Original Dances‎ > ‎

Quadrilles

 Lobster Quadrille

(extracted from Odd Delights)

Form 4 couples in a squares
Start r.f. free
Dance as each of the 3 figures, then repeat with sides leading 1B.
Play intro. then ABC x 6 to do dance twice, 1s leading 1B first time, 2s leading second. 


A dance which satisfies the description of the dance which the Mock Turtle and Gryphon offer in word and song in of Lewis Carroll’s 1865 Alice Adventures in Wonderland, and a tune which enbles the song to be sung ‘slowly and sadly’, as described. Both dance and tune are by John Garden.


The Mock Turtle’s Song

Turtle and Gryphon instructions in bold.

 Part 1

A

”Will you / walk a little faster?”

said a whiting to a snail

“There's a / porpoise close behind us,

and he's treading on my tail.

All r.sh. gypsy partner

All 4 steps towards neighbour and

3 steps back to bottom bump your partner and then 1 count to bounce off into holding inside hs

B

See how / eagerly the lobsters

and the turtles all advance!

They are / waiting on the shingle,

–will you / come and join the dance?'

Head couples take partner’s inside hand and advance and retire twice towards each other, and while they retire the first time and advance the second side couples advance and retire once.

C

Will you, won't you,

will you, won't you,

will you join the dance?

All with partner, clap r.h., own, l.h., own,

r.h., own, l.h., own,

then both hands and bow entreatingly as you about face

 

Will you, won't you,

will you, won't you,

won't you join the dance?

With corner, clap r.h., own, l.h., own,

r.h., own, l.h., own,

both hands and bow as you turn back to partner

 Part 2

A

“You can / really have no notion

how delightful it will be

 

When they / take us up and throw us,

with the lobsters, out to sea!”

All slow chassez set to partners right

then left, finishing M holding W’s l.h. in his r.h.

 

With 8 steps all M change lobsters and retire in same order by assisting their W into Lady’s chain across set and courtesy turning oncoming opposite W.

B

But the / snail replied "Too far, too far!”

 

 

 

And gave a look askance–

 

 

Said he / thanked the whiting kindly, but he would not join the dance

Then with 4 counts M throw the lobster as far out to sea as you can by chaining the W back across the set, but instead of immediately courtesy turning original back into set, 'Swim after them!’ – by M turning to follow W as they go past their l.side, take them in skater’s promenade hold as you go.

 

All Turn a somersault in the sea! by courtesy turning/wheeling 1 1/4 acw as a couple, and then M, on the inside of set while W are on the outside, turning W under his raised l.h. and switching to 2hs, M change lobsters again by M (briefly on knee) taking W’s hands and begging her (showing reluctance) to dance

C

Would not, could not,

would not, could not,

would not join the dance.

With 4 steps M pulls W back towards dance

With 4 steps W pulls M back out of dance

With 4 steps 2h turn ½ cw

 

Would not, could not,

would not, could not,

would not join the dance.

With 4 steps M pushes W back towards dance

With 4 steps W pushes M back out of dance

With 4 steps 2h turn ½ cw

 Part 3

A

“What / matters it how far we go"

 

his scaly friend replied.

 

'There / is another shore, you know

upon the other side. 

M release W’s r.h. from his l.h. and with 4 steps M leads W by his r.h. back into set

With 4 steps M take l.hs and start grand star acw

 

With 4 steps grand star is half way around set,

With 4 counts M let go of l.hs. and wheel acw ½ about so W can take r.hs and all face back the way they came

B

The further off from England

the nearer is to France–

 

Then turn not pale, beloved snail,

but come and join the dance' 

With 8 steps all grand star back to home place

With 8 steps W drop r.hs and couples wheel 3/4 cw

 

With 4 counts release hs and with 4 counts bow to partner – back to land again

C3

 

Will you, won't you,

will you, won't you,

will you join the dance?

Grand chain round the set - 2 steps for each hand:

pull r.h. past partner, l.h. past next,

pull r.h. past next, l.h. past next,

giving r.h. to partner on other side of set, 4 count bow

 

Will you, won't you,

will you, won't you,

won't you join the dance?

pull r.h. past partner, l.h. past next,

pull r.h. past next, l.h. past next,

giving r.h. to partner in home place, bow

 

 

'and that's all the first figure' repeat with new sides taking the role of 1s (preferably couple to right of last 1s)

 

In chapter 10 of Lewis Carroll’s 1865 Alice Adventures in Wonderland, the Mock Turtle and Gryphon describe to Alice a dance called ‘The Lobster Quadrille’ and then demonstrate the dance while singing a song. I have ‘reconstructed’ a dance that might satisfy both the initial description (text in bold in the right hand column) and the song (text in bold in the left hand column). To set the scene here is the text leading up to the song:

The Mock Turtle sighed deeply, and drew the back of one flapper across his eyes. He looked at Alice, and tried to speak, but for a minute or two sobs choked his voice. “Same as if he had a bone in his throat,” said the Gryphon: and it set to work shaking him and punching him in the back. At last the Mock Turtle recovered his voice, and, with tears running down his cheeks, he went on again:--

“You may not have lived much under the sea--” (I haven't,' said Alice)—‘and perhaps you were never even introduced to a lobster–”
(Alice began to say “I once tasted--” but checked herself hastily, and said ‘No, never’) ‘–so you can have no idea what a delightful thing a Lobster Quadrille is!”
“No, indeed,' said Alice. “What sort of a dance is it?”
“Why,” said the Gryphon, “you first form into a line along the sea-shore–”
“Two lines! ” cried the Mock Turtle. `Seals, turtles, salmon, and so on;
then, when you've cleared all the jelly-fish out of the way–”
“That generally takes some time,' interrupted the Gryphon.
“–you advance twice–”
“Each with a lobster as a partner! ” cried the Gryphon.
“Of course,” the Mock Turtle said: `advance twice, set to partners–”
“–change lobsters, and retire in same order,' continued the Gryphon.
`“Then, you know,” the Mock Turtle went on, `you throw the–”'
`The lobsters!' shouted the Gryphon, with a bound into the air.
“–as far out to sea as you can–”
“Swim after them!” screamed the Gryphon.

“Turn a somersault in the sea!” cried the Moc Turtle, capering wildly about.

“Change lobsters again!” yelled the Gryphon at the top of its voice.
“Back to land again, and that's all the first figure,' said the Mock Turtle, suddenly dropping his voice; and the two creatures, who had been jumping about like mad things all this time, sat down again very sadly and quietly, and looked at Alice.
“It must be a very pretty dance,” said Alice timidly.
“Would you like to see a little of it?” said the Mock Turtle.
“Very much indeed,” said Alice.
“Come, let's try the first figure!” said the Mock Turtle to the Gryphon.
“We can do without lobsters, you know. Which shall sing?”
“Oh, you sing, ” said the Gryphon. “I've forgotten the words.”

So they began solemnly dancing round and round Alice, every now and then treading on her toes when they passed too close, and waving their forepaws to mark the time, while the Mock Turtle sang this, very slowly and sadly:–

The reconstructed dance that keeps faith with the description, the song and contemporary dance expectations in all but 2 respects, and for those deviations there are good reasons.

Firstly, although the Gryphon and Mock Turtle say ‘first form’ ‘two lines’ and although the dance here plotted could well be done in two long ‘Beckett formation’ lines with all dancing all the time, I’ve favoured a 4 couple square formation with couples numbered cw 1s, 3s, 2s and 4s and opposites doing most of the dancing. This is more like a Quadrille as danced in 1860s England and more able to be danced around an Alice.

Secondly, although the first dance instruction which the Mock Turtle offers is ‘Advance twice', to fit with the subsequent song and with the quadrille practise of acknowledging partner and corner I’ve proposed an opening 16 count introductory figure.

To help dancers remember which hand to clap when I would observe that whenever you sing ‘Will’ you clap right hands. The joke in our own dance scene was that ‘Will (the name of one of our most capable and respected dancers and callers) is always right’.

 Parlour Games

(extracted from Odd Delights)

Form square sets of 4 couples, identifying tops and sides.
Start right foot free
Dance twice through the sequence, once as described, then once with sides dancing tops role.
Play intro. then ABCDEFGHIJ x 2

 

Gigue from the first Sonata of Vivaldi's 'Il Pastor Fido'

A

Opening: With 8 steps circle left / with 8 steps circle right, finishing with side cpls doing 'california twirl' and facing out

B

Chorus:  With 8 counts, tops lead in a double and back while sides lead out a double and back

C

 

 

 

 

D

1/4 Chases (12 steps each): Tops with 4 steps go in to form a r.sh. line, with 4 steps continue on to other side passing incoming sides by r.sh., and with 4 steps top M chase partner 1/4 way cw around the set, while sides chase partner 1/4 cw around set, with 4 steps go in, passing the tops as they come out, and with 4 steps pass opposites by r.sh. to emerge on opposite side 

with 12 counts same again with W chasing M cw, all finishing on opposite side of set.

E

Chorus (8 steps): - as before -

F

 

 

 

G

1/2 Chases (16 steps each): With 8 counts tops pass opposite by r.sh. to go through the centre to the other side and with 8 counts M chase 1/2 way cw around the set, while sides with 8 counts chase cw ½ way, and with 8 counts pass thru centre

same again with W chasing M cw to finish back on same opposite side to where ½ chases started.

H

Chorus (8 steps): - as before -

IJ

1/4 Chases (12 steps each): as before to arrive back in home position, but finishing with side cpls taking inside hs after their last pass thru and california twirl to face into the set.

A-J

Repeat whole dance with tops and sides changing roles

 

This dance is simple and certainly not as complicated as it can look from the outside, or seem from the inside if taught poorly. It can, however, be unforgiving if you loose concentration – and the hypnotic patterning and music can make that all too possible. Knowing the following can help preventing a set implosion.

Firstly, you always chase cw (i.e. turn right). There are no left hand turns or acw chases. 

Secondly, you always use 4 steps to go from the edge to the centre or ¼ of the way around the outside – and, as a corollary, always take 8 steps to go all from one side to the other, whether directly through the centre or curving around the outside in a ½ round – so always take slightly small steps when going straight through the centre, and slightly longer ones around the outside.

Thirdly, you always do the chorus either on original or opposite side

Fourthly, the pattern is somewhat palindromic – after the opening circles and chorus, you do the ¼ chases to get to the other side, the chorus, ½ chases to go once around, the chorus and ¼ chases to get back to home side.