Dance and Dance >> Square Dance
Usage of This Term:

Square dance is often used as a generic term for modern Western square dance. There are two types under this head namely Traditional square dance and modern Western square dance.

Period of Description:

The dance was initially described in 17th Century England was also fairly common in France and all through Europe and bears a marked resemblance to Scottish Country Dancing. It has become linked with the United States of America due to its historic development in that country. Nineteen U.S. states have nominated it as their official state dance.

The French adopted and modified the English country dance and called in the Contredanse Anglais. They also produced the form of dance known as the Quadrille (a term which originally referred to a card game). It is the Quadrille that most people point to as the grand-daddy of our modern square dance. However, history shows that "Dull Sir John" and "Faine I Would" were square dances popular in England over 300 years ago. The French also developed the Contredanse Francais or Cotilion (later changed to Cotillion), a dance done in a square formation with eight dancers.

Square Dance

The vital link to this past was the dancing masters that came to this country with our forefathers and brought with them the dances of their homeland. One of the earliest records (and ther are not many) of these dances is contained in the works of John Playford, a musician and dancing master. His book, "The English Dancing Master - Plaine and Easy Rules for the Dancing of Country Dances, with Tunes to Each Dance" was published in seventeen editions between 1650 and 1728 and contained 1918 dances.

Meanwhile, the development of the electronic amplifier aided the transition, since it permitted the caller to manage large crowds. It was no longer necessary to shout, use a megaphone, or have a caller in each square. Square dance records,particularly, the small, easy to manage 45 RPM discs, eliminated the need for live music, with all its attendant problems and allowed much greater musical variety and flexibility.

Square dance is a folk dance with four couples (eight dancers)arranged in a square, with one couple on every side, opening with Couple 1 facing away from the music and going counter-clockwise awaiting getting to Couple 4. Couples 1 and 3 are known as the head couples, while Couples 2 and 4 are the side couples. Every dance begins and ends every sequence with "sets-in-order" in the square formation. The range of square dance movements is based on the steps and figures used in traditional folk dances and social dances of the various people who migrated to the USA. Some of these conventional dances comprise Morris dance, English Country Dance, Caledonians and the quadrille.Square dancing is enjoyed by people around the world, and people all over the world are caught up in the continuing development of this dance.