Pas de Rigaudon

This is a tentative draft of chapter 23 “The Pas de Rigaudon” from the work in progress The Technique of Eighteenth-Century Ballet (© Edmund Fairfax 2018). Some technical aspects of the step, which are of a more general nature, are discussed in detail in other chapters, and the reader would simply consult those sections in a completed work, but these are not available here at the present time. To sidestep the high fees demanded by institutions and publishers for the use of copyrighted images, I use careful tracings of original illustrations instead, with irrelevant detail from background, costume, etc. omitted when desirable, and these tracings are presented below. In some cases, originals are given below temporarily until tracings can be furnished. In conformity with a convention from historical linguistics, a star is placed in front of a non-attested name or expression, e.g., *pas de rigaudon battu.

 

Introduction to the Chapter

Strictly speaking, the pas de rigaudon is a kind of contretemps, as intimated by Bonnefond (1703: 13), Dufort (1728: 68), and Magri (1779: 1/102). Indeed, Feuillet (1700a: 76) – and those sources that derive from him – includes the step in a notational table listing contretemps. Since the rigaudon, however, is dealt with separately in those primary sources which describe this pas verbally, it is more convenient to discuss the step in a separate chapter.

 

23.1 Extant Descriptions of the Pas de Rigaudon

23.1.1 Feuillet (1700a: 76)

[Fig. 1] spring, open, [sauté, ouvert,] and come back into the same position; the second [leg] does the same without springing, which is called the pas de rigaudon [a]; the same [b].

Fig. 1. Pas de rigaudon in Beauchamps notation, after originals in Feuillet (1700a: 76).


23.1.2 Bonnefond (1705: 13)

The pas de rigaudon is made up of a contretemps of one step, and a spring on the same spot: the contretemps is done beginning in first position, [with the free foot going] to the side off the floor, and returning to the same first position, and the following step is the same without springing, and the [final] spring is done with both feet on the same spot.

23.1.3 Siris (1706: 39, & pl. 15)

[Siris’s translation of Feuillet (1701) presents a re-drawing of fig. 1a with an English translation of Feuillet’s caption, which is not included here to avoid needless repetition.]

23.1.4 Feuillet (1706: [xviii])

Pas de rigaudon on a forward line [fig. 2, top example]; pas de rigaudon on a rearward line [fig. 2, bottom example].

Fig. 2. Pas de rigaudon, in Beauchamps notation, after an original in Feuillet (1706: xviii).

23.1.5 Weaver (1706: pl. 29)

[Weaver’s translation of Feuillet (1701) presents a re-drawing of fig. 1a-b with an English translation of Feuillet’s caption, which is not included here to avoid needless repetition.]

23.1.6 Essex (1710: 12)

[Essex’s translation of Feuillet 1706 presents a re-drawing of fig.2a-b with an English translation of Feuillet’s captions, which is not included here to avoid needless repetition.]

23.1.7 Taubert (1717: 775, 867)

[Taubert’s translation of Feuillet (1701) presents a re-drawing of fig. 1a-b with a German translation of Feuillet’s caption, which is not included here to avoid needless repetition.]

23.1.8 Rameau (1725a: 159-161)

The Pas de Rigaudon. This step is most singular in its construction; it is done on the same spot without moving forwards, backwards, or sideways, and as the legs do a number of different movements, it is most gay in execution and is found in airy tunes in duple time, such as bourrées, rigaudons, and others.

It begins in first position, both feet having been brought together. You bend both knees equally and rise in a spring, at the same time raising the right leg, which opens to the side with the knee stretched, and then in the same movement it is brought back down into first position, but no sooner is it set down when the left leg rises, opening to the side without [160] any movement whatsoever at the knee, for it is only the hip that moves the leg and lowers it at once. With both feet on the floor, you bend and rise, springing and landing on both feet, which ends this step. Afterwards, a step to the fore or to the side is done, depending on the step that you mean to do afterwards, but it is independent of the pas de rigaudon and serves only as a way of linking this step with another and of allowing you to do the following step with greater ease.

All these different movements must be done together, they forming but one single step, which is done within one measure of duple time, as I said. Great care must be taken in doing this step, that your legs are well stretched when you raise them and that when you spring, you land on the toes of both feet with the legs stretched, which makes you appear lighter.

[161] As this step is greatly used in Provence, I have seen it done there somewhat differently; instead of being opened to the side, the legs are taken in front somewhat crossed, but this is not as graceful, and what is more, when you do this with one leg in front of the other, it seems as if you are going to kick the person with whom you are dancing.

23.1.9 Rameau (1725b: 60, 101)

The pas de rigaudon is a step that is done on the spot, and since you must be in first position to do it, and as it thus resembles the assemblé, I felt obliged to place it at the end of this table [a-c in fig. 3]. . . .

[101] In the thirty-first box [d in fig. 3] is the pas de rigaudon, which begins in first position, bending [with] both feet on the floor, springing onto the left leg while the right opens a little to the side in rounding and comes back to first position at the same time. Then the left leg does the same movement without bending or springing, as I have drawn it. I have given several together [e-g in fig. 3] by different authors so that one can distinguish the true from the false [nouvelle = ‘new,’ ancienne = ‘old,’ referring to a notational innovation rather than a difference in execution].

Fig. 3. Examples of pas de rigaudon, after originals in Rameau (1725b).

23.1.10 Sol (1725: 82-83)

To do a pas de rigaudon with the right foot, you must bend and rising spring on the toe of the same foot and in rising take the left leg [out] to the side of the right, [then] to first position, then open the right leg without bending and take it [back] beside the left into the same position. Then bend both knees and rising spring on the toes of both feet. If it is to be done with the left foot, you must bend in the same way and spring on the toe of the left foot, then do the same steps again given above; that is, open the right leg in rising, then the left and bend both knees and rising spring in the same way on the toes of both feet. The pas de rigaudon has three temps: the first is the bend, the rise and [83] the taking of the left to the side, for this is done in the same temps; the second is the taking of the other leg over to the side in the same way; and the third is the bend and spring on the toes of the two feet.

As for the other pas de rigaudon, there are some which are done in turning, and these are done in the same way with the same temps. To turn to the right, you must bend and spring on the left foot while turning and bring in the right foot while turning in the same way, then the left foot. Then bend and rising spring on the toes of both feet. To turn to the left, you must bend in the same way and rising spring on the toe of the right foot and do the same assemblings beginning with the left foot. These pas de rigaudon done turning are called pas retroussés by some, but this is a ballet term for theatrical dances.

23.1.11 Dufort (1728: 68-71)

Fig. 4. The pas de rigaudon, after an original in Dufort (1728).

The Pas de Rigaudon [Passo di Rigodone]. This step is made up of a contretemps and a pas [69] sauté landing on both feet. It cannot be done travelling forward or backward, or to the right or left side, but [only] on the very spot where you find yourself, from which it must not stray. It can also, though very seldom, be done turning, making a quarter, half, or as much as a whole turn, as I remember having observed in sundry dances, especially in Ballon’s “La Mélanie,” composed in 1713. [Dufort gives in fact “Melania,” by which he presumably means the ballroom dance entitled “La Mélanie par M.r Balon” found in Dezais (1713). While this dance contains three instances of the pas de rigaudon, in the eighth and eleventh figures, none of these rigaudons is done turning. Dufort evidently misremembered.]

Made up of the two said steps, the pas de rigaudon has thus six movements, four in the contretemps and two in the pas sauté, as was shown in the chapters dealing with these steps. For the same reason, it takes two bars; on the downbeat of the first, you land in your contretemps, and on the downbeat of the second, you land from the spring on both feet. It is usually done in duple time.

He who wishes to know how to do it [70] should consider the following example. With the feet in first position and the body in first [position of] equilibrium, which, as was said, consists in holding the weight of the body on both feet flat [on the floor], you will need to bend the knees and rising spring and land on the right foot, raising the left to the side off the floor. The left foot is then taken back down to the floor into first position, the right foot being raised at once off the floor to the side as well, returning in the same way to the same position. This is the contretemps. Then you will need to bend the knees again and rising spring and land with both feet in first position. This is the pas sauté, which ends the pas de rigaudon.

And finally, you will want to bear in mind that at the end of this step a pas dégagé will need to be added, which, as can be seen in the passage dealing with this step, consists of nothing else but a disengaging and moving away of one foot [71] from the other in order to put it down in the position where the following step properly begins, because you must not begin in first position, wherein the pas de rigaudon ends [fig. 4].

23.1.12 Tomlinson (1735: 41-43)

Of the RIGADOON STEP of one Spring open in the same Place and Close. THE Rigadoon Step of one Spring open upon the same Place is composed of two plain Steps or Motions of the Feet, except that the first commences with a Spring or Hop; which said Spring and plain Step is to a Measure, and introduces the upright Spring or Close on both Feet, before treated of, to another Measure in its Attendance on the former, from which it is almost inseparable; inso- [42] much that the said Rigadoon Step is seldom, if ever, without this Close following it, as adding the greatest Grace and Beauty thereto, and being from thence so strictly united that, altho’ in themselves they are two distinct Steps, the first never appears but concludes in the latter which in its Performance is as follows, viz. commencing from the first Position, or the Feet join’d even one with the other, from whence the Sink or Preparative for the Hop is taken, and may be done with either Foot. However, for the better Understanding thereof I shall describe it, with the right Foot: Therefore, as has been already observed, the Weight being on both Feet in the first Position (z) (See the Figure in Plate II [fig. 5], only instead of facing down the Room you may suppose it looking to the Presence) you sink and give a Rise or Spring, either off from the Ground, or upon it, as you shall think most agreeable, since it may be perform’d both Ways; which said Spring is made upon the left Foot, in rising from the aforesaid Sink, by taking the right Foot up from the Floor, the very same Instant the Spring or Hop is made, and moves open off to the right Side of the Room, if to the upper End, or otherwise according to what Part of the Room the Body is directed in the Air, about the Length of a Step in Dancing (a) (See in some Measure the Feet in the second Figure of Plate XV [fig. 6]); and then it returns to the first Position from whence it came receiving the Weight; upon which the left Foot, being now disengaged, moves open sideways in the like Manner (b) (See the Feet in the first Figure of Plate XV [fig. 6]), and, in returning, receives one half of the Weight in the same Position as at first (z) (See the Figure in Plate II [fig. 5], only instead of facing down the Room you may suppose it looking to the Presence); after which comes the Close on both Feet (c) (See Plate II [fig. 5]) which sometimes is to a Measure, and at others not, in that there often follows in Rigadoon Movements, a plain Step or Walk in the Time or Measure, as for Example, you’ll find in this Movement of the Bretagne; that is to say, the Beginning of the second Part is the very same Step I have here described. [“La Bretagne” is a ballroom dance, choreographed by Pécour in honor of the Duc de Bretagne, the son of the Duchesse de Bourgogne, and first published in Feuillet’s III.me recüeil de danses de bal pour l’année 1705 (1704).]

Fig. 5. Copy of plate II from Tomlinson (1735).

Fig. 6. Copy of plate XV from Tomlinson (1735).

Fig. 7. Copy of pate IV from Tomlinson (1735).

 

As to the Agreement of this Step with the Notes of the Tune, which is of four in the Measure, the Spring or Hop, that is made [43] upon the left Foot, on the taking up of the right, marks the Time or first Note; the setting of it down the second; the third is in the setting down of the left Foot; and the fourth and last Note, in the Sink for the ensuing Close that attends this Step, which together compose one of the most agreeable Steps in Dancing.

There are, besides these already described, many other Ways of performing this Step, as in the third Position forwards, and the same backwards; but, for the better Understanding of this, suppose you are standing in the first Position, or the Feet are joined even to each other (d) (See the Figure in Plate II [fig. 5], supposed to be looking up the Room), you perform this Step into the third Position, that is, you make the first Step which is with a Spring, and inclose it before the Foot on which the Weight rests (e) (See the second Figure of Plate IV [fig. 7]), and the second before that (f) (See the first Figure of Plate IV [fig. 7]) in the like Manner.

To perform this Step backwards differs in this, that as the foregoing was inclosed before, after the Spring, this is inclosed behind the Foot that supports the Weight (g) (See the first Figure of the said Plate IV [fig. 7]), and the second Step behind that (h) (See the second Figure of Plate IV [fig. 7]); or else the first of the said two Steps, namely, the Spring, may be done in the third Position before (i) (See the two first or inclosed Feet of Plate IV [fig. 7]), and the second behind (j) (See the two hind Feet of Plate IV [fig. 7]); or the first with a Spring behind (k) (See the hindmost Feet in Plate IV [fig. 7]), and the second Step before (l) (See the inclosed Feet in Plate IV [fig. 7]), and are to be performed from either of the said Positions, whether the first or third, as is also the Spring or Close that follows them, whether upright or changing of the Position; that is, instead of coming down in the first, or in the third, as at Beginning, the Feet are changed, for Instance, the first last, and the last first (m) (See the Table and Explanation of this Step in the Plate of Tables marked E [fig. 8]).

Fig. 8. Detail from plate E (Tomlinson 1735), after an original.

23.1.13 Ferriol (1745: 1/107-108)

The Pas de Rigaudon [Paso de Rigodon]. This step is most singular in its construction; it is done with different movements of the feet without gaining ground. It is brilliant in all the lively tunes in duple time, such as bourrées, rigaudons, and so forth. Begin in first position, bending both knees equally, and rising with a jump, open the right foot to the side at the same time, with the knee straight. Then bring it back to first position. The left foot is raised to second without bending and then brought back to first. Then bend in order to jump with both feet to end. Note that a pas naturel is usually done following, either to the fore, to the rear or to both sides, depending on what comes next and assuming that it is independent of the pas de rigaudon. Some do this step in third [108] position, but it is not as pleasing as the former, for it seems as if they wish to give a kick. Moreover, a caper instead of the final jump looks grand.

23.1.14 Winterschmid (1758: 9)

A pas de rigaudon [fig. 9].

Fig. 9. The pas de rigaudon, after an original in Winterschmid (1758).

23.1.15 De la Cuisse (1762: 10-11)

The rigaudon is done at almost every moment in contredanses; it is one of the [11] most repeated steps. Its movement consists of four temps, the fourth of which, called an assemblé, can be replaced by an entrechat, this caper having the same value as the assemblé. The rigaudon takes up two bars of music and is done at almost every cadence in each repeat of the tunes.

23.1.16 Josson (1763: 76-77, 80-81)

The balancé is almost always followed [in contredanses] by the pas de rigaudon, which is done in this manner. At the end of the balancé, having placed yourself in first or third position to do the pas de rigaudon, mark a temps by bending without changing position, and rising, lightly spring on the left foot, raising the right off the floor. Then setting it down on the floor, raise the left without springing, and having set it down right away on the floor, spring lightly on the toes of both feet at the same time, which ends this step made up of four temps, to wit, the first in springing, the second and third without springing, raising and setting down on the floor one foot after the other, the fourth in springing on the [77] toes of both feet at the same time, lightly without the body making any movement. The balancé is often done without the rigaudon, and the latter without the balancé, depending on the figure of the contredanse and the music to which it is composed .  .  .

[80] The pirouette [i.e., the pas retroussé] differs from the pas de rigaudon only in that the latter is always done facing forwards, and the other turning either to the right or left. [Josson is clearly using the term pirouette loosely here to signify simply a turning step, for he notes (1763: 11) that “pirouettes are movements which are rather expressive on their own. One can pirouette with different kinds of steps.”] The one like the other contains only four temps. To do the pirouette to the right, you must spring on the left foot doing a quarter turn and to complete the half turn take a step with the right foot to fourth position in front without bending or springing. The third temps is done by walking and bringing in the left foot to first [81] position to end the turn. The fourth temps, which ends the step, is done by springing on the toes of both feet at the same time. To do this step to the left side, you must begin with the right foot and continue as explained for the opposite side.

23.1.17 Lange (1763: 26 & tab. 24)

[Fig. 10] u) the pas de rigaudon, x) the same done in a different way.

Fig. 10. Two versions of the pas de rigaudon, after originals in Lange (1763, pl. 24).

23.1.18 Malpied (1763: 12)

[Malpied’s reworking of Feuillet (1706), with an addition from Feuillet (1700a), presents a re-drawing of fig. 2a-b with captions, which is not included here to avoid needless repetition.]

23.1.19 Magny (1765: 92-93)

[Magny’s translation of Feuillet (1701) presents a re-drawing of fig. 1a-b, which is not included here to avoid needless repetition.]

23.1.20 Petersen (1768: 72 & tab. 1)

[Petersen presents a re-drawing of the pas de rigaudon (fig. 2) from Feuillet (1706: [xviii]), with a German translation of Feuillet’s caption: “pas de rigaudon to the fore” and “pas de rigaudon to the rear.”]

23.1.21 Clément (1771: 32)

[Clément’s abridged translation of Feuillet (1701) presents a re-drawing of fig. 1a with a new caption: “the pas de rigaudon is done with both feet.” His illustration is not included here to avoid needless repetition.]

23.1.22 Gallini (1772?: 2/9-10)

Le Rigaudon, To perform this in the first Position, you must Sink, then Spring, and Fall on the Right foot, bring your left to the first Position, move [10] your Right and return it to the same Position, the knees being straight, Sink, then Spring on both feet and Fall on your Toes in the first Position.

This may be done by Reversing the Feet.

When the Rigaudon is performed in the third Position with the Right foot foremost, you must Sink, then Spring, and Fall on the Right foot; advance your Left to the same Position, then advance the Right to the third Position, the Knees being straight, Sink, then Spring on both feet and Fall on your Toes with the Left foot foremost in the same Position.

This may be done by Reversing the Feet.

23.1.23 Magri (1779: 1/102)

The Pas de Rigaudon, or the Rigaudon Step [Passo di Rigodone]. The rigaudon is nothing more than a combination of a contretemps and an assemblé, but this contretemps differs from the usual ones in one respect: When used in the rigaudon, it can begin in the four positions other than second. Our example uses fourth, in which position you bend and spring while stretching, landing on the right foot, for example. The left is raised off the floor, then brought back in and set down on the floor in first position; the other is raised forthwith to second position off the floor, then placed again in the same fourth. This is the contretemps. To do the assemblé then, bend the knees and rise into the air, barely clearing the floor at the same time, and do an assemblé under the body, which ends the rigaudon. This step is always done under the body. It is much used by the French, especially in their contredanses that are also called rigaudons and are in two time. Contredanses en quadrille are filled not only with this pas but also with other theatrical steps, such as the chassé, fleuret, contretemps ballonné and other such small steps. This pas has six movements, four in the contretemps and two in the assemblé.

23.1.24 Encyclopédie méthodique (1786: 423)

[This is a slightly abridged version of Rameau’s description (1725a) and is not included here to avoid needless repetition.]

23.1.25 Compan (1787: 322-323)

[This is a slightly abridged version of Rameau’s description (1725a) and is not included here to avoid needless repetition.]

23.1.26 Malpied (1789?: 92)

[Malpied’s translation of Feuillet (1701) presents a re-drawing of fig. 1a-b, with more curvilinear lines, which is not included here to avoid needless repetition.]

23.1.27 Vieth (1794: 2/416)

The pas de rigaudon, commonly found in French cotillons, is usually preceded by a balancé either going to the side, as described above, or ‘coupé-ing’ to the fore with the forward foot from third or fifth position, bringing in the rear foot by the heel of the former, then reversed by stepping back with the hind foot and bringing in the forward foot by the inside ankle of the former. Straightway after the balancé, hop a little on the forward foot A, set foot B in front of it, bring A again in front and hop up again and finally set B again in front.

23.1.28 Martinet (1797: 53-54)

The Pas de Rigaudon, which must be done on the spot. The Pas de Rigaudon with the Right Foot. Bend, spring on the left foot, raising the right to the side the distance of one foot [the German translation of Martinet (1798: 54) renders the latter phrase as “raising the right to the side about the height of one foot”], quickly place it in third position in front of the left, quickly disengage the left foot from behind the right, with the knees stretched, raising it likewise to the side the distance of one foot, set it down in third position in front of the right foot in bending and assemble [the German translation (1798: 55) renders the phrase as “place it in third position in front of the right foot while bending and do an assemblé”].

[54] The Pas de Rigaudon with the Left Foot. Bend, spring on the right foot, raising the left foot to the side the distance of one foot [the German translation renders the phrase as “raising the left to the side the height of one foot”], quickly place it in third position in front of the left [i.e. right] foot, quickly disengage the right foot from behind the left, with the knees stretched, set in down in third position in front of the left foot in bending and assemble [the German translation renders the phrase as “place it in third position in front of the left foot while bending and do an assemblé”].

 

23.2 The Pas de Rigaudon in General

The pas de rigaudon (‘rigaudon step’) is one of the most commonly described steps in the eighteenth-century handbooks. In the non-French sources, the name pas de rigaudon is commonly naturalized into the vernacular, as the passo di rigodone in Italian, the paso de rigodon in Spanish, and the rigadoon step in English. Sol (1725: 83) writes that when performed turning, this step was also called in ballet parlance the pas retroussé (‘trussed-up step’), not to be confused with the pas troussé (ch. 22).

23.2.1 Etymology

The name rigaudon is of obscure origin, and no certain etymology of the word can be established, although a number of suggestions have been offered. Rousseau (1768: 419), Compan (1787: 322), and Zorn ([1887] 1905: 130) write that the word was originally the name of a dance, derived from the name of its unknown creator. The first of the three states that “I have heard said from a dancing-master that the name of this dance comes from that of the inventor, who was called Rigaud.” In a similar vein, the OEDs entry for rigadoon notes additionally, “Mistral states that Rigaud was a celebrated dancing-master at Marseilles.” As the rigaudon was apparently a folkdance, as we shall see below, it seems unlikely that it was named after one person, above all, a city dancing-master.

Mattheson (1739: 2/226) claims that “this dance melody used to be called of old only rigo in the Italian language, which means a ‘river’ or ‘stream,’ and I have in fact found it to be common among seamen,” and that “Richelet says the rigaudon comes from Provence, and I believe it all the more so since there the Mediterranean Sea allows for interchange with Italy.” Mattheson has in fact confused two Italian words here – rigo ‘line’ and rivo ‘stream’ – and so his etymology is most dubious.

Costa (1831: 183) asserts that “the name of this step derives from a province in France, Périgourdine, the inhabitants of which make great use of this step, especially in their national dance, la périgourdine.” This is another dubious etymology, based on the vague similarity of the word to a place-name. Sachs (1963: 411-412) derives the name from “the Italian rigodone = rigolone and the corresponding diminutive rigoletto, ‘circle dance,’” adding that, at least in later periods, the “rigaudon, then, is a collective name for the folk dances of south-eastern France.” Again, it seems doubtful that the name of a French folkdance should be based on a garbled form of an Italian word for ‘circle dance.’

More likely, the name derives from the adjective rigaud, defined thus in Cotgrave (1611): “Rigaud m. aude: f. whence; À jambes rigaudes. C’est à la renverse, & les jambes en haut; or, With stradling, and up-stretcht legs.” Perhaps then, the choice of the root rigaud- was inspired by the kicking step characteristic of the dance.

Whatever its origin, the name rigaudon can at times be somewhat ambiguous in the eighteenth-century sources, as the term may refer now to a social dance based on a French folkdance, now to a type of dance-music, now to a dance choreographed to rigaudon-music, now to a dance-step, although in the latter case, rigaudon is usually qualified with the word for ‘step.’ (See the OED‘s rigadoon entry for fleeting references to the dance, the music, and the dance-step in late seventeenth- and eighteenth-century English sources.)

23.2.2 The Dance

Originally native to Provence (Rameau 1725a: 160) and Languedoc (Compan 1787: 323), the rigaudon as a social dance became popular outside of its native region sometime in the 1670s and enjoyed a certain vogue among the fashionable in and outside France in the latter part of the seventeenth century. Madame de Sévigné (1953: 1/601), for example, mentions the dance in a letter to Madame de Grignan dated 26 January 1673, writing that Madame de Forbin de Sainte-Croix could perform the “rigodon” admirably. Behr (1703a: 7/15) notes in 1703 that “the traquenard appeared some forty years ago with the pas de Bretagne; the rigaudon, however, is even more recent.”

The dance was evidently lively. The rigaudon brought to England from France by the earl of Rochester in 1686 was, according to Princess Anne of England, “very pretty” and had “a great deal of jumping in it” (cited in Duffy 1995: 119). Jenyns ([1729] 1978: 30) calls the dance “the sprightly Rigadoon,” while Philpot (1747: 110) notes that “I am sure there never was a more genteel and sprightly Dance, better calculated to make Children strong in the Ancles and Knees, and move with greater Activity [i.e. nimbleness] and Alertness, than the Rigadoon.”

The dance appears to have largely lost ground as an international danse de bal in the early part of the eighteenth century, although knowledge of the dance clearly continued well into the period. Behr (1709: 67) notes in 1709 that the rigaudon was “not danced much anymore now.” Philpot (1747: 108) likewise writes that “the Rigadoon is (by many) quite forgot.” Like so many other social dances of the late seventeenth century, the rigaudon appears to have lost ground in the face of the great popularity that country dances enjoyed. Indeed, Philpot (1747: 110) remarks that “the general Objection against learning the Rigadoon is, it is not danced in publick Places; and it is thought by some to break in too much upon the Time of the Company, who are impatient to dance Country Dances.”

Because the rigaudon then, like the bourrée, had already fallen largely out of fashion early in our period, none of the eighteenth-century handbooks gives a description of how the dance was performed. A number of dances choreographed to rigaudon-music are extant, over thirty according to the list given in Little and Marsh (1992: 161), but these cannot be equated with the late seventeenth-century social dance. The rigaudon mentioned in the following passage from Gallini (1762: 177-178) is most likely one of these dances choreographed to rigaudon-music, found in one of the published collections from the period, like most if not all of the other dances he mentions:

there is no occasion however for a learner to be confined to this dance [i.e., the ballroom minuet]. He should rather be encouraged, or have a curiosity excited in him, to learn especially those dances, which are of the more tender or serious character, contributing, as they greatly do, to perfect one in the minuet; independently of the pleasure they besides give both in the performance and to the sight. The dances most in request are, the Saraband, the Bretagne [,] the Furlana, the Passepied, the Folie d’Espagne, the Rigaudon, the Minuet du Dauphin [,] the Louvre, La Mariée, which is always danced at the Opera of Roland at Paris. Some of these are performed solo, others are duet-dances. The Louvre is held by many the most pleasing of them all, especially when well executed by both performers, in a just concert of motions; no dance affor- [178] ding the arms more occasion for a graceful display of them, or a more delicate regularity of the steps; being composed of the most select ones from theatrical dances, and formed upon the truest principles of the art.

23.2.3 The Music

As a musical form, the rigaudon is typically written in “a measure of two time, livelier [plus allegre] than the bourrée” (Pauli 1756: 22). More detail is provided by Little (1998: ?/351-352), who writes that the rigaudon

is duple on all metric levels and has a quarter-note upbeat, with almost all phrases four or eight measure in length. Although it seems to be virtually identical to the bourrée, the melodies tend to have larger leaps, greater range, and more movement in a single direction without turning; in addition the tempo is slightly faster (possibly 88-100 M.M. to the half note in a time signature of 2 or ¢). This was considered a fast tempo at the time, though it would seem rather moderate to the twentieth-century listener. The music usually consists of a bipartite piece with repeats, sometimes followed by a second rigaudon, also bipartite with repeats.

Marsh (1985: 232-233) notes further that

although all the extant rigadoon choreographies, both English and continental, are in duple time, generic rigadoon melodies [in English dance music collections] appear in both duple and compound-duple meter, with the latter predominating after 1709, and used exclusively from 1725 on. . . . The melodies are in two-reprise form (AABB), and frequently consist of a four-bar strain followed by a six-bar strain. (The same structure is found in many of the duple-meter rigadoon choreographies.) The shortness of such a piece – twenty bars in all – suggests that in performance the rigadoon melody would have been repeated a number of times.

As a musical form suitable for dancing, the rigaudon could be used with all kinds of characters in the theater. Sulzer (1794: 4/106), for example, writes that “in ballets, the rigaudon is used in both the serious as well as the comic and low character.” Rousseau (1969: 2/287) comments critically in his Nouvelle Héloïse of 1761 on the use of rigaudons in serious French opera:

dance is thus the fourth of the fine arts figuring in what makes up the lyric stage, but the other three strive to imitate; and what does the former imitate? Nothing. It is thus outside the work when used only as dance, for what do minuets, rigaudons, and chaconnes do in a tragedy?

23.2.4 Origin and Afterlife of the Step

According to Rameau (1725a: 161), the pas de rigaudon, the dance-step named after the dance, was one of several steps ultimately “taken from a number of dances in vogue in our provinces.” He notes specifically that “the pas de rigaudon is taken from the rigaudon, a dance very much used in Provence, and which the natives dance naturally, and every district different from another.” Compan (1787: 323) writes further that the dance was known in Languedoc as well. The pas de rigaudon of formal dance differed from its rustic cousin. Compan (1787: 323) mentions that “this step is done differently in Provence and Languedoc,” and Rameau (1725a: 161) too states that it was “done there somewhat differently; instead of being opened to the side, the legs are taken in front somewhat crossed.”

If executed with the leg gestures to the fore rather than to the side – the original folkdance manner, according to Rameau – and furthermore without turnout, the pas de rigaudon comes to resemble greatly a step belonging to the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, one called the salto riverso (‘reversed jump’) in Caroso (1581: 12r) and described thus:

with the feet straight [i.e., without turnout] and a little apart, do a zoppetto [i.e., a little hop, extending the left to the fore] with the right on the floor and draw the left behind raised, with which you do a sottopiede [‘foot-under’] to the right [foot], straightway raising the right to the fore; then do a salto tondo, turning the whole body to the right hand, landing on the toes of the feet close together with the knees somewhat bent to make them look a little more graceful.

Some of these movements are outlined more clearly elsewhere in Caroso. The zoppetto (1581: 13v) is described thus:

with the feet together, or placed otherwise depending on what is required in the galliard, the zoppetto is done by rising with [a spring off] both feet, with one foot a little off the floor and with the other passing to the fore.

The sottopiede (‘foot-under’) is an alternative term for the sommessa (Lehner 1997: 151-153) as well as the name of a composite step containing the sommessa. The context here suggests that the sommessa (1600: 51) is intended:

the sommessa is done thus: one foot is placed flat on the floor (let it be left), and the toe of the right foot is placed under the heel of the left, as was described above with the sottopiede.

The salto tondo (‘turning jump’), the forebear of the eighteenth-century pirouette en l’air, or tour en l’air, is described separately as well by Caroso (1581: 12r):

standing with the feet together, the whole body rises with [a push off] both feet, as high into the air as one’s strength allows, and turning to the left hand, one does two revolutions before coming back down to the floor, facing forwards again in the same spot, and land on the toes, spreading [i.e., bending] the knees somewhat to add a little grace. See to it that you keep the legs well stretched in rising.

In this salto riverso then, the dancer, without turnout, does a little hop, taking the left in this example to the fore off the floor, it appears, then quickly taking the same foot behind, where he thrusts it in behind the right, taking its place, while the right is raised at once to the fore. Since the following salto tondo begins on both feet, evident from Caroso’s separate description of this turning jump, the right must be straightway set down on the floor again, the dancer then bending to do his turning jump.

An alternative version, outlined by Compasso (1560), ends with the equivalent of the eighteenth-century assemblé en tournant rather than the salto tondo:

with the left foot in front, do a hop with the same foot on the floor, raising the right foot, then place the same right foot behind the left, the breadth of a step, then setting the left again by the right, and at once raise the right leg, rising off the floor and doing the jump turning to the same side, landing with the feet even and close together, with the knees a little bent over the feet.

Despite the differences in technique between the two styles, the salto riverso is clearly made up of the same sequence of basic movements found in the eighteenth-century pas de rigaudon, namely, a spring wherein one foot is thrust away to an open position off the floor, the latter then set back down, while the other foot is straightway taken away to an open position off the floor, only to be brought in again, followed by a jump springing off and landing on both. And like the eighteenth-century version of the step, the final jump off and onto both feet could be replaced with the equivalent of the eighteenth-century assemblé. It would appear then that the pas de rigaudon of our period is in fact the reflex of the salto riverso.

The pas de rigaudon outlived the eighteenth century and is described in the nineteenth-century sources as well. Costa (1831: 183-184), for example, gives the following, without any concluding jump (also a possibility in the eighteenth century; see fig. 1, for example):

The Pas de Rigaudon. In fifth position with the right foot in front and bending the knees a little, do a jump, bringing the body over the left foot, which is behind, raising the right sideways to second off the floor, and you count the first temps. Bringing this right foot into fifth in front [with the legs] stretched, you have the second temps, and in bringing the left foot, which was behind, into fifth in front, you end, doing the third temps of the step. (Repeat with the left.)
[184] Bearing in mind that this step is made up of a sissonne and a half emboîté, we can distinguish its temps: To wit, bending, you do the spring on one leg, raising the other sideways to second off the floor (this is the sissonne, the first temps of the step), and taking the leg that was off the floor into fifth in front is the emboîté, and (with the bringing of that which was behind into fifth in front) these two temps, which are called emboîtés, need to be done [with the legs] well stretched and on the toes.

Roller (1843: 145-146) gives a sans plier version wherein the opening spring off both feet is replaced with a coupé, or sprung foot-under, that is, a cutting movement similar to the eighteenth-century ballotté sans plier, a movement that commonly takes the place of a plié + rise or jump in Roller’s handbook, and this substitution is almost certainly a nineteenth-century innovation (for a discussion of Roller’s method of giving counts, see ch. 1):

starting position is first position, and high up on the toes. There are four counts. On ‘one’ [i.e., ‘and’], raise the right foot somewhat, most insignificantly so, about two inches high, and bring it back down at once; on ‘two’ [i.e., ‘one’], throw the left foot into balancé [i.e., into an open position off the floor] to the left, briskly hopping on the right foot. This is the [dégagé] jeté de côté. On ‘three’ [i.e., ‘and’] the left foot is taken down and set in first position; on ‘four’ [i.e., ‘two’] the right foot does the sous par sous in 54. In this pas, one does not bend; the knees must be held well stretched, and in the sous par sous of the fourth temps, [146] the foot must be swung just as high as in the [dégagé] jeté but twice as quickly.

The sideways sous par sous mentioned in the foregoing description is done thus: “In the sideways step, starting position is first position high up on the toes. The right foot swings quickly into balancé [i.e., into an open position off the floor] to the right side and just as quickly back again into first position” (1843: 144-145). Roller adds that the sideways version of the rigaudon could also be done moving to the fore or rear, in which case the positions of the feet and direction of travel changed:

In the side step, one can also dance forwards or rearwards, but then fifth position is always used in each temps. If the starting position is fifth position with the right foot in front, then one raises the foot on ‘one’ and sets it down; on ‘two,’ the left foot does its [dégagé] jeté to the left and is set down in fifth position in front of the right on ‘three’; on ‘four,’ the right does a sous par sous and is set again in fifth position in front of the left. In this way, ones travels forwards as much as the repeated placements of the foot in fifth to the fore add up to. If, however, you wish [147] to move even further forwards than this, then in the pas jeté [i.e., the beginning jump], you spring somewhat forwards at the same time.

Bournonville also sketches the reflex of the eighteenth-century step under the name pas de rigaudon. In his mix of verbal abbreviation and notation (his notational symbols replaced here with his definitions in brackets), the step consists of a “sissonne doublée (dessus), coupé (dessous), and assemblé (en face) and (dessous)” (cited in Jürgensen 1990: 178). The sissonne double was simply an alternative name for the pas de rigaudon according to Junk (1930: 175), which in his day was a truncated version of the earlier step, at this point consisting of only the opening jump and closing of the gesture leg, hence Bournonville’s combination of “sissonne doublée” and “coupé” followed by assemblé to get the equivalent of eighteenth-century foregoer. Doubtless, the sissonne doublée, or sissonne retombée, of contemporary classical ballet (Warren 1989: 282-283) is the direct reflex (in altered form) of the old pas de rigaudon, while the latter, in turn, surely stems from the earlier salto riverso.

Rameau’s claim that the pas de rigaudon was taken from a folkdance would seem to imply that the step was a new addition to the inventory of late-seventeenth-century dance-steps, made popular by the introduction of the rigaudon-dance into polite society in the last quarter of that century. If this is correct, then the salto riverso must have been lost from the corpus of formal dance sometime during the first half of the seventeenth century, at least as cultivated in France, only to be reintroduced in the last quarter. This, however, seems unlikely, given the strong continuity between late Renaissance dance and eighteenth-century dance generally, despite the changes in the execution of movements. As there were apparently no scholarly histories of dance technique in existence during our period of study, Rameau may be simply – and wrongly – assuming that the step stems from the rigaudon-dance merely because it bears the same name, out of want of knowledge. (As discussed in ch. 8, names of dance-steps freely change over time, and as discussed in ch. 1, eighteenth-century writers on dance were not always correctly informed about the history of their art.) Since the dance of the late seventeenth century is poorly documented, Rameau’s claim cannot be verified, and there remains the possibility that the pas de rigaudon was not an innovation introduced into formal dance by way of the rigaudon-dance but simply an existing step renamed because of its conspicuous use in the rigaudon-dance.

23.2.5 Use of the Step

Because of its lively character, the pas de rigaudon was found especially in dances choreographed to “airy tunes in duple time, such as bourrées, rigaudons, and others” (Rameau 1725a: 159) and was employed in both the ballroom and the theater.

In the ballroom, it was found “at almost every moment in contredanses . . . at almost every cadence in each repeat of the tunes” (De la Cuisse 1762: 10-11), commonly after a balancé, according to Josson (1763: 76) and Vieth (1794: 2/416). Indeed, Magny’s “Quadrille” (1765: 189-199) provides a concrete example of such usage: Seven of the total eleven figures end with a least two of the four dancers doing a pas de rigaudon. Its recurring appearance at a cadence, however, may have had more to do with the concluding jump added to form a composite step rather than to the pas de rigaudon proper itself. Gardiner (1786: 54) also includes the pas de rigaudon among “the Steps generally made use of in Cotillions,” as does Vieth (1794: 2/436), who writes that “the steps in the cotillion are mainly pas de bourrée and pas de rigaudon: the former are used in the advancing figures, the latter as pas marqués on the spot.”

The step was also used in the theater and is found in both descriptions of theatrical dance performances as well as surviving dances said to be theatrical. It figured prominently in the immolation scene from Angiolini’s pantomime ballet Le départ d’Énée, ou la Didon abandonnée, for example, mounted at the Teatro San Benedetto in Venice in 1773. In writing of a performance of this work, Goudar (1773a: 55) critically comments that “Dido, furious at being forsaken, throws herself into a burning pyre in rigaudon steps after having thrashed about the stage like a Fury.” The step is commonly met with in theatrical dances recorded in Beauchamps notation, in Gaudrau (1713?: 2/5, 17, 18, 21, 37, 40, 63), for example, which are arguably in the serious style.

The step is prescribed in some of the comic scenarios in Lambranzi (1716: 1/4, 18, 13; 2/25), such as those for peasants, a Roman skipper, and blacksmiths. Indeed, in his preface, Lambranzi writes that

for the peasant dances in nos. 4-12, all the passi di Pavota [“Pavota” = gavot(t)a, i.e., pas de gavotte] and chase [i.e., chassés] are required (besides the French passi di minueti [i.e., pas de menuet]); partly also passi bourè [i.e., pas de bourrée] and certain inelegant peasant contratempi [i.e., contretemps], now on one foot, now on the other, passi glospied [“glospied” = clospied, i.e., clos pied(s), the close or assemblé], Rigadoni [i.e., pas de rigaudon] and balanzamenti [i.e., balancements].

The step is also prescribed in some of the grotesque scenarios (1/34, 45), with such commedia dell’arte characters as Scapino and Narcissino di Malembergo. Furthermore, the pas retroussé – a turning pas de rigaudon – is also mentioned in the comic dances found in Ferrère (1782: 8, 26).

In pantomime ballets, the step may have been something of a cliché in expressing a certain wildness. This is at least suggested by Goudar’s remarks about Dido in Angiolini’s Le départ d’Énée cited above, and again in Goudar’s description (1759: 9) of the first scene from Pitrot’s pantomime ballet Télémaque dans l’île de Calypso, mounted at the Comédie-italienne in 1759. Responding to an invitation to sojourn on Calypso’s island, “the worthy son of Ulysses gives himself over in advance to the pleasures that so delightful a sojourn offers him; this is shown in the rigaudon steps and entrechats, which Telemachus successively performs.”

Moreover, in the ballroom and serious dances found in Feuillet (1700 & 1704) and Gaudrau (1713?), the step is most commonly preceded by a coupé assemblé, or an assemblé landing in first position, or a contretemps assemblé, although other steps are also found.

 

23.3 The *Pas de Rigaudon Simple

The nonextant expression *pas de rigaudon simple (‘simple rigaudon step’) is used here to denote the most basic form of this step.

23.3.1 Displacement

The pas de rigaudon does not normally travel in ballroom dancing; that is, it ought to be done “on the very spot where you find yourself, from which it must not stray” (Dufort 1728: 69). This is the necessary result of performing the step with the feet hardly, if at all, rising off the floor in the jump and with the feet always closing in the non-advancing disposition of first position of the feet, an execution typical in the ballroom. It is evident, however, from Goudar’s description of Dido’s immolation scene given in section 23.2.5 (wherein the heroine throws herself into a burning pyre in the course of executing rigaudon steps) that the step in the theater could be done traveling as well, presumably either in the jump or in the transfers of weight (with the foot moving to an advancing position), or perhaps in both jumping and setting down the feet in advancing positions. This is in agreement with the practice outlined above by Roller (1843: 146-147), who allows the dancer to travel, through the use of advancing positions or also through a displacing jump.

23.3.2 Preparatory Position

Like the regular contretemps, the pas de rigaudon can begin in any position of the feet. First position appears to have been particularly common in the ballroom, and is the only position given by Rameau (1725a: 159; 1725b: 60) and Dufort (1728: 70). It is also the position shown in notation in such sources as Feuillet (1700a: 76), Siris (1706: 39), Weaver (1706: tab. 29), Taubert (1717: 775), Winterschmid (1758: 9), Magny (1765: 92), Petersen (1768: tab. 1) and Clément (1771: 32). Most of the examples of the step found in extant dances from Feuillet (1700 and 1704), Gaudrau (1713?), and Le Roussau (1720) also show the step beginning in first position.

Some sources, however, give the dancer a choice between first and third position, namely, Tomlinson (1735: 41-43), Josson (1763: 76), Lange (1763: tab. 24), and Gallini (1772?b: 9-10). Malpied (1789?: 92) shows only third in notation. Ferriol (1745: 1/107) prescribes first but acknowledges third. Third is implied in Vieth (1794: 2/416). Magri (1779: 1/102) allows the dancer to begin “in the four positions other than second,” he giving fourth in his description of the step. Magri’s exclusion of second notwithstanding, Feuillet (1704: 54) affords one example of the step apparently beginning from second position of the feet; at least, the notation shows in the fourth bar a temps de courante to second position with the left foot, without any subsequent movement of the right foot into a closed position before the rigaudon begins in the fifth bar (fig. 11).

Fig. 11. A detail from Feuillet (1704: 54), showing in the fourth bar a temps de courante into second with the left foot, followed by a pas de rigaudon evidently beginning from second position.

As discussed in ch. 3, third and fifth positions of the feet were largely interchangeable in our period of study – third was a more comfortable substitute to be used in place of fifth, one especially suitable for ballroom dancers. I have, however, not been able to find any clear examples of fifth position being used in notational representations of this step. And yet it must be owned that the symbols for third and fifth positions can be difficult to distinguish at times. See, for example, fig. 8, wherein a number of the symbols that are supposed to be representations of third, as Tomlinson explains in his text, look in fact like fifth. This notwithstanding, there is little reason to doubt that fifth could be employed instead of third, not only in the ballroom but also in theater.

The choice of position here and elsewhere in the step appears then to hinge partly upon whether the dancer intends to travel or not, although caprice seems to have been partly at play as well. This is certainly in agreement with early-nineteenth-century practice: while Costa (1831: 183-184) gives fifth position as basic to the step, Roller (1843: 145-147), however, gives first position, unless performed traveling sideways, in which case he prescribes fifth position.

The step “may be done with either Foot” (Tomlinson 1735: 42); that is, it can begin with either the right or the left as the initial working leg. For the sake of simplicity, our following example gives the step beginning with the right only. (A mirror image of this example will show how the step is done beginning with the left instead.)

As discussed in ch. 8, the handbooks describe dance steps in isolation and thus have the dancer begin and end the step with the soles flat on the floor, as is still the case in textbooks describing contemporary ballet. When the step is found within a dance, however, the dancer will often be on his toes, depending on the position resulting from the previous movement. Our reconstruction of the step begins then in first position with the feet flat on the floor (fig. 12).

Fig. 12. The beginning position in the pas de rigaudon.

23.3.3 The Preparatory Bend

When the beginning position of equilibrium is given, the sources typically have the dancer do his opening plié in the first position of equilibrium, that is, with “the weight of the body on both feet flat [on the floor]” (Dufort 1728: 70), the dancer bending “without changing position” (Josson 1763: 76), as shown in fig. 13. Lange’s notation of the step done with a battement (fig. 10) suggests that the opening jump of the step, at least when beaten, could also be executed with the body’s weight over only one foot during the bend (§23.4.11). Indeed, the contretemps broadly could be executed by jumping off one foot or both (ch. 22).

Fig. 13. The preparatory bend to rise in the pas de rigaudon.

23.3.4 The Jump

From this bend, the dancer is to “rise in a spring” (Rameau 1725a: 159). In ballroom dancing, the height of the spring was typically negligible. In his separate discussion of the arm movements fitting for the pas de rigaudon, Rameau (1725a: 252), for example, describes the jump as “but a play of the instep, which causes the other joints to move as well.” Vieth (1794: 2/416) instructs the reader here merely to “hop a little.” In agreement with the principles outlined in ch. 4, a more impressive degree of elevation, however, would normally be expected in the half-serious, comic, and grotesque styles of the theater.

During the jump, the working leg, the right here, is stretched “to the side off the floor” (Dufort 1728: 70), that is, to second position off the floor. The extension of the free leg to second typically happens during the rise of the jump, both legs thus straightening and coming into position at the same time. Sol (1725: 82), for example, notes that the dancer is to “open the right leg in rising,” and Rameau (1725a: 159) likewise states that the dancer is to “rise in a spring, at the same time raising the right leg, which opens to the side with the knee stretched. (fig. 14).

Fig. 14. The spring into the air of the opening jump in the pas de rigaudon.

In the ballroom, it was clearly the norm to keep the leg gesture low to the floor. Rameau (1725b: 101) has the leg open only “a little” to the side. Tomlinson (1735: 42, & fn. a) writes that the free foot moves to the side “about the Length of a Step in Dancing,” and refers the reader to plate XV of his book (fig. 6), which shows the toe of the foot raised roughly to the height of the ankle of the supporting leg. Martinet (1797: 53) has the free foot raised “to the side the distance of one foot,” which his German translator (1798: 54) interpreted to mean raising the free foot “to the side about the height of one foot” off the floor. In the theater, however, the norm was for the legs to be high. The reconstruction shows the foot raised to the height of the hip, but other heights – those of the calf and ankle – would have also been possible on stage (ch. 3).

23..3.5 The Land

Having extended the free leg to second position off the floor during the jump, the dancer comes back down onto the floor. As this jump is not straightway followed by a movement beginning with a plié, a retombé tendu is expected here. The dancer thus lands from the initial jump in the sixth position of equilibrium, that is, “on the toe” (Sol 1725: 82) with the knees straight and the working leg raised off the floor, stretched to second position. Fig. 15 shows the ultimate position after landing, but for a thorough discussion of the more complicated mechanics of landing in the retombé tendu, click here.

Fig. 15. The position after the retombé tendu of the opening jump in the pas de rigaudon.

23.3.6 The Transfer of Weight

Once landed, the dancer brings the leg that was raised to second off the floor back typically into a closed position, the exact choice of position depending partly on the dancer’s or choreographer’s caprice. Those sources that have the dancer begin the jump in first position usually have the executant bring the free foot back again into first position right after the jump; and if beginning in third, the dancer closes in third. A few sources have the dancer begin in a position other than that used within the step: Tomlinson (1735: 43) describes one version beginning in first position but closing in third. Magri (1779: 1/102) has the dancer begin in fourth but close in first. In the pas retroussé, the turning version of the pas de rigaudon (§23.15), Josson (1763: 80) has the dancer step to fourth here. If third or fifth position is used, the dancer has more than one option here, with the free foot placed in front or behind the standing foot. For a discussion of different patterns, see the sections below (23.4. 1-4) dealing with the *pas de rigaudon dessus, dessous, devant, and derrière.

Regardless of the position chosen, the bringing in of the free leg is done “without bending” (Sol 1725: 82), that is, by keeping the legs stretched. Coming into first, third, or fifth position then, the right foot is “set down on the floor” (Magri 1779: 1/102), “receiving the Weight” of the body (Tomlinson 1735: 42), as shown in fig. 16.

Fig. 16. The transfer of weight after the opening jump in the pas de rigaudon.

23.3.7 The Leg Gesture

The opposite leg, the left here, is briskly taken out at once to second position, “without bending or springing” (Rameau 1725b: 101) and “with the knees stretched” (Martinet 1797: 53), so that the weight of the body is now wholly over the right foot. A number of the sources intimate that the left foot is normally to be raised to the same height that the right foot was during the initial jump. Tomlinson (1735: 42) has the second gesture leg move “in the like Manner” to the first, and he refers the reader to the same illustration as before (fig. 6). Similarly, Martinet (1797: 53-54) gives the breadth of one foot to both sides. Such symmetry is certainly in line with Roller’s prescription (1843: 146) that in doing the second leg gesture, “the foot must be swung just as high as in the [first dégagé] jeté.”

The taking out of the left leg to second position off the floor here happens as soon as the right is brought back down into a closed position, the dancer doing in effect a ballotté without bending or springing, with the right driving the left off at once to second position. Indeed, Rameau (1725a: 159) notes that “no sooner is it set down when the left leg rises, opening to the side.” Dufort (1728: 70) similarly states that the second leg is “raised at once off the floor to the side,” and Magri (1779: 1/102) too indicates that the other leg “is raised forthwith to second position off the floor (fig. 17).

Fig. 17. The second leg gesture in the pas de rigaudon.

23.3.8 Concluding Step

Once taken out to second position off the floor, the left foot is brought back in, “returning in the same way” (Dufort 1728: 70), that is, following the same path traced in being raised. Again, the dancer has a choice of more than one position of feet here, although, as mentioned already, the sources generally prescribe the same position of the feet throughout the step, such that if the dancer closes in first position the first time, he will close here in first position again as well; and if third, then third again; and presumably the same with fifth. Magri (1779: 1/102) is alone in having the step begin and end in fourth with the first closing done in first. (In other steps as well, Magri at times opts for fourth position where most other writers prescribe a closed position.) In other words, Magri describes a traveling pas de rigaudon. If the free foot is taken into third, fourth, or fifth, then the dancer has more than one possibility, such that the foot is brought in front or behind the standing leg. For a discussion of different possible patterns, see the sections below on the *pas de rigaudon dessus, dessous, devant, and derrière (23.4. 1-4). Such freedom in the patterning of the closings, either all in front, or all behind, or first one and then the other, is also found in the discussions of the pas de sissonne (ch. 24).

Regardless of whether the foot is taken to the side, fore, or rear of the weight-bearing foot, the dancer, in concluding the step, shifts half of his weight onto the left here so that the body’s weight is distributed equally over both feet. Tomlinson (1735: 42) writes that the free foot, the left in our example, “receives one half of the Weight” of the body (fig. 18), and this is clearly shown in the notational representations of the step as well.

Fig. 18. The concluding position of the pas de rigaudon proper.

23.3.9 Movements on the Toes

All of the above movements, with the exception of the preparatory bend to spring — unless done as a forced plié (ch. 4) — are evidently executed on the toes; at least, none of the writers instructs the reader to lower the heels to the floor at any time after the preparatory bend. This manner of executing the leg gestures without lowering the heels is certainly in agreement with early-nineteenth-century practice. Costa (1831: 184) explicitly indicates, for example, that these movements in the pas de rigaudon were to happen with the heels raised and the legs stretched straight:

bending, you do the spring on one leg, raising the other sideways to second off the floor (this is the sissonne, the first movement of the step), and taking the leg that was off the floor into fifth in front is the emboîté, and (with the bringing of that which was behind into fifth in front) these two movements, which are called emboîté, need to be done [with the legs] well stretched and on the toes.

This is entirely in agreement with other steps from our period which are better described, such as the pas de bourrée and contretemps, and which were to be performed on the toes, except in the plié. In the ballroom, however, it was possible to dance flat-footed generally, as a kind of “dumbing-down” suitable for amateurs (ch. 3). And so theoretically, one would expect that the pas de rigaudon could also be executed on the soles in certain circumstances, leastwise in the ballroom, but perhaps occasionally also in the theater.

23.3.10 Appended Jump

At this point, the pas de rigaudon proper is at an end. Indeed, some sources, such as Magny (1765: 102), Clément (1771: 32), and Malpied (1789?: 92), show the step in notation without any further element, while others, such as Feuillet (1700a: 76, 105; 1706: [xviii]), show the step now with an additional jump, now without one (figs. 1-2). In his verbal description of the dance “La forlana,” Dupré (1757: 32) writes at one point: “a pas de rigaudon, and a plié and sauté on both feet;” that is, the final jump is not presented as an integral part of the rigaudon. And again in the context of the “La Clermont,” “a pas de rigaudon; a sauté on both feet letting a half measure pass” (1757: 48). The fifth figure from Tomlinson’s dance “The Address” of 1720, for example, includes an instance of the pas de rigaudon proper done on its own. The pas de rigaudon in the nineteenth century could similarly be done on its own, as Costa and Roller have it.

It is clear, however, that the eighteenth-century rigaudon step was “seldom, if ever,” performed without an appended jump, which was normally an “upright Spring or Close” (Tomlinson 1735: 41-42), that is, either a pas sauté or an assemblé. Indeed, the two steps, the rigaudon proper and the following jump, are “so strictly united that, altho’ in themselves they are two distinct Steps, the first never appears but concludes in the latter.”

The pas sauté – a jump off both feet and land again on both feet – is more commonly prescribed. It is described verbally or shown notationally in the following sources: Feuillet (1700: 105), Sol (1725: 82), Rameau (1725a: 160; 1725b: 61), Dufort (1728: 70), Tomlinson (1735: 41-42), Ferriol (1745: 1/107), Winterschmid (1758: 9), Josson (1763: 76), Lange (1763: tab. 24, u), Petersen (1768: tab. 1), and Gallini (1772?b: 10). And the ballroom and theatrical dances extant in Feuillet (1700 & 1704), Gaudrau (1713?), and Le Roussau (1720) have the rigaudon step regularly conclude with the pas sauté.

The assemblé – a jump off one foot and a land on both feet – is mentioned by Tomlinson (1735: 41), who calls the step a “close,” as well as by De la Cuisse (1762: 11) and Magri (1779: 1/102), the latter two giving this jump, rather than the pas sauté, as basic to the composite step. The assemblé is hinted at in Vieth (1794: 2/416) and Martinet (1797: 53). Vieth describes the last jump as “hop up again and finally set B again in front,” which is not without ambiguity and could refer to a contretemps, but given that the assemblé is mentioned in other sources, it seems most likely that he had the same step in mind here as well. Martinet instructs the reader simply to “assemble,” which his German translator rendered as “do an assemblé.”

As both the pas sauté and the assemblé have already been outlined in detail elsewhere (chs. 25 and 19), a description of their executions will not be repeated here. Tomlinson (1735: 43) does note that in executing either of these two jumps, the dancer has the same freedom in the choice of positions as he does with the closings of the free leg in the rigaudon proper. As Tomlinson puts it, the opening jump and closings of the free leg in the rigaudon

are to be performed from either of the said Positions, whether the first or third, as is also the Spring or Close that follows them, whether upright or changing of the Position; that is, instead of coming down in the first, or in the third, as at Beginning, the Feet are changed, for Instance, the first last, and the last first.

In other words, if the pas sauté begins and ends in third or fifth, the dancer may do the jump with or without a change of the feet; in the former case, the jump becomes a changement de pieds. And if an assemblé is done, beginning and ending in third or fifth, the foot behind at the outset may remain behind in landing or alternatively come down in front.

23.3.11 Synchronization of Final Leg Gesture and Following Bend

In order to execute the final jump, the dancer must bend again in order to rise, and it is apparent from some writers that this second plié may be done either after or during the last closing of the free leg in the rigaudon proper. The clearest reference to the former option is found in Tomlinson (1735: 42), who indicates in his breakdown of movements to counts that the last leg gesture is completed before the preparatory plié of the final jump, that “the third [note] is in the setting down of the left Foot; and the fourth and last Note, in the Sink for the ensuing Close that attends this Step.”

This same manner is implied by Rameau, Dufort, Ferriol, Gallini, and Magri. Rameau’s wording (1725a: 160) suggests a sequential rather than simultaneous timing: “The left leg rises, opening to the side without any movement whatsoever at the knee, for it is only the hip that moves the leg and lowers it at once. With both feet on the floor, you bend and rise, springing and landing on both feet.” Ferriol’s reworking of Rameau’s description (1745: 1/107) brings out the consecutive timing even more: “The left foot is raised to second without bending and then brought back to first. Then bend in order to jump with both feet to end.” Gallini (1772?b: 10) writes that his reader is to move the second leg “and return it to the same Position, the knees being straight, Sink, then Spring on both feet and Fall on your Toes in the first Position.” Magri (1779: 1/102) in like manner suggests a consecutive timing: “The other is raised forthwith to second position off the floor, then placed again in the same fourth. This is the contretemps. To do the assemblé then, bend the knees and rise into the air.” The wording in Magri’s description is partly derived from the earlier source Dufort (1728: 70), who similarly writes that the foot in the second leg gesture is raised “at once off the floor to the side as well, returning in the same way to the same position. This is the contretemps. Then you will need to bend the knees again and rising spring and land with both feet in first position.”

The second manner of bending at the same time as the closing of the second leg gesture is given in Martinet (1797: 53-54), who notes that the last closing is done “in bending” for the final jump rather than before bending: “Set it down in third position in front of the right foot in bending and assemble.” Martinet is the only source to prescribe a simultaneous closing and bending, but there is no need to imagine that his prescription represents a later innovation.

The pas de sissonne is extant with two similar timings, one involving a simultaneous execution of two movements and the other involving a consecutive performance (ch. 24). More often than not, a given handbook will mention only one of these timings, thereby giving a misleading impression of what narrowly constitutes the “basic” form of a step.

The second option, as given by Martinet, is far better suited to an airborne style of dance, unlike the first, which is more fitting for a terre-à-terre style. A simultaneous rather than consecutive closing and bending provides the dancer with a whole half count more for the jump, giving him more time to be airborne. Such an execution accords well with the general character of the half-serious, comic, and grotesque styles, and thus on the grounds of biomechanics, one would expect that this second option would have been the more common of the two in the aforementioned three genres.

If the pas de rigaudon proper were to be done without an appended jump, or if any step immediately following were to begin without an initial plié, then the final closing will, of course, be done with the legs straight and without a bend of the knees.

23.3.12 Timing

The pas de rigaudon proper takes up “one measure of duple time” (Rameau 1725a: 160). The full composite rigaudon step (pas de rigaudon proper followed by a pas sauté or assemblé) “takes two bars; on the downbeat of the first, you land in your contretemps, and on the downbeat of the second, you land from the spring on both feet” (Dufort 1728: 69). The remainder of the second bar is taken up with a pause or filled out with some other step. Since the final closing can be done either before or during the bend, as noted above, two different timings are possible here.

23.3.12.1 Closing Before the Bend in Duple Time

Tomlinson (1735: 42) provides the following detailed instructions for the timing of the step with the final closure happening before the bend of the appended jump: “The Spring or Hop, that is made upon the left Foot, on the taking up of the right, marks the Time or first Note; the setting of it down the second; the third is in the setting down of the left Foot; and the fourth and last Note, in the Sink for the ensuing Close that attends this Step.” Thus, Tomlinson’s breakdown of movements to counts in two and four time appears to be as follows:

and: preparatory bend to spring
a: rise into air with opening of first leg to second position off the floor
one: retombé tendu, with the free leg stretched to second position off the floor
and: closing of first leg, and opening of second leg to second position off the floor
two: closing of second leg, with the legs straight
and: preparatory bend to spring for the ensuing pas sauté or assemblé
a: rise into air
one: retombé

23.3.12.2 Closing During the Bend in Duple Time

As to the timing of the rigaudon step with a simultaneous closing and bend for the appended jump, the breakdown of movements to counts in two and four time would appear to be as follows:

two: preparatory bend to spring
and: rise into air with opening of first leg to second position off the floor
one: retombé tendu, with the free leg stretched to second position off the floor
and: closing of first leg, and opening of second leg to second position off the floor
two: closing of second leg during the preparatory bend to spring for the ensuing pas sauté or assemblé
and: rise into air
one: retombé

23.3.12.3 Timing in Triple and Compound Duple Meters

According to Dufort (1728: 69), the rigaudon step is “usually done in duple time.” Dufort‘s qualification that the step is “usually” done in two time does not exclude the possibility of its performance in triple or compound meters. Indeed, the step appears in extant dances in 6/4 (Gaudrau 1713?: 1/12, 15, 16, 17, 24; 2/37, 44, 46, 72) and 6/8 (Gaudrau 1713?: 2/63). For a discussion of timing in these meters, see §8.4.

23.3.13 Ports de Bras in the Ballroom

Only Rameau (1725a: 252-253) and Ferriol (1745: 1/172-173) provide any directives for the movement of the arms to be used with the pas de rigaudon, when executed in first position of the feet, and only in the context of the terre-à-terre dance of the ballroom (ch. 6). Rameau writes,

when you bend on both legs in order to raise the right foot, you bend the wrists from above downwards in doing this movement, and you extend them in rising, but when you bend on both feet to do your last spring [i.e., the pas sauté], you bend again both wrists, raising them from below upwards.

Rameau fails to explain whether a full turn or merely a half turn of the wrists is to be done in each case. Ferriol, who used Rameau as his source and by and large simply translates chosen sections therefrom, does make an addition here. He writes that

this step is done with two half circles of the wrists. The first is from above downwards, which is done while bending the first time, when the right foot is taken out. The second is from below upwards; this is done when bending for the last spring.

He does not, however, indicate how the hands are to be moved after each bend of the wrists.

If we harmonize these two descriptions, then the dancer, it seems, was to execute a half turn of the wrists from above downwards during the preparatory plié of the first jump. Then during the jump itself, “you extend them [i.e., the hands] in rising,” such that they follow the same path as before and come to be re-extended to second position of the arms. This arm position is then maintained until the end of the rigaudon proper. Finally, during the plié of the appended pas sauté, a second half turn of the wrists from below upwards is done, and then during the jump, the hands are presumably re-extended, following the same path. If this interpretation is correction, the whole would be represented in Beauchamps notation as shown in fig. 19.

Fig. 19. Likely appearance in Beauchamps notation of the port de bras prescribed by Rameau (1725a) and Ferriol (1745) for the pas de rigaudon.

Ferriol gives a second option: “there is another way, which is to do a half circle of the elbows from below upwards and another of the wrists from above downwards.” Again, detail is lacking, but this version appears to have proceeded as follows: during the preparatory plié of the first jump, the arms do a half turn of the elbows from below upwards, and during the jump, they are re-extended, following the same path as before. The arms remain in second position until the end of the rigaudon proper. And then during the plié of the appended sauté, the hands do a half turn of the wrists from above downwards, and then during the jump, are re-extended following the same path. If this interpretation is correction, the whole would be represented in Beauchamps notation as shown in fig. 20.

Fig. 20. Likely appearance in Beauchamps notation of Ferriol’s alternative port de bras for the pas de rigaudon (1745).

Rameau clearly had in mind a terre-à-terre execution for his ballroom rigaudon, for he notes that “nor are there any great movements in it that require much strength. Properly speaking, it is but a play of the instep,” and “thus, with the arms, it is but the wrists that move.” As discussed above (ch. 6), turns of the wrists, in contrast to turns of the elbows and shoulders, were typically used when the legs betrayed only small movements. And Rameau (1725a: 253) clearly had only slight movements of the legs in mind here, for he notes that “one must observe in this step the relationship between the wrists and insteps, since only they bend.” In other words, the knees hardly bend at all during the pliés in his conception of the step.

23.3.14 Ports de Bras in the Theater

None of the sources describes the ports de bras that were usual with the pas de rigaudon when performed on stage. In agreement with the principles outlined in ch. 6, the choice of the height of arms, and their positions and movements would have been determined by stylistic conventions, biomechanical needs, and taste. The following sections outline theoretical possibilities for the pas de rigaudon when executed in first position of the feet.

23.3.14.1 The Serious Style

Based on the discussion of the arms above (ch. 6), one would expect the rigaudon proper of the serious style to be typically done with turns of the elbows, with turns of the wrist regarded as merely shrunken variants suitable for very small executions. When the ballroom ports de bras are “sized up” for the theater, one would expect the same pattern of turns of the wrists to be done but now replaced with turns of the elbows.

23.3.14.2 The Half-Serious Style

Again in agreement with the principles outlined above (ch. 6), one would expect turns of neither the elbows nor the wrists to be used in the half-serious style. Given the busy seesawing sideways movements of the legs in the rigaudon proper, where a contrastive position of the arms is out of place, one would expect the upper limbs to be simply held in second position of the arms, with the level determined by the height of the gesture foot. This is shown in the reconstruction (figs. 12-18).

23.3.15 Orientation

In agreement with the principles of bodily orientation outlined in ch. 8, one would expect the step, when executed in first position of the feet, to be typically done en face, rather than en diagonale, in all four styles, given the sideways movements of the legs.

 

23.4 Variants of the Step

Like other eighteenth-century steps, the pas de rigaudon could be done in various ways, or as Tomlinson (1735: 43) puts it, there were “many other Ways of performing this Step.” Disappointingly, the extant dances recorded in Beauchamps notation do not show a great variety of executions. Indeed, the pas de rigaudon does not even appear in the second collection by Le Roussau (1725?). This may have something to do with the fact that most of the dances extant in notation are the handiwork of a rather limited number of choreographers and are mainly in the ballroom style or in the serious genre of the theater. Below, I have sketched out some theoretically possible even if non-extant variants, based on the kind of variation found in other steps, i.e., variation created through substitution and addition, and based on versions predating and postdating our period. And some of the versions almost certainly could be combined, such that the *pas de rigaudon dessus could, say, be done grand, and with beats, for example.

 

23.4.1 The *Pas de Rigaudon Dessus

The *pas de rigaudon dessus is simply any version of the rigaudon step wherein the dancer consistently brings the free leg in front of the weight-bearing leg in the two closings belonging to the rigaudon proper, that is, when the dancer closes in a crossed position of the feet (third, fourth, or fifth) rather than first. To give an example, the dancer does his opening spring taking the right to second off the floor, then closes the right foot in front of the left in a crossed position; the left is then taken out to second off the floor and then closes in front of the right in a crossed position. This patterning is explicitly alluded to by Tomlinson (1735: 43), who writes that “you perform this Step into the third Position, that is, you make the first Step which is with a Spring, and inclose it before the Foot on which the Weight rests (e), and the second before that (f) in the like Manner.” This dessus variant is shown in the notational examples given by Tomlinson (number 2 in fig. 8) and Lange (right example in fig. 10), and is evident in Vieth’s description of the step to the fore (1794: 2/416), all in full agreement with Roller’s description of the same step (§23.2.4).

 

23.4.2 The *Pas de Rigaudon Dessous

The *pas de rigaudon dessous is the very opposite of the *rigaudon dessus. Here the dancer consistently brings the free leg behind the weight-bearing leg in the two closings of the rigaudon proper, that is, when he closes in a crossed position of the feet (third, fourth, or fifth) rather than first. To give an example, the dancer does his opening spring taking the right to second position off the floor, then closes the right behind the left in a crossed position of the feet; he then takes the left to second position off the floor and closes it behind the right in a crossed position. This patterning is explicitly mentioned by Tomlinson (1735: 43), who writes that “to perform this Step backwards differs in this, that as the foregoing [the *rigaudon dessus] was inclosed before, after the Spring, this is inclosed behind the Foot that supports the Weight (g), and the second Step behind that (h).” Tomlinson also provides an example of this execution in notation (number 3 in fig. 8).

 

23.4.3 The *Pas de Rigaudon Devant

In the *pas de rigaudon devant, the dancer does not change the relationship between the feet during the step, such that if the first closing is done in front of the weight-bearing leg, into a crossed position of the feet, the second closing is done behind, again into a crossed position, so that the right remains in front and the left behind throughout the step, or the other way around. This patterning is explicitly mentioned by Tomlinson (1735: 43), who writes that “the first of the said two Steps, namely, the Spring, may be done in the third Position before (i), and the second behind (j).” Tomlinson also provides an example of this execution in notation (number 4 in fig. 8).

 

23.4.4 The *Pas de Rigaudon Derrière

The *pas de rigaudon derrière is the opposite of the *rigaudon devant. As in the latter, the dancer does not change the relationship between the feet during the step, such the foot that is brought behind into a crossed position in the first closing remains behind throughout the step, with the other foot crossing back in front in the second closing. This patterning is mentioned by Tomlinson (1735: 43), who writes that this step may be done such that “the first [movement is performed] with a Spring behind (k), and the second Step before (l).” Tomlinson also provides an example in notation (number 5 in fig. 8).

 

23.4.5 The *Grand Pas de Rigaudon

As discussed above (chs. 3-4), there is ample evidence that springing steps in the eighteenth century could be done both petit and grand, that is, as either a small or big jump, and with a low or high leg gesture. It follows then that the pas de rigaudon could also be done grand, with a marked degree of elevation off the floor and with the leg gestures high, to height of the hip, for example, or, in the case of the traditional grotesque style, even to the height of the shoulder or head. In accordance with the principles outlined above (ch. 6), the capering port de bras would be expected here.

 

23.4.6 The *Pas de Rigaudon en Pas Rond

The nonextant expression *pas de rigaudon en pas rond (‘rigaudon step in the manner of a pas rond’) is used here to denote a variant execution with circular leg gestures. When the free leg is taken out to second position, first on one side and then on the other, the moving leg traces out a circular path here, rather than going straight out to second and then back “return[ing] in the same way,” as Dufort (1728: 70) puts it. Rameau (1725b: 101) is the only source to make explicit reference to such curvilinear movement, wherein the free foot “opens a little to the side in rounding and comes back to first position at the same time.” Presumably the foot passes first through an open fourth position off the floor on its way to second position off the floor and then closes in first. As such, this version of the rigaudon is analogous to variants of other steps, which similarly allow the dancer, by way of variation, to avail himself of either a leg gesture following a straight or circular path.

It might be noted here that the notational characters representing the rigaudon, as found in a variety of sources, often betray a circular path in the opening and closing of the two leg gestures. This is particularly evident in Rameau’s notational examples of the step (fig. 3). One might be tempted to view this rather common feature in the notation as an indicator that such circular movement was the norm in the rigaudon. Upon closer examination, however, it appears that such rounding reflects a general tendency among engravers to give the symbols a pleasing circular line, and should not necessarily be interpreted as showing literally the precise path of the feet in executing the openings and closings. In some sources, the characters representing the movements of the legs are in fact drawn quite straight (fig. 1), as one would expect from the extant descriptions of the step. In fact, one and the same source may haphazardly show characters now with, now without such rounding, even within a depiction of one and the same step. Or alternatively, the path of the moving leg is neither really straight nor circular. Such inconsistency strongly suggests that the notators did not intend the precise shape of the lines to be taken as a literal depiction of the free foot’s path in opening and closing. And, of course, the line representing the return of the gesture leg in the rigaudon character cannot precisely follow the same path without overwriting and thus obscuring the whole character.

 

23.4.7 The *Pas de Rigaudon Développé

None of the sources mentions or describes a *pas de rigaudon développé (‘unfolding rigaudon step’). Given that the pas de rigaudon is simply a kind of contretemps and given that in the regular contretemps the leg gesture could in fact be done in an unfolding manner (ch. 22), it possible that our step could also be ornamented with a développé, presumably in place of one or both of the dégagés to second position off the floor. Since the pas de rigaudon was normally “most gay in execution” (Rameau 1725a: 159), which would naturally exclude temps développés, such an execution would be suitable only in a slow terre-à-terre dance of the serious style, if it appeared at all.

 

23.4.8 The *Pas de Rigaudon à la Quatrième

The extant descriptions of the rigaudon instruct the reader to do the leg gestures always to second position off the floor. A *pas de rigaudon à la quatrième (‘rigaudon step to fourth’) may have existed in the ballet of our period, however. A version with the leg gestures moving to the fore was certainly known in the eighteenth century, specifically in French folk dance, for Rameau (1725a: 161) explicitly alludes to this manner of execution, wherein “instead of being opened to the side, the legs are taken in front somewhat crossed.” Given that the comic and grotesque were able to employ movements taken from folk or national dance (Fairfax 2003: 109-161), this rustic version of the step may have been used on the eighteenth-century stage.

It is worth mentioning here that a rather similar version is described in Roller (1843: 146), who has the legs move to fourth position to the rear and then to the fore, rather than always to the fore. As with his regular pas de rigaudon – and a number of other steps – he replaces the opening jump off both feet with a coupé, or cutting movement:

if this pas de rigaudon is to the fore or rear, the starting position is fifth with the right foot in front. On ‘one’ [i.e., ‘and’], the right is raised and set down; on ‘two’ [i.e., ‘one’], a jeté [i.e., a sprung dégagé with left] to the rear; on ‘three’ [i.e., ‘and’], the [left] foot is taken back into fifth position behind the right foot, and on ‘four’ [i.e., ‘two’], the right foot does the sous par sous in a line forwards [i.e., the right is extended to fourth position off the floor in front and then brought back into fifth (see Roller’s remarks about the sous par sous in §23.2.4 above)].

It is, however, impossible to say whether a version with the leg gestures passing to fourth behind and then to fourth in front (or the other way around) was ever known in the eighteenth century.

 

23.4.9 The *Pas de Rigaudon sans Sauter

None of the eighteenth-century sources mentions a *pas de rigaudon sans sauter (‘rigaudon step without springing’), wherein the dancer replaces the opening jump into the air with a simple relevé, that is, a simple straightening of the legs together with a rise onto the toe. While Tomlinson (1735: 42) notes in passing that the opening jump could be done “either off the Ground, or upon it,” it is unclear whether he means a terre-à-terre jump or a sans sauter rise. But given that a number of jumps from our period could be performed sans sauter, most notably the contretemps, of which the pas de rigaudon is but a version, one would expect that this step could also be executed without springing.

 

23.4.10 The *Pas de Rigaudon sans Plier

None of the eighteenth-century sources mentions a *pas de rigaudon sans plier (‘rigaudon step without bending’), wherein the dancer leaves out the opening plié and rises through the impetus created by the up-swinging gesture leg and keeps both legs stretched straight throughout the step. Given that other jumping steps from the period could clearly be executed sans plier (ch. 4), it seems likely that the rigaudon could also be performed likewise, but such a version was simply not recorded.

 

23.4.11 The *Pas de Rigaudon Battu

The *pas de rigaudon battu (‘beaten rigaudon step’) is shown only in notation, to wit, example x in fig. 10, taken from Lange (1763), which shows a beat during the first part of the step. As Beauchamps notation does not generally make clear either the manner of beating or the timing of beats, more than one possible interpretation is possible for this character. Presumably, more than one way of beating was possible here, in agreement with the principles outlined in ch. 4, such that the dancer could beat during the plié or during the rise into the air, or upon landing. In all three cases, one could expect one form of the battement plié; or in the second two instances, some form of the battement tendu.

 

23.4.12 The Pas Retroussé

The rigaudon can also be done en tournant, that is, with a turn of the body. A couple of the sources mention this variant. Sol (1725: 83) writes that “there are some which are done turning, and these are done in the same way with the same temps,” and that “these pas de rigaudon done turning are called pas retroussés by some, but this is a ballet term for theatrical dances.” The term also appears undefined in Borin (1746: 13); in Ferrère (1782: 26), in the choreographic notes to his comic pantomime ballet La réjouissance villageoise, for example; as well as in Guillemin (1784: 15), who mentions a “contretemps retroussé en tournant.” Josson (1763: 80-81) describes the pas retroussé under the name of the ‘pirouette,’ in the context of the ballroom contredanse, his “pirouette” differing “from the pas de rigaudon only in that the latter is always done facing forwards, and the other turning either to the right or left.” Dufort (1728: 69) also speaks of rigaudon steps “done turning, making a quarter, half, or as much as a whole turn,” although he adds that such executions were “very seldom” done in ballroom dancing.

Sol intimates that the dancer typically turned around piecemeal in the step, at least in the ballroom: “Bend and spring on the left foot while turning and bring in the right foot while turning in the same way, then the left foot.” This is in agreement with Josson, who instructs the reader in the step turning to the right, that is, en dehors with the right as the gesture leg, to “spring on the left foot doing a quarter turn and to complete the half turn take a step with the right foot to fourth position in front without bending or springing. The third temps is done by walking and bringing in the left foot to first position to end the turn,” the which ends with “springing on the toes of both feet at the same time,” that is, with the pas sauté.

From these two sources, it thus appears that the dancer does a quarter turn of the body during the opening jump, another quarter turn in the first closing of the leg, into fourth position according to Josson, in order “to complete the half turn.” Neither Sol nor Josson indicate whether the dancer is to continue turning during the second leg gesture, doing another half turn to bring himself fully around so as to face in the same direction as at the beginning of the step. Certainly, doing two quarter turns during two movements followed by a half-turn in a third movement is extant for other composite steps, such as the bourrée or the pas sauté (chs. 12 and 25), as a way to complete a piecemeal full turn.

Dufort indicates that the step could be done with “as much as a whole turn.” The last option is found in the fourth figure of the opening allegretto figuring in Ferrère’s aforesaid ballet, wherein eight women dancers do a full turn of the body in a “pas retroussé,” according to the notes and accompanying figure drawn out in the manuscript.

It was also possible to confine the turning to only one element of the composite step. The two examples reproduced in fig. 21, for example, taken from Gaudrau (1713?: 2/63, 46), show respectively a quarter and half turn in the last jump.

Fig. 21. Left: pas de rigaudon with a quarter turn in the final jump (Gaudrau 1713?: 2/63); right: pas de rigaudon with a half turn in the final jump (Gaudrau 1713?: 2/46), after originals.

Thus, the pas retroussé was in no way different from other eighteenth-century steps done with a turn, such that the rotation of the body could be done during only one part of the composite step, or alternatively in a piecemeal fashion. For a discussion of the port de bras and head movement to be used with steps executed en tournant, see chs. 6 and 7.

 

23.4.13 The *Pas de Rigaudon en Tortillant

None of the sources mentions or shows in notation a *pas de rigaudon en tortillant (‘rigaudon step with twisting’). Given that the rigaudon is at bottom a contretemps and given that other contretemps, like nearly all extant eighteenth-century steps, betray instances of embellishment with a tortillé (ch. 4), it seems certain that the rigaudon was no exception and that a tortillé could be freely added here as well.

 

23.4.14 The *Pas de Rigaudon avec Entrechat

The *pas de rigaudon avec entrechat (‘rigaudon step with an entrechat’) is nothing more than a rigaudon ending with an entrechat instead of the pas sauté or assemblé. This version is hinted at in two sources and explicitly mentioned in a third. In connection with his description of the pas de rigaudon, Ferriol (1745: 1/108) writes that “a caper instead of the final jump looks grand.” What appears to be a reference to this variant is found in a description of the first scene from Pitrot’s pantomime ballet Télémaque dans l’île de Calypso, mounted at the Comédie-italienne in 1759. Responding to an invitation to sojourn on Calypso’s island, “the worthy son of Ulysses gives himself over in advance to the pleasures that so delightful a sojourn offers him; this is shown in the rigaudon steps and entrechats, which Telemachus successively performs” (Goudar 1759: 9). De la Cuisse (1762: 11) explicitly notes that the pas de rigaudon “consists of four temps, the fourth of which, called an assemblé, can be replaced by an entrechat.”

 

23.4.15 The *Pas de Rigaudon avec Échappé

Only one source, namely Lange (1763: tab. 24, x), gives a version of the rigaudon step ending with an échappé instead of a pas sauté or assemblé (fig. 10).

 

23.4.16 The *Pas de Rigaudon avec Pas Marché

A number of the handbooks note that the composite pas de riguadon, which takes up one and a half bars, was not uncommonly followed by a simple pas marché in order to fill out the remainder of the second measure. That is, once the dancer has landed from his final jump, “a pas naturel is usually done following, either to the fore, to the rear, or to both sides, depending on what comes next” (Ferriol 1745: 107). Rameau (1725a: 160), Dufort (1728: 70-71), and Tomlinson (1735: 42) similarly mention the practice of appending a marché to the jump “as a way of linking this step with another” (Rameau 1725a: 160), that is, to serve as a transition to the following step if needed. The addition of a pas marché to the rigaudon step can be found in extant ballroom and theatrical dances recorded in Beauchamps notation, an example of which is reproduced in fig. 8 (numbers 5 & 6).

 

23.4.17 The *Pas de Rigaudon en Assemblé

None of the sources shows in notation or describes in words a *pas de rigaudon en assemblé (‘rigaudon step in the manner of an assemblé’), a variant wherein the opening contretemps would be replaced with a pas assemblé. That is, instead of springing onto one leg, extending the other to second position off the floor, and then bringing the same leg into a closed position after the spring, the dancer here extends the free leg to second off the floor during the plié and brings the same leg in while airborne, landing on both feet.

Such a version was in fact known in the early nineteenth century, one that existed alongside the regular pas de rigaudon. It is described fleetingly by Hentschke (1836: 134) under the name of the pas de rigaudon, thus: “1) the right springs into fifth position; 2) the left, thrown sideways, is brought in behind; 3) the right, extended, springs behind into third position. Likewise contra or advancing to a side.” The same expression ‘the right springs into fifth,’ which describes the opening movement, is apparently an allusion to an assemblé, since he uses the same wording to describe the assemblé at the end of the composite step (in his number 3), and again in outlining the opening assemblé of the pas de gaillarde described elsewhere (1836: 135).

Fig. 22. Likely appearance in Beauchamps notation of Hentschke’s pas de rigaudon (1836: 134).

Since other steps, such as the pas de sissonne, show an alternation between an assemblé and a contretemps at the beginning of the composite step, by way of variation, the variant given by Hentschke may have been known in the eighteenth century and was simply not recorded. While Hentschke does not give any information on timing, his version could be seen as a kind of précipité execution (ch. 8) of the pas de rigaudon, since it potentially allows the dancer to performance the whole of the composite step, with its appended jump, in one single bar of music, rather than the usual one and a half. Fig. 22 shows its likely appearance in Beauchamps notation.

It is also possible, however, that Hentschke was using the term pas de rigaudon rather loosely, and the step he presents is really a pas composé which is a kind of the pas de gaillarde but resembles the pas de rigaudon, and that the step was unknown in the eighteenth century.

 

23.4.18 The *Pas de Rigaudon Entre Cadence and Contre Cadence

In light of the discussion on timing (ch. 8), one would expect that the pas de rigaudon could also be executed entre cadence and contre cadence.