Dancing Jane Austen Style


(Click on image to enlarge)

The dances described in “Pride and Prejudice” are described as being glorified square dances, “in which three or more couples, the men and women in separate lines some four feet apart, facing one another, danced their way through a series of figures.

A figure was merely a sequence of movements, like those in square dances in which men and ladies opposite one another advanced and then retreated, or locked arms and swung around, or do-si-doed (from the French dos-a-dos), or wove their way through the other dancers.”

“Quadrille – Originally a card game played by four people with forty cards that was the fashionable predecessor of whist. Also, the dance that became popular in the mid-century, which had five figures, or sets of movements. It was basically a slowed-down square dance, involving four couples who started from the four points of an imaginary diamond. Even couples who started from the four points of an imaginary diamond. Even by the mid-century the dance had slowed down practically to a walk. It was used as the lead-off dance at almost all dances and balls, the waltz and the polka following.”

The Sir Roger de Coverley, although common in Dickens literature was mentioned as early as 1695. It is defined as: “A jolly type of country dance used to finish off dances and popular at Christmas. It involved the first man and last lady and last man and first lady from two lines of parallel men and women swinging out and then back, then swinging round, then weaving their way through the lines and then promenading, etc. The dance is known in the United States as the Virginia Reel.”


Excerpts are from “What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew – from Fox Hunting to Whist~the Facts of Daily Life in 19th-Century England” by Daniel Pool (1993).

The illustration of The Five Positions of Dancing is from the book “Jane Austen” by Brian Wilkes.

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2 Comments

Filed under 1800s, Books, Dancing, England, Fashion, History, Jane Austen, Jane Austen

2 responses to “Dancing Jane Austen Style

  1. I miss square dancing. It used to be done at almost all the wedding receptions we went to. It was always such an ice breaker — and always fun to get a couple who had never done it before to try it!

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