Monday, 21 March 2016

A Bouree or Fleuret Step in the 1720s

English dancing master and choreographer Kellom Tomlinson (born c.1690, died after 1753) was the author of The art of dancing explained by reading and figures. Although completed in 1724, the cost of printing the thirty-five full-page plates precluded publication until 1735.


The Bouree is composed of three plain straight Steps or Walks, except the first, which begins in a Movement, and is to be performed in the same Method, as the Half Coupee, or Coupee with two Movements, that is to fay, must always fink, at the Beginning of the Step or Walk, and rife at, or gradually before the End of it; which is the Manner in which the first Step is usually taken, in the Performance of all Steps, except Springs, Bounds, Hops, or Chaffees, &c. wherefore, for the Future, I need not say any more of the Method of beginning these Sorts of Steps, in Dancing, otherwise than to make a Movement, without mentioning how the Sink and Rife are to be made, since they have been already explained.

A Bouree or Fleuret, as I have observed, consists only of three plain straight Steps; but a Movement is added to the first of them, the Rife of which Movement, as has been said, always strikes the Cadence or Time; and, if this Step is done to a Tune of three Notes in a Measure, the first Step answers to the first Note, the second Step to the fame Note, and the third Step to the last Note of the Measure, concluding together.

You are also to note, that tho' in the Bouree there are three distinct Walks or Steps, yet nevertheless, these three Steps are to be esteem'd but as one Step, in Regard of its being a composed Step; as will appear by the Half Coupee, which, tho' no more than a single Step, is, however, a Step, because it generally takes up a Measure, but more especially in Tunes of triple Time; and it is made by a smooth and easy Bending of the Knees, rising in a flow and gentle Motion from thence; which Rising, as I have said, is upon the first Note of the Measure, the Weight of the Body being supported by the Foot that made the Step, during the Counting of the second and third Notes of the Bar.

The graceful Posture of the Dancer's Standing adds not a little to the Beauty of this Step, who, 'till the Time be expired, is to wait or rest; by which it is evident, that the Half Coupee, tho' a single Step, is equal, in Value, to any compound Step whatsoever, whether of two, three, four, or more Steps in a Measure.

But to return, the Bouree-Step may be perform'd various Ways, as forwards, backwards, sideways, crossing before, the fame behind, before and behind, behind and before, &c (e), the Explanation of which, I think, may not be improper, in this Place; and therefore I shall proceed to shew the Method of their Performance, one after the other, in the Order above set down, except the Fleurets forwards and backwards; which being so intelligible of themselves, and having Occasion hereafter to speak of this Step, by way of Grace to the Minuet, instead of saying any thing farther of them here, I shall begin with the Bouree-Step crossing before, sideways; which is to be perform'd, as follows, either with the right or left Foot: For Instance, provided you begin with the Latter, the Weight must be on the right (f); and the left Foot, which is at Liberty, commences by making a Movement and Step, to the right Side of the Room, crossing before the Foot on which the Body rests†, the Face being to the Upper Part of the Room, and it receives the Weight. The second is the right Foot, which steps the fame Way; and the third and last, which is with the left, crosses before, as at first, only without a Movement∥. The Bouree crossing behind, sideways, differs from the Former in this, that whereas that was before, this is behind; that is to fay, the Weight being, as aforesaid, the left Foot, instead of making the Movement and first Step crossing before the right, it now is made crossing behind it; and the next Step, which is with the right Foot, moves the same Way, after which the third and last Step with the left Foot is drawn behind the right, and concludes. The Bouree before and behind is, when the first Movement and Step are made crossing before the Foot on which the Weight is, whether right or left, the second Step moving sideways, the fame Way, and the third drawn behind it, facing upwards, as before. The Bouree behind and before is done in the like Manner, only the first Step is not cross'd before but behind, the second stepping sideways, and the third drawn crossing before. The Bouree, which I call twice behind, is made as follows: Suppose, for Example, you make a Movement, stepping backwards with the right Foot, into the third Position inclos'd behind the left on which the Weight is, and releasing it; upon which it makes the second Step of the Bouree, in a plain Step backwards, receiving the Weight inclos'd in the third Position behind the right, which then performs the third Step of the Bouree, in a plain Step forwards.

There are many other Ways of performing this Step, which would be too tedious to be mention'd here; and, as they are not to my present Purpose, omitting them, I shall only observe, that this Step, continued several Measures, changes the Foot, every Step, as has been taken Notice of in the Half Coupee; but with this Difference, that whereas the Half Coupee changes the Weight, every single Step, as in Walking, the Bouree or Fleuret only changes it, at the End of every third Step.

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