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Quadrille music and dance - Carriacou

Updated: Jul 31, 2023

Quadrille music and dance is part of the cultural heritage of the sister isles of Carriacou and Petite Martinique.


Origin

Quadrille music and dance comes from Europe. Quadrille music and dance was first started in France, and then transplanted to Britain in 1815. The dance gained popularity among the elite both in France and London. Through British and French colonization of Grenada, Quadrille music and dance came to Grenada and the sister isles of Carriacou and Petite Martinique. It was the British and French plantation owners who brought Quadrille music and life to plantation life and introduced it to house slaves. House slaves working inside of the Plantation houses learnt the music and dance first, and later taught the field slaves.


Today, Quadrille music and dance is performed by the village of L'Esterre in Carriacou. This is the home of the tradition. The L'Esterre Quadrille Group performs Quadrille music and dance.


Format

Quadrille music involves string or percussion instruments such as the fiddle, steel triangle, cuatro, banjo, tambourine, and bass drum. The fiddle is the main instrument. This is the European influence.


Quadrille dance is a kind of square dance in which there are four couples. The couples are dressed formally. The men in a black pants and colourful blouse, and the women in colourful skirts and head wraps. Dances include The Waltz, and heel and toe. The choreography of the dances involve symmetry in which each individual move has a counter move, creating a distinct pattern. There are six dances done, of which the first four dances are slow, and the last two dances are more upbeat.


Heritage Keeper

The late Canute Calliste was one of the heritage keepers of the Quadrille music and dance. He was a well-known fiddler who played the fiddle as part of this tradition. Canute was born in L'Esterre in 1914. He attended the Harvey Vale Government School. Later, in life, he became a painter (artist painter). He is known for his water colour paintings of elements of nature including mermaids as well a aspects of African culture such as traditional weddings, tombstone feasts and boat building. He exhibited his artwork worldwide including in the UK, Germany and USA.


Canute was a violin player and this was his main contribution to Quadrille music and dance. He played the violin in England where he was invited along with the L'Esterre Quadrille dance group to perform. The group was also invited to play in City Hall in New York.

He died in 2005 at the age of 91.


Here is a video of Quadrille music and dance:

Copyright: Cultural Equity


Information Source: Performing Ambivalence: The Case of Quadrille Music and Dance in Carriacou, Grenada by Rebecca S. Miller



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