AFTER having cleared up the three Movements, I shall describe the Manner of making a proper Use of them. As no bent Step can be made without the Movement of the Knee, and as commonly all those Steps which are composed of many Steps, begin with half Coupees, whether it be with the right or left Leg, its no matter ; but supposing it to be with the Right, the left Foot must be foremost, in the fourth Position, and the Body rest upon it, as represented by this first Figure, which hath the Body rested forwards upon it, the Right being ready to move, having nothing but the Toes placed on the Ground.
THEREFORE to begin this half Coupee, you bring the right Foot up to the Left, in the first Position, and bend both Knees equally together, keeping the Body on the left Foot, as shewn by this second Figure, which hath both the Feet close together, the Body all the while on the Left (2), the Right off the Ground, both the Knees equally bent, and turned outwards, the Waste steady, and the Head upright.
IN this Sink you carry the right Foot before you, without rising, to the fourth Position, as this third Figure shews ; and at the same Time bring the Body forwards on it, rising upon the Toes of the right Foot (3), with an extended Knee, and bringing the left Foot close up (4), with its Knee extended also, as the fourth Figure represents, which for that reason we may call the Equilibrium or Balance, because the Body is only supported by one Foot. Afterwards you let the Heel down to the Ground, which makes an End of this Step, and leaves you in a Position of making such another with the other Foot, observing the same Rules ; and so continue the Practice for several times without Intermission, observing to sink easy, and rise on the Toes, extending the Knee at every one of these half Coupees, which is a Step the most essential in dancing well ; for it gives Facility in extending the Knees, and makes you acquainted with the Strength of the Inftep : Therefore good Dancing very much depends on this first Step, since the knowing how to sink and rise well makes the fine Dancer.
THE same Rule is to be observed in making them backwards and sideways, which is not to move the Foot before you sink.
HAVING intelligibly shewn the most easy Manner of making half Coupees, which are the Basis and Foundation of different Steps : And as a Menuet is a Dance the most in Request, I shall instruct you in the most easy Method of attaining to dance it well.
YOU must first know that the Menuet Step is composed of four Steps, which nevertheless by their Connexion, according to the Terms of Art, make but one single Step. This Menuet Step hath three Movements, and one March on the Toes ; viz. the first is a half Coupee of the right Foot, and one of the Left ; a March on the Toes of the right Foot, and the Legs extended : At the End of this Step you set the right Heel softly down to bend its Knee, which by this Movement raises the left Leg, which moving forwards makes a Tack or Bound, which is the third Movement of this Menuet Step, and its fourth Step.
BUT as this Step is not agreeable to every one, because it requires a very strong Instep ; for this Reason it is not so much used, but a more easy Method introduced, of only two Movements, which I shall describe.
YOU must also know that this Step is composed of four Steps as well as the other ; viz. two half Coupees, the First of the right Foot, and the Second of the Left ; then two Walks on the Toes of each Foot, one of the Right, and the other of the Left, which is performed within the Compass of two Barrs of triple Time, one called the Cadence, and the other the Contre-Cadence. But for the better Apprehension it may be divided into three equal Parts ; the First for the first half Coupee, the Second for the Second, and the Third for the two Walks, which ought to take up no longer Time than a half Coupee : But in the last Walk it is to be observed, that the Heel be set down to be able to make a Sink to begin another Step.
HAVING then the left Foot foremost, you rest the Body on it, bringing the right Foot up to the Left, in the first Position, and from thence sink without letting the right Foot rest on the Ground, and move the right Foot into the fourth Position, rising at the same Time on the Toes, and extending both the Legs close together, as represented by the fourth Figure of the half Coupees, called the Equilibrium or Balance ; and afterwards set the right Heel down to the Ground, that the Body may be the more steady, and sink at the same Time on the right, without resting on the Left, which move forwards the same as the right Foot, into the fourth Position, and rise upon it : Then make two Walks on the Toes of both Feet, observing to set down the Heel of the Left, that you may begin your Menuet Step again with more Firmness.
ONE ought also to take Care in these half Coupees, to open the Knees, and turn the Toes out ; but to do them with more Ease, the best Way is to continue to make several forwards together, which will bring one into a Habit of making them well. These two Movements ought to succeed one another in an equal Rise ; but after you have risen on the second half Coupee, you must not, to make a Connexion with the two Walks, set the Heel down ; but in the Last of them, which is that of the left Foot, you must set down the Heel to begin another Menuet Step.
NEITHER ought a Person to attempt to make the Menuet Step either backwards or sideways, till he is perfect in that forwards. That backwards comes very near that forwards, only that upon the first half Coupee of the right Foot, you leave the left Leg extended before you, and in sinking on the Right for the Second, the left Heel comes up to the right Foot, where it stops while you sink to the last Extremity, to step back with it to rise on, which makes it the more easy for you to do it well ; whereas if you was to step with it in your sinking, you would never rise so well, and the Knees would always appear bent : All these Remarks are very necessary to dance a Menuet to Perfection.
AS to the side Menuet Step moving to the Right, and which may be called the open Menuet Step, because its first Step is made in the second Position ; it is made after the Manner of that backwards, only in a different Part of the Figure : That backwards being made in a strait Line falling back, and this sideways on an horizontal Line to the Right.
THERE is also another Way in turning again on the left Side, which is different in this, that it is crossed, though made in the same Line, but in returning from the Right to the Left ; the Manner is this : The Body being on the left Leg, you sink on it, and afterwards make a cross Step before, with the Right Leg to the fifth Position, and rise upon it, the Left following extended by its Side, both the Heels close together, and the Right only set down ; then you sink again on the Right, stepping with the Left in the second Position, and rise on the Toes, the Legs being extended and the Heel off the Ground ; afterwards make two Walks on the Toes, the right Foot crossing behind in the fifth Position, and the other moving in the Second, with the Heel down, which is a kind of third Movement when you have got a Habit of performing it well, and what gives more Life to your Menuet.
AFTER you have practised all these different Steps well, you form a regular Figure, which we call a Menuet, which I shall explain in the following Chapter.
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 Dancers 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 Menuet ; 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 Menuet : 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 Menuet 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 Menuet 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.
THOUGH to dance the Menuet plain is by some thought the best, yet I have seen some Graces that make it more airy and genteel ; and as I find they are very much used, it has engaged me to inform you how to make them, that you may practise them either in taking Hands, or other Parts ; and shall begin with that forwards.
HAVING finished your Menuet Step forwards, and the Body on the left Foot, bring up the right ; afterwards sink and rise at the same Time ; then slide the right Foot forwards to the fourth Position, and rise upon it, making an easy Bound on the left Foot, and re-assume your Menuet Step : But to use your self to do them easily, is to practise them often in your Menuet, and when you have got the Manner of doing them easily, to use them in proper Places, where they will appear most graceful : For example ; in presenting Hands, in going to your Woman after you have finished your Menuet Step ; returning to the Left raise your right Hand, as I have already told you, to present Hands ; but at that Time, instead of a Menuet Step forwards, make the aforesaid Step, and in the Performance, inclining the Body and Head a little to recover your former Position in making an easy Bound, and then re-assume your Menuet Step, pursuing the Figure.
I call it an easy Bound, because when you have made this first slow Steps, and have risen on the right Foot, with both Legs extended, the right Knee immediately bends, which by its Motion throws the Body again on the left Leg, which moves easily forwards, falling on its Foot ; therefore it cannot be called otherways, since it is but a Bound half made.
IT may be used also on another Occasion, viz. when you pass by one another, with the Menuet Step forwards ; and also when you dance with a Person that makes three Menuet Steps forwards, when you have made but two ; so that it will fall out, that you will be making your Menuet Step aside to the Right, while your Partner is dancing forwards ; therefore to be alike in the Figure, make this Step going to the Right, by sinking on both Legs ; and in rising on the Left, the right slides aside to the second Position, and you rest the Body on it, rising at the same Time on the Toes ; but by the Position of the Body, and that Elevation, the left Leg follows, letting the right Heel come to the Ground, and the Knee bending by this Motion, obliges the left Leg to cross before the Right, to make this easy Bound : Afterwards you make your Menuet Step going to the Right, which brings you both regular in the Figure.
THERE are some Persons that use it passing each other, but it must not be too often repeated, because that would look affected.
AFTER having examined all the Methods and Instructions necessary to dance a Menuet well, there still remains two essential Parts, the Ear and the Arms : For the First, if a Scholar has not that ready Disposition to understand the Cadence, he must apply himself to beating of Time, when his Master teaches him, and be instructed in, and better apprehend that Cadence, which, if I may be allowed the Expression, is the very Soul of Dancing, and which often depends on a little Application.
I have already said that the Menuet Step is performed in two Barrs of triple Time ; therefore there is a true and a false Cadence. The true is the First, and the false Cadence s the Second : But as in a Menuet Strain there are eight or twelve Barrs ; every first Barr is the true Cadence, and the Last the false. This Cadence is known by striking the right Hand in the Left, and the false by the lifting up of the Hand again, which is an equal Continuation of Time.
BUT the Feet act quite contrary to the Hands, since at the Time that you rise on the Toes of the right Foot, you beat with your Hand ; therefore one ought to sink at the End of the last Barr, to be able to rise when you beat. The Tune or Cadence is expressed two Ways in Dancing ; that is to say, the Steps which are sinking and rising, are raised in the Cadence ; but those of jumping fall in it : Therefore the Movement ought to be taken before ; that is to say, to sink at the last Barr, to rise when it directs.
THE Manner of moving the Arms gracefully in a Menuet, is as necessary as that of the Feet ; because they move with the Body, and are its greatest Ornament.
THEREFORE the Arms ought to hang by the Side of the Body, as this first Figure represents ; the Hands neither open nor shut : For if the Thumb was to press one of the Fingers, that would shew a determined Motion, which would cause the upper Joints to look stiff, and prevent that easy Motion which the Arms ought to have.
THE Arms being thus disposed, you let them fall almost to the Bottom of the Coat-Pocket, making your first Step of the Menuet, (which is a half Coupee) with the right Foot, the Hands turned in, as this Second Figure represents.
BUT in taking the second Movement at the same Time from the left Foot, the Elbow bends a little, raising the Hands imperceptibly, as this third Figure shews ; and afterwards you open them very easily, extending them with a Grace to the End of the Menuet Step, and so on during the Course of your Menuet, in every Step you take, whether it be backwards, forward, or sideways.
IT is to be observed, that though I have drawn three different Figures for the Explanation of the different Situations, that they may all be distinctly understood, the Motions following one another make but one in the Extent of the Menuet Step.
I have seen many Persons make Balances in dancing a Menuet, in which the Arms move contrary to the Legs : For Example ; the Arms should be raised to the Height of the Hips ; and in making the first Balance with the right Leg, the opposite Arm is brought a little forwards, as well as the Shoulder, the right Arm and Shoulder drawn back, and the Head also at the same Time inclines a little : But at the Second, both Head and Arms regain their former Situation.
FOR Women, who are not to use their Arms in a Menuet but when they present their Hands, it is sufficient that at the first Balance they shade the right Shoulder, which brings the Left forwards in a kind of Opposition to the Foot, and make also a small Inclination of the Head, which gives great Grace to this Step ; but take care of Affectation.
IT is enough for the Woman, during the whole Course of the Menuet, to hold her Head upright, and in a good Situation, her Shoulders back, which inlarges the Breast, and gives a better Grace to the Body ; the Arms extended by its Side, so that the Elbows almost touch the Hips ; but all naturally.
TO give a better Idea of it, observe this Figure, which I have given all the Air and Life that a Woman ought to have in Dancing. She holds her Petticoats with her Thumb and Fore-finger, the Arms extended by the Side of the Body, the Hands turned outwards, without spreading the Petticoats out, or letting them fall in. And as to their Manner of figuring, it is the same as that of Men, as well for shading the Shoulder in the side Menuet Steps, as those forwards : As for presenting of Hands, and the Graces, they are equally the same in one Sex as the other.
THE Contretems are made instead of a Menuet Step ; but of late they have not been commonly used since Passpieds and figured Menuets have been in Fashion : Indeed these Dances are very graceful by the Variety of their Figures, and the different Steps they contain ; and as the Contretems are a Part of their Composition, I shall describe the Manner of making them according to the Rules of Art.
BUT to make them well, you must first Comprehend how they are formed. They consist of three different Manners of Rifing : One before the Step, the Second after the Step, and Third in making the Step.
THE first Manner is when you have finished your Menuet Step ; and as you make an End of it with the left Foot, the Body must be rested intirely upon it, and the right Foot brought up close to it, in the first Position ; then sink upon the the Left, and rise upon it with a Hop, which is what we commonly call a Hop on one Leg ; and this is the first Rising.
THE Second is, having the Body on the left Foot, you sink a second Time upon it ; and while the Knee is bent, you slide the right Foot before you in the fourth Position, and rise upon it with a Hop ; which is the second Rising.
THE Third is, as you have the Body rested on the right Foot you sink upon it, bringing the Left close up ; then in rising you move it easily forwards, and fall upon it with a Bound, which is the last Rising. But when you rightly comprehend all these different Risings, put them together, which compleats your Contretems or Menuet Hops.
AND the Way to use your self to make them with Ease, is to practise them alternately after a Menuet Step, making several together ; which will nor only render them more familiar, but will give you a Lightness and Activity, that when you become Master of them, you may soften them in the Performance.
AS to Women, their Manner is the same, only that they should moderate the Hop as much as possible : Therefore when you dance a Passpied or figured Menuet with a Woman, you should make your Contretems as easy as possible, to be the more conformable to her, in which the Beauty of Dancing consists.
BESIDES, these lofty Contretems are only fit for young Persons, or those of low Stature ; for those who are taller should only make a Courant Step, and a half Bound, as I have already observed in the Manner of taking Hands ; because it is not agreeable for tall Persons to jump and skip in Dances where they figure, in which only the most, easy and graceful Movements should be used, which are so much esteemed by our Nation, though not so much practised in the many Country Dances of late introduced in France, and which are not so well relished by the Admirers of fine Dancing.
INDEED there are a great many without any Design or Taste, the Figure being always the same, without any certain Steps appointed for them : All the Perfection of these Country Dances being a distorting the Body in turning about, and stamping with their Feet as if they had wooden Shoes on, and putting themselves in several ridiculous Postures. They tell me this diverts a whole Company, because a great many Persons may dance at once. Is it not possible to make Dances for several Persons to dance together in regulated Steps, after the Manner of the German Dances I have seen danced in Germany ? For though they change their Movements, they observe a certain Rule, which prevents Confusion, especially among Persons of Distinction.
FOR Dances may be composed for several Persons to dance together, and may have different Movements to common or triple Time : But I could wish that the Masters who compose them, would put them into Characters that they might be danced regularly, as in Brawls, where every one leads up in his Turn, without Confusion or Disorder.