Our ancestors lived experiences through the quadrille dance: Pt 4/4

januka quadrille dancersThis is Part 4 of a list of 15 dance figures/sets.  You can read Part 1,  Part 2 and Part 3 for the full list.

Part C continued.

14. Free Spirited Dances

Free spirited dances are symbolic of our ancestors’ free spiritedness, inherent love of music and dance and freedom of expression.

Dancing is choreographed to a selection of reconfigured quadrille expressions including advance retreat, shimmy, wrap over, twist and twirl, star formation, pyramid, promenades, pirouettes, allemande, heel and toe, kaleidoscope, and short, long and extended balances.

Mento music is the normal musical accompaniment, but other musical genres including popular contemporary and gospel music with the appropriate rhythm and beat are sometimes selected.

There are several free-spirited dance, sometimes referred to as “extra figures”. The aim is to capture the imagination of observers.

Historical relevance

Our ancestors transformed and transfigured the European ballroom quadrille into a new dance form called Camp Style and created their own musical accompaniment.

We continue this trend within the Camp style dance to increase awareness of the evolution of quadrille dance, its transformation and transfiguration and that it can be performed to many types of musical genre.


In these dances we demonstrate our inherited creativity, relaxed attitude, individuality, flamboyancy and style. and our ability to confuse, mesmerise, and do our own thing as our ancestors did.

15. The Grand Exit Waltz    

To end our dance routine, couples waltz in stately unison across the dance floor. They are copying and quietly indulging in the European Ballroom dance with decorum, reinforced energy and panache.

Historical relevance

All the characteristics ascribed to the European dance are portrayed. These include elegance, graceful, dignified, civilised, decent and refined.

The opposite was said of the African dances taken to Jamaica during enslavement, described by the colonialists as uncivilised and abhorrent.

In Post emancipated Jamaica a process of socio-cultural transformation was observed.

African -Jamaican, after centuries of British indoctrination and African de-culturation, accepted a more British- Jamaican culture rather than an African – Jamaican culture.

The British way of life was perceived as better, superior and more culturally advanced, and was adopted by successive generation of aspiring African- Jamaicans.

The Africans  “subordinate status” in plantation society would have been the motivating factor to abandon their own African cultural norms and aspire to achieve European standards of etiquette, dance and upward social mobility.

In Jamaica, Britain became their “Mother Country” by choice.


In this dance we demonstrate our ancestors coded messages about assimilation. They had spent centuries sharing geographical and cultural space with the Europeans where inter-communication and shared learning would have been inevitable.

This waltz is symbolic of our ancestors’ denouncement of the ideology that their enslavers’ had superior status. We demonstrate their strategy to reinforce their equal human status, their similarities with the Europeans as well as their differences in dance.

This waltz is also symbolic of our African ancestors’ established and esteemed ethical principles of life.

These include love, truth, order, justice, reciprocity, harmony, self-awareness and self-control, human dignity, mutual respect, forgiveness, kindness, caring, compassionate, graciousness, tolerance, trust, patience, self- awareness, self- control, peace and love.

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