Dance to the Music: Square Dance Resources

A square dance is a lively routine of steps performed by people organized in groups of eight. The women dancers often wear flowing, comfortable skirts and blouses while the men wear trousers and colorful shirts. The music played at a square dance is full of rhythm and energy. Square dancers listen to the caller to find out the steps of a routine. If the dancers perform the calls correctly, a square dance is a remarkable sight to see.

History of Square Dancing

The movements of the square dance evolved from earlier folk dances in history. The Morris dance is believed to be one of the dances that influenced square dancing. The Morris dance involves six men per group dancing with quick, lively movements. The square dance also borrows from the English Country dance. It involved a system of steps and a large group of dancers moving together. Square dancing was popular in colonial America as a way for settlers to gather together, relax, and socialize with neighbors. In fact, with enough people a square dance could take place almost anywhere including a barn, a private home, or even a grassy field. 

Traditional Square Dance

There are a few differences between traditional square dancing and modern western square dancing. For example, a traditional square dance has a collection of steps that is relatively easy for dancers to learn. Dancers at a traditional square dance don't dress in elaborate costume. Furthermore, a traditional square dance doesn't have levels of difficulty like a modern western square dance. Generally, bands and musicians provide the live music at a traditional square dance. Alternatively, at a modern western square dance recorded music plays a part in the performance.  

Modern Western Square Dance

There are many qualities specific to modern western square dancing. For one, dancers have to be prepared for whatever direction the caller gives to them. In short, the caller at a modern western square dance can improvise calls and the dancers have to follow along. In addition, the dancers at a modern western square dance are dressed up for the occasion. The men dress in cowboy attire while the women wear dresses with frilly skirts. A modern western square dancer learns a program of dancing and then tries to advance to the next skill level.   

Square Dance Callers

A square dance caller tells the dancers what steps to perform. A caller often uses rhyming and word patterns to entertain the participants of a square dance as well as guide them. Some square dance callers deliver their calls in the form of a song. They incorporate a well-known melody to sing the calls to the dancers. Imaginative square dance callers also use a patter method to convey calls to the dancers. Patter consists of rapid calls to the dancers for certain steps. A successful square dance caller is entertaining as well as capable of constructing an enjoyable program for dancers. It also helps if a caller has a natural sense of rhythm. Finally, a square dance caller combines both training and experience to perfect his or her calling abilities.

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