Drawing Room Dances
by Henri Cellarius
Chapter 18 continued
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OF THE COTILLON
Blindman's buff—La Colin Maillard, (Waltze, polka.)
Three chairs are placed on the same line in the middle of the room.
The first couple sets off. The gentleman goes and takes another
gentleman, whom he places in the centre chair, after having bound his eyes.
The lady selects another gentleman, whom she leads on
tiptoe to one of the chairs by the side of the Blind-Man, while she
seats herself on the other. The first gentleman then invites the
Blind-Man to choose the right or the left. If he indicates the lady he
waltzes with her to her place; if on the contrary he points to the
gentleman, he must waltze with him while the conductor waltzes with the lady.
The Gentlemen together—Les Cavaliers ensemble.
The two first gentlemen, each choose a gentleman to waltze with them,
and the two ladies, each select a lady to waltze with them. At a given signal, the
four gentlemen stop and form a round while the ladies form another.
Two ladies in advancing to the gentleman's circle, pass under the arms
of the other two ladies, and enter it, forming a round à l'envers,
when each gentleman waltzes with the lady before whom he finds himself.
This figure may be performed by three or four couples.
The Zigzags—Les Zigzags. (Waltze, polka.)
Eight or ten couples start together, and place themselves behind each other,
couple by couple, keeping a certain interval. Each gentleman should have his
partner at his right. The first couple sets out in waltzing, and passing zigzag
through all the couples to the last. The second couple then makes its way to
the last, while the conductor is returning with his lady to the head of the
phalanx. The conclusion is by a general waltze.
The Undulations—Les Undulations. (Waltze, polka.)
The four first couples set out forming a round. The conducting couple should
be in the middle of the circle and waltze at pleasure, seeking to deceive the
other couples that ought to follow all their movements without letting go
hands. At a signal given, the next couple place themselves in the middle to
play off the same game, while the first resume their place in the circle, and
the others successively execute the figure. The conclusion is made by a general waltze.
The two Lines—Les Deux Lignes. (Waltze, polka.)
The first gentleman takes the first lady by the hand, and makes,
walking, the tour of the room; all the other couples ought to follow.
The conductor forms with the other gentleman a single line, so that
every one faces his partner. Every gentleman then with his right hand
takes the right hand of his lady, and makes her traverse
in taking her place. The first couple sets out waltzing and goes up the
line and passes behind the line of the ladies; without ceasing to waltze, it
passes between the two lines, and again goes up passing behind the ladies.
Arrived at the last, it stops, the gentleman remaining on the side of the ladies,
and the lady on the side of the gentlemen. Each couple successively executes
the same figure, and the whole terminate by a general waltze. The
are particularly performed at the end of the cotillons.
The Crooked Lane—L'Allee Tournante. (Waltze,polka.)
The conductor sets out, walking and holding his lady's hand,
and invites the other couples to follow him. A general round is formed.
Each couple must be careful to keep a certain distance. The gentlemen place
themselves before their ladies so as to form with them a double round, the
gentlemen without, and the ladies within. The conductor sets out with his
partner and waltzes round the crooked lane formed by the two circles, till he has
regained his place. He then quits his lady, and resumes his place in the ladies' circle,
while she goes back to hers amongst the gentlemen. Each couple executes the
figure in turn, and the whole concludes by a general waltze. This is one of the
final figures of the cotillon.
The Flying Hat—Le Chapeau Volant. (Waltze, polka.)
The two first couples set out. The conductor holds behind him in his left
hand a hat, which he keeps with the open part upwards as if it were lying on
a table. The second gentleman holds in his left hand a pair of gloves, that he
endeavours to fling into the hat without ceasing to waltze. When he has
succeeded, he takes the hat, and gives the gloves to another gentleman,
who recommences the same game. It may be imagined that amongst good
waltzers this figure gives rise to a multitude of turns and incidents.
The figure of Eight—La Huit. (Waltze.)
Two chairs are placed in the middle of the room at a certain distance from each other.
The first couple sets off, passes behind a chair without ceasing to waltze, and then
repasses behind another so as to describe a figure of eight. Each couple in succession
repeats the same figure, which is one of the most difficult to be executed.
A gentleman who acquits himself perfectly may be reckoned a consummate waltzer.
The Intermingling of Arms—Les Bras Enlacés.
Three or four couples set out together. After a
tour demazurka or polka, each gentleman takes a lady,
and each lady takes a gentleman, when a general round is formed.
They all advance and fall back together at four bars. They again advance,
and when near each other, the gentlemen join hands above and the ladies
below. The arms being thus entwined, they turn to the left; the conductor
lets go the hand of the gentleman on his left; they extend themselves in a
single line without quitting each other's hands. When a straight line is well
formed, the gentlemen raise their arms, but still holding each other; the ladies
dance off, and the gentlemen pursue them. At a given signal all the ladies turn
round and dance with their partners, who ought to be behind them.
The Ladies' Moulinet.—Le Moulinet des Dames. (Polka, mazurka).
The two first couples set out. Each gentleman chooses a lady, and each lady a gentleman.
A general round is formed and turns to the left during eight bars, the ladies placing
themselves in moulinet, and
giving each other the right hand; each gentleman remains in his place.
The ladies make a
tour de moulinet, and give their hands to their partners to make a
tour sur place. They return in moulinet, and at each turn they reach
one more gentleman till they have come up to him with whom they set out.
Polka or mazurka for a finish.
The little Rounds—Les Petits Ronds. (Polka, mazurka.)
The three or four first couples set out. Each gentleman chooses a gentleman,
and each lady chooses a lady. The gentlemen arrange themselves two by two,
and the ladies do the same in front of them. The two first gentlemen and the two
first ladies circle one entire round to the left; when the round is finished, the two
gentlemen without stopping raise their arms to let the two ladies pass underneath,
and execute another tour with the two next ladies. The two first ladies turn in the
same way with the two new gentlemen who present themselves; each one
follows 'till the two first gentlemen have come to the two last ladies. When the
two first gentlemen have made all the ladies pass, they arrange themselves in line,
and the two next gentlemen place themselves on either side so that all the gentlemen
form in one and the same line opposite to that which the ladies have also formed on
their side. The two lines
advance towards each other during four bars, and fall back during four bars,
then rejoin,and each gentleman takes the lady who is before him. General polka, or
mazurka, for a finish.
The Double Moulinet—Le Double Moulinet. (Polka, mazurka.)
The two first couples set out. Each gentleman chooses a lady, and each lady
chooses a gentleman. A general round is formed, and after a tour to the left,
each gentleman makes a
tour sur place, causing his partner to turn about him 'till she forms a
moulinet of the right hand with the three other ladies. The four ladies being
in the middle of the moulinet and directing themselves towards the left, the
gentlemen direct themselves towards the right, and turn 'till each has again
found his partner to give her his left hand and take his place in moulinet,
while the ladies accomplish in the opposite way the round which the gentlemen
have just been making. When the gentlemen have found themselves twice at the
sides, and twice in the middle, with the right hand they take the left of their lady,
and conduct her in polka or mazurka promenade.
The X of the Gentlemen—L'X Des Cavaliers.(Polka, mazurka.)
The two first couple set out. Each gentleman, without quitting his lady,
chooses another, whom he should hold with his left. The two gentlemen
place themselves opposite one another at a certain distance. They advance
with their ladies during two bars, and in like manner fall back during two
bars. They advance once again, letting go the hands of their ladies who
remain in their places. The two gentlemen give each other their hands
crossed at the elbows and make together a complete tour, then give their left
hands to their ladies in the same way, and make a tour with them. They again
make a tour together, giving each other the right arm, and recommence with
the left arm with the next lady on the right, and so on for the rest. When they have
turned with the four ladies, they each take two ladies—their own and the
one they have chosen, and make a promenade at pleasure. When they find
themselves at the place of the lady they have chosen, they pass her under their
right arm, and continue the promenade with their partner.
The X of the Gentleman and his Lady—L'X de Cavalier et de la Dame.
The first couple sets out. The gentleman chooses two ladies, whom he takes
with either hand and his partner chooses two gentlemen. The conductor and his
partner face each other at a certain distance with the ladies and gentlemen they
have chosen. They advance and retire during four bars; then the conductor and
his lady towards each other, leaving the two other ladies and the two other
gentlemen in the places where they are. In advancing this second time by
themselves, they give the arm to each other crossed at the elbow. They make a
complete round, after which the gentleman gives his left arm crossed in the same
way to the lady, whom he held with his right. The first gentleman and his lady
return to the middle to make together a tour of the left arm, and then do the
same with the other lady and the other gentleman. In finishing they should find
themselves in the same position they had at the commencement. All six advance
and retire during four bars. They advance a last time, and each gentleman takes
by the right hand the lady facing him to reconduct her in promenading to her place.
The English Right and Left—La Grand ChaineAnglaise. (Polka, mazurka.)
The two first couples set out, place themselves facing each other, and make the
English right and left very much lengthened. The two gentlemen, advancing
with their ladies, give each other the left arm crossed at the [elbow, and make a
very rapid demi-tour to change the ladies, and make with each other's partner a
tour sur place. They recommence the figure to take their partners again,
whom they promenade to their seats.
The Graces—Les Graces. (Polka, mazurka.)
The first couple sets out. The gentleman passes his lady to the left changing hands.
He takes another lady with the right hand, and continues promenading between the
two. When he finds himself at the place of the lady he has chosen, he makes the two
ladies pirouette opposite each other and takes them by the waist to make them execute
a tour sur placeto the left. He returns the lady he has chosen to her partner,
making her pass under his arm and that of his lady, and continues the promenade to
his place. The gentleman to make the
tour sur placeshould have his own lady by
the left hand, and the other by the right. When this figure is made in polka, instead of the
tour sur place, you make the tour du salon à trois, abandon the lady
chosen when you pass before her place, and continue to promenade with your own.
The Contrary Rounds—Les Ronds Contrarieés.(Polka, mazurka.)
Departure of the three first couples. The gentlemen place their ladies in a line,
and take each other by the hands to form a chain. The conductor passes to the
left with the two others in front of the three ladies. The gentlemen, when they
come to the last, form a circle about her and turn to the left after having made a
complete tour. The conductor relinquishes the hand of the gentleman on the left,
and passes to the middle lady to form about her a round
The Genuflexions—Les Genuflexions. (Polka, mazurka.)
Departure of the two first couples. The two gentlemen kneel on one
knee at a certain distance from each other. In this position they make their
ladies turn twice about them without letting go their hands. After these
turns, the two ladies cross the right hand and give the left to the right of
the other gentleman to make two turns in like manner. They cross a second
time from the right hand to recover their partners, who rise and promenade
them to their places.
The Right and Left—Les Chaines à Quatre. (Polka, mazurka.)
Departure of the first four couples, who go and place themselves opposite to each other,
two couples on one side upon one line, and two couples upon the other. In this position
each couple makes a half right and left with its opposite, then the gentlemen make with
their ladies a
tour sur place, after which each couple should turn opposite the couple which
was originally at its right. They repeat the half right and left with the
tour sur place, and so on for the rest. When all find themselves again in their
original place, each couple disperses, and makes a promenade at pleasure.
The Crossed Chains—Les Chaines Croiseés. (Polka, mazurka.)
Setting out of the first four couples, who place themselves as in the preceding figure.
Each couple executes with its opposite a complete right and left, after which they turn
opposite the couple which is at its side according to the position of the setting out.
They make sidewise a new right and left, and then the conducting couple make a
half right and left obliquely with the couple, which in the original order represented
the opposite of that which was on its right. When it has crossed, the two other
couples in like manner execute a half right and left obliquely, the two first a second
time do the same, and then the second. General promenade to regain their places.
The Double Pastourelle—La Double Pastourelle.(Polka, mazurka.)
Setting out of the first four couples, who place themselves for the country-dance.
The two opposite gentlemen, still retaining their partners, take with the left hand,
the two other ladies, who leave their partners in their place. In this position the
two gentlemen holding a lady with each hand, advance and retire during four
bars; they make their ladies cross in front of them, passing her on the left
under their right arms. The ladies go and resume the two gentlemen left in
their places to repeat the figure, which is made four times in succession,
and terminates by a promenade at pleasure.
The Double Chain—La Double Chaine. (Polka, mazurka.)
Setting out of the first couple, who go and place themselves facing
each other at a certain distance, and advance one towards the other in the
mazurka or polka step. When they have closed, the gentlemen change their
ladies and places in going apart again. They repeat the figure to recover their
places. They advance a third time to make a double right and left, crossing
over four times. The whole is terminated by a polka or mazurka promenade.
The Uninterrupted Chains—Les Chaines Continues.
Setting out of the four first couples. Each gentleman chooses a lady, and each lady
chooses a gentleman. All the gentlemen place themselves in line in front of the ladies,
who are similarly arranged. The first gentleman on the left gives his right hand to the
of his lady, and makes a complete tour with her, afterwards gives his left hand to the
left hand of the next lady. The conductor and his partner give each other the right
hand in the middle of the double figure, and separate to find the next lady and
gentleman, and so on for the rest up to the last couple. They then make a complete
tour, so that the lady finds herself on the side of the gentlemen, and her partner on
that of the ladies. When the conductor and his lady have reached the fourth couple,
the second gentleman should also set out, so that there should be an uninterrupted
right and left between the gentlemen and ladies. On the departure of the first couple,
the second should take their place, and so on for the rest. When all have executed the
figure, each gentleman offers his hand to his partner for a promenade. This dance may
be executed by as many couple as please.
The Inconstants—Les Cavaliers Changeants. (Polka, mazurka.)
Setting out of the first three or four couple, who arrange themselves in
phalanx behind the conducting couple. The first gentleman turns round
giving his left arm crossed at the elbow to the left arm of the gentleman
behind him, with whom he changes place and partner. He goes on without
interruption to the last lady. When he reaches the last, the second gentleman,
who is then at the head of the phalanx, executes the same figure, and so on
for the rest till every one has regained his place. The whole terminates by a
The Ladies Back to Back—Les Dames Dos à Dos. (Polka, mazurka.)
Setting out of the four first couples, who form a general round.
The ladies place themselves back to back, and keep close to each other; the
gentlemen remain in the usual position. At a given signal, and during four bars,
the round is enlarged, the gentlemen retiring, the ladies advancing; during four
other bars it is narrowed. The round is developed for a last time, then they make
a chain plate beginning by the right hand, 'till each has recovered his partner.
It terminates by a promenade.
Four Hands Round—Les Ronds à Quatre. (Polka, mazurka.)
Setting out of the two first couples. Each gentleman chooses a lady, and each lady
chooses a gentleman. The gentlemen form together four hands round at
end of the ball-room. Every one makes a tour to the left, after which the conductor
and the one he has chosen pass under their arms the two other gentlemen to recover
the two ladies, who do the same, and form a round with them. They make a complete
turn to the left, after which the two gentlemen elevate their arms to make a passage
for the two ladies, with whom they make another tour, while the two first execute the
same round with the two other gentlemen, which forms two four-hands-round.
The gentlemen raise their arms to let the ladies pass under; the two first while
advancing turn round, and form a line, which is soon joined by the two others.
The ladies should form a similar line on their side. When the four gentlemen and the
four ladies have met, they form the same round as at the commencement—that
is to say, gentlemen with gentlemen, and ladies with ladies. After a tour, they extend
themselves in two opposite lines, that advance towards each other, each gentleman
resumes his lady, and the whole terminates with a promenade.
The Genuflexion of Four—La Genuflexion à Quatre. (Polka, mazurka.)
Setting out of the four first couples, who afterwards place themselves as for the
French country-dance. At
a given signal the four gentlemen put one knee to the floor, and make the ladies turn
about them as was explained in the
Genuflexion. The ladies make but a single turn, after which they cross on the
right hand, and give their left hand to the right of the other gentlemen to do the like in
turn. They cross a last time on the right hand, and rejoin their partners, when they
finish by a promenade.
To execute well this figure, one of the most graceful of the mazurka, the moment
the two first ladies have finished their traverse, the two others of the opposite
party should immediately set out and cross, while the two first turn about the
gentlemen. By the help of these intervals the ladies do not run the risk of
clashing in the middle of their course.
The Change of the Moulinet—La Moulinet Changé. (Polka, mazurka.)
Setting out of five or six couples. After the promenade, all the gentlemen
without letting go the hands of their ladies, form a moulinet with the left
hand and make a complete turn. At a signal given, they take the place of
their ladies, turning behind and placing their ladies in front. In this position they
make a complete turn the contrary way. At another signal they again change,
but this time turning in front and placing their
ladies behind. After this last turn the couples disperse, and terminate all by a
The Changing Triangle—La Triangle Changeant. (Polka, mazurka.)
Setting out of the first three couples. The gentlemen, without quitting their ladies,
enmoulinet, giving each other the left hand, and going round in this position.
At a given signal the first gentleman turns about quickly, giving the left arm
crossed at the elbow to the gentleman behind him, with whom he changes his
place and lady. He does the same with the next gentleman. When he has arrived at
the third, the second executes the same figure, and then the third. A general
promenade concludes the whole.
The Chains in line—Les Chaines en Ligne. (Polka, mazurka.)
Setting out of the four first couples. Each gentleman chooses a gentleman, and
each lady chooses a lady. The gentlemen place themselves together two by two
facing the ladies, who arrange themselves in the same way. At a given signal,
the two first gentlemen begin by the right hand a
chaine platewith the two first ladies, and so on for the rest. The two
find themselves with the two first ladies, who come to them across the chain.
The whole concludes with a promenade.
The Labyrinth—Le Labyrinth. (Waltze, polka, mazurka.)
All the persons of the cotillon form a general round, going about to the left.
At a given signal the conductor lets go the hand of his lady, who is on his left
and while continuing to turn in the same direction enters the circle making a
colimaçon, while his lady turns to the right to wind about the
other circles that go on narrowing. A circular space should be contrived to be
able to extend themselves in waltzing. In this position the conducting couple
set out waltzing, and follow the passes of the labyrinth formed by the general
chain rolling on itself, 'till they have arrived at the last couple, to which the first
lady gives her hand to renew the circle. As each new couple arrives, it places itself
behind the one previous. When all have arrived, they conclude by a general
waltze or mazurka. When this figure is executed in polka, you dance through
the passes of the labyrinth with the waltze
à deux pas, which requires less space; when the figure is
executed in mazurka, you have recourse to the mazurka waltze. The
Labyrinthis one of the final figures of the cotillon.
The Polka in Right and Left Varied—La Polka en Chaines Diverses. (Polka.)
Setting out of the first four couples, who place themselves as for the French
country-dance. Two couples placed opposite each other, follow an oblique line
towards the right, and the two others towards the left. In this position each
makes a complete right and left with its opposite, after which the ladies make a
half one among themselves to change their partners. All perform a complete
tour in the pas de polka, still preserving their order. When every gentleman
has got back to his place with another lady, the figure is repeated with the
couple on the right. At the fourth time, each finds himself with his lady,
and all make a general polka.
The Basket—La Corbeille. (Mazurka.)
Setting out of the first couple. The gentleman chooses two ladies, and places himself
between them; the lady chooses two gentlemen and does the same. They advance
during four bars, retire during four others, and advance for the last time. The
gentleman, who holds the two ladies, raises his arms, and makes the two
gentlemen pass underneath, without letting go the hand of the lady of the first
gentleman, and give their
hands to each other behind the latter. The two ladies, chosen by the first
gentleman, join hands behind the conductor's lady, which form the basket.
In this position they describe a tour to the left, and at a given signal, without
any letting go of hands, the gentleman in the middle passes under the arms
of the two other gentlemen, and the lady under the arms of the two other ladies.
The six have then their arms intwined. At another signal, they disengage their
arms, and form an ordinary circle. They describe a round, and the gentleman,
who is on the left of the first lady, begins a chaine plate by the right hand,
which continues till the first gentleman has recovered his partner. The
conclusion is made by promenade at pleasure.
The Triple Pass—La Triple Passe. (Mazurka.)
Setting out of the first two couples, who after their promenade, take hands four
round to the left. At a given signal the conductor and his lady, letting go each other's
hands, pass under the arms of the two others, and join hands again as soon as the
tour is finished. The other gentleman and his lady in their turn pass behind under the
arms of the first couple, who once more repass under the arms of the two others,
and without letting go of each other's hands, extend
themselves to be again in circle. They make a round to the left, and both couples
promenade back to their place.
The Lady to the left—La Dame a Gauche. (Mazurka.)
All the persons of the cotillon form a general round, and dance to the left
turning four bars. Each gentleman makes the
tour sur placein advance during four other bars, taking care at the
end of the tour to leave his lady on the left. The round is repeated on four
bars, and each gentleman takes the lady at his right, whom he transfers to
the left by means of a new
tour sur place. They go on till they have recovered their partners.
This dance is one of the final figures of the cotillon-mazurka.
The Reunion of Couples. (Mazurka.)
The first couple makes a promenade, after which it goes and takes the second
couple to form hands four round. They make a half round to the left, after which
the conductor quits the hand of the lady of the second couple, and turns round to
the left, drawing after him the other dancers to go and seek the third couple,
with which they make a round of six persons. After a half round to the left, the
conductor again quits the lady on his left to go and seek successively the other
couples. When he has arrived at the last, a general round is formed, they make
a turn to the left during eight bars, a turn to the right during eight others, and end all by the
tour sur place. This dance is generally executed at the end of the cotillon-mazurka.
Conclusion of the Cotillon.
To complete what regards the execution of the figures of the cotillon,
I should observe, that in some assemblies, each couple passes, after the last
figure, before the mistress of the house, and successively make their bow to
her, which is considered as the positive conclusion of the cotillon, and of the
ball itself. This final salute, which some persons of fashion have pointed out to
me as being the custom in certain houses, is not obligatory, and requires no
particular preparation. The opinion of these same individuals was that the
salute should always be considered as a spontaneous and almost fortuitous
homage, to be principally determined by fitness of opportunity.
Although the figures I have described may appear numerous, I could still
further have increased their number; for the rounds, enchainings, and the
evolutions of the dance and waltze, may be infinitely diversified. But I have
confined myself solely to the delineation of the fundamental figures, laying
aside those, which offered nothing but unimportant modifications.
With the exact knowledge of these figures, I do not imagine any waltzer can
ever find himself at fault in a cotillon: all that could be invented beyond the
combinations indicated, will enter more or less into one of the original figures,
and can not present any serious difficulty in the execution.
I have also thought it right to confine myself to a simple detail of the figures,
without entering into any reflections upon their character, or their less or
greater complication. Upon this point I trust entirely to the intelligence of the
conductor. It is for him to determine which amongst the figures are adapted to
such a party rather than to another, according to the capability of the waltzers, the
number of the couples, and the exigencies of the locale. He must, of course, do the
simple figures before he introduces those more complicated, put alternately into
motion one or more couples, conclude by figures which employ the greatest
number, and give occasion for the most piquant incidents. This choice, which
constitutes in a great measure the art of the conductor, can scarcely be subjected to
any precise rules, since it depends upon particular circumstances, varying almost
with every ball.
I need not remind any one that such or such a figure is especially suited to
intimate circles, and ought not to be admitted but with circumspection into
assemblies composed of strangers. In this work I had only to occupy myself
with the rules of the dance; as to those
of decorum and good-breeding, my readers would have been justly surprised,
if they had found here the least attempt to detail them.
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Drawing Room Dances
by Henri Cellarius