Cowboy Dances

A collection of Traditional Western Square Dances By Lloyd Shaw

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The New England Quadrille
The New England or early American Quadrille was, of course, an adaptation of a European dance. Usually France is given credit for the origin of this form, although dances executed by four couples arranged in a square figure with a couple on each side of the square are found in the peasant dances of nearly all the European countries. Undoubtedly many of these contributed to the formal Quadrille which was finally perfected in France and in England.
The Quadrille at the height of its favor was usually danced in five parts, with a pause in the music between each part and usually a complete change of the music for each part. This tradition of five parts still persists in our American Quadrille even when two parts are combined. It is amusing to read in the introductions of some of our old call books, that a Quadrille is always danced in five parts, and then to search in vain through the book for a single dance that has all five parts still separate and distinct. Most of them are numbered, "one-three-five," or "one-two-four," still preserving the tradition while saving only three parts of the dance. This probably developed through having only three parts to the music with two pauses. Even then the American forms of the dance retained all five parts, but with two pairs coalesced.
Unlike a Western dance, in the Quadrille the head couple was numbered "one," the opposite couple "two," the side couple to the right "three," and the side couple to the left, "four." In the first figure, after a general introduction, the opposite couples maneuvered with each other in a variety of patterns across the set. In the other figures all four couples maneuvered together around the square which became a circle of dancing action. Only occasionally did the first couple execute a maneuver with the right-hand couple, then on to the opposite couple and finally to the couple on the left, thus working as it were around the square. In the more formal quadrilles, this movement was always in the fourth part and was named "The Visit." But this pattern of work­ing around the set is the standard form of the Western Square Dance, as we shall later see.
The music for the Quadrille was precise, measured, and accurately correlated with the figures and with the calls. For proper execution the dancers should have been trained

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