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

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Title

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

Description

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 to the rural areas of Europe and to the new world. What has not been properly recognized is that these dances - the quadrille, the cotillion, the contradance and the like - were taken up by Afro-Americans in North and South America and the West Indies and were modified and adapted to local cultural circumstances. ... Meanwhile, folk and rural versions of set dances and dance suites were flourishing in 19th-century America. The ex-slaves interviewed by the WPA in the 1930's show that the dances most often
remembered from slavery days were contradances, square dances,
the cotillion, the waltz, and the quadrille (though the individual steps remembered for these dances seem to be strictly Afro-American - juba, buck dancing and the like).

Source

Dance Research Journal, Vol. 20, No. 1 (Summer, 1988), pp. 29-36

Date Created

1988

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