Dance in general and the contredanse in particular have long been recognized as important to eighteenth-century European music. But music theorists have tended to understate the contredanse's unique contribution, when they haven't overlooked it entirely: dances are more often treated as musical styles or topics than as movement patterns, and the minuet, with more explicit connections to art music, has received more attention than the contredanse. This article analyzes the choreography as well as the music of eighteenth-century contredanses to show how this dance supported the development of hypermetrical hearing. The contredanse had surpassed the minuet in popularity by the second half of the eighteenth century, probably in part because of its participatory rather than performative nature. More important, it was the first dance in which alignment of choreography and music consistently extended to multiple hypermetric levels. In addressing the importance of contredanse choreography to eighteenth-century hypermeter, this article makes a broader appeal for incorporation of dance and the body into the study of meter.

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