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An Invitation To Dance: A History of Social Dance in America

This online exhibit on the history of social dance in America draws on documents in the collection of the American Antiquarian Society to offer a multi-faceted portrait of the changing nature of American social dance. Items in the exhibit include the cotillion, the quadrille, and other related square dance forms.

Les Quatre Berceaux - related documents

This item gathers together various documents related to the videotaped performance of the dance, Les Quatre Berceaux:• Instructions, as interpreted and explained by John Ramsay with assistance from Mark Rice• Chart constructed by Mark Rice to assist the group as they attempted to re-create the dance• Article sent by Dance Discovery…

Sammy Spring's Quadrille - Don Armstrong

This dance, presented by Don Armstrong at the 1955 Minnesota State Square Dance Convention, comes from the calling of Sammy Spring. Don remarks in his introduction that the dance is similar to one of the figures of the Lancers, and he has this to say about the man from whom he learned the dance:

"We are privileged to have down in Florida one of…

Description of a Quadrille, 1870, West Virginia

Satirical description of a quadrille, from a West Virginia newspaper; no mention is made of a caller

History of Square Dancing - Ralph Page

Between 1972 and 1974, Ralph Page wrote a series of essays entitled A History of Square Dancing. For ease in downloading, we have collected them into "chapters" that group together similar topics. The essays were published in the magazine Square Dancing as follows:Dancing In New England 11/1972The Revolutionary Era 1/1973Direct Ancestors…

Shall We Dance? - Maine, 19th century

This article, written by theMaine Memory Network Curator and Historian for the Maine Historical Society, takes two mid-19th books as a focal point for looking at etiquette and social status as reflected on the dance floor. H.G.O. Washburn's 1863 Ball-Room Manual of Contra Dances and Social Cotillions with Remarks on Quadrilles and Spanish Dance…

Square Dancing in the 1800s

Fred Feild is a long-time caller and square dance enthusiast; now living in Tucson, he was instrumental in creating the Chicago Barn Dance Company in the mid-1970s. In recent years, he has started looking through historical sources for contemporary accounts of square dancing, and he posts his findings on a Word Press blog. Generous in sharing his…

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Social Dancing in Early Minnesota

Scholarly yet accessible article, with illustrations, published in Minnesota History magazine, providing a detailed look at social dance in Minnesota in mid-nineteenth century. Also available online. Some excerpts: "Early in the century, quadrilles had used more complicated steps and patterns such as pigeon-winging—a showy maneuver involving,…

Square Dance History Pageant, part 1 - 1976

The 25th annual National Square Dance Convention took place in 1976, the year of the United State Bicentennial Celebration. A historical pageant at the convention features a series of dances illustrating American social dance through time, with a particular focus on squares. This was an edited version of that presentation.

The Afro-American Transformation of European Set Dances and Dance Suites

Scholarly article that looks at the way that European set dances such as the quadrille became changed by African Americans. The article looks in detail at the quadrille tradition in the Caribbean islands as well as on the US mainland:"It is well acknowledged that the court dances which developed in Europe from the seventeenth century onward spread…

Haynes Family manuscript - Oregon

This manuscript of sixty-five dance tunes was handed down through several generations of the Haynes, Shuck, and Adams families who came West over the Oregon Trail from Ohio, Kentucky, Iowa and Missouri between 1847 and 1853. Many of the family members were musical, and over the years several people contributed tunes to the manuscript, from which…

Peter Beemer manuscript - Idaho

This is a collection of mid-19th century dance tunes from a remote Idaho location; as such, it is a useful record of the music being used for dances of the period. This website also contains background information on dancing in the mining community that is the source of the manuscript.

In 1862, gold was discovered on Warren Creek in the…

Uncle Steve's Quadrille (description)

This dance was published in Elizabeth Burchenal's Folk-Dances from Old Homelands (1922). This is the first dance iin the book, one of two American dances, along with Old Dan Tucker. (See the moving images of Burchenal leading Old Dan Tucker here.)Burchenal's dance description says it stems from Oxford County, Maine: "This is an old-time country…

Iowa dance program, 1864

Mid-19th century dance programs were comprised primarily of quadrilles and couple dances. Here is one such program from Des Moines, Iowa, 1864.

PROGRAMME.
Part First.
GRAND MARCH...............
1 ...New Years Quadrille.
2....Rochester Schottische.
3....Coquette Cotillion.
4....Serious Family Polka.
5....Lanciers.
6....Waltz…

Quadrille - J. Scott Skinner, 1905

The People’s Ball Room Guide, published by musician James Scott Skinner in 1905, is a description of 19th century ballroom dances.A website devoted to Skinner's work includes a series of videos illustrating quadrilles and Lancers set to Scottish tunes and danced in Scottish style.Skinner himself was taught to dance by William Scott; the two…

Quadrille - 3 changes

Tony Parkes calls the figures at the Christmas Cotillion, Scout House, Concord, MA, December 21, 1985. Music provided by Yankee Ingenuity.

Grand Square - Edson Cole

This dance starts with the Grand Square figure, along with other calls common to the 5th figure of the Lancers.Edson Cole was a fiddler and dancing master from Freedom, NH. He was documentedby Eloise Hubbard Linscott in her 1939 book, Folk Songs of Old New England. This 78 rpm recording was made available to Dudley Laufman, who released it with…

Waltz Cotillion & Prince Imperial Quadrille

The Quadrille Club and others dancing at a Ball in Richmond, England. The Waltz Quadrille is the first item of three in this video; the Prince Imperial Quadrille begins about 05:53.

Quadrille Club at The Royal Pavilion

Videotaped excerpts from a series of dances: Jacky Tarr, a three-couple English country dance from a collection by Wilson 1816 02:55 Thethird figure, `La Poule' from a set of five in a quadrille. c. 1812 The `Allemande a Deux' c. 1780, the French modification of the German Landler The `Regents Favorite' a country dance from c. 1800 10:30`La…

Paine's First Set Quadrille (1815) - Quadrille Club

Danced by the Quadrille Club, under the direction of Ellis Rogers. The fourth figure (Trenis) has been omitted here.For comparison, this collection also includes the same dance performed by Nederlands Historisch Dans-en Theaterensemble.