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.