For someone who doesn’t dance, I seem fated to spend a surprising amount of time investigating the names of (usually long-forgotten) dances. Back in 2011 it was the lipsi; last year it was the money musk, in its guise as monimaska (манимаска); now, in reading Sollogub‘s best-known (if not best) work, Тарантас (“The tarantass“), I encounter the following sentence in the chapter devoted to describing the haphazard upbringing of the older of the two travelers, Vasily Ivanovich, born in the 1780s in an estate near Kazan: “Никто ловче его не прохаживался в матрадуре, монимаске, куранте или Даниле Купере” [No one was more adroit than he at dancing the matradur(a), the monimaska, the courante, or the Daniel Cooper]. The monimaska is our old friend the money musk, the Daniel Cooper famously occurs in War and Peace (you can see and hear a lively rendition here), but what’s a matradur(a) (you can’t tell from the Russian declined form whether it’s masculine or feminine)?
I did a ridiculous amount of googling before discovering that it has an entry in Vasmer, which explains that матрадур, or матрадура, is a loan from Polish matradur, itself borrowed from Italian matratura ‘castanet’ (apparently archaic). Dances certainly get around! An amusing side note about this particular dance is that Gogol used it for one of his jokes in Dead Souls: the landowner whom Nabokov called “the braggard and bully Nozdryov” describes a champagne he drank once as “не клико, а какое-то клико-матрадура, это значит двойное клико” [not a Clicquot but a matradura-Clicquot — that means a double Clicquot]. This has confused readers for generations, ever since the dance whose name he’s using fell into oblivion.