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Early Texas Dances

This article was written by Olcutt Sanders, a dance caller and historian who was among the founders of Foot 'n' Fiddle magazine, an early square dance magazine in Texas.

Teacup Chain - 1948 publication

This may be the first publication of the Teacup Chain figure. It appeared in Foot 'n' Fiddle magazine, an early square dance magazine founded and edited by Anne Pittman, Marlys Swenson and Olcutt Sanders.

Double Tea-Cup Chain

The photograph of eight couples dancing a double star as part of the double teacup chain figures is from the March, 1953, issue of Bow & Swing, "The Magazine of Square Dancing in Florida."

Double Tea-Cup Chain - Les Gotcher

This is Les Gotcher calling, recorded live at Kirkwood Lodge (Osage Beach, Missouri) at the second annual Les Gotcher Square Dance Institute. We hear Gotcher start with two regular squares doing a teacup chain, and then the Gents #1 in each star do a left hand star promenade to begin the process of moving the two squares into one double square.…

Cecil Sharp at Pine Mountain Settlement School

Cecil Sharp first encountered southern Appalachian dancing at the Pine Mountain Settlement School in Kentucky on August 31, 1917. (See here for Sharp's notes that day in his diary.) The event became the focal point of Part 5 of Sharp's Country Dance Book series.That visit is recalled here, in the 1919 Notes from the school.A detailed account of the…

Square Dance, Oakland, CA - 1919

This silent newsreel footage from Gaumont News, a French company, shows several sets of dancers doing a quadrille in an outdoor setting.

The brief title before the action reads:
"Choose Your Partners"
To the tune of "Johnny in the Low Ground" and "Turkey in the Straw," the Boys and Girls of '61 Dance the Steps of Their Youthful…

Notes on Timing - Ed Gilmore

This set of comments by Ed Gilmore on the subject of timing predates the Related items by some 30 years. Gilmore is dealing with fundamentals of square dancing in the early years of modern squares, so he is dealing with a much smaller universe of basic figures. Readers may also enjoy his suggestions to women for how to deal with overbearing male…

Round Dance Positions 2

Round dancing, a form of couple dancing in which a cuer calls out the figures, is frequently a part of modern square dance clubs. In some locations, instead of round dances being incorporated into an evening of squares, they might be found at a separate club that only does round dances.

Traditional round dances, such as the Varsouvienne or the…

George Washington's Favourite

This dance comes from the Asa Wilcox 1793 manuscript held by the Newberry Library of Chicago; St. Louis dance leader John Ramsay found it in Leland Tichnor’s George Washington’s Birthday Balls, 1990, and taught it to the Dance Discovery performing group who dance it in this video.Caller Colin Hume discusses the dance here, and comments:…

Quadrille (Länger, 1824, №1)

The first figure of a quadrille from 1824; the source document is Christian Länger's book, Terpsichore, Ein Taschenbuch der Neuesten Gesellschaftlichen Tänze, and can be read, in German, here. The 3rd figure, danced by the same group, is also available online. The dancers are members of the Golden Forests group in Russia who have posted…

A Few Square Dance Calls from Bill McAdoo

Editor Larry Edelman writes: "I collected these figures in the mid-1980’s at the Independence Grange Hall Dance in Independence, Washington County in southwestern Pennsylvania. During my visits, Bill McAdoo called the figures. Like most of the other callers who I met in southwestern Pennsylvania Bill called both patter calls and singing calls."

Carl Sims - Milestone Award

Other entries in this archive discuss the establishment and early years of American square dancing in Japan. Caller Carl Sims played a significant role in developing modern square dancing there, recognized by the presentation of the CALLERLAB Milestone Award to him in 2016. Sims died in July of that year.

Eastern Kentucky Folk Dancing Oral History Project

This is a collection of recorded interviews that document the development of traditional square and related dance activity in southeastern Kentucky. The interviews were with mostly elderly residents of Harlan, Letcher, and Leslie Counties and were recorded by Peter Rogers in 1975.

At the moment (July 2016) the audio files and transcriptions are…

Square Dancing in the Kentucky Foothills

Based in extensive interviews, audio files and video recordings, the author has compiled a detailed look at dancing in the area around Berea, Kentucky. Her introduction provides a broad look at the topic:

"In Berea and surrounding counties, square dancing, the type done in a big circle that divides into smaller “squares” of two couples,…

Finding List of Southeastern Square Dance Figures

Author J. Olcutt Sanders embarked on a serious effort to track down examples in other regions of square dance figures found in the Southeastern United States. He devised a shorthand method of categorizing figures, and his work is a useful reference from 1942. Sanders summarizes his work thus:

"Despite search in many of the major libraries of the…

Bouquet Waltz - Jim Kimball

Afternoon workshop of traditional New York state square dances
Sponsored by the Southern Tier Country Dance Society
Saturday, May 14, 2016
Cuba Grange
Cuba, NY

Jim Kimball says that the figure was known locally as "Two by Three in a Bouquet Waltz." The same figure in other locales done by two circles of four, is sometimes called a Pokey…

Redwing - Jim Kimball

Afternoon workshop of traditional New York state square dances
Sponsored by the Southern Tier Country Dance Society
Saturday, May 14, 2016
Cuba Grange
Cuba, NY

The tune is Redwing, commonly used for the Dip and Dive figure. This dance is simpler.

Jim Kimball, caller and button accordion
Curt Osgood, hammered dulcimer
Evelyn Jones,…

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Coming Round the Mountain - Jim Kimball

Afternoon workshop of traditional New York state square dances
Sponsored by the Southern Tier Country Dance Society
Saturday, May 14, 2016
Cuba Grange
Cuba, NY

Kimball starts with a few comments on the Perry family orchestra with a 100+ year history of playing for dances in upstate New York.

Jim Kimball, caller and button accordion
Curt…

Marching Through Georgia - Jim Kimball

Afternoon workshop of traditional New York state square dances
Sponsored by the Southern Tier Country Dance Society
Saturday, May 14, 2016
Cuba Grange
Cuba, NY

Jim Kimball, caller and button accordion
Curt Osgood, hammered dulcimer
Evelyn Jones, piano accordion
Howard Blumenthal, fiddle

Hinky Dinky Parlez-Vous - Jim Kimball

Different callers have put different figures to this tune.

Afternoon workshop of traditional New York state square dances
Sponsored by the Southern Tier Country Dance Society
Saturday, May 14, 2016
Cuba Grange
Cuba, NY

Jim Kimball, caller and button accordion
Curt Osgood, hammered dulcimer
Evelyn Jones, piano accordion
Howard…