Monday, January 17, 2011

For Absolute Beginners who want to dance the Quadrille

Dance manuals and etiquette books often suggest that if you are not familiar with a quadrille, you should choose a side position. This piece of advice comes down through the years and even the most modern of vintage dancers will tell you that if you don't know what you are doing, you should stand in a side position.

Don't necessarily follow that advice.

If you are in a class where the quadrille will be taught, and you are a beginner, you will get far more out of being a head couple than a side couple. The heads get the slowest and most complete instruction, while the sides will be expected to remember and dance what was done 90 seconds ago and will probably not be given the same complete breakdown of any given movement.

If you are at a ball where it has been made clear that the quadrille will be danced without a walk-through or calling, you should probably avoid dancing it at all. If a more experience dancer insists that they will be able to get you through the figure, you may agree to be their partner (they may well be able to guide you through) but in that case you should insist on being a side couple so that you see the pattern before you are required to dance it.

Most modern vintage balls have built in some time for teaching and walking through the pattern before actually dancing a quadrille, and in this case, my earlier advice about being a head couple is appropriate. You will get a better idea of how to proceed if you are in a head couple and receive the first explanation. So, if the caller announces that a quadrille will be taught, you may take a head position and take advantage of that extra instruction.

Monday, January 3, 2011

For Experienced Dancers who find themselves in a Quadrille with Clueless Beginners

It is no disgrace to be a beginner who doesn't know which way to turn. We were all beginners at this game, and we all have sympathy with those who are clueless through lack of experience.

If you are an experienced dancer and can size up the situation, you are permitted to suggest changes which will make the dance more pleasant for everyone.

Sometimes we see a set where two experienced couples are in the head positions and two very inexperienced couples are at the sides. The first times through the figure are beautiful, but the next times with the inexperienced dancers are like a train wreck. If someone had suggested that one experienced and one inexperienced couple trade places, there would have been a friendly and knowledgeable vis-a-vis to help guide each beginner couple through the patterns.

If you can persuade a beginner couple to let you and your partner separate them, that can also be helpful.

These gestures can be quite kind and should always be suggested with a smile and understanding manner. One should never order fellow dancers around. That is one of those self-evident principles that I feel the need to point out.