A while back I discussed the wonderful dance CD Music for Quadrilles, by the English band Green Ginger (with Kevin Smith). At the time, I skimmed over the tracks for five modern Scottish (RSCDS) dances, since I didn't have any way to check the ones with historical sources against the originals. Since then, I've come across a copy of one of the editions of D. (David) Anderson's Ball-Room Guide, a "New, Enlarged, & Complete Edition", which the liner notes of Music for Quadrilles cite as the source for one of the historical dances, New Scotia Quadrille.
According to J. P. (Joan) and T. M. Flett in Traditional Dancing in Scotland, David Anderson taught in Dundee and in a number of other towns from c1850-1911. His Ball-Room Guide seems to have gone through at least five editions, with the "New, Enlarged" versions appearing between the mid-1880s and late 1890s. Since the one I examined is not dated, and I have no others to compare it to, I cannot date it precisely.
New Scotia Quadrille is a single-figure quadrille, one of several in Anderson. No author is given, but it presumably was not Anderson himself, since he was not shy about putting his name on several other dances of his own creation in his book. For the most part, it has very standard figures, much like other single-figure quadrilles of the late nineteenth century. The RSCDS version follows the original instructions fairly closely. But it has one interesting quirk at the end that did not make it into the modern version, and Anderson includes information on quadrille performance in (presumably) at least the Dundee area of Scotland during this era that is also of interest to me in showing regional variation.
I'll give the figures first and then discuss these details.
New Scotia Quadrille (8b + 48bx4)
8b Introduction - bows and courtesies (this is not repeated)
8b Head couples cross right hands and go half round; cross left and return to places
8b Head couples with side couple to their right advance & retire, half right & left
(Head couples are now at sides of set and side couples in head positions)
4b Head couples (from sides) half ladies' chain
4b Side couples (from heads) half ladies' chain
8b Head couples (from sides) half ladies' chain; side couples same
8b Head couples (from sides) with couple to their left advance & retire, half right & left
(All dancers are now back in original places)
4b All four couples promenade half round (counter-clockwise)
(Couples separate and reverse direction, ladies falling in behind their partners)
4b All dancers walk single-file to places (clockwise), ladies following their partners
The main 48 bars of the figure (excluding the introduction) are repeated three more times. The second time, the side couples lead and the head/side place changes are on the opposite diagonal. The third time, the head couples lead again, and the fourth time, the side couples.
See below for details on steps, setting, rights and lefts, and the walk back to places.
Differences from RSCDS version
(1) Duration: the RSCDS version does not include the introductory honors and is only danced twice through (led by heads then by sides).
(2) How the dancers end after the initial right hands across/left hands back (moulinet) figure: the RSCDS version has them form lines of four holding hands all along the lines. Since there are no clear instructions to do this (like, oh, "form lines of four" and "lines of four advance and retire"), I would have them come out into a normal square set and then turn to face their neighbor couple, partners holding hands with each other only.
(3) The last four bars: the RSCDS instructions have the final eight bars as a full promenade home. Anderson's instructions clearly state "All promenade half-round with their partners. All walk back to places, the ladies walking behind their partners." The italics are Anderson's.
The last of these is the interesting quirk I referred to. I don't recall seeing a half promenade/turn and walk home figure elsewhere before. The change of direction is not stated, but if the dancers continue to travel counter-clockwise with the ladies following their partners, all the couples will end up improper when they get back to places.
See also my notes below on steps (or lack of them).
Quadrille practice according to Anderson
Anderson gives some general information on quadrilles earlier in his Ball-Room Guide, and when dancing a quadrille sourced entirely from his book, I would use these particular customs. Here are the pieces that stand out from practices elsewhere:
(1) Bows and courtesies. Anderson states: "Before commencing each figure of any Quadrille, gent. to bow to partner and to Lady on left. Lady to bow to partner and to gent. on right" and "Eight bars of music are performed before each Figure is commenced for obeisance." He doesn't specifically mention these obeisances for New Scotia Quadrille, but presumably it is included in "any Quadrille". That is typical of quadrilles everywhere. Anderson also explains how to perform them:
Gentlemen stand in 1st position. Step out with right to 2nd position. Bring left heel to right toe in 5th position, and bow. Then step out with left in 2nd position. Bring right heel to left toe in 5th position, and bow. Then bring back right to 1st position.
Ladies step out with right in 2nd position. Bring left heel to right toe in 5th position, and curtsey. Then step out with left foot in 2nd position. Bring right heel to left toe in 5th position, and curtsey. Then bring back right foot to 1st position.
N. B. -- In all steps both ladies and gentlemen commence with right foot, also in Quadrilles, etc.
Gentlemen: step right, close to fifth behind, bow; repeat to left. Ladies: step right, close to fifth behind, curtsey; repeat to left. Each bow/curtsey takes four bars, for eight bars total. The first would be to one's partner and the second to one's corner.
There are some interesting differences here from other descriptions of quadrille bows and courtesies: (1) Both dancers move to the right first and then the left, rather than mirroring each other. (2) The ladies' "curtsey" (Anderson's spelling) is a "tuck the foot behind and dip" movement rather than extending the front foot as in descriptions of earlier nineteenth century courtesies.
(2) Steps. Anderson does not explicitly say that quadrilles were walked rather than stepped with the older combinations (chassé-jeté-assemblé) or even just chassé steps, but he mentions walking in three different figures: the walk back to places at the end of New Scotia Quadrille; in the instructions for the ladies' chain which end with "Gents. give opposite ladies left hands and walk full round with them"; and in the instructions for set and turn partners, after the setting, when "Gents. take partners by right hands and walk round (4 bars of music)".
It's possible that all the rest of the figures were danced with chassé and only those listed were walked, but that seems rather unlikely, especially in context of his other remarks, such as "The Steps now used for the Quadrille are very easy and pleasant" and "Now-a-days most Dancing-masters devote their whole attention to teaching the walking and glisade steps, which are invaluable as imparting graceful carriage, but which are not to be compared in the leat to our Scotch steps." His setting sequence (below) is also notably non-springy compared to the sort of setting sequences seen in the days of chassé-jeté-assemblé.
Contrary to modern RSCDS practice, I believe Anderson thought of quadrilles as walking dances, as opposed to the more vigorous native reels. By this point in the nineteenth century the English and Americans were likewise walking through quadrilles.
(3) Rights and Lefts. Anderson specifically spells out that there are no hands given at all in this figure:
When first introduced, this was done by giving the right and left hands to each other incrossing. The Figure remains the same, but without giving hands in crossing, as it is considered more graceful without this. Couples facing each other, the two ladies cross over and pass between opposite couple; gents. at same time cross over, passing opposite lady by right, and come in front of partners to opposite gent.'s place. (Couples are now in opposite places.) This is half rights and lefts. Repeat, bringing couples into own places. This is full rights and lefts.
(4) Setting to partners. Anderson gives a specific step sequence for this, which may be the "glisade" referred to above.
Set to Partner Step for Quadrilles.
Step out with right foot in 2nd position. Bring left foot behind, toe to right heel. Step out again with right foot in 2nd position, and bring left up to 1st position. Then step out with left foot in 2nd position. Bring right foot behind, toe to left heel. Step out again with left foot in 2nd position, and bring right up to 1st position. This step occupies four bars of music.
Step right, close to 5th behind, step right, and close to first (without weight). Repeat to the left.
There is no particular tune for this quadrille. There's not even a fixed time signature -- Anderson says that it may be done in either 2/4 or 6/8, and later in the book Anderson provides lists of suitable tunes for any dance, conveniently sorted by time signature.
Ironically, the track labeled "New Scotia Quadrille" on Music for Quadrilles, which is what inspired me to look at the dance, is not structured correctly for the nineteenth-century original, which requires 8b + 48bx4. The recording is only 48bx2 with a chord introduction. Since that is the standard modern RSCDS reconstruction, any modern recording labeled "New Scotia Quadrille" is likely to have a similar problem.
If live musicians are available, they can select any suitable period tune or tunes (preferably with a Scottish pedigree). If not, two other tracks on Music for Quadrilles are usable for practice purposes. "Clutha" is a lively reel which has the 48b x4 structure but no introductory strain for bows and courtesies. The fifth figure of Paine's Twelfth Set, has the exact structure of 8b + 48bx4, though it isn't as colorfully Scottish in feel and dates from much earlier. Other recordings of suitable length can probably be found as well.