Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Caribbean Quadrille Dancing (Dominica, Guadeloupe, Jamaica, St. Lucia, & The Virgin Islands)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This pancocojams post provides brief information about the Quadrille dance and showcases seven videos of the Quadrille in the Caribbean nations of Dominica, Guadeloupe, Jamaica, St. Lucia, and the Virgin Islands.

The content of this post is presented for folkloric, historical, cultural, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who are featured in these videos and thanks to the publishers of these videos on YouTube. Thanks also to all those who are quoted in this post.
The Quadrille is also danced in some other Caribbean nations. Please share any links for Quadrille YouTube videos that you may be aware of from other Caribbean nations.

"About Quadrille in the Caribbean
Posted on September 8, 2011 by Caspar James in Jamaican Quadrille

The below information has been provided by the leader of the group Beverley Bogle....

What is Quadrille?

Quadrille is traditionally a Euro-centric ballroom dance, taken to the Caribbean in the 18th century by English and French slave traders/masters and regularly performed at grand occasions in great houses. European musicians were transported to the Islands for such occasions to provide specific background music. The dance, with its traditional musical accompaniment, normally commences with a Grand Entrance, followed by up to 5 set pieces called Figures, and end with a Grand Finale to exit the stage. Quadrille is normally performed by 4 couples (quad), but can be successfully accomplished with 2 or 3 couples. The couples, working in unison, perform repetitive movements (the drill), to create geometrical patterns (e.g. circles, rectangles, triangles, diamonds and squares) with their feet on the dance floor and use their arms and upper body to accentuate these patterns...

JANUKA’s interpretation of the history of Quadrille dancing in Jamaica

The enslaved Africans were stripped of their African cultural identity. They were forbidden to sing their own songs, play their own music, speak their own languages, or do their own dances, e.g. Etu, Gerreh, Dinki Mini, and Tambo. In order to endure their physical and emotional deprivation, and intense pain, they inwardly knew they had to find some form of creative activity (apart from working tirelessly on sugar plantations), to communicate with each other, to keep their spirits high, and to develop and maintain comradeships and community support.

The opportunity arose when the privileged “house slaves” observed and sometimes participated in the quadrille dance, during the grand balls held in the great houses. They secretly demonstrated the BALLROOM STYLE QUADRILLE to the “field slaves”. This was a square dance, performed by 4 couples, involving them moving in unison to the beat of the music, marching up and down in straight lines in upright military posture, and turning their heads and feet from side to side. A strict hierarchical structure of dancing was involved where 2 couples (the head and foot couples) would dance first, whilst the other 2 (side couples) would patiently watched until it was their turn to imitate the movements. The field slaves began to secretly and frivolously mimic and ridicule their slave masters’ and their guests, however they soon concluded that the ballroom quadrille dance was too restrictive and formal, was more for visual effectiveness and social acceptance, rather than enjoyment. They thought what their masters and guests were doing could not be called “real dancing”. They instinctively knew that when it came to rhythm and dance, embedded in their African culture, they had the upper hand. They began to discretely adjust their masters’ formal ballroom dance, eventually developing a new quadrille formation dance known as CAMP STYLE QUADRILLE. In this evolved form all couples, not restricted to 4, would dance simultaneously, in unison to be beat of the music, whilst in opposite straight long lines or circles. They adopted a more relaxed posture and added their own African flamboyancy, rhythm, individuality, style in bodily movements and expressions, with friendly boastful interactions between and among couples and with the emphasis on enjoyment.

When the slave masters heard that the field slaves were secretly dancing Quadrille in the fields, they were outraged at their “insolence and mockery”. Despite threats of harsh punishment if they were caught dancing quadrille the field slaves defiantly, fearlessly and purposefully continued dancing. They were determined to use their adapted Camp Style version as their new medium of community merry making to keep their spirits high, to have fun, to support each other’s struggle to survive, and more importantly to secretly and successfully communicate within the dance, their love for each other and their plans for emancipation.

In Jamaica, the enslaved Africans creatively used natural resources and discarded materials to make their own musical accompaniment, producing a distinctive African rhythm and beat called MENTO MUSIC. We therefore use MENTO as part of the musical accompaniment to our Camp style dance."...
"Januka" is the name of a Jamaican group that dances "Camp style Quadrille".

SHOWCASE VIDEOS (Presented by nations in alphabetical order)

These examples are from the Commonwealth of Dominica and not from the Dominican Republic. Dominica was colonised by the French while the Dominican Republic was colonized by the Spanish.

Example #1: Quadrille Dancers 14th June 2008

Uniquely Dominican Uploaded on Jun 15, 2008 - Dominica Oversea Nationals Association (DONA) - Quadrille Dancers

Example #2: Dominican Folk Dance

Proteousx4 Uploaded on Sep 15, 2009

A local dance featuring my friend Tyla at the world creole festival in dominica

Example #3: Quadrille Dance Finals Competition

BrBpTV Published on Mar 16, 2015

Quadrille Dance Finals Competition is a collaboration of different cultural dance groups that come together to show case the best of the best in this particular type of Dominican cultural dance.

Example #1: Quadrille de Basse Terre .HD

clarismaro Published on Aug 31, 2012

Quadrille Guadeloupéen ; A la côte sous le vent de la Basse Terre,on danse le quadrille en ligne, Quadrille non commandé. C'est la tradition.

Example #2: Danse de Quadrilles par Karukéra Ka Dance de St Claude : (Vendredi 25 janvier 2013)

oxbowguadeloupe, Published on Jan 26, 2013

Example #3: Première figure : initiation à la danse de quadrille "pantalon"

Association Adékwat Published on Sep 1, 2015

Initiation à la danse de quadrille de guadeloupe, les commandements de la première figure décryptés pas à pas.
Also, click for a video of a band from Guadaloupe playing Quadrille music.

Example #1: Jamaica Independence Festival 50 Huddersfield 5 Aug 12 3 Quadrille Dance Troup

Huddersfield Festivals 2, Published on Aug 5, 2012

The event was in Greenhead Park Huddersfield West Yorkshire.


Exploring Cultural Dance - Quadrille. JANUKA perform the Jamaican Camp Style Quadrille

Ken Breinburg Published on Mar 13, 2013

JANUKA perform the Jamaican Camp Style Quadrille

Example #3: Exploring Cultural Dance - Quadrille. NACRC dancers demonstrate Ballroom Style Quadrille

Ken Breinburg, Published on Mar 14, 2013

The NACRC Dance Troupe perform the Jamaican Ballroom Style Quadrille at Quadrille Live!

Example #1: Quadrille Dancing in Choiseul, St. Lucia

TameronEaton,U ploaded on Mar 6, 2008

This video shows traditional St. Lucia Quadrille dancing performed by the Dugard Primary students at the 2008 Choiseul Village Council swearing in ceremony. The students are wearing the St. Lucia flag colors rather than the traditional red plaid outfits known at madras.

Example #2: Exploring Cultural Dance - Quadrille. Anse La Raye dancers perform at Quadrille Live!

Ken Breinburg Published on Mar 14, 2013

The Anse La Raye dancers [St. Lucia] perform at Quadrille Live!

Example #3: Saint Lucia Folklore Cultural Dance 8/1/15

Massabba Konpa Published on Aug 2, 2015

Massabba Video ShineEye Productions 8/1/2015**live at Greater Hartford CT,53rd Anniversary west Indian Independence Celebration,10th Annual Caribbean Jerk Festival...Sign off Massabba

Example #1: We Deh Ya Cultural Dancers

EyesbyJe1, Published on Apr 29, 2012

"We Deh Ya" Cultural Dancers performing at the St. Thomas' 2012 Food Fair celebrating 60 years of Carnival
Here's information about this Virgin Island dance group:
"The We Deh Yah Cultural Dancers are based in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, and specializes in the dance art form of Quadrille. Our motto is: "Quadrille is a serious thing that we enjoy doing!"

"We Deh Yah" is a phrase in our native dialect that means, "We are here." We are definitely here!"

Example #2: St. Thomas Carnival "We Deh Yah" Quadrille Dancers April 24, 2013

Extremely Clever Published on Apr 25, 2013

We Deh Yah Quadrille Dancers Performing Live at the Carnival Food Fair in Emancipation Garden, in Charlotte Amalie St. Thomas, United States Virgin Islands. April 24, 2013

Example #3: WDY Cultural Dancers - Cross Over & Form a Line (Friends of Denmark Society Gala)

Felicia Neale Published on Nov 9, 2014

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