Since my first blog post on dances for four, I have acquired a copy of the Premier Livre de Contre-Dances by Jacques Dezais, published in Paris in 1725. This collection contains the following dances:
Cotillon Hongrois à quatre
L’Inconstante à quatre
L’Infante à 8
Cotillon de Surenne à 8
La Blonde à quatre
La Brunne à quatres
L’Esprit Follet à 4 [in fact à 8]
L’Ecossoise à six
La Carignan menuet à quatre
So, there are five dances for four in this collection.
Dezais uses the simplified form of notation developed by Feuillet for contredanses, notating just a few steps in each dance. The pas de rigaudon appears in nearly every dance and several dances include half-turn pirouettes, balancé, pas de bourée and assemblé. Dezais obviously classified these choreographies as contredanses. He describes them as such on the title page and, as well as using the simplified notation, he refers readers to Feuillet’s 1706 Recueil de contredances for the ‘principes’ needed to read and perform each dance. Indeed, he goes further by offering to notate and publish any ‘contre-dances des Provces. [Provinces]’ he may receive. According to Dezais, then, these are definitely contredanses, for the ballroom. Nevertheless, I will take a closer look at some of them in future posts within other contexts.
There is one other interesting aspect to this collection. The Premier Livre de Contre-Dances was engraved by Mlle Louise Roussel. When cotillons began to be published in large numbers in Paris in the 1760s, one name prominent on their title pages was Mlle Castagnery. Both she and Mlle Roussel are worth further investigation.