Quadrille today

The Quadrille has come to be recognised as an extremely valuable constituent of the diverse and rich culture of the Caribbean, across the islands and in the diaspora.

In Jamaica and St Lucia Quadrille is taught in schools and this is helping re-establish the dance as an important part of each of the islands’ heritage. In St Lucia the Quadrille has been included in schools since the 1990s. More recently it has been taught in Jamaican schools for performance at festivals and competitions, though it is not part of the national curriculum.

In England, the diaspora youth have much less contact with their cultural roots and practices and seem less interested in learning about the Quadrille. Encouragingly, once young people do try the dance the responses are overridingly positive.

In London, the dance is seen both as a means of preserving and disseminating St Lucian and Jamaican culture, but also as a means of coming together as a group of people and sharing the benefits this social dance develops. Quadrille groups speak about telling stories of their ancestors, maintaining a link to the heritage that they come from and using the Quadrille as a means to tell their own stories.

There are increasing efforts to raise awareness of the Quadrille and to preserve its tradition in London aimed at both the older expatriates as well as the younger generations who may not have had any contact with the dance.

Andrew Scott talks about St Lucian Quadrille and demonstrates the dance with his partner Evette Phillips

‘Quadrille is embraced by all society. It is the envy of everyone to know how to do it. People are proud of it…Quadrille is being gently rebranded because St Lucians have just discovered how valuable their cultural traditions are, so everyone is rushing to learn it and interpret it.
The original dances are being transformed/altered choreographed over time so new learners of the dance are learning choreographed versions of the traditional dances, and in the process, we miss out on the authentic original indigenous version of the traditional dance.’

Andrew Scott, founder member of Les Danseur Traditionelles de St. Lucie

Felicia and Greenage Hippolyte from Anse La Raye Quadrille dance troupe discuss St Lucian Quadrille

‘A group of us went to St. Lucia in 1994 and realised that it was introduced in schools. We felt it was so good; we felt we were missing out on something, so when we came back to the U.K. some members expressed an interest in following it up. The next step was to find a teacher.’

Felicia Hippolyte, St Lucian Quadrille teacher and dancer

Interview with Beverley Bogle – a personal story

‘Our ancestors got together in their communities to show love and respect, and to show we’re all in this together. We just wanted to learn the dance and do things within our community. It is dear to my heart.’

Beverley Bogle, JANUKA

Caroline Muraldo and members of her two Quadrille groups discuss Quadrille’s history and their personal stories

‘When I was growin’ up we only used to watch the people dancin’ in the windows and we couldn’t dance because they never taught us. But since I came up here and then we start the Quadrille, I always love the Quadrille. That is why I join and I love it. And I don’t know when I’ll give it up. Is t he only day when I give it up is when I die. I love it I love it.’

Josephine Alphonse

Caroline Muraldo and members of her two Quadrille groups discuss Quadrille’s history and their personal stories

‘There are many principles that our ancestors had employed to survive forced enslavement, principles which the Quadrille dance seek to cultivate today: unity, respect, balance, listening, patience, friendship, acceptance, self reliance, peace, team work, to advance, to retreat, courage, confidence, co-operation, concentration, compliance, sharing, discipline, trust, gratitude.’

Pat Powell, Kon Kon Te Cultural Group