Traditional square dance

Traditional square dance is a generic American term for any style of American square dance other than modern Western. The term can mean (1) any of the American regional styles (broadly, Northeastern, Southeastern, and Western) that existed before around 1950, when modern Western style began to develop out of a blend of those regional styles, or (2) any style (other than modern Western) that has survived, or been revived, since around 1950.

 

Traditional square dance can be distinguished from modern western square dance by the following characteristics:

 

1:A limited number of basic movements, or “calls,” enabling the average dancer to join the group by assimilation rather than by taking a series of lessons.

2:Dance figures (sequences of basic movements) that are called in a set order and repeated, rather than improvised by the caller. (In Southeastern style the caller chooses figures from a repertoire of a dozen or two and can call them in any order, but the order of movements within each figure does not change.)

3:The use of live music as the norm.

 

In addition, because there is no governing body to set standards for traditional square dancing, each caller decides which basic movements and dance figures he or she will use. There are regional variations in how dancers execute the basic movements, usually having to do with hand or arm position. The same dance figure may have different names in different regions; the same name may refer to different dance figures, or even (in the case of "do-si-do") different basic movements. This lack of standardization does not present a problem to the dancers, because at least one of two conditions is always true: either the caller walks the dancers through the figures before calling them to music, or the event is attended almost entirely by local people familiar with that caller's repertoire.

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