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Using squares at a contra dance - Beth Molaro

Caller Beth Molaro, of Asheville, NC, is a well-known caller who loves calling both contras and squares. In this clip, talking with Dennis Merritt, she explains some of her thinking that goes into deciding when to call a square at a contra dance, when in the program to put squares, what sorts of squares she uses, and how different kinds of music…

Lisa Greenleaf 6 - the future of squares

Last in a series of six Lisa talks about ways to keep modern square dancing alive in the future. She cites the Pacific Northwest Teen Competition as one promising model to involve young people, and suggests that a "Dirty Dancing" kind of movie focused on square dance competition would provide a boost. She also is excited by the new dance series…

Lisa Greenleaf 5 - squares in the contra culture

Fifth in a series of six

Lisa is a well-known caller of contras and squares, usually working at events that are advertised for contra dancers. She discusses some of the challenges of incorporating squares into a program of contras.

Lisa Greenleaf 4 - finding material

Fourth in a series of six In this segment, Lisa offers some advice for individuals interested in learning to call squares. She also discusses where to find new material, and describes the difficulties she encountered when trying to incorporate into her repertoire some dances from Sets in Order in the 1950s and '60s.

Lisa Greenleaf 3 - modern and traditional squares

Third in a series of six

Lisa is one of a relatively small number of individuals who dance both modern and traditional squares. Here she describes what she likes about each form.

Lisa Greenleaf 2 - discovering squares

Second in a series of six

Lisa described how she moved into squares, discovering exciting squares at Pinewoods Camp from the calling of Larry Edelman and Kathy Anderson. Later, also at Pinewoods, she got a taste of modern Western squares from Bob Dalsemer and went on to take MWSD lessons at Bay Path Barn in Boylston, MA. From there, she…

Lisa Greenleaf 1 - working with a contra mentor

First in a series of six.

Lisa Greenleaf, a well-known caller of traditional squares and modern squares from the 1950s and 1960s, describes how she got started as a contra caller. She describes working with Larry Jennings, a Boston-area dance organizer and choreographer, who became her mentor.

Sammy Spring - fiddler & square dance caller

Sammy Spring (1883–1958) was a fiddler and square dance caller from Otis, Massachusetts, in the western part of the state. This website includes photos of him and a lengthy interview conducted in 1939 by Edward Welch, a worker with the Federal Writers Project.

---excerpt from the 1939 interview:
“So you want to know how I come to take up…

Sandy Bradley 3 - Why'd you stop?

Sandy Bradley was a dynamic and exciting guitar player and caller who gave many northern dancers in the 1970s and early 1980s their first taste of fast-moving traditional western squares. She stopped calling and basically dropped out of the dance scene for several decades, and only recently started coming again to dances, as a musician. In this…

Sandy Bradley 2 - Keeping it fun

"The thing that I thought was crippling people's attitude toward dance was rules. 'You have to do THIS, you have to swing like that, you have to get it right!'" It doesn't have anything to do with getting it right. I wanted to scrape all that burden off of it. So, I never tried to say, 'You have to do it like this.' If they did it some other way,…

Sandy Bradley 1 - Getting started

Sandy Bradley interviewed by Bob Dalsemer.

After a brief discussion of the fun of watching the room come together in a dance, Sandy discusses how she got started as a musician and then a square dance caller.

Recorded by Doug Plummer at Dare To Be Square, Seattle, 2009

Kathy Anderson - Getting started as a caller

Today, Kathy Anderson is one of the more actives callers of traditional and newly-composed square dances in the contra dance world; she is a featured caller at dance weekends and camps across the country and abroad. Here, she reflects on how she got started as a caller, how she developed her skill, and how she had a difficult time being accepted in…

Kathy Anderson - Patter Calling

Caller Kathy Anderson is well-known for her fast-moving squares, accompanied by equally lively patter calling. She talks about how she uses patter, what she chooses to include and what to leave out, and why patter plays an important in the dances she calls.

Kathy Anderson - Sandy Bradley, an appreciation

Sandy Bradley was a dynamic Seattle caller who burst onto the dance scene in the 1970s and early 1980, bringing an enthusiastic presence and a love of traditional western squares to audiences around the country. Kathy first encountered traditional squares at an event where Sandy was the caller, and she gives a brief appreciation of why Sandy…

Kathy Anderson - four styles of squares

Caller Kathy Anderson gives an overview of the characteristics of four different regional styles of traditional square dances-- old-time Southern, New England, traditional Western, and singing squares.

Kathy Anderson - Youth Square Dance Scene

Caller Kathy Anderson discusses the burst of enthusiasm among young people for simple square dances set to hot old-time tunes. Starting in Portland, Oregon, with the efforts of caller Bill Martin, the movement has spread to other cities on the west coast and is making inroads in the East as well.

Phil Jamison 4 - Cecil Sharp and the "running set"

Phil discusses the origins of the term "running set," going back to when the English folklorist and collector Cecil Sharp first encountered southern Appalachian dancing.For a demonstration of the actual dance, see this video called by Stew Shacklette.

Phil Jamison 3 - The caller's role in Southern squares

The square dance caller in Southern dance traditions plays a somewhat different role than his Northern counterpart. Phil looks at the way a Southern caller improvises and uses basic figures in different ways.

Jim Mayo 6 - Key Elements of Modern Square Dance

Jim discusses features that make modern square dancing different from traditional squares, including the unpredictable nature of the calls, the necessity for lessons, and the club structure that provides an important social element.

Jim Mayo 5 - Basic Formations, Complex Calls

Jim points out that there are only a few basic formations in modern square dancing. One of the distinctive features of modern squares is the way that a series of basic moves are combined into one call. Swing Thru was an early example of this; Ed Gilmore objected to that term, saying that he could call the moves using more basic terminology. Later…