Grande Ball - The Bow and Curtsy

Two of the most basic necessities of the dance floor are the bow and the curtsy.  As every dance begins with these salutations between partners, it is important to know how to execute them properly.  To do so gracefully requires an understanding of the flow of movements within each, as well as practice to be able to perform them easily.


The Gentleman:

When a gentleman wishes to bow, he should begin the execution by standing erectly with his heels close together and the toes pointed outward so that a V-shape is formed by his feet (this is known as the first position in dancing).  The movements flow through four counts.  With count one, he will step his left foot to the side about the distance of one foot length, keeping the toe pointed out just as it was. Count two brings the right foot close to the left, also keeping the toe pointed out, so that the first dancing position is again formed.   His eyes are looking directly forward at his partner.  Just as the right foot is settling into position, the bow begins as the upper part of the body bends forward from the hips (count three).  The incline does not need to be deep, small is sufficient.  The knees should be straight, while the arms hang down to the front at the fullest point of the bow.  Elbows will be slightly bent with the hands in a relaxed curve.  Eyes will be directed downward.  Count four will complete the salutation as the upper body comes back to an erect position and the eyes again look upon the lady.  It is completely acceptable to begin the bow by moving to the right instead of the left, reversing the directions described above.  If the dance is a quadrille, it is accepted in count two to bring the right foot in further, until the heel touches the hollow of the left foot.  The toe remains pointed outward.  As the bow is completed the right foot moves slightly out to once again form the first dancing position.

The Lady:

As a lady receives a bow, she will reply with a curtsy.  She should be standing with her heels close together and her toes pointed outward, forming a V with her feet.  (Again this is known as the first position in dancing.)  Her hands will be holding her skirt.  Four counts will complete her courtesy.  First, she will move the right foot to the side, toes pointed out; bringing the heel off the floor and curving the instep so that only the toes are touching (count one).  In count two, the right heel comes to the floor as her weight is shifted to the right foot.  The left foot slides to the rear of the right foot, the left toes continuing to point outward.   The left heel and instep are now raised with only the left toes on the floor.  Count three brings the left heel down and transfers the weight backward onto the left foot as the lady sinks back and bends both knees.  This motion will again lift the right heel off the floor with the toes remaining in position.  To complete count four the weight comes forward again onto the right foot as the lady rises, bringing her left foot up and close to the right again, into the same position in which she began.

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