Lanceros, a traditional dance from our "Bailes de Salon" (Ballroom Dances),
came to Puerto Rico via Spain in the second half of the 19th century.
It was a popular dance in the salons of elite, agricultural landowners
(hacendados) with cultural ties to Spain. The roots of this dance originated
in Ireland as a dance called Lancers Quadrille (or Lanciers in some countries).
It was invented by Dublin dancing-master John Duval and was
based on the Quadrilles danced in France in the late 18th and early
19th century. (Although, Englishman Joseph Hart is historically cited as the
first creator of Lancers in 1819.) Variations of Lancers, found in many
European and Latin American countries, made its way to Puerto Rico starting
with its introduction to Paris from Ireland in 1846, followed by the
traditional route of other European dances, from France to Spain, Spain to the
In Puerto Rico, Lanceros was traditionally danced by 8 to 16 couples in the
formation of a quadrille. The ladies were elegantly dressed in ballrooms
gowns and fans, men in romantic white tie-and-tails. A "Maestro de Baile"
(a caller, basically) led the couples through set choreographies made up of
five parts or musical variations on Lanceros (the Reception, the Balance,
the Rose, the Visit, the Chains) which incorporated the four basic
formations that make up Lanceros (balance, cierre, rosa, and cadena).
References and Suggested Reading
- Rosa-Nieves, Cesareo, "La Lampara del Faro: Variaciones Criticas Sobre
Temas Puertorriqueros", San Juan Bautista de Puerto Rico, Editorial Club
de la Prensa, 1957.
- Pescador de Umpierre, Paquita, "Manual de Bailes Folkloricos",
Editorial Universitaria, Universidad de Puerto Rico, 1981.
- Groves Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 5th Ed., Vol. 5, pp. 39-40.
- Quadrilles, Old Social Dances, Irish Set Dancing links,
- Harrison, Bill, "A Brief Overview of Irish Dance",
The Irish Arts Center, www.inx.net/~mardidom/rcidance.htm
- Rasmussen, Birgit, "Les Lanciers", The Danish Folk Dance website,
- See References and Resources
for where to find these treasures and additional suggested reading.
For more information:
Dr. Ana María Tekina-eirú Maynard
Puerto Rican Cultural Center
Cultural Center Address: 701 Tillery Street #13, Austin TX 78702-3738 (Map & Directions)
Mailing Address: 15228 Quiet Pond Court, Austin TX 78728-4555
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