The Feuillet Collection - 1706
In 1660 Maria Theresa of Austria married Louis XIV of France. The young couple (both 22 at the time) loved to dance. Maria Teresa and her court imported German Quadrilles from Austria and Germany. These dances were called danse allemande but also contredance since one couple faced another couple across the square. These dances dominated the French Court until the death of Maria Teresa in 1683.
Commencing around 1680, English Country Dance became popular in the French Court. Many English dances were modified to suit French tastes and other dances were composed in the English style. Raoul-Auger Feuillet published a collection (the first?) of 32 dances in 1706. Fifteen dances have identifiable English origins, three were composed by Feuillet, and five others by a M. Voisin. The remaining by unidentified composers - presumably French. La Matelote is one of the dances composed by Feuillet. It is currently popular as The Female Sailor - the literal translation. John Essex translated the collection into English in 1710.
Feuillet used a graphical notation, developed by Pierre Beauchamp and extended by himself, to describe the dances. While his method is very specific it also is very long - requiring about 200 pages for the 32 dances. The original document contains a selection of the Beauchamp-Feuillet notation that is appropriate to the English dances.
The music in the original document uses a violin clef that was popular at the time. I have transposed the music for the treble clef. From the document, it appears that Feuillet prepared a tune book for the musicians with harmonies or parts. This tune book has not been preserved.
I have decoded the graphic instructions into text. Some elegant steps of the French court dances have been replaced by English setting. Anyone interested in the French steps can consult the original document.
I have included a photo copy and translation of the original graphical document, and a text version of the dances with musical scores. Larger musical scores suitable for musicians are included. The sources of the dances, where available, are included.
A few samples of the graphical notation is shown here. A point of caution: The marks along the figures are not arrowheads indicating they line of progression. They are feet properly turned out 90°. Click on an image to enlarge it.
There are undoubtedly errors in my transcriptions. Notification of these errors would be appreciated.
This work was derived from public domain sources. It is intended for use by the English Country and Contra Dance communities free from any royalties or copyright.
The Original Document
Translation of the Original Document
English text version on the Dances
Sources for the Dances
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