Here is a list of some of the figures used in Eighteenth-century dances, with explanations of how they are danced. Because of the quantity of figures, and the different definitions that were given at different times, this list will probably never be complete, but if there is a figure which you would like defined or clarified, please let us know.
Allemand figure: The allemand figure we do works as follows: The couple link right elbows and then straighten out their right arms to reach their partner’s hand, while they hold left hands behind their backs. For an allemand reverse they would reverse this and start by linking their left elbows.
Draw figure: In the draw figure the gent of couple one and the lady of couple three pull their partner by two hands, going backwards in a full circle around the second couple while their partner is going forward. All end up in the spot where they began the draw figure.
First corners: Not a figure, but a term referring to the first gent and second lady.
Lead Outsides: First couple meet in the center of the set (1 bar); chassee over to the gents’ side (1 bar), set (or other footing step – 2 bars), chassee over to ladies side (1 bar), chassee to center (1 bar); couple turn and retire to their sides of the set (2 bars).
For an excellent discussion of the sources available for reconstructing the Lead Outsides figure, see Susan de Guardiola’s page on the subject. Our interpretation is based on Thomas Wilson’s description of the figure from 1811 and 1820, but our interpretation of the timing and footwork is different from Susan’s.
Rights and Lefts: Dancers give right hand across the set to their partner and pull by, give left hand to the dancer next to them on the side of the set and pull by, give right hand to their partner and pull by, give left hand to the dancer next to them on the side of the set and pull by, to end up back where they started.
Second corners: Not a figure but a term referring to the first lady and second gent.
Swing Corners: Danced from progressed position, with the first couple between the second and third couples. The first couple turn by the right hand 5/8 around; first gent turns third lady by the left hand while first lady turns second gent by the left hand; first couple turns by the right hand 3/4 around, first gent turns second lady by the left hand while first lady turns third gent by the left hand. The first couple returns to their own side at the end of the figure, unless the dance calls for them to do something else.
Turn Corners: Danced from progressed position, with the first couple between the second and third couples. The first couple pass by the right shoulder; first gent two-hand turns the third lady clockwise while first lady two-hand turns second gent clockwise; first couple pass each other by the right shoulder, first gent two-hand turns second lady clockwise while the first lady two-hand turns the third gent clockwise. The first couple returns to their own side at the end of the figure, unless the dance calls for them to do something else.