1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Polonaise
POLONAISE (i.e. Polish, in French), a stately ceremonious dance, usually written in ¾ time. As a form of musical composition it has been employed by such composers as Bach, Handel, Beethoven, and above all by Chopin. It is usual to date the origin of the dance from the election (1573) of Henry duke of Anjou, afterwards Henry III. of France, to the throne of Poland. The ladies of the Polish nobility passed in ceremonial procession before him at Cracow to the sound of stately music. This procession of music became the regular opening ceremony at royal functions, and developed into the dance. The term is also given to a form of skirted bodice, which has been fashionable for ladies at different periods.