Exploring Cultural Dance – Quadrille

A Caribbean Communities in Europe (CACOEU) Project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund

The aim of the ‘Exploring Cultural Dance – Quadrille’ project was to bring together London’s diverse Caribbean community to explore cultural heritage using the Quadrille dance as a focus. The project combined research with personal memories and live gatherings to bring to life this dance which is still practised today by many communities across London.

Through workshops and oral history sessions we were able to investigate how Quadrille has, in various forms, been passed on through generations and across continents. We were able to trace and document the dance’s journey from its origins in 18th Century Europe, through its adoption by enslaved Africans in the Caribbean, to its present day practice in London.

The project has successfully brought together individuals and groups from across London to share and compare their knowledge and experience of the history and practice of the Quadrille with a particular focus on Jamaican and St. Lucian versions. We learned about the music, costumes and the variations of the dance from community to community and explored participants’ first hand knowledge of the dance and the secret meanings within it.

We have found out that it is a much loved pastime in London, a way of feeling in touch with Caribbean culture, and that those involved were thrilled to discover that so many others were practising Quadrille in community centres across the capital. We also introduced Quadrille to those who knew nothing about the dance and encouraged them to take part and found that, having participated, they wanted to learn more.

Participants and volunteers took part in activities such as photography, film making, interview techniques and oral history in order that they could not only contribute to the project but also help to document those contributions. Those involved in dancing Quadrille gave us their time to be photographed in full costume, share information in their own words through vox pop interviews, and perform at the project’s premier event Quadrille Live!

The enthusiasm and support given by all those involved in the project has been incredible and CACOEU would like to believe that through this website the practice of Quadrille can be passed on to future generations.