Russia has been much on my mind this week as I assembled a short presentation on on the influence of Russia -- or ideas or images of Russia -- on dance in France and England in the nineteenth century. I didn't touch on America, but at the end of the century dancing master M. B. Gilbert, in his Round Dancing (Portland, Maine, 1890), included some dances with Russia-related names. One of these was called, simply enough, the Russia. Gilbert attributed it to Pittsburgh dancing master J. S. Christy. The Russia was also included in George Washington Lopp's La Danse (Paris, 1903), which was in large part a French translation of Gilbert, under the literally-translated title "La Russie" and attributed to "S-A Christy".
Despite the name, I don't see any actual connection between the dance and the country. The Russia is a classic back-and-forth-then-turning sequence dance intended for mazurka music. It features two mid-dance bows, as pictured at left in an illustration from Gilbert (click to enlarge). The steps include the polka redowa, the Newport, skipping, and walking steps. All of these elements could plausibly exist in a Russian dance, but there's nothing about them that is particularly unique to Russia in this era. My best guess is that the name is nothing more than a tribute to Russia, or to some idea of Russia.
The dance, however, is rather fun, and it's interesting to have a sequence dance of this pattern to use with mazurka music.