display | more...
Drawing Room Dances by Henri Cellarius Chapter 1
Previous Chapter Next Chapter

See images of the original pages of this chapter starting at

http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=musdi&fileName=037/musdi037.db&recNum=18

THE
DRAWING - ROOM DANCES.

I.

REVIVAL OF FASHIONABLE DANCING.

IF we compare the appearance of a ball of the present day with the assemblies of only five or six years ago, we can not fail to be struck by the favourable change, which has been introduced into the habits, and, if I may venture so to say, into the manners of the dancers.

Does it not seem as if we were still on the eve of those days so truly mournful for the ball, when the mistress of the house, unable to organize a quadrille without unheard-of efforts, would find herself under the deplorable necessity of soliciting each dancer individually, and when only a few gentlemen would now and then condescend to snatch certain ladies from their state of isolation, walking, or rather dragging themselves, with the worst grace possible, into the midst of the quadrilles, and scarcely giving themselves the trouble to mark the figures. At present on the contrary, what animation has suddenly succeeded to this languor in the greater part of the assemblies! The choice of a lady, the greater or less merit of every gentleman in the dance, the movement of the orchestra, the organization of a mazurka, the conduct of a cotillon, all those details, which once were so indifferent and now are so important, have sufficed to re-animate the ball. It may indeed be said, that within the few last winters we have seen the revival of fashionable dancing, but it is not for me to expatiate on its advantages. Every one must have no doubt regretted the decay of an art so intimately connected with the laws of elegance and even of urbanity. What mother of a family is not rejoiced to find that her son goes to the ball-room now a-days to dance and waltze, and not for ecarté and other games of hazard.

This revival of the modern dance, which one might for a time have believed, if not dead, at least totally abandoned, is owing, we must confess, to the introduction of a new element, represented by the fashionable dances and waltzes that have come in such good time to break up the uniformity of the ancient school. To cite the most popular of these, what a revolution has been produced by the polka, so contested on its first appearance, and now so generally adopted. In what ball does it not find a place? Where is the young man, however opposed he may have been to this dance, that the polka has not snatched from his apathy and made acquire, whether he would or no, a talent on the sudden become so indispensable? Far then from endeavouring, as was the case formerly, to resist the invasion of such fashionable dances, the best way is to take them for what they are, to study them in their true principles; to perfection them if possible; but above all to consider if they are really so opposed, as the world has believed, to our customs, and even to our national character. Before however entering into the explanation of the rules and the practice, we must consider in what respect these dances resemble, or differ from, those of former times. We shall thus be able to form a clearer notion of their peculiar character, and arrive in regular order at the details of their execution.


Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Drawing Room Dances by Henri Cellarius Chapter 1

See images of the original pages of this chapter starting at

http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=musdi&fileName=037/musdi037.db&recNum=18

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.