During the 1830s in Paris the quadrille, a five-movement figure dance, became musically omnipresent to the distress of many critics, who saw the genre as detrimental to French music and musical taste. Discussions of the dance in journalism and literature associate bourgeois women and girls and working-class men with promotion of the genre. As a figure dance with walking steps, the quadrille was enjoyed by respectable women who experienced it as a safe frame for civilized social interaction, although their male counterparts found the dance boring and uninviting. In contrast, working-class men were known for their engaging and energetic performances as cancanneurs, improvisatory dancers exhibiting a lack of control associated with political instability and revolution. Quadrilles were perceived to have a negative influence on musical education for girls, who resembled the cancanneurs in their mechanical and animalistic qualities, and who preferred quadrilles over more ambitious pieces for piano. More serious was the perceived damage that arrangements of operas as quadrilles inflicted on the original, reducing great works to the banal through simplification. By serving as an example of all that stands in opposition to art in French music, the quadrille contributed to the formulation of the concept of music as art.
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