Glossary of French Terms Used in the Quadrille

Quadrille Dancers, Courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France
Quadrille Dancers, Courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France

The Quadrille was a popular square dance that became fashionable in the late 18th century. It was first introduced at Louis XV’s court sometime around 1760 and was first performed with two couples facing each other.

In 1816, the Quadrille reached England through Sarah Sophia Child Villiers, Countess of Jersey. The Countess was an aristocrat and well-known patroness of Almack’s, and, because of her, the Quadrille became ultra-fashionable with the upper crust.

Elements of the Quadrille changed over time, and it evolved into the waltz. Additionally, other couples were added to the dance so that the Quadrille included eight persons thereby forming a square and allowing couples to take turns resting and dancing.

Because of its French origins, the terms used for the Quadrille were French, and, over time, some of the terms were done away with or changed. The following list provides the most frequent French terms used for the Quadrille by the mid 1800s, and it includes their English counterparts: Continue reading