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Parisian Varieties Quadrille

Mid-19th century quadrille, five figures, with music including waltz, polka, and mazurka.Les Variétés ParisiennesA new Quadrille, composed by the "Société Académique des Professeurs de Danse de Paris," etc. Introduced in America by William B. DeGarmoDeGarmo's 1868 book, The Prompter, is available online for…

Ladies to the Center

This short article by Texas dance historian Olcutt Sanders looks at the role played by women in that state's dance history. Sanders notes the early absence of women:

"A scarcity of woman and a general sparseness of settlement in the Texas cattle country until late in the Nineteenth Century (the frontier broke about 1886) made any kind of…

Waltz Quadrilles

This detailed booklet describes waltz quadrilles, a style of dance enjoyed by dancers in this Oklahoma City group. The author are careful to draw a distinction with traditional dances, and predict that this form (combining square and round dancing) will become popular:

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How many of us recall the old-time waltz quadrilles, the one that…

Herb Greggerson bio

This profile of El Paso caller Herb Greggerson was written in 1946. It mentions Greggerson's Blue Bonnet Set heading off on their first US tour in 1939; this was after the team triumphed over Bob Sumrall's Abilene Set in winning a square dance competition.

Chain Lightning - Butch Nelson (clip)

Another example of Butch Nelson's calling, with fast-paced patter keeping dancers moving briskly. Again, the patter clearly shows the caller's western roots.

"And the coyotes howl and the birdies sing,
Pick up your own and you make a little ring..."

Half Sashay - Butch Nelson (clip)

"Pull up your pants and tighten the tracesAll join hands, we're off to the races."With opening patter like this, we know we're in traditional western square dance territory. Thirty seconds later, when partners meet for a swing, there's barely enough time in the patter to swing once around. We're not in New England!The figure has first couple out to…

Sight Calling - Les Gotcher

Les Gotcher's detailed description offer a look into how he created various sight-calling techniques. He includes a section early on that describes the process he went through to create this method. Subsequent sections discuss equivalents and Sequence ("Not enough can be said, or written about Sequence. Sequence determines everything that is going…

Round Dances

Olcutt Sanders was a Texas dance historian. He writes, "The round dances that are included quite generally on square dance programs these days originated in Europe in the late Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries and gradually found their way across the Atlantic and to Texas. They were called round dances, of course, because they are danced by…

Quadrille and Cotillion - history

Part of a history of English country dancing in America, this segment looks at the quadrille and the cotillion.

Caution: The author is mistaken when he asserts, "The French had imported the English country dance about the end of the 17th century and apparently took a special liking to the square formation which occurred in some dances." While…

Hot To Put On & Make Successful The Country Dance Party

This 16-page booklet is credited to Beth Tolman, though it's safe to assume that Ralph Page (her co-author of The Country Dance Book, published in 1937) had a hand in part of the text. It's a simple guide that encourages folks to hold small dance parties: --- You'll have lots of fun giving a country dance party, whether it is held in your kitchen…

Black Hawk Waltz

Black Hawk Waltz is a classic round (or couple) dance. The tune was composed by Mary Walsh in 1877. Here is a link to an illustration of the sheet music cover; you may also view instructions on the Lloyd Shaw Foundation website.The Black Hawk Waltz was one of the dances included by Lloyd Shaw in his Round Dance Book published in 1947. Round dances…

Round Dance history - the early years

Round dancing refers to choreographed couple dances, prompted by a cuer and found as part of most regular programs of modern square dancing, interspersed with the patter calls and singing squares. This short history of round dancing was created by Jim Mayo; the link above takes you to the website of the Square Dance Foundation of New England, from…

Otto and Marguerite Wood – photos

Three photos of Otto Wood (fiddler and dance caller) and Marguerite Wood (pianist and accordion player). In the second photograph, the piano player )seen from the back) is Phil Merrill.

Sally Goodin variations

Sally Goodin is a square dance based on picturesque names for the other dancers in your set. (See Carl Herzog diagram). The active dance turns other dancers in a particular sequence, occasionally following a hand turn with another dancers by turning your partner. In general, when the callers say to "swing" someone else, they are expecting dancers…

Otto Wood - live recordings

This item includes several examples of singing squares called by Michigan caller (and fiddler) Otto Wood, with his wife Marguerite playing piano or accordion. Otto and Marguerite were regulars at the John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina. See the related item for biographical information and for transcriptions of the calls and music.…

Susan Spalding Appalachian Traditional Dance Video Collection, 1988-2002

This collection consists of video recordings of interviews and community dance activities in eastern Kentucky, southwest Virginia, and east Tennessee recorded at various times, 1988-2002.

The videos were recorded as fieldwork by Susan Elke Spalding; many of them are the source files for the film "Step Back Cindy." The footage includes interviews…

The Slave Roots of Square Dancing

This is an easily-read summary of a scholarly article by Phil Jamison on the African-American roots of southern Appalachian dance and, in particular, the pivotal role played by African-American musicians and callers. The summary notes, "Today, few people know about the pivotal role black people once played in helping develop American dance…

Sets in Order yearbooks

Bob Osgood published in 1954 a Five Year Book that printed every dance that had been published in Sets in Order in the first five years. In 1956 he issued the first Yearbook that included everything from 1954–1956. Thereafter for the next six years he published a book for every year through 1962. It's about then that MWSD stopped using…

Kentucky Square Dance

The author describes in general terms what he prefers to call the Kentucky Square Dance:"The Kentucky Square Dance (Sharp’s original “running set”) is a four couple square formation type dance characterized by a slow running shuffle step, a tempo which averages 150 beats per minute, and a rather definite order of introduction and…

Dixie Folk syllabus - 1951

This is the square dance portion of the syllabus from the Dixie Folk and Square Dance Institute held in Georgia in 1951. New Hampshire caller Ralph Page presented a selection of typical New England dances of the time, as well as a few of his own compositions. Georgia caller Fred Collette included a wider variety, including some Western figures, and…