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Jessie Polka - couple dance

Sometimes danced as a couple, and sometimes (as here) in a larger group, here is a trio young dancers doing the Jessie Polka. The tune is Down Yonder, featuring Sky Bartlett (L) and Ernie Duffy (R) on bones. Sky learned to play bones from Ernie, who in turn learned from Elwin "Shorty" Boulet. Recorded at Lester Bradley's monthly square dance in…

Rye Waltz - couple dance

The Rye Waltz is an adaptation of Comin’ Through the Rye and The Highland Schottische, and intersperses a schottische step with a waltz. Music by The Latter Day Lizards and guests; the Lizards are Dave Langford (fiddle), Bill Tomczak (clarinet) and Peter Barnes (piano). This couple dance was recorded at the annual Ralph Page Dance Legacy Weekend…

Canadian Barn Dance - schottische

The Canadian Barn Dance is a schottische, here danced to "The Carfuffle Shuffle" tune written by Marianne Taylor, and played by The Latter Day Lizards and guests; the Lizards are Dave Langford (fiddle), Bill Tomczak (clarinet) and Peter Barnes (piano). This couple dance was recorded at the annual Ralph Page Dance Legacy Weekend (Durham, NH).

Couple Dances at a Square Dance in Southwestern Pennsylvania 1985 - 1987

Dance caller, musician, and videographer Larry Edelman writes: "While studying traditional square dance calling and music in the 1980's in rural southwestern Pennsylvania, I found that there were as many, or even more, couples dances played and danced at a typical evening of square dancing than there were squares themselves. This video illustrates…

Hambo

Traditional square and contra dance series often include a variety of couple dances as part of their program. Depending on location and time, dancers might enjoy waltz, polka, or schottische, among others, in addition to the primary dance forms in the evening. Here, it's a hambo. a traditional Swedish turning dance. Recor, at Tod Whittemore's…

Polka

Traditional square dance series and some contra series have often included couple dances as part of the evening program. This polka was recorded at the contra dance at the VFW, Cambridge, MA. You'll see several different styles of polka being danced at the start, but as the dance goes along, most dancers are doing the Norwegian polka. Musicians are…

Gay Gordon's - couple dance

This couple dance was recorded at a Valentine's Day contra dance in Nelson, NH. Such couple dances—along with waltz, polka, schottische, hambo, and others—are frequently found in the program of evenings of square and contra dances, and Nelson has a very long dance tradition. Musicians include Kerry Elkin and Randy Miller, fiddles; Tom Hodgson,…

Foxtrot

This is a short clip of a foxtrot being danced at the 2016 Ralph Page Dance Legacy Weekend. Caller Chrissy Fowler was leading the Retrospective session on this topic: "Overlock's Orchestra, Maine dances in the early 1900s." Music here is provided by The Old Grey Goose, a trio from Maine.

Couple dances such as the foxtrot were—and in some…

Texas Square Dance Contests

These are a series of newspaper clippings made by J. Olcutt Sanders, documenting Texas square dance competitions. (Unfortunately, most of them are undated.) We assume that these are from Fort Worth; the articles refer to the Southwest Exposition and Fat Stock Show, an annual event that is still ongoing in Fort Worth, now called the Fort Worth Stock…

Bob Sumrall - Olcutt Sanders correspondence, 1939

These letters between Bob Sumrall and J. Olcutt Sanders provide a glimpse into Texas square dances in the late 1930s. Sanders was a serious student of square dance history, part of a group of enthusiasts in the Austin area and later one of the editors of Foot 'n' Fiddle magazine. Born in Fort Worth in 1917, he graduated graduated from the…

The Route - Rickey Holden

Rickey Holden calling a classic square dance figure, alternately called The Rout or The Route. Rather than a full walkthrough, he gives only a general introduction, setting up the dancers for some lively confusion partway through. In addition to the usual right and left through and ladies chain, he finishes with a series of dip and dive figures.…

Three Ladies Chain - Rickey Holden

Instead of the women chaining over and back within their own square, in this variation of Three Ladies Chain, caller Rickey Holden has the women leaving their square and chaining all the way over the hall and back again. The basic dance figure can be found in disparate traditional settings, ranging from a singing square set to Red River Valley or…

Old Square Dances of America

In his Square Dances of West Texas booklet and elsewhere, Rickey Holden makes frequent references to Iowa as a source of western dancing: --- There are, not counting the Southern Mountain clogging of the Ozarks, only two square dance styles traditional to the West of North America. • There is the IaCoCa (IowA-ColoradO-CaliforniA) or CoCa…

Cotillon

French dancing masters in the early 18th century created a dance for two couples called the cotillon. This morphed into the cotillion and later became the quadrille. The opening minutes of this presentation by Pierre Chartrand's Danse Cadence troupe illustrates that four-person dance.

1954 National Square Dance Convention - callers

This listing comes from the program book of the 3rd National Square Dance Convention (Dallas, TX, April 8-10, 1954).

It's Fun To Square Dance

This booklet is profusely illustrated with photographs and diagrams, making the dance figures easy to understand. Lunsford was the founder in 1928 of the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival in Asheville, and continued as organizer and performer there until 1965. He played a key role in popularizing southern mountain dancing. From Lunsford's…

East Tennessee Square Dance Calls

This 1938 collection of more than 50 dances was written in Oklahoma, where the author explains that he has received "many requests for some East Tennessee square dance calls, or figures." He adds that "the dance figures contained herein are common to both East Tennessee and Oklahoma, as well as to other parts of the country..." The dances in this…

Square Dancing in the Mountains of Eastern Kentucky

NOTE: To read the actual booklet, choose the links above. Numbers 1 & 3 are large files and, depending on your internet speed, might take a while to load. This 1971 collection begins with a somewhat romanticized introduction to dancing in the region. Dance descriptions include figures for the Kentucky Running Set and the Big Set, as well as…

Kentucky Square Dances

An early (1928) collection of figures collected "from callers in Kentucky who are familiar with the old square dances as they are danced in the Kentucky Mountains and elsewhere in the state."

Les Lanciers de Quebec - Quebec Lancers

This video illustrates the first two figures of a Quebecois version of the Lancers Quadrille, danced at the Ralph Page Dance Legacy Weekend in January, 2009. The tune and the name for the first figure is La Rencontre des Dames; the tune for the second figure is L’oiseau dans la cage. The music is played by Raz-de-Marée / Tidal Wave:…