The Menuet Ordinaire

Taken from The Dancing-Master: or, The art of dancing explained by
Monsieur Rameau, translated by John Essex
1732

Chapter XXII
Of the Menuet, and the Manner of dancing it regularly.
THE Menuet is become the most modish Dance, not only for the easy Dancing of it, but for the easy Figure used at present, and for which we are obliged to Monsieur Pecour, who so much improved it by changing the Form S, which was the principal Figure, into that of Z, where the Number of Steps limited keep the Daners in a Regularity, as will be shewn in the End of this Chapter.AFTER your second Honour, you must make a Menuet Step in returning to the Place where you made your first, forming the fourth Part of a Circle, as shewn by (1), which brings you up to your Lady again, to whom you present your Hand, as represented by (2); and each make two Menuet Steps forwards, the Man's Hand undermost to support the Woman's, as in Figure the First.AFTERWARDS you both make two Menuet Steps forwards, as in the second Plate, keeping Hands.BY this third Figure you are shewn that the Man makes a Menuet Step backwards, to let the Woman go by him, and then a Menuet Step sideways, at the End of which he lets go her Hand and makes a Menuet Step forwards, and the Woman makes one also going down, as shewn by this written Figure, which directs the Way, and names the Steps; afterwards they both make a side Step slanting on the Right backwards, which sets them opposite to each other, by the quarter Turn made at the first step of the Menuet Step aside, as it is expressed: But in making this Step, the right Shoulders of both Parties are shaded from each other, and the Head turned a little to the Left, looking at each other, which ought to be observed throughout the whole Course of the Meneuet; but above all, without Affectation.TO pursue the Figure as represented by this Plate, two Steps (2) must be on the left Side, with the Body upright; and in making two other Steps forwards at (3), the right Shoulders of both should be shaded, the Man always to let the Woman pass on the right Side of him, but both looking at each other: (What I call shading the Shoulder, is drawing it a little backwards, presenting the Body more full) but nevertheless still to make their Steps forwards, as the Plate shews, which is the principal Figure of the Meneuet: But when you have made five or six Turns, you must from one Corner of the Room or other, looking upon one another, present your right Hand in your Step forwards.BUT that you may the better apprehend it, when you are going over, that is at the End of your last Step returning to the Left, raise your right Arm to the Height of your Breast, the Hand turned as represented by the two Arms: The Head being turned to the right, looking at each other, you make a little Movement of the Wrist and Elbow raised up, with a slight Inclination in presenting the Hand, and still looking at one another, make a Turn quite round, as represented and shewn by this Figure.HAVING let go the right Hand, you go forwards, making a half Turn to present your left Hand, observing the same Ceremonial as in the Right, as shewn by this Figure.AND when you have let go the left Hand, you must make a Menuet Step aside to the right obliquely backwards, as here described (4), which brings you again into the principal Figure, which you continue for three or four Turns; afterwards you present both Hands, raising your Arms to the Height of your Breast, with the Body bent.IN presenting Hands to the Woman, according to my Opinion, which I have endeavoured to express in these two Figures, and when you take Hands, you make a Turn or two, and the Man makes a Meneut Step backwards, bringing his Woman up with him, whose left Hand only he lets go to pull off his Hat: When he has compleated his Meneut Step, he steps with his right Foot aside in the second Position, and then they both make their Honours together, the same as before they danced.I don't think it right to make a Menuet too long; for though it has always been my Opinion, that every one may be left to his own Discretion, yet it is both reasonable and becoming to set some Limits; for though a Person dances never so well, the Figure is still the same, therefore the shorter it is made the better.AND when a Person is come to dance well, he may now and then introduce some Graces, which I shall explain in the following Chapter. 

 

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