Changing the Face of Square Dancing

Excerpt from an Article on the National Convention in Springfield MA June 2015

I attended a fascinating seminar hosted by Tom Miller and Tim Marriner about

“The Use of Music in Square Dancing” intended for callers. Tom and Tim are both accredited

Callerlab Caller Coaches. In essence, its message was that the way to change the image of

Modern Western Square Dancing is through music. Music is a way to communicate with the

dancers, integrating with the choreography. It’s best to use professionally mastered square dance

music recordings since lyrics and other issues might prove problematic for a number of reasons.

The importance of using current, relevant music was stressed, to dispel the

association even young people, with no prior square dance experience, harbor about the dance we

love – that image of barns, hay and fiddles. Using current, relevant music will convey and

reinforce the idea that square dancing can be a part of our daily lives; that it is an energetic

American folk dance experience which people can related to; that it is filled with great

fellowship, exercise, laughter, and fun; and that it’s upbeat, current, and lively!

Indeed, at times I did feel like I was dancing in one great Square Dance Museum

between the partnering constraints, and the imposed traditional square dance attire. The problem

with square dance attire, is that it’s not conducive to dancing, — at least not with Jet Roberts at

A2 – he was obviously not part of the tradition. The pants and long sleeve shirt make it very

hot, and the crinolines just get in the way. And in the spirit of changing the face of square

dancing, that attire can be intimidating and off-putting to a new dancer and seem odd to an

outsider (I showed my friends the videos…). Same sex partnering was surprisingly not an issue

for me on that weekend where marriage was made legal for everyone; however, I did hear stories

from straight female friends in MS/PLUS about that women dancing together was not going so

well. George V.