When you get the
choice to sit it out or dance . . .
We hope you dance!
BASIC REEL AND QUADRILLE MOVEMENTS
Dance Masters will vary how they make their calls, so listen very
carefully to their instructions. Most moves are with your opposite (the
person facing you in the formation) but they can also be with your partner,
with a side couple, with a corner person, by the ladies or by the gentlemen.
Pay particular attention to calls of “across” or “half” which usually
indicate you will exchange places with opposites, while calls of “to home”,
“and return” or “around” usually mean you will finish the move in your
starting position. Almost all movements are an eight count that begins as soon as
you begin to move, not when you reach the other person involved in the move. Generally, the lady is on the
gentleman’s right. Gentlemen start moves on their left foot and Ladies start
moves on their right foot.
(L = Lady, G = Gentleman, Home Position = starting position.)
NOTE: All of the movements marked with a star («)
can be seen in the Lincoln Quadrille performed as part of the "For the
People" oratorio in honor of the of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial.
Most of the moves in this dance are "half" or "across" the formation.
Other helpful videos are on YouTube at
Civil War Dance, Part I – Soldier’s Joy, Money Musk
Reel, Lancer’s Quadrille
Civil War Dance, Part II – Spanish Waltz, Tempest,
Civil War Dance, Part III –
Lincoln Quadrille (another performance)
Forward and Back - March forward, nod to other person, and return to
«Right Hand Around - Join right hands, turn clockwise and return to
«Left Hand Around - Join left hands, turn counter clockwise and return
«Two Hands Around - Join both hands (G palms up), turn clockwise and
return to home.
Dos a Dos - Pass right shoulders, backs, left shoulders and return to
Chain Down the Line (line of gentlemen facing a line of ladies) -
Right hand to partner and turn 1½ around, left to next person on line of the
opposite sex. Repeat right hand to partner and left hand to line until you
reach the bottom of the set. Dancers on line should: (1) Wait for chaining
person to come to you; do not go out into the set to meet them; (2) raise
your left hand as a target; (3) after they pass, move up the set one place.
«Ladies’ Chain (two couples facing each other) -
L joins right hand with opposite L, release in center and continue to
L joins left hand with opposite G, G turns L counter clockwise
L joins right hand with opposite L, release in center and continue to home
L joins left hand with Partner, Partner turns L counter clockwise
«Grand Chain (done in a quadrille formation or a large circle) - Turn
and face partner and join right hands. Pull past partner’s right shoulder
and release right hand. Give left hand to next person and pull past their
left shoulder and release left hand. Repeat, alternating right and left. In
some dances the second left will be your new partner. In others, you will
continue until you meet your original partner at your home position.
and Return (done in a quadrille formation or line of couples facing
couples) – Both couples move at the same time:
Top couple (TG and TL) holds hands and walks across the set and split the
bottom couple going between them as they pass in the middle of the set. When
the top couple reaches the opposite side of the set they release hands and
turn away from each other in a “U” turn (note they will be on the “wrong”
side of their partner). The top couple walks back to their home position,
splitting for the bottom couple in the middle of the set.
Bottom couple (BG and BL) release hands and walks across the set and split
for the top couple going around them as they pass in the middle of the set.
When the bottom couple reaches the opposite side of the set they turn in
toward each other and join hands (note they will be on the “wrong” side of
their partner). The bottom couple walks back to their home position,
splitting the top couple in the middle of the set.
«Balance’ is a variable move that involves walking four steps forward,
not turning around, and walking four steps backwards.
In the Soldier’s Joy dance, each person actually walks past the other
person’s right shoulder and then backs up, again passing the right shoulder.
In the Lancers’ Quadrille Dance, one person stands still and the other walks
four steps up to them, both nod and the second person returns to their
«Rights and Lefts (two couples facing each other) - Join right hands
with opposite and release hands as you pass right shoulders. Join left hand
with partner. G put right hand at L’s back and “push” her in counter
clockwise direction. At completion of this move, you should be in your
opposite’s home position, with L or G’s right (this would be a “half rights
and lefts”). If call is “Rights and Lefts to Home (or “and Return”), the
moves are repeated to take the couples back to their home position. [Note:
The gentleman’s hand at the lady’s back should be used for learning which
direction to move. Once the move is mastered, the gentleman should merely
guide the lady using his left hand.]
«Right Hand Star (two couples facing each other) – Gentlemen join
right hands and ladies put their right hands on top of the gentlemen’s
hands. All move in a clockwise direction either four or eight steps,
depending on the dance. All release hands and turn around so that all are
now going in a counterclockwise direction, All rejoin hands and move four or
eight steps back to home position.
The CWDF has a
dance manual available in PDF format. This booklet was originally
produced for a seminar
at the Civil War Preservation Trust’s Teacher Institute. It has been
revised and updated several times.
It is designed to give basic instruction in several mid nineteenth century
If you would like a free copy,
Please include your name, city, state, and name of
your Civil War or other type of group (if any).
(Copy and paste address into your email if link does not work)
2016 Civil War Dance Foundation
Do not reproduce any text or photographs from this website without