance using Lances and was supposedly introduced by him to France in 1836. The Lancers called the 'Second Set of Quadrilles' were in addition to the older set of Quadrilles already being done. There is documentation which shows that it appeared in England as early as 1817 and was supposedly invented by Joseph Hart in 1819, however La Borde is the most popular writings but does not mean that Hart isn't correct.

     In 1850 the Lancers made its first appearance in England with a set being composed by Lady Georgina Lygon, and seven other ladies and gentlemen (Lygon, Fielding, de Lechner, Berkely etc). The Lancers (a second set of Quadrilles) were a more ...

"COMPLICATED SET" and were brought to England a number of years later. By 1856 the lancers were in favor and was hailed as a step in the right direction toward better taste in the dances (quadrilles).

      The Lancers Quadrille was full of grace, with its salutes and its bows, its slow and anther solemn movement. Like the French Quadrille, it was much prettier than the American Quadrille, which was so lively, so impassioned, so animated, that it was not easily adopted in formal salons. It also shows a change of customs. The man no longer advanced toward the woman with the rather trembling respect which was formerly required of him; he no longer presented himself with the courteous regards which were demanded in the times when, having voluntarily placed woman on pedestals, there was only homage for her. The angel of former times has become a partner and is treated as such.

     The Lancers had many charming figures, in which the cavaliers saluted with a graceful ease, and the ladies dipped deep in their light skirts to make delightful courtesies. There were the Tiroir, the Signes, the Moulinets, the Visites, the Lancers, or Grande Chaine. The Grand Chaine is often danced in a Polka step, but it had more distinction when simply marched. There WERE always five figures, as in the American Quadrille. They are: the Promenade, the Moulinets, the Chevaus de bois, the Passe, the Corbeille and the Chevaux de bois -- united.

      The main glossary of terms for this dance was basically the same as Ballet such as Jeté andarabesque etc. These dances were done by "Open" couples. The Lancer dancers were very energetic, often times called "Breakneck Lancers" or "Kitchen Lancers." If anyone would get in some dancers way, they would run them down. There were some reports of broken limbs in the dance. This was not the normal of the dance however.

Some Pattern names of the Lancers are "Grand Chain, Visiting, Set To Corners, Le Pantelon, La Poule, La Pastourelle".


Birth Place

Creation Date


Dance Type

Paris, France c. 1817 Joseph Hart / M. Laborde Quadrilles

Posters, Lobby Cards etc.

Sheet Music Covers

Classical Music Titles

n/a 16th or Casino Lancers (1874) Caprice
      Bridal Veil lancers (1883) Cloches de l'Hermite
      Caprice (1880) Concordia
      Dodsworth Lancers (1857) Faust
      German Hearts (1873) Hearts of Oak
      le Damon Lancers (1883) Les Brigands
      Les Lanciers (1858) Love Letters
      Military medley lancers (1886) Nanow
      On the Tree Top (1887) National Lancers, The [mp3]
      Pirates of Penzance Lancers (1881) Robin Hood
      Sea Cadet Lancers (1880) Sontags Kind
      The Diplomacy Co. lancers (1878) Tyrolean
      Link - Library of Congress Lancers index Violetta

Night Clubs, etc



Astor House Coronet Theatre (1954) Ireland
      Daly's Theatre (1907) Paris, France
            Puerto Rico
Video Clips (pop-up)

Related Films

Video Clips (pop-up)


Ballets / Stage

Video Clip not available at this time 1897 - Sir Wilfrid Laurier and the New South Wales Lancers (Shows Military Processions)
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
Royal Variety Show - Mr Pastry dances a Lancer 1907 - The Lancers
Video Clip not available at this time       1954 - Quadrille
Video Clip not available at this time   Video Clip not available at this time            
Video Clip not available at this time 1899 - Topsy-Turvy Quadrille (yes-DANCE)              
Video Clip not available at this time 1902 - Quadrille réaliste              
Video Clip not available at this time 1935 - The Lives of a Bengal Lancer (Horses) [DVD]              
Video Clip not available at this time 1938 - Quadrille        


Video Clip not available at this time 1950 - Le Quadrille         $ An Elegant Collection of Contras & Squares
Video Clip not available at this time 1978 - Canada Vignettes: Acadian Quadrille          
Video Clip not available at this time How to Dance Through Time Vol. VI.              
(Films not checked for dance unless indicated these films have many costumes, postures, etc ideas so I am listing them here)

Other Related Dances of the time...

Barn Dance Galop Longways Polonaise Sir Roger de Coverly
Breakdown German, The March Quadrilles Square Dance
Buck and Wing Gigue (Jig) Mazurka Redowa Tyrolean
Contredanse (Contra) Hornpipe Minuet Reels Valse
Cotillion, the Irish Ceili Money Musk Round Dances Virginia Reel
Country Dance Kissing Dance Pastourelle Schottische Waltz
Court Dances La Tempete Petronella Sets  
Esmeralda Waltz (1882) Landler Polka    

Various Lancers

American National Columbian Lancers Minuet Lancers Saratoga Lancers  
Clare Lancers Set (Irish) Military Lancers New York Lancers Waltz Lancers  
[Quadrille Terms ]

Dancers, Choreographers etc.


John Duval Lady Georgia Lygon 1690-1718 - Prince Alexis (Russia)
Joseph Hart M. LaBorde  

Books, Magazine Articles on the dance...



Date Published


L.G. Brooks Book Brooks, L.G. 1850 L.G. Brooks
Inquire Within: for Anything you want to Know Garrett, Dick and Fitzgerald 1857 Fitzgerald Pub
Coulon's Handbook Coulon, Eugene 1873 A. Hammonds
Modern Quadrille Call Book Wirth, A.C. 1902 (1934) n/a
Handbook of ballroom dancing Cree, A. M. n/a John Lane company
How and What to dance Geoffrey d'Egville 1919 C. Arthur Pearson Ltd
Dick's Quadrille Call-Book Garrett, Dick and Fitzgerald 1923 Fitzgerald Pub

Musicians, Composers, Bands etc.


Artists / Poets / Writers

Downing n/a Icart - French Quadrille (Can-Can)
L. Von der Mehden        
Wheeler & Wilson Band        

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


Banjo Folk (Folkloric) Square Dance Kentucky Folk Dance Federation
Country Dance Lanceros Stately    
Courtly Mandolin Versailles    
Fiddle Round Dances Victorian Dance    


Basic Dance Step in text form (paraphrased from Coulon's Handbook-1873):

1ST: La Rose:
The first lady and opposite gentleman advance and retire, turn with both hands and return to their places. The leading lady and her partner cross over hand in hand, and the opposite couple do the same separately and passing on the outside; they then all set and turn at the corners.
2ND: La Lodowiska:
First couple advance and retire, advance again, the lady remains in the center facing her partner, the gentleman retires, Chassezto the right and left, turn partners to places, the side couples joining hands to form two lines, all advance and retire in two lines, all turn partners to places.
3RD: La Dorset:
First lady advance and stop, opposite gentleman advance and stop, lady retire, four ladies right hands across half round, left hand and back to places while the gentlemen lead round outside to the right half round, and back to places.
4TH: L' Etoile:
First couple pay a visit to the couple on the right hand, and how; then to the couple on the left the same, Chassez Croissé and half set,Chassez Croisséand back to places, right and left.
5TH: Les Lanciers:
The grand chain, the first couple advance and turn half round facing the top, then the couple on the right advance behind the top couples then the couple on the left follows and the last couple the same forming two lines, Chassez Croisséwith partners, and back again, the ladies turn outside the line to the rights the gentlemen the same to the left; the coupled meet up the center and advance joining hands, the four ladies form a line holding each others hands, the gentlemen the same opposite, all advance and retire, turn partners to places, ditto for the other couple, finish with the grand chain.