About the Music, Dances and CD

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A few years ago we started the process of creating a CD of the Nahant related tunes that we had been dancing to at the Nahant Victorian Day Ball since the early 1990s. Katy and Ben Bishop, who sponsor the Nahant Ball, gathered together sheet music from the Nahant Historical Society’s collection, and with the help of Dr. Patri J. Pugliese and our fine musicians Bill Matthiessen and Liz Stell (of Spare Parts), and revived these little-known tunes. Some of the dances enjoyed at the Nahant balls include the Nahant Quadrilles, Nahant Polka, Nahant Waltz, Sea Serpent Polka. The CD was produced for the Nahant Historical Society, with sales benefiting their worthwhile efforts to preserve Nahant’s rich and varied past.


This Quadrille, published in 1836, has been danced at most of the Nahant Victorian Day balls. Over the years the choreography has been refined, as the original calls on the sheet music are minimal and open to interpretation. The dance was reconstructed by the late Dr. Patri J. Pugliese, a dear friend and unsurpassed 19th century dance historian, dance master and co-founder of The Commonwealth Vintage Dancers, with some suggestions from Katy and Ben Bishop. We are still researching who the names of the figures are honoring; the Quadrille itself, as well as figure No. 1, is dedicated to Rebecca Willson.

nahant quadrilles

The numbers indicate the number of bars of music required for the corresponding movement. There are two musical beats per bar (i.e. 4b is 4 bars, or 8 beats). All figures are repeated 4 times, twice for the heads, twice for the sides. Numbering of couples is as follows: Couple #1 with their backs to the music, Couple #2 facing them, Couple #3 to the right of Couple #1, and Couple #4 opposite Couple #3.

Choreography by Dr. Patri J. Pugliese (2006)

Note: Only figure 1 begins with a bow, bow first to your partner then to your corner.

Figure 1. Rebecca

4b. Heads Forward & Back
4b. Heads Cross Over (end facing partner)
4b. Heads Side with Partner (forward 4 to right shoulder, back 4, end facing into set)
4b. Cross Back
8b. Chassez Style Balance & Turn (face partner, take hands crossed, right over left, and chassez diagonally into the set, 3 chassez and a close, and home, turn by the right to places)
16b. Grand Right & Left

Figure 2. Estelle

8b. Ladies Double Chain (All 4 ladies’ do a ladies’ chain simultaneously)
4b. Heads Forward & Back
4b. Heads Dos a Dos

Figure 3. Laura

4b. First Two (Lady #1, Gent #2) Cross Over by right hand (Take right hands, turn right as you cross to face back into set in opposites place)
4b. First Two Cross Back by left hand going 3/4 around to end between side couples (in lines of threes, with First Two in center of their respective lines(lady #1 joins couple #4, gent #2 joins couple #3)
4b. Six Forward & Back
4b. First Two Cross Over by right hand to end between opposite side couples
4b. Six Forward & Back
4b. First Two Turn Partners (by both hands) to original places

Figure 4. Georgette

4b. Heads Lead to the right
4b. Heads Lead to the left
4b. Heads Lead home (end facing partner)
4b. Heads Side with Partner (4 steps forward and 4 steps back to right shoulder of partner, end facing into set)
2b. Four Ladies Forward to center (i.e. 4 steps straight forward)
4b. Four Ladies Moulinet full around (8 steps around)
2b. Four Ladies each Turn Partners by the left, ending in Promenade position. (4 steps to turn your partner)
8b. All Promenade, ending home

Note: “lead to the right”: lead to the couple to the right of your home place
“lead to the left”: lead to the couple to the left of your home place
The figure “Heads lead to the right, Heads lead to the left” is as follows: Couples lead counterclockwise (CCW) to the couple on their right, then they continue around the inside of the set CCW, to the couple on their left, then contimue CCW to home.

Figure 5. Sophia

4b. First Two (Lady #1, Gent #2) Cross over by right hand, 4b. Back by left, keeping left & giving right to partner’s right (forming a wavy line of four)
4b. [Double] Balance in line of 4
4b. Half Promenade (Lady in middle does half turn by rt. with partner, then pivot into promenade position)
4b. Heads Forward & Back
4b. Heads Half Right & Left

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last updated 12 july 2016/csb