In his book "Hoedowns, Reels and Frolics: Roots and Branches of Southern
Appalachian Dance" Phil Jamison discusses quadrilles on pp 33-35 and
elsewhere, especially Chapters 2 & 3. Thanks, George Mercer
On Fri, Feb 21, 2020 at 4:13 PM jim saxe via Contra Callers <
To me, the word "quadrille" would usually
suggest either Tony's definition
1 or his definition 3.
Reading Tony's definition 4 reminds me that I have occasionally noticed
the word "quadrille" in titles of tunes in 6/8 meter. Looking in the book
_Advanced Square Dance Figures of the West and Southwest_ by Lee Owens and
Viola Ruth (1950), I notice that the tunes therein include "Blackberry
Quadrille," "Blacksmith's Quadrille," "Bony Smith's
Quadrille," and "Ruth's
Quadrille," all in 6/8. Also included, however, is a tune titled "Canyon
Quadrille," which is in 2/4 (but with a lot of dotted notes).
I was unaware of the usage given in Tony's definition 2: "... a set of
(usually three) squares done with the same partner." Having read it, I can
see how the term formerly used for those 19th-century dances in five or six
figures (with the same partner, but with pauses in the the music between
figures) could have come to be used for sets of three squares with the same
partner as done in some areas in the mid 20th century.
While looking around on Youtube a few years ago, I came across some videos
of "quadrille" dances in Vienna with couples arranged not in square sets
but in what resemble Becket contra lines. Here's an example:
Note that there is no progression. Each couple dances pretty much
exclusively with the couple across from them, the only interaction with
dancers from an adjacent foursome being an occasional acknowledgment as
couples dance forward and back on a diagonal. The figures are of the sort
that might have been danced alternately by head and side couples in a
19th-century quadrille in square formation. I'd guess that the change to a
Becket-like formation was intended to reduce the amount of inactivity, to
make more efficient use of floor space, or both. It might also reduce the
total duration of the figures. I have no idea whether the change in
formation is a recent innovation or whether it goes back many decades,
perhaps even into the 19th century.
While looking for a video of a quadrille in Vienna to cite in this
message, I also discovered some videos of "quadrilles" as danced in
Jamaica, some in square formation and some not. I won't cite any video in
particular; readers who care cane easily find examples for themselves. I
don't think I can offer any better speculation than anyone else about how
these dances might have evolved into what they are now from whatever sort
of "quadrille" or other dance might have preceded them.
Lest digressions obscure my main point, I'll repeat that the notions of
"quadrille" most prominent in my mind are Tony's definitions 1 and 3.
On Feb 21, 2020, at 9:55 AM, Tony Parkes via
Contra Callers <
Here’s my take on it, from the glossary of my forthcoming book _Square
Calling: An Old Art for a New Century_:
Quadrille (1) A formal square dance in five or six figures,
introduced in the early 19th century; the original figures were selected
from the cotillion (definition 1), although additional figures were written
later. (2) In the Northeast, a term used until the mid-20th century for a
set of (usually three) squares done with the same partner. (3) A term used
by modern square dance callers for a square phrased and prompted in New
England style. (4) In some areas, a fiddle tune in 6/8 meter.
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