Les Lanciers is a Square, or a Quadrille, which is the pan-European term for a set dance performed by four couples. It is a composite dance made up of five figures or tours, each performed four times so that all couples will dance the lead part. We find Les Lanciers or The Lancers in many variants in several countries. One in particular, with its own distinctive music and choreography, is danced only in Denmark.
Les Lanciers came to Denmark from England in 1860 and was soon known in the higher classes in Copenhagen. New music was written, and the dance developed in a slow evolution during 50 years until it found its current and canonised form before the 1st World War. The dance which started in the bourgeoisie of Copenhagen spread out through dancing schools in provincial towns and through the landed gentry until it was known and loved in the entire Danish society. Widespread though it was throughout Europe, Les Lanciers or The Lancers became less fashionable in the beginning of the century. It survived as a popular dance only in Denmark where it is now danced in an unbroken tradition of almost 140 years.
In Denmark, Les Lanciers is danced at Court, at many University and School Gaudies, and at countless private functions. Les Lanciers is also taught in most of the high schools in Denmark.
The five tours of the Danish dance are:
- La Dorset
- La Victoria
- Les Moulinets
- Les Visites
- Les Lancers
The dances keep getting more advanced, topping at no. 5 which is performed with a timing that has to be extremely precise compared to any of the previous dances.
- The Danish music for each part can be found here.
- The origins of The Lancers Quadrilles are discussed here.
- 1854 American sheetmusic for Les Lanciers
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