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A curtsey is a gesture of respect and greeting performed by women and girls toward men and women alike. Curtseys are the customary greeting performed by women in most situations and are used at the start of a dance.

Performing a curtsey

  1. Stand upright with both feet flat on the ground facing the target of the curtsey.
  2. Bend the right knee and smoothly place the toe of the right foot on the ground behind the left foot. The distance behind and to the left of the left foot can range from very close, to over two feet from.
  3. Simultaneously bend the left knee, lower the head and use both hands to spread the skirts slightly.
  4. Straighten back up, place both feet side by side flat on the ground and drop the skirts.

Variations of the curtsey

A very brief or informal curtsey can involve simply bending both knees and lowering the head. A deep and formal curtsey (usually performed for royalty in court) can be very elaborate with the woman crossing her ankles (as described above) and lowering her body completely to the floor, with her head almost touching the ground with her skirts spread out around her. She would then gracefully raise herself back to her full height.