The terms can also be documented to before the Haitian revolution.  For example, here is how the fifer Aaron Thompson (First New Hampshire regiment during the Revolutionary War) wrote down the the popular country dance Allemand Swiss in the notebook he kept between 1779 and 1782:

Allmon Swiss Country Dance

First Gentleman Allemand reversed with 2d Lady, 2nd Gentleman/
the same with 1st Lady. - lead down 2 Couple up again -/
Cast off one Couple six hands round, half – back again right/
& left at Top

Jacob Bloom

On Mon, Jun 26, 2017 at 10:18 AM, Philip Jamison [trad-dance-callers] <> wrote:

These French terms were more likely adopted from the prompts used by the numerous French dancing masters who taught the latest French dances throughout North America during the first half of the nineteenth century. One of these was John James Audubon (1785–1851), who had a dancing school in what is now Louisville, Kentucky.

Phil Jamison

On Sun, Jun 25, 2017 at 10:23 AM, Fred Feild [trad-dance-callers] <> wrote:

How did French prompts like Promenade, Allemande, and Dos-a-Dos get into American dancing?

From Morrison Foster (Stephen's older brother): "When Stephen was a child, my father had a mulatto bound girl named Olivia Pise, the illegitimate daughter of a West Indian Frenchman, who taught dancing to the upper circles of Pittsburgh society early in the nineteenth century. "Lieve," as she was called, was a devout Christian and a member of a church of shouting colored people. the little boy was fond of their singing and boisterous devotions. She was permitted to often take Stephen to church with her . . . . A number of strains heard there, and which, he said to me, were too good to be lost, have been preserved by him, short scraps of which were incorporated in two of his songs, "Hard Times Come Again No More" and "Oh, Boys, Carry Me 'Long.""

This passage was taken from Biography, Songs and Musical Compositions of Stephen C. Foster, published privately by his brother in 1896.

It seems clear that French holdings in the West Indies had  less suppressive relations between plantation owner and slave than in the U.S. There would have been many opportunities for Africans to imitate and emulate French dancing (imitation such as this also occurred later in the cakewalk). It would have been necessary in that culture. As there were many African languages present, French would have been used for this invention of prompting as it was the common tongue there.

After the Haitian Revolution which started in 1791 some of these Creoles migrated to the states, mostly to New Orleans at first. They had middle and upper class status during the French and Spanish periods until the Louisiana Purchase brought U.S. attitudes there. In that early period French would have been used in dancing.

Fred Feild

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Phil Jamison
Professor of Mathematics/Appalachian Music/Appalachian Studies
Warren Wilson College
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