"The term quadrille came to exist in the 17th century, within military parades, in which four horsemen and their mounts performed special square-shaped formations or figures. The word quadrille is probably derived from the Spanish word cuadrillo (Spanish diminutive of cuadro, meaning small square from Latin quadrus, quadra, quadratus meaning square, block or square section, squared or square-shaped, respectively)."
"This performance became very popular, which led people to perform a quadrille without horses. In the 18th Century (estimated around 1740) the quadrille evolved more and more in an intricate dance, with its foundation in dances like cotillions. It was introduced in France around 1760, and later in England around 1808 by a woman known as Miss Berry. It was introduced to the Duke of Devonshire and made fashionable by 1813. In the following years it was taught to the upper classes, and around 1816 many people could dance a quadrille.
The quadrille (in French quadrille de contredanses) was now a lively dance with four couples, arranged in the shape of a square, with each couple facing the center of that square. One pair was called the head couple, the other pairs the side couples. A dance figure was often performed first by the head couple, and then repeated by the side couples. In the original French version only two couples were used, but two more couples were eventually added to form the sides of a square. The couples in each corner of the square took turns, in performing the dance, where one couple danced, and the other couples rested.
Where the music was new with every quadrille composed, the names of the five parts (or figures) remained the same. And if it were performed with dancers – audiences also preferred to listen to the dance alone, and not dance to it – the way of dancing to the parts remained (mostly) the same too. The parts were called:
Le Pantalon (a pair of trousers)
La Poule (hen)
La Pastourelle (shepherd girl)
Why all of this? For thew simple reason that quadrille is one of my favorite words, and the names of the various parts read so beautifully as found poetry. And it look like fun:
Fall Quadrille Society, anyone?