The kontro is a folk adaptation of the ballroom quadrille. It was a long dance comprised of many figures. The course of the dance consisted of small running steps, approaching and walking away of pairs, walking crosswise and changing partners during the dance. In kontro every dancer had to perform several steps (figures) with every other dancer, and every pair had to lead the dance for a while. This dance required an outstanding sense of spatial orientation and kinetic coordination.
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Performed in Mazovia and Podlasie, the Kontro dance is an example of the transfer of patterns of the court and urban culture to the folk culture along with the development of a peculiar form of figurative dance. In the case of the kontro, those borrowings and passing had a few stages. The prototype of this dance was the contredanse, a fashionable courteous dance of English origin, which became very popular at European courts and ballrooms in the 18th century. Next was quadrille which emerged from the contredanse and won great favours throughout the Napoleonic Europe. The quadrille was often danced by 4 pairs, put together to form a square. They performed sets of complicated figures, and the dance was completed with a gallop and a series of stomps referring directly to the origin of the name of dance (quadrille - cavalry). Both the contredanse and the quadrille were danced in Polish manor houses and in ballrooms, and they were adopted in a simplified form as the kontro dance by the gentry and villagers from Mazovia and Podlasie. The main structure of the dance was preserved, i.e. the definite number of pairs facing each other and a multitude of figures indicating the courteous origin of the dance. The kontro was performed in a moderate or fast tempo(2/4 metre), by 4, 8 or 12 pairs (always a multiple of 4), but there were not many occasions to dance it. It rarely appeared during weddings, because no one wanted to distinguish particulardancers from the rest of wedding guests. Thus, the only occasions to witness the performance of the kontro remained village carnival or harvest dancing. The dance could last as long as an hour or longer before its completion. To perform all of its figures took a long time. Kontro was a type of suite consisting of many parts, and it was managed by the master of ceremonies (dance leader). His role was to start the dance and to call the changes of figures. Dancers ended every part of kontro by clapping their hands. The course of the dance consisted of small running steps, approaching and backtracking of pairs, walking crosswise, changing partners during the dance, and solo dancing. It was danced mostly by adult and established dancers. When the whole kontro was performed, dancers asked musicians to play the polka-galopka and oberek.


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