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Every Proper Lady Should Curtsy

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Just be careful not to get it too high, or a Panty Shot would be imminent.

A typical greeting done by a woman/girl, it has long been considered to be a gesture of respect, though it is less common nowadays. For all variants of the curtsy, she bends her knees, sometimes sweeping one foot behind the other, and holding her skirt in both hands.

Furthermore, most servants would be expected to curtsy to their masters/mistresses, and all women would do so to someone of a higher social standing, like royalty. (Inverting this can cross over with Kneel Before Frodo.) Female dancers may also curtsy at the end of a performance, or before engaging in a dance with another person. Note that for some, like The Ditz or the Cute Clumsy Girl, this may be a difficult thing to do. They may be used to contrast a Proper Lady who will, naturally, be an expert.

Can also be done in a mocking manner, as a sign of disrespect.

It's also a common part of those Regency-Debut to London Society type books. Specifically, the formal presentation to the queen, where the presentee has to curtsy before the queen. There's a little info about it here, after the fourth picture.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Black Butler:
    • Lizzie does this when greeting Sebastian.
    • Ciel also curtsies to Aleister when Disguised in Drag.
    • Some female dancers curtsy as well after dancing at a ball in Season 2 before Hannah provides music that brainwashes everyone.
    • Sebastian gives Sieglinde lessons on how to act like a lady in Chapter 107 including teaching her how to curtsy.
  • Roberta does this in Black Lagoon after she finishes mowing down a group of thugs in a bar with her umbrella gun, in doing so she revealed to the surviving thugs that she had several grenades hidden under her dress and had pulled off all the pins in the process.
  • Early on in Bleach, when Rukia and Orihime meet for the first time, they exchange curtsies in a rather comical and cute manner. Rukia, however, is significantly more polite than she acts otherwise (she calls Orihime "Inoue-san" in that encounter, rather than merely "Inoue") as part of the facade she assumes around Ichigo's classmates.
  • In Emma: A Victorian Romance the eponymous Emma, being a maid, frequently curtsies.
  • In Episode 11 of the anime Ghost Stories a Creepy Doll named Mary does this at one point.
  • Hayate × Blade: The girly Inori Sae does so.
  • In Kyo Kara Maoh! Episode 85, Yuuri, who's disguised as a girl, does this.
  • The Demon King (or rather, Queen) of Maoyu does this during her first meeting with The Hero when he arrives to her castle. Serves as part of her Establishing Character Moment as a polite and benevolent person.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam Wing:
    • Relena does the mocking version in the first episode of Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, directed at a soldier who's dragging her father away for more work immediately after he returned from a business trip.
    • Much later, when Relena decides to become the Queen of the World, Dorothy makes a curtsy in front of her.
  • Dr. Fennel from Pokémon Black and White does so in her Pokémon: The Series appearance, using a lab coat instead of a dress.
  • Mami in Puella Magi Madoka Magica curtsies every time she defeats a witch. Then long muskets start to fall from under her skirt.
  • The Quintessential Quintuplets: After being saved by "Kintarou" (who is actually Fuutarou with a blond wig), Nino does this while asking him to dance with her by the bonfire.
  • In the last episode of the R season in Sailor Moon, Chibiusa curtseys to her parents before running into her mother's arms.
  • Ran from Urusei Yatsura often curtsies when she introduces herself to others, she also has programmed her robotic messenger dolls of herself to do this.

  • The lady-in-waiting on the right of the princess Margarita in Las Meninas is in the middle of a curtsy. It is ambiguous if she is curtsying to the princess or to the king and queen, and why.

    Comic Books 
  • Dynomutt #1 (Nov. 1977): Not only does Dynomutt's young friend (actually a villainess) Goody Twoshoes curtsy to Blue Falcon, she lifts her skirt up high enough to provide a Panty Shot.
  • Powerpuff Girls #62 story "Brat Trap": In the standard "the day is saved" panel of pulsating hearts, Bubbles and the girls' friend Abby (created specifically for the story) exchange curtsies.

    Comic Strips 
  • In one Blondie strip, Dagwood is reading the paper and quotes an article that says that, due to visit by the royal family, everyone is brushing up on their curtsies. Blondie remarks that no one knows how to curtsy anymore. Dagwood says that he does and stands and demonstrates one perfectly. When she asks how he learned that, he says that Mr. Dithers demands one every morning.

    Fan Fiction 
  • Absol in Boldores And Boomsticks does her best version of a curtsy since her claws could make extending a paw for a shake come off as threatening.
  • In Futari wa Pretty Cure Dragon, Ryan Lee is a male example; he even gets it right the first time! Susan Chan also does this, and as frequently as Ryan.
  • In The Ghost of Ochs, Monica does this when introducing herself to Edelgard, Dimitri, and Claude. She means it as a respectful gesture, but it's mostly out of deference - she's the daughter of a baron from a minor noble house, and they're the heirs apparent to an empire, a kingdom, and an alliance, respectively, and rank much higher on the nobility food chain. Ingrid does the same thing when meeting Monica's father, Baron Ochs, for the first time.
  • The Night Unfurls:
    • Being the only Shield that looks like and behaves like a princess, Prim often does this when greeting Kyril.
    • Shani does a low curtsy to Kyril to show off her cleavage when they meet at the Rosie. Kyril is not amused.
    • Fitting her Victorian motif, this is how Evetta greets Celestine and Olga when they meet in the Waking World. In an unusual case, the way she curtsies is described as too graceful for ladies of the court to emulate.
    • In Chapter 30 of the original, Lily curtsies when greeting Anna and Ian, who came to visit Soren. Grace lightly chastises her for being too formal and calling one of her friends "Miss Florence".
  • Anastasia does this in the opening sequence of The Simpsons: Team L.A.S.H..

    Films — Animated 
  • In Alice in Wonderland, the Queen of Hearts demands that Alice curtsy whenever she addresses her.
  • All Dogs Go to Heaven: Anne Marie curtsies to Charlie's friends after being introduced.
  • In Beauty and the Beast, Belle curtsies to Beast before they begin their Dance of Romance, the first time she gave such a gesture of respect to him.
  • Frozen (2013):
    • Anna curtsies when introducing herself to Hans and when she introduces Hans to Elsa.
    • Elsa does this when her parents go away on a trip only for them to die at sea. This contrasts with Anna hugging them since Elsa doesn't dare touch them for fear of hurting them with her ice powers.
  • In Oliver & Company, during the instrumental part of "Good Company", Jenny gives a one-sided curtsy to an older lady and gentleman.
  • In Sleeping Beauty, this is how Princess Aurora greets her parents when she meets them for the first time in almost 16 years, emphasizing her suitability as a royal princess.
  • We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story: Cecilia curtsies when she introduces herself to the dinosaurs.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The cast curtain call at the end of The Bad Seed (1956) tops off with little Patty McCormack curtsying to the audience.
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Upon meeting Willy Wonka the first thing Veruca does is curtsy.
  • Ever After:
    • Danielle's new step-sisters Marguerite and Jacqueline do this when meeting her. They also do this when greeting Prince Henry. And when Danielle pretends to be a countess she curtsy's out of respect upon seeing Henry.
    • Almosty at the end of the movie, Marguerite and her mother are seen doing this again to the King and Queen when they call the two up to explain themselves for their shitty treatment of Danielle.
  • In the movie version of Tracy Chevalier's Girl with a Pearl Earring, Griet does this often.
  • Katniss does this in The Hunger Games after shooting an arrow at the gamemakers, who apparently had better things to do than pay attention to her archery display.
    • She does it again in Catching Fire after building an effigy of Seneca Crane, who had been executed for allowing both Katniss and Peeta to survive.
  • Done in a joking, but not mocking manner in Johnny English, when Rowan Atkinson's titular character is accidentally crowned.
  • Played for Drama in The King's Speech. When Bertie first meets his daughters after he became King, they do not run to hug him as a father, but formally curtsy to him, which just about breaks his heart.
  • In the 1953 film version of Kiss Me, Kate, the actresses practice curtsies for the Curtain Call, and Lois lifts her skirt a good bit higher than necessary.
  • In The Princess Diaries 2 Mia gets two lady's maids who do this frequently until Mia exasperatedly tells them to stop it. She also does this when dancing at a ball in the first movie.
  • Justified in The Queen since that is obviously the expected etiquette for women meeting the Sovereign of Britain. In fact, when she meets the mourners of Diana in public, the fact she encounters a whole line of Britons including women eager to curtsy to her, it's a welcome sign that she still has their respect.
  • Shakespeare in Love: Queen Elizabeth (the first) is revealed to be present at the first performance of Romeo and Juliet and Viola (playing Juliet) is accused of being a woman. The Queen takes the stage to look at Viola, who goes for a curtsy, but the Queen flicks her eyes wordlessly and Viola bows (as a man would) instead.

  • Alice in Wonderland: Alice is constantly doing this when meeting various Queens, and one of them even tells her to curtsy while she's thinking what to say. Apparently, it saves time.
  • In the American Girl story "Happy Birthday, Molly!" one of Molly's friends tries to curtsy while wearing pants when she meets the English girl, and she says that she thought English girls always did that.
  • In Aunt Dimity and the Family Tree, when the doorbell rings at Fairworth House just after Willis Sr.'s housewarming party, Willis Sr. mentions that he's expecting neighbour and art restoration expert Grant Tavistock to return for the soot-covered painting in his study. Lori refuses to carry it to Grant's car because she doesn't want it to soil her lovely dress. Willis Sr. pays her a courtly compliment on said dress, Lori thanks him, and then: "I curtseyed in a ladylike manner, then hiked up my lovely dress and set off for the entrance hall at a distinctly unladylike jog."
  • The Chronicles of Narnia:
    • In The Horse and His Boy, Aravis' perfect Calormene style curtsy is contrasted with Shasta's very awkward bow.
    • In The Silver Chair, Jill Pole just bows, as she's from post-World War II England and thus she wasn't taught how to curtsy at school. She learns how in the next book.
  • Discworld:
    • Referenced in Tiffany Aching books. When Tiffany won't give a proper curtsy, due to her status as a witch, the Baron's son Roland gives her a dictionary with a sort of half-curtsy marked as a joke.
    • In earlier Discworld books, Granny Weatherwax said that when witches do recognise authority, they traditionally bow rather than curtsy.
      Esk: But why?
      Granny: Because witches have got to be different, and that's part of the secret.
    • In Monstrous Regiment, Wazzer curtsies to the Duchess's painting, even though she's disguised as a boy.
  • Ella from Ella Enchanted is depicted as being very clumsy at the beginning, stating that "curtsies often make me fall over". Her father wishes for her to become less clumsy and more ladylike and sends her to finishing school. Ella rebels against the stern teachers at the school but eventually gives in to their teachings until she runs away. The next time her father sees her she's much more graceful and able to do a perfect curtsy.
  • Played with in The Goblin Emperor: The previous Emperor's widow declared it unfashionable for the ladies at court to curtsy. She's a rather nasty person, and Maia takes an instant liking to the women who defiantly curtsy in spite of this.
  • When she finds herself in a quasi-medieval world, Sarah from Greystone Valley greets friends with a curtsy because it seems like the proper thing to do.
  • In Hurog, Ward's younger sister Ciarra only curtsies after being told so, and then she rolls her eyes before doing it — despite her living in a world where that's normal, she seems to find it silly. She's a bit of a wild child and not very interested in courtly manners. Even when she does curtsy, Ward notes she does it more like a lady-in-waiting than a proper lady.
  • In The Perilous Gard Kate's clumsiness is most apparent in her inability to perform an acceptable curtsy. Part of her 'makeover' is being taught how to move gracefully by the 'Fairies'.
  • Prince Roger is more than a little surprised when his Marine Sergeant 'date' greets their Mardukan hosts with an expert curtsy.
  • Done by Samantha Sweeting in The Undomestic Goddess. She curtsied to Trish because she thought that was what she was supposed to do as a housekeeper. Trish decided she liked it and made her keep doing it.
  • Done all the time in The Wheel of Time. Always.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Daredevil (2015), the realtor showing Matt Murdock and Foggy Nelson around their office space in "Into the Ring" curtsies awkwardly when she attempts to shake Matt's hand, but then remembers that he's blind.
    Foggy Nelson: She just curtsied. It was adorable.
    Matt Murdock: Well it's nice to know chivalry isn't dead.
  • In Game of Thrones, Shae's inexperience at court is evident in her inept curtsy. Cersei, who had perfected the gesture at age four, shows her how it's done. Cersei also takes note when the mannish Brienne of Tarth doesn't curtsy to her, but bows instead. Brienne explains that she "never really mastered" the curtsy.
  • A Happy Days episode with a Halloween theme had Joanie, dressed as Snow White, curtsying after reciting the "mirror, mirror, on the wall" poem.
  • In the I Love Lucy episode, "Lucy Meets the Queen", Lucy practices a 'perfect curtsy' so relentlessly that she ends up with a severe charley horse that threatens to compromise Ricky's 'Trained Horses' routine, and her own chance to meet the Queen.
    • When the Queen expressly wanted to meet the woman who put so much humor in the routine, Lucy tried to curtsy as practice and couldn't get out of it. She got two stagehands to carry her to the presentation.
  • Jess on New Girl ("Did... did you just curtsy?")
  • Our Miss Brooks: Mrs. Davis curtsies on a few occasions, usually when the situation doesn't warrant it. In one episode, she makes a curtsy to a hobo calling himself "The Earl of Peoria".
  • In the Xena: Warrior Princess episode "Warrior... Princess", Xena's cover as a high-class lady is nearly blown by a bad curtsy:
    Prince: She's attractive enough, but that curtsy was abominable! I thought you said her manners were impeccable?
    Servant: They were!

  • At the end of The King and I, after the King dies, Chulalongkorn's first act as the new King is to abolish the Pose of Supplication. He orders the men to bow to show respect, and calls on his mother, Lady Thiang, to demonstrate how "the ladies will make dip, as in Europe."
  • In the Paint Your Wagon song "All For Him," Jennifer lists the things she's learned, including to "curtsy but not make an Indian squat."
  • Kind of a running gag in The Sound of Music, as Georg Von Trapp's adorable daughters (particularly little Gretl) do it from time to time, especially, if you're using the film's moves, in "So Long, Farewell."

    Video Games 

    Visual Novels 

    Web Animation 

    Western Animation 
  • Animaniacs:
    • Sometimes when the Warner Brothers bow, Dot curtsies.
    • In one episode, Scratchensniff is trying to train the Warners in proper society manners. When he tells Dot to 'make a little curtsy', Yakko and Wakko make fun of the phrasing. And then perform it themselves (using Wakko's sweater and Yakko's overly-baggy pants).
  • The Beatles: During the song segment of the episode "I'm Down," George bows to a little girl, who curtsies to him in return.
  • Lydia Deetz curtsies at the end of the Fox Beetlejuice opening.
  • In the very first, Casper the Friendly Ghost cartoon, a little girl named Bonnie curtsies when she introduces herself to Casper, showing that unlike all the others that Casper had encounter up to that point, she, as well as her brother, are not afraid of him.
  • The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!: In "Show Me The Honey," Sally curtsies to the queen bee.
  • On Family Guy, Lois curtsies when she meets the Pope.
  • The Flintstones episode "The Return Of Stony Curtis'': Posing as Wilma's "French maid" (in Wilma's attempt to put on airs for the visiting star Stony Curtis), Betty curtsies twice.
  • Hey Arnold!:
    • Pictured above: Lila from Hey Arnold! does it in the episode "Helga's Masquerade" when trying to teach Helga how to be more feminine.
    • Helga also does so sarcastically in the episode "Helga and the Nanny", when her overbearing, old-fashioned nanny, Inge, demands that Helga curtsy out of respect for her father.
  • Madeline: In the original 1988 special, the little girls introduce themselves to the viewer by saying "Bonjour" with a curtsey – all except Madeline who does a perky little two-handed wave instead. This is repeated in Madeline's Christmas when the girls greet Madame Marie.
  • Pearl Pureheart curtsies after her dance in the Mighty Mouse cartoon "Happy Holland."
  • Penny in The Proud Family refuses to curtsy to her partner during a ballroom dancing class, "Because it signifies subservience."
  • Sofia the First: It's taught at Royal Prep. Sofia receives lessons on that during her first day.
  • On Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Bariss Offee curtsies to Anakin and Ahsoka when she's introduced.

    Real Life 
  • At the close of every ballet class and performance, dancers perform what is known as "révérence", or a series of curtsies, to the teacher, the audience, and the orchestra/pianist, as applicable.
  • Often used by female Broadway performers during their curtain calls, particularly if their costume makes bowing awkward — for instance, the actress playing Christine in The Phantom of the Opera almost invariably curtsies due to her Victorian-era dress.
    • By contrast, female opera performers almost always bow these days.
  • Many visitors to a Catholic church mistake the genuflect that both women and men do before sitting in a pew as a curtsy; if not explained beforehand, the friend sometimes trips over the host while sitting down.

Alternative Title(s): Every Proper Lady Should Curtsey, A Proper Lady Should Curtsy, A Proper Lady Should Curtsey