Monday, January 30, 2012

Dancing the Flag Figure of the German

Here is a photo from the Commonwealth Vintage Dancers' performance on December 3, 2011. We were part of a two day Charles Dickens festival. Our performance recreated a mid-nineteenth century German Cotillion. The picture shows the Flags figure, where an equal number ladies and gentlemen were handed flags at random, then had to match the flags to find a partner for a waltz.

Below is a charming but confusing variation of the Flags figure from the 1880s. It seems to work so that dancers trade partners after each circle of the room. The directions are contradictory, which is hardly surprising when you see that this figure, labeled # 53, is described after #54 and before #54. Obviously, the publisher was in such a rush to bring out the book that proofreading was considered optional. That gives us the fun of choosing our own interpretation:

The leader supplies himself with a stock of assorted colors of flags, then the leader hands to his lady a pair of matched flags and they perform a tour de valse, and at the same time waving the flags. He then presents to all the other ladies a pair of flags. 

The leader’s lady after completing the waltz hands her duplicate to any gentleman, each gentleman seeks for the possessor of the Flag like the one presented to him and makes a tour de valse. Completing the waltz around the ball room each gentleman presents his flag to another lady, and his partner hands her flag to any gentleman, and the search for partners to waltz is performed until all have danced with another.

  (Koncen , M.J. Prof. M. J. Koncen's quadrille call book and ball room guide. St. Louis: S.F.Brearley & Co., 1883. p. 110.)

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