In his Second Book of Cotillons, Gherardi told his readers ‘The Figures the most in vogue, & of which all French Country Dances are Compos’d, are the following’. His list runs through twelve basic figures:
He adds ‘from these Figures are derived all the others that are made use of in these Dances’. Gherardi’s list is not the same as Gallini’s, although there is considerable overlap.
He chooses to explain only five of these figures: Les Pirouettes, Les Carrés, Les Courses, Les Poussettes and Les Chassés – ‘those which hitherto have not been properly explained’ (presumably also the ones that, in his opinion, ‘seem the most difficult’).
Whereas Gallini gives only a brief explanation of how to perform a half-turn pirouette on both feet, Gherardi describes a number of different pirouettes, indicating how they may be incorporated into figures. Pirouettes are performed using the third position:
‘ … some-times turning only half round, & sometimes whole, either to the Right or Left: or sometimes two whole turns round, of the same side; accompanied, frequently, with turning under the Partner’s Arm.’
He also describes a pirouette in an over-crossed fifth position, and the use of a ‘Chassé en tournant’.
Gherardi uses diagrams to help explain some of these basic figures. He says, waspishly, of the Petit Carré à quatre Personnes that ‘This Figure is by some, very wrongly termed Back to Back, but it is not the same as Back to Back’.As the diagram shows, the four dancers (two men and two women) who perform the Petit Carré dance around the other four, who stand still.
When he turns to Les Courses, Gherardi again hints at some of the squabbles between rival dancing masters.
Le quart de Course
‘Is only when each Couple perform a quarter of la Course, by which means the first Couple take the Place of the fourth, the third of the second, & the fourth of the third. This figure is frequently, though improperly called, la Promenade, la Procession.’
Gherardi elaborates on Gallini’s simple Poussette, with a Poussette en tournant and a Chaine en Poussette.Similarly, where Gallini only describes how to perform the chassé step, Gherardi explains a series of Chassé figures which make use of it. He has Chassé Simple, Chassé dessus et dessous, Chassé ouvert and a Chassé double which ‘Is a Chassè with the lady: if towards the right, the Lady leads, if towards the left, the Gentleman; having hold of hands’.
This introduction to the most fashionable figures ends with descriptions of some basic moves:
Aller Figurer devant un Couple
Defaire une Figure
Faire une Figure en sens contraire
Contre partie d’une Figure
After all this advice, he is careful to add:
‘Although Mr. Gherardi has endeavoured to be as explicit as possible in the direction for the Figure of each Dance, yet if any Lady or Gentleman does not fully comprehend it, Mr. Gherardi will be very ready to give all farther explanations that may be necessary, as well by Practice as Theory, on application to him for that purpose.’
He finishes the introduction to his second collection with a lengthy advertisement for his Cotillon Academy.