Thursday, October 13, 2011

Croton Poole Leads the German - Part II

Here is Croton Poole, in his element as the leader of a German Cotillion. The flag figure sounds lovely, with brightly colored silk flags fluttering around.

What mazes he threaded, what intricacies he invented that evening! People, without knowing how, or why, or wherefore, found themselves suddenly forming wreaths of flowers and arabesque patterns upon the floor, from which some simple evolution was to evolve them. 

Then there were figures in which pretty bright-colored flags floated about the room, in the course of being distributed to the various dancers. The lady held one set, the gentleman the other, and each set corresponded in patterns and numbers to the other. The lady gave her flags to the gentlemen, and the gentleman gave his flags to the ladies, and then each gentleman rushed about eagerly to find the lady who held the flag corresponding to his, and having found her, they both whirled off in a wild waltz or a determined polka.

Throughout this wonderful performance, of which he was the director-in-chief, Croton Poole maintained a splendid self-possession. Nothing seemed to disturb the equanimity of his temper. 

There was a dogged Englishman, who did not understand the dance, and who, true to his national prejudices, would hold on when he was told to let go, and let go when he was told to hold on, and eventually involved himself in such a maze of difficulties, that the only way he had left to get out of them was to stand perfectly still, in the centre of the room, and collect his scattered senses; even over him Croton Poole seemed to possess some magical influence, for I saw him absolutely assist in " the basket-figure" without a blunder before I went away. (Harper's New Monthly Magazine, July 1855 p. 194.)

Here are directions for the Flag figure from Laurence De Garmo Brooks:


It is necessary in this figure to have in readiness at least five or six duplicate sets of small flags of various designs. These flags are usually twelve inches by nine, attached to a small staff about two feet long. The leader takes a flag of each pattern, and his lady the duplicates. They then perform a Tour de Valse; after which the leader presents his flags to five or six ladies, and his lady presents her flags to as many gentlemen. All those furnished with flags now stand up and seek the owners of the corresponding ones, and finish with a Tour de Valse, waving the flags as they dance. (L. De G. Brookes, Brookes on modern dancing, New York, 1867 p.84)

1 comment:

  1. We tried this figure once with ribbons, but it had no such splendid visual effect. Flags next time!