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Quadrille photo of dancers - History - Origins
The Quadrille

                The Quadrille is a historic dance performed by four couples in a rectangular formation, and a precursor to traditional square dancing as well as a style of music. The Quadrille or "Quadrille de Contre Danse" was originally a card game for four people but the name was given to this dance about 1740. The dance probably derived from the Cotillions of the time. The Quadrille was a very lively dance, unlike the Minuet.

    Wikipedia states thus: The term quadrille came to exist in the 17th century, within military parades, in which four horsemen and their mounts performed special square-shaped formations or figures. The word quadrille is probably derived from the Spanish word cuadrillo (Spanish diminutive of cuadro, meaning ...

small square from Latin quadrus, quadra, quadratus meaning square, block or square section, squared or square-shaped, respectively). [end wiki]

     Quadrilles were first introduced in France, about the year 1760. They were then performed by two couples, as the figures first used in the French quadrilles only required four persons. At a later period, two couples were added to form the sides, and these simply repeated the figures while the first couples rested.

    The Quadrille was introduced to England by a Miss Berry to the Duke of Devonshire in 1808 and made fashionable by 1813. By 1815, Lady Jersey and Lady Castlereagh as well as others brought it from Paris and danced it at Almack's in 1815. The first night on which it was danced, Lady Jersey, Lady Harriet Butler, Lady Susan Ryder, and Miss Montgomery, with Count Aldegarde, Mr. Montgomery, Mr. Harley, and Mr. Montague for their partners. The Quadrille was finally taught to the upper classes around 1816.

     Originally there were only three kinds of quadrilles, those now known as the plain quadrille, the Lancers and the Caledonians, but as society seemed to tire of these dances, the dancing masters hit upon the plan of introducing the Waltz into the "Square dance", and produced a new quadrille by altering the old figures to meet the requirements of the added element. The Lancers were new figures that were added to the Quadrilles around 1820 (the Caledonians were ORIGINALLY more popular). These dances were two of the main dances danced during this period.

     The dance terms of the Quadrille were basically the same as in ballet such as jeté, Chassé croisé (to places), plié or arabesque as well as categories such as plain Quadrilles, Fancy Quadrilles, New Quadrilles etc. Contra dance, Lancers - (the second set) and Quadrilles are basically old country dances or the forerunner of Square dancing today. The Contra dance and Quadrilles only differ in the position of the dancers, as the same calls or steps may be used. The Quadrilles incorporated Cotillions and Contredanse. This mixing gave the Quadrille unlimited patterns or figures to dance.

     The Quadrille (translated) means technically, to assemble four or more ladies and the same number of gentlemen to make a "Set." The head couple generally faced the stage or the entrance of the hall. The order of dance was a hierarchy system. The Contra dance (French) translated literally meant "Opposite Dance" or "Country dance," with two couples making up the "Set," the first being the Francaise Quadrille (actually any number may dance, but there are "ideal" sets). They still had the Quadrille-Croisé: two Quadrilles placed in two different ways, acting in the same time, executing together figures which did not differ from those of the simple Quadrille.

    Step names consisted of Le Pantlon (the English), L'Eté (Avante-deux) L Poul, La Tremsie and Le Final. The Finale was danced either with the chassé-croisé and the Enavant, or with the Boulangère, the Corbeille, the Moulinet, the Saint-Simonienne or the Gallop.

    The Passe-passe was a charming Quadrille; it was danced by four couples, one of which conducts it. The five figures were called: Passe-passe, Passera, Petit-menuet, Chaîine de fleurs, Tour du monde in sixteen measures it finished in the Tunnels, Grand final would be the gallop. The Dance was usually ended by a Galop (Polka) as well as there being Galop Quadrilles, Schottische quadrilles etc. done by four couples. There were MANY QUADRILLE DANCES such as the "Parisian Quadrilles" done in the United States as well as a "New Quadrille" which was introduced by Eugene Coulon in 1846. The Empire Quadrille was adopted by the Congress of Dancing Masters in 1858 and by the great dancing masters Cellarius, Laborde, Coralli, Coulon (Coulons Quadrille or Double Quadrille) in Paris and London.


Birth Place

Creation Date


Dance Type

France 1740 n/a Contra/ Square

Posters, Lobby Cards etc.

Sheet Music Covers

Music Titles

n/a 1875 - N. Y. Quadrille Robert Bruce
            Le Comte de Carmagnol
            Zolotage Rybka

Ballrooms, Night Clubs



Tuileries Palace (Hotel d'Albe, 1860) Almack's America (U.S.A.)
      Aldwych & Hammersmiths Theatre England
      1955 - Coronet Theatre, NYC France
      9/12/1952 - Phoenix Theatre (London) Italy
      8/25/1952 - Royal Court Theatre (Liverpool) Vienna

Films / Movies


Ballets / Stage

1899 - Topsy-Turvy Quadrille Quadrille at the Moulin Rouge (Henri Toulouse-Lautrec) 1/16/1899-Ziegfeld - Carnival Quadrille
1902 - Quadrille réaliste Qaudrille (Angelo Dall 'Oca Bianca) 1893 1953 - Quadrille - Hammersmiths (Aldwych)
1917 - Quadrilha do Esqueleto       1952 - Noël Coward's Quadrille (FONTANNE, LUNT)
1937 - Queen Victoria       Alice in Wonderland
1938 - Quadrille      

Other Publications

1944 - Pin Up Girl       7/13/1844 - Illustrated London News (Waverly Quad)
1950 - Le Quadrille       3/1863 - Harper's Weekly (Bees Quadrille at Tuileries)
1994 - Little Women (Quadrille)        
Baxter (Lobster Quadrille Song)        

Other Related Dances of the time...

Allemande Court Dances Polka Tarantella
Ballet Danse de Canaries Polonaise Tordion
Barn Dance Danse de Bouffons Rigaudon Varsiovienne
Basse Gigue Round Dance Valse
Branle Galliarde Sarabande Virginia Reel
Contra Danse Gallop Saltarello Voltes
Counter Dances Gavotte Spanish Dance Waltz
Country Dances Lancers Strathspey  
Courant Passacaglia Square Dance  

Various Quadrilles

Caledonians Quadrille Huguenobs Quadrille La Taglioni Orla Pastourelle
Calley Polka Quadrille Interméde Bal La Tempête -1850 (The Storm) Palaca Quadrille
Coulons Quadrille Irish Quadrille Ladies Own Quadrille -1888 Quadriglia
Double Moulinette L'Alternante Polka Mazurka Le Grande Chaine des Quatredames Social Quadrille (promiscuous)
Double Pastourelle L'Etoile Polka Le Prince Impérial Spanish Quadrille
Empire Quadrilles L' Invitation waltz Le Prisonnier Waltz Surprise Quadrille
English Quadrille La Badenowitch Le Quadrille des Dames Tin Pan Fancy
Gladiateur (Michau) La Corbeille Le Tourbillions Varsiovienne Quadrille
Harlequin Quadrille La Nouvelle Trenis Les Varieties Parisienne's Waltz Quadrille
  La Rosace Waltz Lobster Quadrille Waverly Quadrille (1840's)

Dancers, Choreographers etc.


1805 - Erfurt Maedel   1519-1589 - Catherine De Medici
1835 - Dresden Tschutter   1638-1715 - King Louis XIV
1850's - Charles Durang   1690-1718 - Prince Alexis
1850's - Elias Howe   1740S - Princess Augusta (of Saxe-Gotha)
1850's - Thomas Hillgrove   1762-1830 - Prince George IV
1852 - Greitz Buchey   1819-1901 - Queen Victoria
1862 - Paris Cellarius   1844 - Duchess of Gloschester (Waverly Quadrille)
1880's - Allen Dodworth   1844 - Duke of Cambridge (Waverly Quadrille)
Anna Neagle   1860 - Empress Eugénie
Mlle. August   Duchess of Mecklenburg
Michau   Louis-Phillipe

Books, Magazines, Articles on the dance...




Date Published


Les Jeux de Quadrille et de Quintille (cards) Le Gras, Theodore 1724 (Paris Publication)
Game of Quadrille; or Ombre by Four, the (cards) Francklin, R. 1726 (London Publication)
Quadrille and Cotillion Panorama, the Wilson, Thomas 1818 ??
Elements in the Art of Dancing Strathy, Alexander 1822 Edinburgh
Code of Terpsichore, the Blasis, Carlo 1828 ??
Dancers Guide and Ballroom Companion Brookes, L.G. 1850 L.G. Brookes
Howe's (complete) Ball-Room Handbook Howe, Elias 1858 (American Publication) Boston, Mass.
A Complete Practical Guide to the Art of Dancing Hillgrove, Thomas 1863 (American Publication)
Salon Dances Coulon, Eugene 1873 A. Hammonds
Le Cotillion Paul, F. 1877 (French Publication)
Quadrille Call Book and Ball Room Guide Koncen, M.J. 1883 (American Publication)
Dick's Quadrille Call-Book and Ball-Room Prompter ?? 1878 (American Publication) N.Y.
Dancing and its Relations to Education and Social Life Dodswoorth, Allen 1885 (American Publication)
How and What to Dance Lamb, William 1903 London & NY Publication)
Modern Quadrille Callbook and Dancing Master WIRTH, PROF. A.C. 1920's ??
Washington Quadrille. The Dance Beside the Documents Daniels, Jonathan 1968 Doubleday & Company. Inc.
A Translation of Nine of the Most Fashionable Quadrilles:
Consisting of Fifty French Country Dances, as Performed in
England and Scotland (1818)
Dun, Barclay 2010 Kessinger Publishing



Poets / Writers

Bosisio Toulouse Lautrec (1864-1901) n/a
7 piece Mendon Quadrille Band (1859)        

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

American Quadrilles, Italian Quadrilles Pantalon, Ete', Poule, Trenis, Pastourelle, Finale
Cavaliers Parisian
Chivalry Round Dances, Square Dances, Country Dances
Corners Seven Years War
French and Indian War Stately
French Quadrille (Quadrille Francese), English Quadrille (Lancers) [some Quadrille Terms]  

Basic Steps ... excerpted from L.G. Brookes Book-1850:

First Figure:  Le Pantalon.
     The top and bottom couples cross to each other's places in eight steps (four bars), returning immediately to places, completing the movement of eight bars. This is called the Chaine Anglaise (i. e., opposite couples right and left), and in performing it the gentleman should hear in mind always to keep to the right of the vis-à-vis lady in crossing. Formal "setting" to partners is gone out; but you may turn your partners (second eight bars). Here follows "ladies chain" (eight bars more). Each gentleman takes his partner by the hand and crosses to opposite couple's place (four bars); this is called in ball-room parlance "half promenade." Couples then re cross right and left to their places without giving hands (another four bars): which completes the figure. The latter eight bars of this figure are frequently now danced with the Galop step. The side couples repeat as above. When there are mere than two couples, either at the top or side, it is customary observing our rule with regard to "top couple"to alternate the arrangement in order to give variety to the dance. Thus the lady who is at the top of the quadrille in her own set finds her vis-à-vis in the adjoining set occupying that position.

Second Figure:  L'Eté.
     This figure is generally danced now in the manner known as Double l'Eté. Top and bottom couples advance and retire (four bars), then changing places with their vis-à-vis (making eight bars); but omitting to cross over as in the Chaine Anglaise. Again advance and retire (four bars), back to places, set to partners, and turn partners. This completes the figure. The side couples repeat. There are some people who still adhere to the old way of dancing this figure, so to prevent any confusion it would be well to have an understanding with your vis-à-vis on the subject before commencing. It is danced as follows:
All the top ladies and their vis-à-vis gentlemen advance four steps and retire, then repeat the movement, making the first eight bars. Top ladies and vis-à-vis gentlemen change places: advance four steps and retire: re-cross to partners, who set to them as they advance. Turn partners. This completes the first part of the figure, which is finished by the second ladies and top vis-à-vis gentlemen going through the same evolutions. The sides repeat.

Third Figure:  La Poule.
     Top lady and vis-à-vis gentleman change places; return immediately, giving the left hand (eight bars) and retaining the grasp, their own partners falling in on each side, and forming a line, each with their faces different ways. In this manner, all four balancez quatre en ligne (set four in a line), half promenade with partner to opposite place; top lady and vis-à-vis gentleman advance and retire four steps (second eight bars). Both couples advance together and retire, then cross right and left to places (third eight bars). Second lady and vis-à-vis gentleman go through the figure. Side couples repeat.

Fourth Figure: La Pastorale.
     Top gentleman takes his partner by left hand: they advance and retreat: advance again, leaving the lady with vis-à-vis gentleman, and retiring to his own place. vis-à-vis gentleman now advances four steps and retreats the same, holding each lady by the left hand; again advancing, he leaves the two ladies with the top gentleman, who once more advances. They then all join bands in a circle, go half round, half promenade to opposite places, returning right and left to their own. Second couples and sides repeat.

     The above is the figure mostly in vogue, but occasionally La Trenise is substituted, so we venture to indicate the figure as follows: The top couple join bands, advance and retreat four steps. They again advance, and top lady is then left with vis-à-vis gentleman, her partner retiring to his own place (first eight bars). Both ladies cross to opposite sides: gentleman advances to meet his partner, whilst the vis-à-vis lady returns to hers (second eight bars). Set to partners, and turn partners to places. Second couples and sides repeat.

Fifth Figure: La Finale.
     This figure is usually commenced with the grand rond (great round) ... i. e., the whole quadrille--tops, bottoms, and sides join hands, and advance and retreat four steps. (The old plan of the whole quadrille taking one turn round the figure in Galop steps is rather gone by, though even now it is occasionally so danced in some circles.) Each gentleman then takes his lady as if for a Galop; advance and retreat four steps, then cross to opposite places. Advance and retreat as before, and return to own places; ladies chain, concluding with the grand rond. Side couples repeat. Occasionally L'Eté is introduced, the grand rond being introduced between each division of the figure. We, however, give the above, as being not only the most popular, but by far the prettiest and most spirited figure for La Finale." ... end.
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March 26, 2013