On to the actual figures of Howe's "Rats" Quadrille! Please see the first post in the "Rats" series for an introduction to the quadrille and links to sheet music.
Almost four years ago, I discussed the quadrille figure "chassé out", or chassé ouvert, in a post discussing the reconstruction of a mid-century quadrille. I've revisited the figure occasionally since then, both in its Regency-era context and in its unusual mid-19th century appearances in the quadrille calls of American dancing master Elias Howe, and found enough new information to be worth a fresh post on the topic and to make me reconsider how I would reconstruct the figure both for early quadrilles of the 1810s-1820s and for the quadrille sets published by Howe in 1858 and 1862.
It's not unusual for new sources to turn up that make me go back and reconsider a reconstruction. It's a little irritating for it to happen less than a month after I finally get around to publishing one here on Kickery, and doubly irritating for it to be not a new source but old sources I simply hadn't looked at recently. Fortunately, this is less a change in my reconstruction than further background and options.
In reconstructing the fourth figure of the Mid-Lothians, an early 1820s quadrille, I wrote in my reconstruction notes that "I've never found any description of what step sequence to use for this figure," referring to the grand chain. Actually, I had come across such, many years ago, and they had simply slipped my mind. But I was looking through quadrille sources for a different project and found them again, so here is a little more information about performance options for the grand chain.
This is the sixth and last in a series of six posts covering the six figures of the Mid Lothians, a set of quadrilles from the 1820s. Previous posts: first figure, background information, and sources, second figure, third figure, fourth figure, fifth figure.
The sixth and final figure of the Mid Lothians is set to a combination of two similar Jacobite tunes, "Lewie Gordon" and "Over the Hills". My ear isn't sophisticated enough to sort through Evans' arrangement and figure out which (or whether) individual strains are drawn from each tune. Lewie Gordon was a son of the Duke of Gordon who fought for Bonnie Prince Charlie and was exiled after Culloden. "Over the Hills", also known as "O'er the Hills and Far Away" and "Over the Seas and far away", has a complex history and may have originally been from England. It is familar to many today as the theme music for the Sharpe television series based on the Bernard Cornwell novels about a British rifleman during the Napoleonic Wars.
Lyrics and background on each tune as well as MIDI files for listening may be found at Christian Souchon's collection of Jacobite songs; there are individual pages for both "Lewie Gordon" and "O'er the Hills". Note that all Souchon's pages play music immediately upon opening! More lyrics for "O'er the Hills" may be found on the song's page at The Compleat Sean Bean, a Sean Bean (Sharpe in the television series) fan site created by writer Winona Kent.
This is the fifth in a series of six posts covering the six figures of the Mid Lothians, a set of quadrilles from the 1820s. The first figure, background information, and sources are discussed in the first post in the series. Second figure here. Third figure here. Fourth figure here.
The fifth figure of the Mid Lothians is set to the famous march of Clan Campbell, "The Campbells are Coming", with its rousing chorus, presumably not sung while dancing a quadrille:
There are many, many recordings of this tune available. Though the lyrics were partly rewritten by Robert Burns in the late eighteenth century, the tune dates back at least to the Jacobite rebellions of the first half of the century.
This is the fourth in a series of six posts covering the six figures of the Mid Lothians, a set of quadrilles from the 1820s. The first figure, background information, and sources are discussed in the first post in the series. Second figure here. Third figure here.
The fourth figure of the Mid Lothians is set to a combination of "Peggy's Love" and "Auld Robin Gray", though my ear is not good enough to pick out which strains are from each tune when filtered through Evans' arrangements.
"Peggy's Love", or "Little Peggy's Love" is a strathspey which has also been used for a Scottish Country Dance. It is said to have been composed by William Marshall and published as "Lady Louisa Gordon's Strathspey" in 1781. It was apparently used as the musical basis for a ballet at the King's Theatre Opera House (the professional home of Regency-era dancing master Thomas Wilson) in the 1790s. Evans mostly retains the strathspey rhythm in his arrangement.
"Auld Robin Gray" was written in 1772 by the Scottish poet Lady Anne Lindsay, with a tune by Reverend William Leeves. The song is something of a sequel to the classic Jacobite song "Logie O'Buchan" (note: music plays immediately upon opening this page) which mourns for the Old Pretender under the guise of a woman missing her lover Jamie while being pressured to marry someone richer. In "Auld Robin Gray", she actually ends up married to Robin Gray before her true love Jamie returns for her. The tune may be heard in a MIDI file created by Christian Souchon (plays immediately upon opening). An arrangement by Hadyn may be found at Ball State University's Digital Music Repository.
This is the third in a series of six posts covering the six figures of the Mid Lothians, a set of quadrilles from the 1820s. The first figure, background information, and sources are discussed in the first post and the second figure here.
The third figure of the Mid Lothians is set to "Riggs O'Barley", previously known as "Corn Rigs are bonie" but taking on a new name after being used by Robert Burns for his 1783 poem, "The Rigs O' barley". Numerous recordings (with the Burns lyrics) are available. It is also found on the sound track of a classic 1973 horror film, The Wicker Man, under the title "Corn Rigs".
Evans' arrangement consists of three eight-bar strains (ABC), with the A strain having an alternate second ending as well. The thirty-two-bar figure is noted on the sheet music as starting on the A strain, so I would expect a repeat structure of A (ABACx4) with the initial A using the first ending and subsequent ones the second.
This is the second in a series of six posts covering the six figures of the Mid Lothians. The first figure, background information, and sources are discussed in the previous post.
The second figure of the Mid Lothians is set to a highly simplified arrangement of the "Lassie wi'the Lint-White Locks", a tune actually called "Rothiemurchies Rant" but so strongly associated with the Robert Burns poem from 1794 that Evans seems to have adopted the poem's title for the tune. It is also known today as "The Graf Spee". The tune is traditionally used for a Scottish Country Dance and can be heard on numerous recordings. Some interesting background may be found at The Mudcat Café.
Evans' version is in a different key and consists almost entirely of relatively sedate eighth notes, unlike the dotted strathspey rhythm of the original, which is given below the quadrille arrangement for comparison.
Evans trims the four strains of the original tune to three strains (ABC) of eight bars each, with the third strain being a repeat of the first with a slight variation in the last bar. The figure is repeated four times. Instructions on the music indicate the that the (thirty-two-bar) figure begins on the A strain, which also has repeat markings. so a repeat structure of A (ABACx4) or possibly A (AABCx4) seems indicated, which leaves the figures concluding on the same music (since C = A) as they began, as is typical for a quadrille figure. Either way, the A strain ends up getting repeated three times in succession multiple times. A (ABBCx4) would also be a possibility, albeit a somewhat odd one for a quadrille, and somewhat reduces the repetiiveness. If not for the figure instructions on the music, I'd be inclined to go with A (BABCx4) just for a bit more variety.
The Mid Lothians, A new Set of Quadrilles, was a set of traditional Scottish tunes selected by J. S. Pollock, "Professor of Dancing / late of Paris /", with the tunes arranged by R. W. Evans and new quadrille figures (given in French and English) choreographed by Pollock. The undated music was published in London in the early 1820s (Google Books dates it to 1821), and the figures additionally appear in Pollock's La Terpsichore Moderne, Ninth Edition (London, c1824) and in Henry Whale's Hommage à Taglioni, A Fashionable Quadrille Preceptor and Ballroom Companion (Philadelphia, 1836). The English-language instructions in all three sources are extremely consistent, though there are a few discrepancies between the French and English versions given on the sheet music.
The set is cannily dedicated to Lady Gwydir, more familiar to students of upper-crust Regency society as one of the famous Patronesses of Almacks under her former name, Mrs. Drummond-Burrell. Born in 1786, Lady Sarah Clementina Drummond, heiress of Lord Perth, married Peter Burrell in 1807, whereupon they both hyphenated their names to Drummond-Burrell to preserve the prestigious Drummond name. In 1820, the couple succeeded Peter's parents to double honors as Baron and Baroness Gwydir (or Gwydyr) and Baron and Baroness Willoughby de Eresby.
The Mid Lothians refers to the area of Scotland around Edinburgh. The title of the set and the use of well-known Scottish tunes may be an attempt to play off the success of Sir Walter Scott's popular 1818 novel, The Heart of Midlothian, or simply a reflection of the popularity of all things Scottish at the time. Some of the tunes used are versions of those famously used by Robert Burns for his poems in the late eighteenth century.
Sometimes, musicians and prompters for Quadrille dancing, when they intend "Double Ladies' Chain," say "Ladies Grand Chain." This is wrong: the figures are entirely dissimilar.
--- William B. De Garmo, The prompter (New York, 1865)
A century later, this problem is still with us, as modern-day dance historians confuse the two figures when reconstructing quadrilles. The problem is made worse by the plethora of terminology. Though the first of the two is called either a Ladies' Chain Double or a Ladies' Double Chain, the second can be known variously as the Chain of Four Ladies, Les Chaine des Dames Continue, Ladies' Grand Chain, Ladies' Right and Left Around, or Ladies' Grand Right and Left.
Let's take a look at the difference between the two figures.
I recently had the opportunity to reconstruct and teach a Lancers (Quadrille) variant created by New York dancing master Allen Dodworth and published in his lengthy Dancing and its relations to education and social life in 1885 as "Dodworth's New York Lancers."
The figures are easy ones which make a pleasant change of pace for those accustomed to dancing the popular standard Lancers figures or their Saratoga Lancers variant. They are also the same length as those of the standard Lancers, though sometimes fewer repeats are needed, so they can be used with many existing Lancers recordings. I thought it would thus be interesting to take a look at the New York Lancers figure by figure and side by side with the usual figures to see exactly how Dodworth went about creating his version.
In the comment thread on an earlier Kickery post, How Do You Cast Off?, Ukrainian reader Oleksiy asked whether I reconstructed the country dance figure, "lead outsides." I haven't used this figure in my own teaching because I've been hesitant to establish a definitive reconstruction in the absence of definitive source material. But I've since revisited the figure and more thoroughly reviewed my sources and am now ready to offer a reconstruction which I consider to be fairly solid.
(Note: since this post was written, I've expanded my research on this figure and written a follow-up post, Revisiting Chassé Out, which discusses further sources and slightly alters my conclusion about the performance of the chassé out figure.)
Recently my English friend and fellow dance teacher/reconstructor Colin Hume asked on the English Country Dance mailing list for help on some American dances he plans to teach later this month at a festival. He posted his notes (the final version is now up here) and asked for advice, since he's not a specialist on historical American dance. I do a lot with quadrilles (French, American, English, Spanish, etc.) so I pounced on the challenge of the 1858 set he proposed to use, the Belle Brandon Set. This five-figure quadrille is drawn from Howe's Ball-Room Handbook (Boston, 1858) by Massachusetts dancing master and music publisher Elias Howe.
The first four figures were fairly straightforward, with the first three being pretty much the usual figures of the "First Set" of quadrilles that had been popular for nearly half a century when the manual was published. Interestingly, they were a more old-fashioned version than those which were popular in the mid-century and which Howe prints elsewhere in the same manual. Tell-tales include the use of "balance and turn partners" instead of a long balance figure and, in Figure 3, two people crossing back and forth and forming a line rather than four crossing back and forth and going into a basket formation. It had been common practice from the 1810s onward to use three of the standard figures and then vary the last two, so this set is well within the quadrille tradition. But the fifth figure proved a real challenge to reconstruct.
One of the difficulties in reconstructing 19th century quadrilles lies in the frequent inadequacy of the instructions for the figures. This might include the lack of information on the amount of music occupied by a particular figure, unspoken assumptions about what is included in a figure, completely omitting a necessary figure or instruction, and the use of unconventional figures or timing. One might simply ignore such dances, as there is hardly a shortage of quadrilles which lend themselves to straightforward reconstructions. But for the dance historian it is an intriguing mental challenge to wrestle with these quadrilles and come up with workable reconstructions, even if at times this involves some creativity in the interpretation of the instructions.
Among these reconstruction challenges is the quadrille described in the notable mid-19th century source, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Charles Dodgson, a.k.a. Lewis Carroll, 1865). Popularly known as the Lobster-Quadrille, it is notable both for its specific geographic requirements (it is impossible to perform the figures anywhere other than the seashore), its unusual partnering (every couple must include a lobster), and its unique figures, such as the swimming somersault.
Research on social dance history does not always involve direct work on specific dances, and occasionally I get diverted to detective work on related historical mysteries in different fields - music, language, biography, etiquette, publishing history, and more. Over the last few weeks, I have pursued a successful quest for some pages missing from an 1840s work by Charles Durang. The process of locating these pages illustrates some of the frustrations of working with 19th century sources and the care needed in studying them.
In her delightful overview of 19th-century dance and etiquette, From the Ballroom to Hell, Elizabeth Aldrich states that Durang (1796-1870) was a dancer at the Bowery Theatre who later taught dance in Philadelphia with his daughter Caroline and published at least four dance manuals. I started looking for a copy of Durang’s The Ball-Room Bijou and Art of Dancing as part of the research for a particular set of quadrilles and rapidly found myself in the midst of a publication puzzle.
It was not particularly difficult to track down a copy of Bijou – the University of California has a copy in its collection, which has conveniently been digitized by Google. But, to my dismay, that copy appeared to be missing its middle: the page numbering jumped abruptly from page 50 to page 113 and then skipped from page 155 over to the final page, 158. While the complete description of the set of quadrilles I was researching was included in the available pages, I was both hopeful of more details on some of the steps in the missing pages and just plain annoyed at not having the complete work. I assumed the California copy was damaged and over time the pages had simply been lost, so I took advantage of a planned trip to the New York Public Library to look over their collection of Durang, including three separate copies of Bijou, in quest of the missing pages.
One year ago today, I hugged my dear friend, teacher, and mentor, Patri Pugliese, good-bye and walked out the door to run a Regency-era tea dance. The dance was remarkably successful, but when I came back to tell him about it, he was gone.
Yesterday, I ran the same dance. It was even more successful this year. I will never again have the joy of sharing my dance accomplishments with Patri, but today, in his memory, I'm going to talk about three lessons I learned from him about dance reconstruction.
In his manual on quadrilles, early 19th-century (“Regency”) London dancing master Thomas Wilson wrote hopefully that his diagrams,
... together with the printed Directions appended, will enable any person, by marking the Figures on a floor, to perform them correctly without the aid of a Master.
Thomas Wilson, The quadrille and cotillion panorama, 2nd ed., London, 1822
Quadrilles, the ancestors of the modern square dance, were popular in England from the 1810s onward, displacing the longways country dance from its former preeminence in the ballroom. Wilson’s diagrams and directions are in fact quite helpful in deciphering many of the figures needed for the Regency-era quadrille, but he does have occasional failures, as in the figure “L’Etoile” or “The Star”.