historical dances    /    17th-18th century


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The Minuet is a French court dance of folk descent, originating from the Branle de Poitou in the French Provence of Poitiers. Danced in the ball rooms and theatre stages from the second half of the 17th century until the early 19th century, the ball room minuet was performed in pairs according to figures dictated by the etiquette. The name minuet derives from the French word menu (tiny).

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The minuet quickly caught on at the French court thanks to its charmingly peculiar tiny steps, the pas menu. Danced a number of times during the ball by various pairs, matched according to the court hierarchy, the minuet reigned supreme in European ball rooms and on stage throughout the entire 18th century. Its composition underwent ongoing changes: the tempo gradually slowed down, the steps became simplified, and new elements were added, among them pirouettes. By the end of the century, the minuet was danced by several pairs lined in a column, one after another. The minuet is a showpiece dance, beaming with elegance and grace, preceded by a triple bow directed at the king, the guest, and the dancing partner. The basic figures include the so-called “Z-figure”, “joining of the right hands”, “joining of he left hands”, and the “joining of both hands”. Each dancing pair was expected to present all of the customary figures. The minuet step spans two bars and appears in several different variants, each with a different number of “bent knees” steps, such as the pas à unmouvement, pas à deuxmouvements and the pas à troismouvements, also referred to as the pas bohémien.



Agnel Romana, Podstawowe formy tańca dworskiego w okresie Baroku [Basic Forms of Court Dances in the Baroque Period], [in:] W kręgu tańca barokowego [In the Circle of Baroque Dance], ed. P. Grajter, Lodz, 2007.

Conté Pierre, Danses anciennes de cour et de théâtre en France, Paris, 1974.

Drabecka Maria, Tańce historyczne [Historical Dances], vol. I–IV, Warsaw, 1975–1984.

Larousse-Bordas, Dictionnaire de la danse, Paris, 1999.

Rameau Pierre, LeMaitre á danser, Paris, 1725.