Thursday, May 25, 2006

Quadrille (Hidden London part I) The History of a traditional dance

I recently had the pleasure of watching elders perform the Quadrille dance here in England. As most elders of Caribbean decent have returned 'Home' to their respective countries ie Jamaica, Barbados, St Vincent , St Lucia, Trinidad, Dominica, etc I really felt quite honoured to witness the grace, spirit and pride applied to this dance. .
As I watched the trimmed and well dressed elders perform the dance I couldn't help feeling a little sad, as this dance was performed within an Afro Caribbean elders home.. I wondered has this society influenced our community so much that we now are happy to place our elders in sheltered accommodation locked away with so much out formation which is so valuable for us?.
Without the presence of Grandparents or Elders within the home environment we miss a big part of the history of our culture. However the experience of watching the Quadrille dance I understand how important dance is , be it Hip hop, Reggae, Jazz, salsa and calypso. (I bet there is a good story behind the four – mation (Candy) dance any body know about this one?
Anyway back to the dance, the tutor told me that she hopes to bring the Quadrille to schools as a dance option, maybe this will be a way to bring back understanding to our young about the origins and importance of dance.
There are times however when our dance needs to be approached with the same grace, spirit and pride as the Quadrille dancers and not the savvy, overexposed and incorrect sexuality we seen on MTV that dominate our homes.
The dance
The Quadrille dance originated from Plantation days via France and was introduced in place of African ritual dance, as the Plantation owners were afraid that the slaves would revolt if they continued to use their indigenous dance.
The dance was also used to communicate and as a way of protesting in a covert way. I was told that the dancers also learned about geometry (isn't there sacred geometry).
The dance started with couples positioned in a formal square position–very similar to the waltz where the partners were rotated whilst keeping the dance circle. For more in-depth info and pictures of the dance here is a very good website.
http://www.nukanweb.com/mdc/quadrille.htm
www.lennoxhoneychurch.com - A good site which details the African connection and Dominica and the West Indies included info on herbs, language, music and religion

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