How to curtsey: It’s not as easy as you might think. According to some of the instruction manuals available on Google Books, a curtsey must be made where you stand. You must not lean forward, nor back, but sink down perfectly straight.
You curtsey to show respect to someone; holding your ground shows self-respect.
“A curtsey is in grace what an adagio is in music.” ? Graham’s magazine
Specifically, from The Lady’s Book:
Bend your arms gracefully, lightly holding out your dress.
Bring the front foot into 2nd position.
Draw the back foot into 3rd position behind and then immediately into 4th.
With the weight on the front foot, bend the front knee and gently sink.
Shift the weight to the back foot and rise.
Return the front foot to 4th position.
There are many forms of a curtsy shown on YouTube, from pert and saucy to a complete collapse onto the floor. Almost all suggest dipping forward, without any self-respect! (Ha–the only one that demonstrates a self-respecting straight up-and-down curtsey is cross-dressing Panty Boy’s video.)
Here is a video demonstrating an early 19th century curtsy, but, as you can see, it’s quite a bit different from the curtsy explained above.
I recall the actresses in an Austen movie being taught to melt into a curtsy.
“The perfect curtsey is rarely performed in society.”
I can see that! The search for the perfect curtsey goes on…
One 18th century etiquette book I read describes a curtsey as being like a plie – feet in second position and then you bend your knees. The higher in rank the person, the lower the curtsey – so with a low curtsey, your heels would leave the floor and you then have to concentrate on not falling over. Also, it was very important to keep your eyes cast down as you curtseyed – if you didn't it was seen as bold or even flirtatious. The Lady's Book extract is a wonderful description of the classic Victorian curtsey which is quite different – so at some point it must have changed and I've often wondered when and why.
Yes, Svea — that would make a charming documentary. Make it!
What a great post! A curtsey is a great mystery to many. It would be interesting to take a video survey of people enacting what they think a curtsey might be! Glad I found your blog :)
Karena, thank you.
I love the baskets! Readers, I know this only opens up the competition, but here is the link:
I am so happy to find you!
Wonderful, and please please do another series as you did on Josephine Bonaparte. It was the best trilogy I have ever read and did not want it to end.
I have a Giveaway by the French Basketeer that I think you will love!
Art by Karena
Jordan, I do know that the Mad Men writers are now developing a series about Versailles. (In fact, it was someone named Jordan who informed me.) I think it's very exciting! And I love the casting game … I think Nicole Kidman would be the perfect Athenais, but I've never sorted out the other players. What are your suggestions?
Here is the Variety article about the Mad Men team at Versailles:
I know this is off topic in a post related to dance, but I wanted both your input and that of anyone who might see it on your website, and communicating in a post is the only way to do that.
Did you hear that the makers of Mad Men are going to Versailles to film a miniseries about the time of Louis XIV. Considering both how classy and sexy Mad Man is, I think they're the perfect team to do this project.
So the natural parlor-game question is: What actors and actresses do you think would be perfect in the roles of Louis XIV, Athenais, Louise, Madame de Maintenon, Marie-Therese, Princess Palatine, Philippe, Claude, etc., etc…