Processional couple dance with stately flowing steps, fashionable in the 16th century, especially in France. A line of couples extended their paired hands forward and paraded back and forth the length of the ballroom. It was revived in the 18th century as a figure dance for four couples, in which each pair performed intricate turns under each other's arms, a figure that partly survives in the “allemand” of the U.S. square dance. In the late 17th century a stylized version of the dance in time began to be used by composers as the first movement of the suite.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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